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Therapy for ADHD

What Is Therapy for ADHD?

Therapy is part of the treatment for most kids and teens diagnosed with ADHD. Kids have meetings with a therapist to help with the problems that ADHD can cause.

In therapy, kids learn skills that don't come naturally because of ADHD, like listening and paying attention better.

Some kids with ADHD also get another type of therapy called occupational therapy. This helps when things like balance or handwriting are difficult because of ADHD or a learning disability.

Treatment for ADHD usually includes medicine. Medicines boost the brain's ability to pay attention, use self-control, and fidget less. Medicine works best when a child also has a therapist to teach how to use these improved abilities.

Why Do Kids Need Therapy for ADHD?

Therapy helps kids with ADHD do better in school and at home. For example, they learn how to:

Some kids need therapy to help ease difficult emotions caused by ADHD. For example, kids might lose confidence or feel like they're disappointing others. Some kids become depressed, anxious, or frustrated.

When kids learn skills to manage ADHD, they do better. Therapy also helps kids feel happier and more confident.

How Does ADHD Therapy Work?

In ADHD therapy, kids learn by doing. With younger kids, this means drawing, playing, and talking. For older kids and teens, a therapist will share activities and ideas to build skills they need, like good study habits.

In ADHD therapy, a positive relationship with the therapist helps kids feel encouraged and supported as they learn.

Illustration: ADHD therapy support

Depending on the child's age, a therapist might meet with the child and parent together, or with the child alone. When parents work with kids in therapy sessions, they learn tips and ideas for keeping up the lessons at home.

Parents can help kids use and practice what they learn. Kids build confidence and self-esteem as they master new skills.

What Happens in ADHD Therapy?

At the beginning, your child's therapist will talk with you and ask questions. Listening to your answers helps the therapist learn more about your child. Together you will make goals for what you want to improve.

Parents and kids usually meet with the therapist once a week for a few months. 

Therapy sessions include activities like:

How Long Do Kids Do ADHD Therapy?

How long therapy lasts will depend on your goals. Most of the time, a therapist will want to meet with your child once a week for a few months.

How Can Parents Help?

Having ADHD isn't a child's — or a parent's — fault. But there are things that children and parents can learn in therapy to help things get better.

Here's how you can help:

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: December 2017

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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