Therapy-relevant factors in adult ADHD from a cognitive behavioural perspective

  • Patricia Elizabeth NewarkEmail author
  • Rolf-Dieter Stieglitz
Review Article


Adult individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been suffering from this neurobiological and highly heritable disorder chronically since childhood. Resulting from their longstanding neuropsychological impairments, such as attentional problems, emotional instability, and disinhibition, they are familiar to a multiplicity of negative life outcomes and underachievement. Furthermore, a large part of this population suffers from psychiatric comorbidity. This accumulation of negative experiences has an impact on therapy-relevant factors such as the individual’s self-esteem, self-efficacy, development of core beliefs/schemas, and coping strategies. Based on negative beliefs about the self, individuals confronted with difficult situations develop maladaptive coping strategies, for instance avoidance and procrastination. These strategies lead to maintenance and reinforcement of maladaptive beliefs, and as such they acquit themselves as schema-confirming. Captured in this vicious cycle, the individual sees her negative view of the self confirmed. The purpose of this paper is to illuminate these interactive factors that influence the aforementioned cycle in order to emphasize the cognitive behavioural interventions tailored to those factors on the basis of latest research. Furthermore, the authors want to attract notice to the resources people with ADHD are said to have, namely creativity and resilience. These postulated resources could be therapy-relevant by creating positive beliefs about the self, hence improving coping skills and breaking the vicious circle of negative appraisal. Taking into account personal resources and their fostering may be an important fundament for the treatment plan of adult ADHD. Information on the current state of research and theoretical approaches concerning the below-mentioned key words was gathered through MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PSYNDEXplus, and PubMed databases.


Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Cognitive behavioural psychotherapy Self-esteem Self-efficacy Core beliefs Schemas Coping strategies Resources 



This project was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, Grant No. 325100—120756/1.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Elizabeth Newark
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rolf-Dieter Stieglitz
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychiatric Outpatient DepartmentUniversity Hospital BaselBaselSwitzerland

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