ADHDAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the official name used by the American Psychiatric Association, with or without hyperactivity.

ADHD is a neurological condition that is usually genetically transmitted. It is characterized by distractibility, impulsivity and restlessness or hyperactivity. These symptoms are present from childhood on, and with a much greater intensity than in the everyday person, so that they interfere with everyday functioning.

The Hallowell Centers’ Strength-Based Approach

At the Hallowell Centers we utilize the strength-based approach pioneered by Dr. Hallowell.  We pride ourselves in claiming we “unwrap gifts rather than treat disabilities” but clients often ask what that really means.

Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are trained to search out and treat pathology and harmful symptoms. Treatment is geared to correcting the pathology and extinguishing the symptoms. At the Hallowell Centers, while we do not ignore what is going wrong, we try to spend as much time on promoting what is going right. We try to help our clients look at how they naturally solve problems, when they feel things are going best, when life “goes right.” Then from this perspective, we try to help them develop strategies for when life does not go so well.

ADHD = Ferrari Engine Brain

Dr. Hallowell describes the ADHD brain as a Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes. That description means your brain isn’t defective, it is magnificent, but you have to learn to manage it, to strengthen the brakes to get the best out of it.

If we can help our clients accept both where they struggle and where they shine, they are better able to develop strategies that help them move forward rather than fall into trap of shame or blame. Unfortunately, this is where many with ADHD languish for years.

What We Have Learned about People with ADHD

People who are struggling sometimes assume they need to cut down the challenge in their life. What we have learned is that people with ADHD and associated issues need challenge to thrive in their life, perhaps even more than other people. The trick is helping our clients find the right challenge or as Dr. Hallowell says, the right difficult. Not enough challenge and people with ADHD become bored, the wrong type of challenge and they become overwhelmed.

Need help managing your ADHD? Click here to learn How The Hallowell Centers Can Help You.

Textbook Definition of ADHD

For those seeking a textbook definition of ADHD, The American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV manual identifies 18 key symptoms, grouped into two different clusters: Inattention and Hyperactivity/Impulsivity.  Learn more here. 

Read all of Dr. Hallowell’s ADDitude articles on ADHD here. Dr. Hallowell is a member of ADDitude’s ADHD Specialist Panel.

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by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D.

Need help managing your ADHD? Click here to learn How The Hallowell Centers Can Help You.

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The Hallowell Center SF is seeking part-time clinicians (Educational Therapists, Board certified psychiatrists, licensed psychologists, social workers.