Mastering Your Adult ADHD

A cognitive-behavioral treatment guide for organizing, ignoring distractions, and controlling impulses.

by Steven Safren, Susan Sprich, Carol Perlman and Michael Otto
Oxford University Press, $29.95 (client workbook) and $35 (therapist guide)
Purchase Mastering Your Adult ADHD

This client workbook, along with its companion guide for therapists, serves as a good introduction to cognitive-behavioral therapy, a structured, goal-oriented form of therapy that is particularly effective for adults with ADHD.

The books are organized around three kinds of skills that are hard for adults who have ADHD: organizing, ignoring distractions, and controlling impulses. Readers should turn to those sections that address the particular problems they face. Throughout, they will find helpful exercises, along with clear charts that make it easy to track their progress.

The exercises range from physical (developing a sorting system for mail) to mental (formulating a rational response when something makes you angry).

In the section on reducing distractibility, the authors suggest the following exercise: Pick a chore. Set your timer for the length of time you think you can stay on task, and start to work. When a distraction appears (notice that the authors say “when” and not “if”), write it down on a piece of paper, but do nothing to address it (unless it is truly an emergency). To remain on task, use coping statements like “I will worry about it later” or “This is not an A-priority.” When the timer goes off, decide what, if anything, you wish to do about the distractions you wrote down. At the next training session, increase the amount of time you work on a task.

As a psychologist who uses CBT, I think the client workbook is most helpful if used in conjunction with the therapist guide.