ADHD Medication and Behavioral Therapy

by Jacob Hafkin, CCBS Full-Time Therapist

ADHD Medication and Behavioral Therapy - Jacob Hafkin - Cherokee Creek Boys School TherapistRecently, I was asked to review an article that dealt with the subject of ADHD medication and Behavioral Therapy. It was published in Psychiatry Advisor and references the Center for Disease Control’s memo regarding the efficacy of Behavioral Therapy in the treatment of ADHD. OK…I agree with the premises made… but, more importantly, why do I agree? Because learning how to deal with ADHD is about managing symptomatology, rather than curing it.

These days we hear so much about medication and our society’s tendency to over-medicate children, especially young men. I have mixed feelings on the issue, as I have seen for numerous students the positive benefits of medication therapy.

ADHD medication and behavioral therapyThat said, I think too often we expect medications to fix everything. Studies have shown the most effective way to make and sustain change in the mental health field is through a combination of medication and talk therapies.

Medication can aid our students by allowing them a chance to control their behaviors. However, as a part of this regimen, the students also have to choose to control their behaviors.

That’s where the behavior therapy comes in. Our students must still learn strategies for success.

The fact that our boys can now pay attention in class gives us an open door to teach and coach skills such as time management, executive functioning tasks, social skills, goal development, etc.

ADHD medication and Behavioral TherapyMedication aimed towards ADHD symptoms creates an opportunity for our students to hear what we have to say. Then, it is the behavioral coaching that students (and parents) receive that cements these changes and allows for success to become a learned behavior.

Instead of pitting ADHD medication and Behavioral Therapy against each other, we should seek effective ways in which the benefits of both strategies can be utilized to foster the ability for each of our ADHD boarding school students to pay attention and focus in order to maximize their learning experience.

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