Evidence-based psychological therapies include all the following; modified versions of CBT, and Integrative approaches are also adapted to treat other general mental health conditions.
Cognitive Behavioural Treatment (CBT) for Adult ADHD
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapies tailored to ADHD symptomatology is an effective treatment for ADHD in adults. A recent study showed that the effect of medication was augmented by CBT but, strikingly, medication did not impact on the capacity to learn the skills taught during CBT. This suggests that CBT can be effective in adults with ADHD, even in patients who cannot tolerate stimulants.
Mindfulness based CBT for Adult ADHD
In recent years, mindfulness based CBT has been showed to improve attention, reduce stress, and improve mood. Studies examining the efficacy of mindfulness based cognitive therapy show improvements in ADHD symptoms and performance on neuropsychological tasks measuring attention and impulsivity. Improvements in anxiety and depressive symptoms were also observed.
Psychoeducation and Social Cognition Training for ASD
This approach has the aim to improve individuals’ ability to grasp social cues and, as a consequence, improve social functioning. Indeed, one problem central to individuals with autism is impaired social cognitive functioning. These social impairments encompass basic emotion recognition (reading specific emotions from human faces), theory of mind deficits (inferring intentions and beliefs in others and themselves) and other social cues (e.g. vocal tone), significantly affecting the lives of people with ASD and their families. The training employed here will focus in enhancing emotion recognition using external cues, role playing, facial emotion and prosody/vocal tone/body language recognition training tasks.
Applied Behaviour Analysis for ASD
This is a series of interventions that will lead to modification of behaviours. The Analysis focuses on an antecedent, which is a verbal or physical stimulus such as a command or request. This may come from the environment or from another person, or be internal to the subject; a resulting behaviour , which is the subject’s response or lack of response to the antecedent; a consequence, which depends on the behaviour. The consequence can include positive reinforcement of the desired behaviour or no reaction for incorrect responses. ABA targets the learning of skills and the reduction of challenging behaviours. Each skill is broken down into small steps, and taught using prompts, which are gradually eliminated as the steps are mastered.
Integrative approach for Adult ADHD and ASD
Research evidence also shows treatment effect when employing an integrative treatment approach based on cognitive behavioural (CBT), systemic paradigms, and attachment theories. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has also shown promising results.
ADHD or ASD focused couple therapy
Couples where one of the members suffers from ADHD (with or without ASD) commonly experience significant problems and conflicts in several domains including: chore-sharing, finance management and planning, sexual intimacy, communications, child-rearing style, anger outbursts, just to name a few. Integrating several techniques from psychoeducation, systemic theory, mindfulness and CBT approaches, we will be able to foster understanding, change and wellbeing. Some examples of what kind of change you should expect:
- A self-centred partner finally listens and shows empathy toward his spouse.
- The compulsive spender is able to self-regulate his spending habits having in mind his family financial security.
- The impulsive parent mindfully responds more calmly to her children’s behaviour.
- The “drama couple” finally finds new positive ways to channel creativity and energy.
In sum, adults with ADHD will be able to act more mindfully, with more insight and be able to develop new healthier habits and being more emotionally connected with their loved ones.