We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.
Q: Our 10-year-old son has been diagnosed with ADHD. The school recommended he have counseling, but we really don’t know why. Our family seems to get along and we don’t have problems with our son other than his direction following and forgetfulness. Why would the school recommend counseling?
A: I would encourage you to ask the school directly as to why the recommendation for counseling was made. Without knowing your specific case, I can’t say exactly why, but I can tell you the purpose of counseling in most cases.
There is a saying, “Pills don’t teach skills.” Too often, parents medicate their children and don’t work on the management of ADHD. Counseling does not cure this disorder, but it does help kids figure out their strengths and weaknesses and how to help themselves, given their unique way of doing things. For example, counseling can help your son develop a reminder system or a tracking system for his homework.
Counseling might focus on relationship skills that help his social life at school—how to deal with frustration, impulsive behaviors, etc. Counseling reinforces a positive mindset and helps children understand that learning can take different forms and doesn’t mean they aren’t bright simply because they learn in less conventional ways.
Counseling is usually helpful when parents feel like they have tried things and need extra help with systems that work. Usually the counselor uses a cognitive behavioral approach in which the focus is on thoughts and behavior. This type of therapy teaches problem-solving, goal setting, new skills, and management of feelings. Finding a therapist who specializes in working with children with ADHD and understands the impact of the disorder is important.
Resource: Raising Boys with ADHD by Mary Anne Richey and James W. Forgan