Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder—Couples
Relationship conflicts commonly result from undiagnosed and untreated ADHD. A couple’s relationship frequently suffers when the problems related to ADHD are not addressed. ADHD can tear apart the fabric of family relationships and undermine the family support system that is so important to reducing ADHD patterns and improving emotional wellbeing.
Couple therapy that is specifically tailored to address ADHD can open up new avenues for mutual understanding and empathy. Couples affected by ADHD often seek help after longstanding frustration and hurt. In many cases, these couples have had previous unsatisfying experiences in therapy. Often, the partner with ADHD feels criticized, blamed or misunderstood. The non-ADHD partner, in turn, may feel overburdened, ignored or letdown. Once ADHD is identified and its role is understood, specific problem solving strategies and communication approaches can bring change in longstanding negative patterns.
My therapeutic approach is customized for each couple, but will typically include the following:
Psychoeducation. Couples learn about ADHD’s neurological basis and gain an understanding of the specific ways it impacts their lives and relationship.
Psychostimulant medication. Medication is often very helpful for symptom reduction. If a joint decision is made to try medication, I will refer you to a psychiatrist with whom I work closely.
Problem-solving strategies. When daily ADHD patterns, such as forgetfulness, poor time management and disorganization, are reduced, an improved, more positive relationship can begin to develop. I work with couples to address any problems that may exist in balancing household tasks and responsibilities, parenting roles, work/home balance, schedules and finances. Often, couples find themselves caught in frustrating patterns without knowing how to change them. We will examine these roles and negotiate changes based on compromise and each partner’s strengths and weaknesses. Together, we will establish specific behavioral goals that allow change to occur in manageable steps.
Communication. Once daily tensions and conflicts are addressed, new possibilities for mutual understanding and closeness are created. This process is fostered by developing new ways of communicating that allow each partner to feel heard and understood. My approach is to teach couples specific communication techniques that help reduce reactivity and defensiveness and create safety in communicating honestly. Couples are able to rebuild trust when they listen with empathy to one another’s feelings and experiences.
As you engage together in the process of education, problem-solving and improved communication, you can both come to view ADHD as a shared challenge with real solutions, rather than as a problem that divides you.
More ADHD Services: adults / children / teens