Positive psychology in ADHD

Positive psychology in attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Positive psychology is an important tool that is developing over the past years. Traditional Psychology was established to address treatment for pathological disorders such as anxiety and depression. Lately, psychologists noticed that these tools can assist people that do not have severe psychological disorders. Positive thinking and mindfulness is expanding in the public awareness and as an important clinical tool. Today these techniques are powerful important tools for empowerment of positive traits of normal people who cope with daily challenges like frustration. The use of positive psychology is limited in pediatric neurology in general and in attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in particular.

Why isn’t positive psychology used in pediatric neurology?

The simple answer is that when there is a new trend there is a delay incorporating it to other specialties. The more conservative the specialty the more difficult the integration. The main line of treatment in ADHD is no doubt by medication (like Ritalin). Outstanding evidence proves the efficacy of medical treatment in attention deficit over the years. Since medical treatment covers most of the issues there is little need to seek elsewhere. Moreover, the neurologist doesn’t have the time, knowledge, ability and awareness to treat with positive psychology tools. Important to note that there is no research about positive psychology and ADHD.

When do we use positive psychology and ADHD? In cerebral palsy (CP). The concept was introduced to this domain have changed the clinical language and the medical research. Today we try to refrain from using “disability” and try to check for the “ability”. Once we understand the children’s abilities we can adjust tools for them to reach their goals.

Can we incorporate positive thinking also into the clinical world of ADHD?

It seems the reasonable thing to so. Parents often hear sentences like “the kid has potential”. Maybe also in ADHD like in CP we need to map the children’s abilities and provide them with tools to reach his own goals. Further studies are needed to check the impact of positive psychology on clinical outcomes in ADHD.

Practical tips: What are the questions?

What are the child’s abilities/ strengths?

What are the child’s goals? Try to define the goals in quantitative and practical way within a 3- month period.

Does the child have the tools to reach these goals?

Did it work? check if the child had attained the goals and if not how to readdress the challenge.