Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Improves Adult ADHD Symptoms

Medical News: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Improves Adult ADHD - in Psychiatry, ADHD/ADD from MedPage Today

While at least 4.4% of adults (in the U.S.) have attention deficit hypoeractivity disorder (ADHD) there have really been very few randomized studies of therapeutic or psychosocial interventions. Actually, only three randomized studies. The usual study, and intervntion, has been about medication and medication trails for ADHD. This study, from Steven Safren at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, tries to fill this gap. Safren undertook a randomized trail of 86 patients and compared cognitive behaviour therapy for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and compared it to relaxation therapy, combined with education about attention deficit hyperactivty disorder (ADHD). The cognitive behaviour therapy program outperformed the other intervention, and improvements were maintained over a nine month follow-up after the end of treatment. All of the adults in this clinical trial had previously been on medication.

The researches round improvements on an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) rating scale, as well as on a self-report, where significant improvements were noted. They concluded that "cognitive behavioural therapy for ADHD in adults appears to be a useful and efficacious next-step strategy" for adults on medication with continuing symptoms.

In my practice I use the cognitive behaviour therapy program that Mass General Hospital uses, buildt into a structured eight week program of CBT for ADHD. You can find information about my program at my website below.

One note: Often when searching the web you will find practitioners who say they provide CBT, cognitive behaviour therapy. Often people ask me, how do they know they are really seeing someone who is trained in CBT? The problem is many people see a clinician who has gone through little more than a weekend workshop. There are two certification programs in CBT: The Albert Ellis ?Institute and the Beck Institute. Individuals from either of these programs are trained. Otherwise you need to know a couple things: Ask how much training did they get? It should be more than a workshop or single college course. And most important, ask, "Did you recieve any supervision in CBT?" In other words, did they practice CBT under a supervisor, someone they met with for a semester or year, who observed them, listened to tapes of their sessions, and provided feedback? Supervision is key, and weekend workshop don't provide supervision. Don't be afraid to ask!

So what have we learned from this research trail? That for individuals with on-going symptoms from ADHD, a structured cognitive behaviour therapy program has been found effective and lasting.


This blog is not offered as medical advice or as a means of diagnosing or treating ADHD or any other disorder. Don't go on line and take an ADHD "test." The diagnosis is complex, and it involves not just looking for symptoms of ADHD, but also ruling out other disorders that might look just like ADHD. So avoid these on line "tests" which are nothing more than a collection of symptoms. You need to see a licensed or registered professional for that. Medical doctors can diagnose ADHD, but the diagnosis is complex and often they will make a referral to a Registered Psychologist. You can obtain a referral from the British Columbia Psychological Association for a psychologist near you.

My web page lists a number of resources you can make use of yourself in dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Please visit it at or one of my other sites at either Psychology Today, AAMFT, PSYRIS or my professional site.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) assessment and treatment services are offered for individuals, couples, families, children and adolescents in the Burnaby, Vancouver, Coquitlam, Port Moody, New Westminster and Maple Ridge areas of the lower mainland. This includes neuro-developmental assessments, psycho-education and cognitive behaviour therapy. I also provide diagnostic assessments for autism and Asperger's Disorder in my Burnaby office.

Dr. Jim Roche
Registered Psychologist, British Columbia 01610