How to Find an ADHD Specialist Provider in the United States

How to Find an ADHD Specialist Provider in the United States

This article is intended to help families find ADHD specialist providers for children, teens, and adults since many families do not know where to start or what type of ADHD services they want or need.  If you have ADHD and the task of finding providers seems overwhelming, consider asking family or friends for help.  Disclaimer: The author accepts no responsibility for the outcomes or results of services, and does not endorse any specific provider or organization.

Five Steps to Finding an ADHD Specialist Provider

STEP 1. Determine the type of provider/s you need  

If you or the person who you are seeking services for has not been diagnosed with ADHD (or other conditions), then you could start with initial diagnostic services (which is either an ADHD evaluation or neurodevelopmental assessment or testing).

If there are no concerns about diagnoses now, then an ADHD treatment provider (ADHD psychotherapist or counselor and/or ADHD medication provider) and/or ADHD coach may be needed.  School advocates and educational therapists can be helpful as well.  After reading the descriptions below, discuss this with your current health care providers if you need further direction about what type of ADHD provider/s may be needed.  Also, during Step 2 below, you could call ADHD psychotherapists and coaches and ask for their opinions.

ADHD Evaluations
These are typically provided by outpatient psychotherapists and are easier to obtain, but less comprehensive and expensive than neurodevelopmental assessments (see below).  Primary care physicians and psychiatrists may or may not provide these evaluations.  Clinical psychologists often provide these more commonly than clinical counselors, social workers, and other therapists.  However, ADHD evaluations may not be as conclusive, particularly if other conditions may be present.  Clinical psychologists, counselors, social workers and therapists may continue with therapy/counseling treatment after the evaluation phase is completed. Providers who can offer this service include:

  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Primary Care Physicians
  • Psychiatrists
  • Licensed Professional Counselors
  • Clinical Social Workers
  • Marriage and Family Therapists

 

Neurodevelopmental, Neurobehavioral, and Neuropsychological Testing or Assessments These are more comprehensive than ADHD evaluations, and can be necessary when more complex presentations or potential coexisting conditions may exist (such as learning disorders, autism, and other neurodevelopmental concerns). Other conditions often coexist with and worsen ADHD, so these should be identified and treated. Many disorders can also cause ADHD-like symptoms when true ADHD does not exist.  Unfortunately, there are fewer of these testing providers, waiting lists may exist, and they are more expensive. Beside private practitioners, these are also often provided at larger teaching and university hospital systems.  Providers who can offer this service include:

  • Neuropsychologists (who are specialized clinical psychologists)
  • Some Clinical Psychologists who are not neuropsychologists may conduct ADHD testing that is less extensive, but can still be helpful.

 

ADHD Medication Prescribers

  • Primary Care Physicians
  • Psychiatrists
  • Neuropsychiatrists
  • Neurologists
  • Nurse practitioners

 

ADHD Psychotherapists and Counselors
These providers offer psychotherapy and counseling treatment for ADHD and may also address psychological coexisting conditions.  Clinical psychologists may also address certain coexisting neurodevelopmental conditions as well.  For children and adolescents, providing parents with behavior management training and skills is a critical part of ADHD treatment.  Providers who can offer this service include:

  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Licensed Professional Counselors
  • Clinical Social Workers
  • Marriage and Family Therapists

 

ADHD Coaches
ADHD coaches can provide an important service that is somewhat different from psychotherapy and counseling.  Coaches can help families better understand how ADHD specifically impacts them, and teach skills, strategies, and generate questions to motivate clients to be more effective in managing and enhancing their lives.  For children and teens, ADHD coaching should involve parent training and/or coaching, which incorporates behavior management skills.  Health insurance plans typically do not cover coaching services, so these are out-of-pocket fees.

Special Education/School Advocates and Special Education Consultants
These professionals provide advocacy services to ensure that students are receiving fair and appropriate school services and accommodations.  They are particularly helpful when students are not receiving school case study evaluations necessary for official school plans, or are experiencing challenges with schools implementing IEPs and 504 plans.  Some advocates are attorneys and special education consultants have advanced degrees in mental health, but of these professionals all should be knowledgeable about special education rights and needs, disability laws, and state school policies. To find advocates, conduct internet searches for these in your area, or contact local disability advocacy and support groups.

Educational Therapists
While less common, these educators can help address learning and school difficulties.  They provide scholastic case management, tutoring, and skills training.  They often address learning difficulties not addressed by clinical providers, and can work with schools for enhanced educational outcomes.

Association of Educational Therapists website (click on link)

STEP 2. Find potential providers

The goal in this step is to find providers who specialize or have significant experience working with patients with ADHD in your desired age group (children, teens, and adults).  Not all therapists or counselors work with or having a thorough understanding of ADHD, so finding an experienced provider with this practice focus is critical.  There are no specific ADHD certifications or credentials for health care professionals, so an ADHD specialization tends to occur when providers have worked with higher number of these patients, have an active caseload of individuals with ADHD, have a strong interest and skills in this area, have clear evidence-based ADHD clinical approaches, and can articulate how they effectively work with these patients.  Be aware that some clinicians may state they have ADHD expertise, but have limited experience or effectiveness.  Treatment for ADHD should be specific and focused upon ADHD (and other conditions), and not utilize a more generalized or relational therapy approach.  Those in rural areas may struggle more to find local ADHD providers.  However, in theory, now that virtual services are more common, it should be easier to find a virtual provider within your state (or other states).  Additionally, because most ADHD coaches work virtually, coaches should be accessible across the United States.

  1. Start with your primary care provider or other trusted health care professional for provider referrals.
  2. Use your health insurance plan’s list of in-network ADHD providers. Call your health insurance plan and ask for a list of in-network ADHD providers. You can also ask what are the costs for these providers (copays, co-insurance, and deductibles), and if virtual services are covered.  Many health care plans have websites with lists of their providers, but these may or may not have current information.  Also, when you call therapists and psychiatrists, double check if they are in-network with your health care plan. For uninsured families or those with low incomes, visit local or county community mental health centers for therapy and medication services.
  3. Explore other ADHD provider referral resources (click on links):

CHADD website reference for above resource links: https://chadd.org/adhd-weekly/tips-for-finding-an-adhd-specialist/

  • State Psychological Associations – Internet search your state’s psychological association website to find psychologists.  Many of these websites have a helpful “find a psychologist” search option.
  • National Register of Health Service Psychologists

 

STEP 3. Call providers to explore if they may be the right one for you

  1.  Call and ask to speak to the provider personally. A surprising number may       may speak with you directly.
  2. If the provider won’t talk with you on the phone, ask to speak with the office manager or someone familiar with their work at the practice.
  3. Consider interviewing the provider or their knowledgeable office staff with the following questions (adjust these for coaches, advocates, and educational therapists):
  • What experience do you have working with (children, teens, adults) with ADHD?
  • How many patients are you currently working with who have ADHD?
  • What is your approach in diagnosing ADHD?
  • What is your approach in treating ADHD? What are your common treatment plans and goals for those with ADHD?
  • How do you address coexisting conditions that occur along with ADHD?

 

STEP 4. At the first session, review you goals and needs

Explain why you are there, what you want to accomplish with the service, your concerns, and any other issues.  These should be discussed at the very start of services to clarify if the provider can meet your needs and agrees with the focus of service.  If you have had unsuccessful prior services, discuss this with the provider.

STEP 5. If you don’t find a good match after starting services, repeat Steps 2 and 3

If you receive services from a provider who you do not like or feel is not a good match for you, move on and try another provider.  It may take multiple rounds before you find the right provider.  Hang in there and keep trying providers until you are successful.  Consider highly recommended virtual providers to widen your circle as well.

No Comments

Post A Comment