How to address therapist shortcomings? - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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How to address therapist shortcomings?

goldenharp profile image

hello folks! Very long first post.

I’ve been with working with a therapist for about a year now to address some difficulties I have around school and doing homework. She specializes in ADHD and her reviews were mostly positive, but her only strategy was to have me sit and do my work while she sat on the phone with me.

I expressed to her early on that I have some trauma surrounding academia/schoolwork but that I really loved school and wanted to pursue law eventually, so overcoming feeling triggered to the point of being paralyzed was my paramount goal. Her strategy of just having me sit and work for an hour hasn’t been helpful outside of the sessions (essentially, whenever I try it on my own, I just get my normal, terrified response). Two weeks ago (at my prompting), we began unpacking my trauma and so far, we talked about what happened, she said “wow that sounds really difficult” and asked me how I felt and then our session was over and I had to come down from a flashback on my own.

I have a non-negotiable deadline coming up and I want to be able to do what I need to in order to get my work done, but I’m not sure how to tell her that what we’ve been doing isn’t working and I’m not sure what will work. I’m moving back to the East Coast in less than a month, so it’s kind of late to begin a new therapeutic relationship here and I’m stuck for ideas on what to do on my own.

TL;DR my therapist isn’t helping me accomplish my schoolwork goals, I have a non-negotiable deadline coming up and I’m not sure what to do

6 Replies

Hey there, I'm so sorry you're feeling so much stress right now. After just graduating college, I totally get the pressure and stress. I think it's great your therapist is incorporating that practice of studying with you, and I don't know the specifics of your arrangement, but it feels like she should have explained what she's doing is essentially body doubling, which is a great tool for ADHD peeps to be productive. It feels weird to me she is doing it during your session, instead of using the time to talk to you more about the trauma behind it, and having you find body doubling resources outside the session, but again I don't know the specifics of your situation. There are some free websites that offer virtual body doubling with someone, a few discussions on this forum have talked about it, but I can't remember the exact websites. Since your deadline is coming up I'd recommend using one of those! Or finding a friend/family you can study with that will understand?

Sadly therapy is a long process, I saw one for 4 months, we didn't make any progress so I gave up. Then started seeing another one and again it had been about 4 months with no progress and then I realized it wasn't gonna be a fix all overnight. I saw her for probably a year before she ended up moving. I haven't wanted to find a new therapist since that process felt exhausting to do over again, but know eventually I'll need it.

I am not sure how long you have been seeing her, but that session where you began to talk about your trauma is a huge starting step, and I am proud of you for doing that because I know how hard it is (especially because the hour will fly by SO fast and you go from sobbing uncontrollably to a second later, "alright thanks, see you next week!" which is so weird). Definitely keep pushing through those conversations, and over time it will get easier to talk about, and then it will be easier to work on goals to manage and overcome! Alternatively, if she is someone you have been seeing for a while and you don't feel any progress then it might be time to look for someone new, after you have settled in from moving.

Best of luck to you!

I hate that you're struggling right now but know that you're on the right track wether you stay with this therapist or not. You're taking the right steps and it sounds like you are in the right frame of mind. I would be up front with her. I use to spiral after every session for a year or two. So I told her that and we started saving some time at the end to decompress.

I have found that every therapist has a particular bag of tricks and at some point they run there course and won't be able to give you any new tools. If you still need some different tools or you might find there are new struggles that their skills not be well suited to help you with you'll be looking for someone new.

I would be as clear as you can with what you need from her, she works for you. "I need tools I can use IRL when I _ ." "When I leave here I need something I can use when I struggle out there."

If something doesn't make sense speak up and ask them to explain. I wasted a lot of time early on thinking we would just "figure out". It's definitely worth the ask. A lot of times they have other resources they can point you to for practical use or to expand your tools a understanding so you can maximize your time with her on the things you need that time for.

I've had quite a few therapists and I learned something from each one and have another strategy or tool to use when i need it. I feel like a lot of folks forget that the therapist should be working on getting you in a good place so you don't need them anymore.

I feel like I'm rambling. Good luck and I hope this helps.

Hi GoldenHarp,Your therapist probably should be using your sessions for therapy. Have you not done any deeper work with her already? Does she think you asked for immediate short term help? I would want to know.

My therapist told me she works on the personal and interpersonal stuff and that an executive function coach is the one that would work more on the tactical stuff like setting a schedule, breaking down tasks and so on. I don’t know where body doubling fits into that breakout, but it seems expensive to me to pay a therapist to keep me steady while studying.

Sorry, how: Just share what you wrote in this post with her. Copy paste it in an email and ask to discuss at your next session.

You should also chat about your move. Some states don’t let therapists work with patients outside of the state. But yeah it sounds like they are trying to be a coach rather than a therapist. Reviews aren’t everything so it may be time to find a new person to work with.

Hello! Yes, I have been there, Therapists are pretty useless in my opinion. Most of them don't have A.D.H.D so they have no way of knowing how you are actually feeling or relate to any of your experiences. Not to mention the whole idea behind what most would consider A.D.H.D especially in traditional therapy sessions through private business or government is all centred around the idea that you are broken and need medication to function. I'd recommend trying for another approach looking at alternatives out there for people like yourself.. like alternative therapy... Say along the lines of something spiritual in nature. ;) You might find something very interesting. Good luck :)

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