ADHD is one of the most common problems in children. This disorder affects not only the school environment, but also the social and family environment and, in adulthood, work. Early diagnosis and treatment increase the child’s chances of having a better quality of life.
Below is a summary of how is psychological intervention for ADHD doneexplaining the main tools used by psychologists specializing in this disorder.
Characteristics of Psychological Intervention for ADHD
Psychological intervention for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) uses a set of psychotherapeutic techniques to help children and adolescents develop their cognitive abilities while learning to manage and control the symptoms of the disorder. Psychological therapy is essential, providing the necessary behavioral and cognitive strategies so that patients with ADHD have the best possible quality of life.
The various methods and techniques of psychological intervention for ADHD focus on developing the capacity for self-control in children and adolescents, managing the main symptoms of the disorder, managing and controlling frustration, improving and training their social and communication skills. To do this, use different strategies, using behavioral procedures, self-control, instructions and relaxation, among others.
Below, we look at different approaches to ADHD in the context of therapy.
1. Psychoeducational approach
The psychoeducational approach to ADHD consists of teach the patient and family about the main features of the disorder and what can be done improve both the behavior and the adaptability and the quality of life of the child and his immediate environment.
In this context, the following is done:
- Explanation of ADHD to the patient.
- Clarification of possible problems and risks associated with the disorder.
- Different pathways of intervention and treatment for ADHD.
- Inform the patient of your diagnosis and accept it.
- Commitment and therapeutic compliance agreement.
2. Cognitive-behavioral therapy
The cognitive-behavioral approach has proven to be the most effective psychotherapeutic tool in a multitude of disorders, including ADHD.. This therapy has been shown to be very effective in reducing the disruptive behaviors of children with ADHD, giving them greater control over their behavior. For its application and effectiveness, the involvement of the patient, child or adolescent, and those responsible for his education, parents, teachers and other caregivers is essential.
Parental involvement is especially importantbecause they are the ones who apply the instructions at home and who have direct experience of the behavior of their child.
The aspects that are worked on in cognitive-behavioral therapy are:
- Personal development and support.
- Conflict resolution.
- Self-taught training.
- Behavior organization and planning.
- Emotional self-regulation.
- Training in internal skills and strategies.
3. Behavior modification therapy
Behavior modification therapy is based on operant conditioningusing reinforcers and punishments to contribute to the extinction of disruptive behaviors and the acquisition of positive behaviors.
Aspects being worked on include:
- Rules and limits
- Training in positive habits
- Changing disruptive behaviors and problem behaviors
- Positive behavior training
Within this approach, several operating techniques can be cited.
3.1. Positive reinforcement
In short, positive reinforcement is a procedure by which there is an attractive or good stimulus, something that interests the patient, after they have done the behavior that interests us as therapists to achieve. The purpose of applying positive reinforcement is to increase the likelihood that the desired behavior will occur again.
3.2. Symbolic economy
Token economics is an operating technique that has become particularly popular in the field of psychoeducation. This system establishes a series of specific behaviors that will reward the patient for following them. The purpose of the token economy is to encourage good behavior, through the positive reinforcement of tokens or prices, and to reduce undesirable behavior, through the use of negative punishment in the form of the loss of those tokens.
Extinction is the main technique to directly reduce or eliminate the behavior. This is to diminish the enhanced response to undesirable behaviors. To do this, it is essential to determine what reinforces the behavior in order to eliminate this reinforcement and therefore eliminate the response.
3.4. Free time
The time out is a technique that aims to deprive the child of any reinforcement that may exist in a context of misconduct. Basically, it consists of isolating the little one for a short time, not exceeding 10 minutes. The child must be informed in advance that their behavior has not been appropriate and he is forced to spend isolated time thinking about what happened.
Overcorrection is applied when the child exhibits negative behavior. You are asked to rectify what you have done wrong and repair the damage done. In case of overcorrection of the positive practice, the individual who did something wrong must repeat a positive behavior, the one that was indicated to him, as compensation.
4. Social skills training
The social domain is the one in which children and adolescents with ADHD have more difficulty. Psychotherapy aims to promote the acquisition of benchmarks, strategies and skills so that the patient relates more adequately to his environment.. It is a training process that will promote the social interaction of children and adolescents with ADHD with their peers and avoid problems such as social rejection, low self-esteem and isolation. Aspects being worked on include:
- Self-esteem, self-concept and emotional self-affirmation
- Socialization rules
- Social abilities
5. Relaxation and stress control
Relaxation techniques help control hyperactivity. Along with bodywork, the patient learns to channel his excessive activity, his agitation, his nervousness, his stress and his anxiety in case of having any. Relaxation is particularly useful in promoting positive emotions, helping the patient to remain calmer. More calm in the family unit, better communication between its members and a better relationship with the little one.
Useful aspects to work on in ADHD related to relaxation are:
- Body language
- Hobbies: sports, pequeño hobbies
- Psychomotor skills
6. Internal language and self-learning
It is very important to address the internal language of the ADHD patient, helping you internalize rules and instructions that help you think organized and purposeful.
The self-instruction technique is behavior change, which aims to alter the patient’s thoughts by replacing them with others that may be more helpful and effective in achieving their goals or objectives. These are guidelines that the patient gives himself to orient his way of acting.
Examples of self-instruction would be:
- “I will listen to the professor.”
- “I have to cross the street carefully.”
- “I have to put the chair on the desk.”
- “I shouldn’t be doodling on the classroom table.”
- “I’ve got to check if I have all the books I need to study.”
7. Self-control techniques
According to experts working with children and adolescents with ADHD, much of the Self-control issues can be improved by teaching the patient to moderate. These techniques aim to make you see, understand and keep in mind that you must reduce your impulsive behaviors, those which are immediately rewarding, but which in the medium and long term do not help you in any way, neither socially nor academically.
To implement a self-monitoring program, you can follow these steps:
- Identify the main problem and set achievable goals.
- Get the patient to commit to changing their behavior.
- Record the data and identify possible causes of the problem.
- Design and implement a treatment program.
- Prevent relapses and make the improvement last over time.
8. Training for parents
Parent training and family interventions are often effective. In cases where there is a lot of friction and few positive interactions in the parent-child relationship, psychological intervention for ADHD reinforces the parents’ skills so that they can better manage situations. Parents learn effective communication methods to establish rules and gain control.
Parents learn to make eye contact with their child, to give them one-to-one commands, and to do so in positive contexts.. Additionally, parents learn to establish appropriate negative consequences or sanctions for each specific behavior problem, appropriate for ADHD. These consequences must be closely related to the undesirable behavior, i.e. when the punishment is applied, the child is aware that they are inflicted because he has done something wrong that he knows what it’s about.
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