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  • Writer's pictureCheryl Gigler

Creating Change when you have ADHD


Our ADHD support group hosts a party each year at which members share their personal stories of success. Each time, I’m reminded that when people receive good treatment for ADHD, they move ahead. They’re no longer buried under the traits of ADHD. Instead of “living their ADHD,” they begin living their lives. This leads to changed relationships, better jobs, and going back to school, to name a few. As they step forward, they want more from life.


Change IS possible


Adults with ADHD often believe “I am who I am,” and that change is impossible. Melissa Orlov, an expert on how ADHD affects relationships, suspects this belief is more about fear than reality. She wrote a blog for Psychology Today titled, “Can Adults with ADHD Really Change?”


The article suggests that people who struggle with ADHD may not have optimized treatment. Repeated failures have led them to believe they are not capable of success. However, research has shown that change is possible, with the right support.


The most common treatment, medication, can “normalize” behavior in 50-65% of people with ADHD, researcher Russell Barkley states in his book, “Taking Charge of Your Adult ADHD.” It can significantly improve the behavior of another 20-30%!


We all know that the best treatment for ADHD is multimodal. Changes in brain chemistry through medication, exercise, mindfulness can make a huge difference. Just as important is behavioral change, such as creating new habits, having tools, structures and strategies in place that are tailored to you.


Change Happens in Stages


Generally, people don’t change their behavior overnight. According to the transtheoretical model, change is a process that involves several stages over time. This differs from a traditional view of change, seen as a one-time event, such as stopping smoking or overeating. Based on over two decades of research, (Prochaska and Velicer, 1997) the transtheoretical model found that individuals create change by moving through a series of stages. The right support in each stage is vital to the change process.


The Stages of Change


People generally move through each of these stages* in sequential order:

  • Precontemplation: “I don’t need to change.” Everything seems hopeless and we doubt our ability to change.

  • Contemplation: “I might change.” We know we are stuck, but we’re not sure we want to do what is necessary for change.

  • Preparation: “I will change.” We have a plan in place and are making final adjustments to change, but we are not completely on board with change.

  • Action: “I’ve started to change.” We are in action, working toward our goals with structures in place that will allow us to succeed.

  • Maintenance: “I’ve changed.” In this final stage, we check that we are where we need to be and learn how to press the ‘reset’ button when we have setbacks.


What influences change?


To succeed, we must believe that we have the ability to change. We also must be able to plan and follow through on the actions required to meet our goals. We have to be able to persist, believing that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. It is important to note that the stages of change are a model, not a method of change.


Where are you today?


You might be staggering under the symptoms of untreated ADHD as well as executive skills challenges, such as getting started, planning, organizing, and managing time, to name a few. Your job or marriage may be on the line.

You may have tried to move ahead, but you really aren’t sure what type of help you need. Even if you know what help is needed, there can be the challenge of finding a provider in your area. All that to say that the road to treatment can be rocky.


You can experience success!


Most of us want to succeed and do well in life. If we haven’t, it’s important to ask why not? What has gotten in the way? With the right support, people with ADHD can create change and be extremely successful! An ADHD coach can support you in sorting out the pieces of the puzzle, walking alongside you to create the life you really want.


Call today for a complimentary coaching session!


* Jeremy Sutton, Ph.D. “The 6 Stages of Change.” PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/stages-of-change-worksheets/ Accessed July 8, 2021

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