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How to Treat ADD in Adults Without Medication

By Michelle Bolyn ; Updated August 14, 2017

Using medication to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), commonly referred to as ADD, is one of the easiest options because it helps adults manage their symptoms. However, some adults don’t want to take medication and would prefer to use other forms of treatment to reduce their symptoms. ADHD can lead to problems in relationships, health issues, trouble at work and more if you don’t know how to deal with the prominent symptoms. Symptoms include lack of concentration, difficulty getting and staying organized, making impulsive decisions and difficulty communicating with others. These steps are intended to help only mental health professionals working with clients struggling with ADHD.

Get a detailed history of your client's mental health issues, family history of mental illness, medical issues and the reasons he is seeking treatment. You need this information to assist your client in dealing with his disorder. Make sure your client suffers from ADHD/ADD and not another disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.

Discuss your client’s symptoms in detail and how they affect her life. For example, ask her how her difficulties with concentration lead to problems at work and home.

Help your client understand how her symptoms affect her and how she can take control of them. Talk to her about cognitive-behavioral therapy and explain how it works.

Make a list with the client of any current issues that are due to his ADHD/ADD. For example, he may be getting into arguments with his girlfriend because of communication problems or maybe he is constantly late for work because he gets distracted in the morning.

Brainstorm with the client and come up with things she can do to reduce the symptoms she is struggling with. Each week assign specific tasks as homework. For instance, tell your client to first focus on getting to work on time. Help him organize a morning routine by putting time limits on each piece of the routine, such as 10 minutes for a shower and 20 minutes for breakfast. See if your client can follow this routine for a week.

Add a new homework assignment each week. Monitor your client's symptoms at each session. Do this by asking your client each week how much she was impacted by ADHD, on a scale of 1 to 10. Focus on a goal at each session and how the client can reach that particular goal.

Warnings

You should only be treating ADHD/ADD clients if you have the education and background to do so. If you are an adult looking for help with your symptoms of ADHD/ADD, consult a licensed mental health professional, such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist. Don’t expect your client to make all of the necessary changes right way. It the changes are too overwhelming the client may give up. Implement change by trying to achieve small goals each week.

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