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Psychotherapy of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults

A pilot study using a structured skills training program


In clinical practice many adult patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) ask for an additional psychotherapeutic intervention besides the medical therapy. In this paper we present a structured skill training program particularly tailored for adult patients with ADHD. The program is based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral treatment for borderline personality disorder developed by M. Linehan. It was modified to suit the special needs of adult patients with ADHD. In this exploratory pilot study we tested this program in a group setting. The following elements were presented: neurobiology of ADHD, mindfulness, chaos and control, behavior analysis, emotion regulation, depression, medication in ADHD, impulse control, stress management, dependency, ADHD in relationship and self respect.

In an open study design patients were assessed clinically using psychometric scales (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Checklist according to DSM-IV, 16 items of the SCL-90-R, Beck-Depression Inventory, visual analogue scale) prior to and following group therapy. This treatment resulted in positive outcomes in that patients improved on all psychometric scales.

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Received: 19 April 2002 / Accepted: 18 July 2002

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Hesslinger, B., Tebartz van Elst, L., Nyberg, E. et al. Psychotherapy of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 252, 177–184 (2002).

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  • Key words attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults (ADHD)
  • psychotherapy
  • cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT)
  • dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • skills training