8 Ways Social Workers Can Help Those with ADHDWendy Grieco
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, more commonly referred to as ADHD, is commonly found in both adults and children. As a social worker, you may be in a position to work with individuals diagnosed with ADHD, a condition characterized by adjectives like impulsive, disorganized, restless, emotional, angry, and lazy.
The truth is that individuals with this condition are often misunderstood. Considering that about 4.5 percent of American adults may have ADHD and many are undiagnosed and untreated, professionals may be facing an uphill battle.
Social work continuing education can help you not only keep up with the demands of your career field but also help you thrive as you work with patients living with ADHD.
1. Understand the Symptoms of ADHD
As a social worker, your first step is to understand the reality of ADHD. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), nine characteristics are associated with the condition. In order to diagnose the condition, at least six characteristics must be present in the client. You must also remember that the symptoms may vary widely from childhood to adulthood as the symptoms change in complexity.
Diagnosing ADHD is difficult, and undoubtedly the condition is both underdiagnosed in certain populations and overdiagnosed in others. With no definitive test in place to test for ADHD, professionals must look at the condition as a spectrum. Additionally, they must consider the co-morbidity of this condition alongside conditions like anxiety and depression.
2. Consider Pointing Clients Toward Many Treatment Options
Social workers often have limited means for pointing clients toward their treatment options, especially if they are not also licensed therapists. Still, you may be able to provide resources for your clients based on their needs when you understand the role each form of therapy plays.
Possible therapy options include medication management, individual therapy, family therapy, support groups, parenting courses, and even personal coaching. Understand your client’s needs to best point him or her in the right direction.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, commonly known as CBT, is also a beneficial tool for individuals who live with ADHD, especially if depression coincides with it. CBT helps clients identify self-defeating behaviors and thoughts so that they can develop coping strategies to change the behaviors that develop. Social workers may work alongside psychology professionals to assist with this type of work.
3. Address the Entire Family
When one member of a family is living with ADHD, it affects the entire family. Social workers can help to decrease some of the tension the condition can cause within families. For clients who are children, working with parents to understand behavior modification strategies is a great step. For others, finding new ways to build a strong support network is crucial.
4. Provide a Necessary Self-Esteem Boost
Many clients contending with ADHD are lacking in self-esteem, often in conjunction with low social skills and problems adjusting to new situations and settings. Your own interpersonal and professional skills can help you boost the self-value of your clients.
One way to help your clients cultivate a sense of self-worth is to pinpoint small, specific goals toward which they can work. For instance, your client might struggle to manage time effectively. You can make a difference by brainstorming goals that facilitate better time management.
With excellent assistance and treatment, individuals with ADHD can live fulfilling and unlimited lives that require little assistance in the long run. As a social worker, you provide a valuable service for individuals living with a misunderstood condition.
Many counselors rate their training in regards to ADHD as poor to somewhat adequate, but you can seek out additional training to help you meet the needs of your clients. Social work continuing education through PDH can help you. Get in touch with us today to learn more about Social Work Courses that will help you help your clients.