Research Shows Therapy Should Be the First Option When Treating ADHD

When parents learn that their child has ADHD medication is often the first treatment they consider. According to new findings that could be a mistake. That is according to researchers, presenting at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, based on the largest-ever study on the best treatments for ADHD.

Research shows that when children are initially treated with behavioral interventions — and their parents get training on how to manage their behavior — medication is used less often and in smaller doses. While medications address ADHD symptoms like restlessness and fidgeting, they don’t address other problems like difficult relations with peers, parents and family members.

In counseling, a therapist can help the child with ADHD learn to feel better about themselves. Over time the therapist can help identify and build on their strengths, cope with daily problems, and learn to control their attention and aggression. The parents may need special help to develop techniques for managing the patterns of behavior.

In many cases the entire family may need help. Mental health professionals can counsel the child and the family, helping them to develop healthy new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other. Read more of my advice on parenting a child with ADHD – http://www.kmarshack.com/therapy/parenting/tipadd.html.

Money Triggers a Survival Instinct

I was recently interviewed by SmartMoney.com about how entrepreneurial couples should handle money conflicts.

Here’s a small excerpt of the article:

“Money is one of those things we can get really bent out of shape about,” says Kathy Marshack, a psychologist in Portland, Ore., and author of “Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home.” In general, money triggers a survival instinct, so worries about it can cause people to react “in more primitive ways,” she says. That’s especially true for couples in business together, whose livelihoods both depend on the success of the company. “If one partner makes a decision that the other feels is going to cost them, or force them to lose a contract, they can get extremely upset,” Marshack says.

Some couples may want to think twice about setting up anything but an equal relationship at work, especially when it comes to titles and salaries, suggests Marshack, the Portland psychologist. Some husband-and-wife teams, to avoid being hit by self-employment taxes, make one spouse the owner and the other an employee. “Sure, it probably cuts your taxes down,” she says. But it may not make sense when it comes to the “health of your relationship and even the culture of your business,” she says.

To read the entire article click here – www.smsmallbiz.com/profiles/Work_and_Life_Entrepreneurial_Mates.html#comments.

Checkout the Autism Quotient Quiz

I just took the Autism Quotient Quiz as posted on MSNBC – www.msnbc.com/modules/newsweek/autism_quotient/default.asp. While nothing is disguised—so the quiz is easy to fake—the simple questions asked do address the basics of Autism Spectrum Disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome. Take the quiz for yourself or a loved one and see how you measure up. Many of the questions in the quiz are addressed in my book “Sliver in My Mind.” The book is due out in January 2009. Oh and by the way, I scored 13 on the quiz, which is about average for NT women.

Take a Real Vacation this Year

I’ve just returned from my annual extended summer vacation. As a long-time resident of the Northwest—with an office in Vancouver, Washington and the other in Portland, Oregon—I’ve learned to take advantage of our short but beautiful summers for some rest and relaxation. As a therapist with a very full caseload, I always make sure that I have colleagues that can take care of any unseen emergencies that may arise with my clients. My goal is to—as much as possible—leave work behind me so I come back to it truly refreshed.

Working as a coach with family businesses, I’ve noticed how difficult it can be for entrepreneurs to let go of work when they’re on vacation. Entrepreneurial workaholics often never learn how to leave work and you’ll see them toting their laptops, Blackberries and I Phones at Disneyland and the beach. There are times when combining work and play is the best alternative. However, you also need to plan vacations without work in mind at all.

Oh, I know, pure vacations aren’t “write-offs”, but they may do more good than reduced taxes. So take my advice and plan at least one two week vacation a year that has nothing to do with work. Throw in two to three long weekends that are purely family fun too. Trust me you, your family and your business will benefit.

Practice good communication skills in your marriage

Listening, talking, communicating, resolving problems, making joint decisions… these are requirements for a successful marriage or partnership.

Here are some tips for effective communication:

• LOOK FOR THE MEANING BEHIND THE WORDS
The first place to start if you want to be heard is to listen yourself. This is easier said than done. However, once you become good at listening, half the current misunderstandings will disappear. One simple way to begin your education at becoming a better listener is to ask yourself “Why is he or she telling me this?” In other words, you are looking for the meaning behind the words. People have good intentions. But often their words don’t reflect the inner meaning. To be able to respond to this inner meaning, you must put yourself in his or her shoes and ask yourself what is the meaning behind these words or behavior?

• INTERPRETING THE HIDDEN MESSAGE
Another step in becoming a good listener is to realize that people cannot not communicate with you. That is, they are always sending you meaningful (meaningful to them) messages if you can only learn to interpret them. So even if you think you are getting resistance from someone, realize that this individual is telling you something that is important to them. After practicing nothing but listening for a few weeks, you should be getting pretty good at figuring out the other person’s reality.

• UNDERSTANDING THEIR “MAP OF REALITY”
Remember, we all live in our “maps” of reality. Your interpretation of reality is not necessarily superior to any other person’s. Maps are just a convenient way to structure our lives. In figuring out another person’s map of reality and responding to it, you begin to let the other person feel respected, appreciated, even loved. In order to respond to another person, it is necessary to put your own ego aside and look at things the way they do.

• SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE
Listen, observe and learn the “language” of the other person. Once you begin to speak their language, you will be surprised how much they want to learn yours. In other words, the real key to learning to talk so that others will listen is to learn the art of drawing people to you. By developing your creative listening skills, others will want to talk with and listen to you too!

Take a look at the Marriage Counseling section of my website for more advice on communicating.

Scientists say you should talk about your feelings

As a therapist I’ve observed firsthand how much better my clients feel when they’ve had the opportunity to talk about their concerns. It’s interesting that scientific research is backing that up. According to a study from the University of California, describing emotions like grief and disappointment can put the brakes on brain activity that generates those feelings. By using MRI scans researchers saw changes in the brain when participants described the scary or sad faces they saw.

Sometimes talking to a sympathetic friend or family member does the trick. However, there are times when you could really benefit most from professional guidance. So, how do you know if you need counseling or psychotherapy? The short answer is when your emotional problems are overwhelming you to the point of spending several hours a day thinking about them, you should consider seeking professional help. I encourage you to read more about this in an article I wrote – When to Seek Professional Help for Personal Problems.