ADHD: When a Professional Can’t Help

By Jeff Copper, MBA, PCC, PCAC, CPCC, ACG – May 30, 2022

Those with ADHD often seek help for their symptoms, but there are limitations to a professional’s ability to help. It comes down to how much the person is willing to be helped and what they are willing to do on their part to make use of that help.

In many cases, the person says to their family that they want help, but in reality, when the family reaches out to a professional on the person’s behalf, it seems to be a different story. Saying they want help doesn’t necessarily mean they do.

On the one hand, they may be reluctant to take the first steps themselves and are probably in favor of someone else pitching in and doing the research to find the help. The question is who wants the help more? The one with ADHD or the person making the call?

What I have found often is that sometimes what the one with ADHD wants is just to get the family off their back. Even if they agree to the coaching or counseling, they don’t show up for it and don’t actually engage in it; they just wanted to get out from under the family pressure. The professional who is ready to help them really can’t because the person is not doing their part.

Coaching or therapy, or even taking medication, is not like getting a haircut where you just sit passively and someone else does the work. To get the help needed, the person needs to be actively involved in the process, paying attention to attention. Sometimes, it’s the family who wants the help more, and in that case, the family is paying attention to the wrong thing instead of all the signs that the person is not really interested.

To coin a phrase from Dr. Ari Tuckman, a sign of maturity is asking for help. I think that is really true. There’s a study out of the University of North Carolina that, of the kids who go on to college after graduating high school in a Section 504 or an IUP, only 8% of them ever engage in disability services.

That may be a symptom of a flawed system, but at the same time, that’s representative of how much or how little they really want help. There’s a lot of pressure on professionals to move the student forward, but when the student shows up and admits they don’t want the help, there’s very little a coach or a therapist can do to help.

Those students are unable to see they’re not doing as well as they should be. They think they’re doing well enough and that the family is just getting worked up for no reason despite the fact that their track record suggests they are not doing well.  They have an overoptimistic view of the future. If you put that into terms of attention, it may be that they’re paying attention to the wrong things or they’re not paying enough attention to the right things.

If someone you love needs professional help for their ADHD but is not interested in getting the help, please listen to my interview on Attention Talk Radio with Dr. Ari Tuckman for his insights on “ADHD: When a Professional Can’t Help.” Maybe then they could be convinced why it would be beneficial.
ADHD: When a Professional Can't Help

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