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10 CEUs Treating Locking In & Blocking Out: ADHD Adults

Section 8
Alcohol and Depression Treatment

Question 8 | Test | Table of Contents | ADHD CEU Courses
Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, MFT CEUs

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On the last track, we discussed the six common balancing issues ADHD adults face. These six common balancing issues were Work vs. Play, Your Needs vs. Others’ Needs, Overstimulation vs. Understimulation, Hyperactivity vs. Hypoactivity, Detailed vs. Global Thinking, and Depression vs. Euphoria.

I find it beneficial with some ADHD clients to use the AA Twelve Steps. As you know, these steps are framed around a central concept of spiritual awareness that has relevance to ADHDers. It’s the glue that holds all the steps of the program together so that peace and self-acceptance can be achieved.

Closely related to spiritual awareness and integral to the program is the issue of morality and wrongdoing. Typically the alcoholic, like the ADHDer, has caused havoc in the lives of friends and family. For more information on applying Twelve Step principles to your ADHD client, you might check out the book "You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?" by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo.

On this track, we will discuss the ADHD adult’s Moral Inventory. The ADHD adult can develop a Moral Inventory by answering three questions. These three Moral Inventory questions are: "What Can I Do Well?", "What Can I Do Adequately?", and "What Can’t or Shouldn’t I Do?".

Rachel, age 29 wife and mother, was feeling depressed and inadequate. Rachel had been having problems with balancing issues, discussed on the previous track, but had tried to work through them. After doing the "Daily Log" exercise explained on the previous track, Rachel determined that she did not have enough time in her week to hold a full-time job and raise her two children. However, she felt her husband made inadequate income for her to work part-time.

Rachel stated, "I’m feeling much less stress, now that I’ve switched to a part-time job at the supermarket. It gives me plenty of time to take care of the kids and the household chores. Sometimes I even enjoy some of the new things I do around the house, like gardening and growing my own vegetables and fruits. But I feel like such a failure! I mean, other women who don’t have ADHD can manage a household and still hold full-time jobs. I feel like I’ve failed my husband and kids. We don’t have as much money now that I’m only working part-time, and it’s because of my ADHD!"

ADHD Moral Inventory - 3 Questions
I explained to Rachel that the fact that she was only working part-time did not make her a failure. I stated, "Acknowledging your limits offers an opportunity for you to grow beyond them." Rachel still looked discouraged, and stated, "But I have so many more limits than other people. It’s just so frustrating!" I suggested to Rachel that she develop a Moral Inventory. As I explain how the process worked for Rachel, think of your ADHD client. Would he or she benefit from creating a Moral Inventory?

Question # 1 - "What Can I Do Well?"
I explained to Rachel that the first question in Kelly’s ADHD Moral Inventory is "What Can I Do Well?" As you know, for many ADHD adults, this question can be one of the hardest to answer. Rachel answered, "I’m stumped. I really can’t think of a whole lot that I do well. I’m so used to focusing on what I do badly, and my mistakes." I explained to Rachel that she might want to enlarge her thinking about what constitutes an asset. Rachel frowned, and stated, "Well, I can’t think of anything practical. I can do silly little things, like tying a cherry stem with my tongue. But what does that matter?"

As you know, some gifts that ADHD adults enjoy aren’t always easy to measure or define by societal standards. I explained to Rachel that even though it seemed unimportant, it was still something she could do well, and could be included in her Moral Inventory. Rachel gave an exasperated sigh and stated, "But that still doesn’t mean I can do anything practical! I can’t work with computers very well, I’m not good with math or filing taxes – I just can’t do anything that matters!" It seemed to me Rachel needed a bit of guidance in evaluating her strengths.

I reminded her of the "Daily Log" exercise she had completed before. I stated, "When you added up the amount of time you spent working and found out you needed to start working part-time, you also came up with ways to make do with less money. Didn’t you say you started your own garden for vegetables and fruits?" Rachel nodded and stated, "Yes, but I enjoy gardening." I responded, "Just because you enjoy it doesn’t mean it can’t be included in your inventory." Once Rachel started including things she liked to do in her Moral Inventory, she found her list was longer than she expected.

Question # 2 - "What Can I Do Adequately?"
For the second question in Kelly’s ADHD Moral Inventory, I asked Rachel to ask herself, "What Can I Do Adequately?" Rachel looked confused, so I explained, "In this list, you can include activities that you can do, even if you’re not great at those activities." Rachel furrowed her brow and asked, "Like what? Most things I either like and do well, or do badly." I stated, "Once you grow the fruits and vegetables in your garden, I’m sure you use them for meals, right?" Rachel hesitantly stated, "Yeah, but no one raves about my ability to cook them once I’ve grown them."

As you know, the list for what an ADHD adult can do adequately could include things that the ADHD adult can do reasonably well. I explained this to Rachel and stated, "You may not be an amazing chef at a five-star restaurant, but you haven’t managed to burn your kitchen down." Rachel smiled and added, "Yeah, and I guess I haven’t killed any immediate family members with bad food." Rachel now had a start to her list of things she could do adequately: cooking.

Question # 3 - "What Can’t or Shouldn’t I Do?"
After answering the questions "What Can I Do Well?" and "What Can I Do Adequately?", the third question in Kelly’s ADHD Moral Inventory is "What Can’t or Shouldn’t I Do?" I explained to Rachel that this third list of what she couldn’t do would help her determine what activities she felt she should simply stop doing. I stated, "If you are experiencing failure when your efforts don’t accomplish what you want them to, perhaps your only failure is in trying to do some of these things at all." Rachel responded, "But all the other working moms I know can balance full-time jobs with kids."

As you know, many ADHD adults work so hard to be normal that they are unrealistic about their own capabilities. I stated to Rachel, "For this step, you need to be honest about your weaknesses. Don’t be concerned with the strengths and weaknesses of other working moms." Rachel frowned, but began working on her list, starting with some of the ideas she had mentioned earlier, "filing taxes" and "fixing computers."

Do you have a client who, like Rachel, is having problems adjusting to a recent change in his or her life due to his or her ADHD, such as working part-time instead of full-time? Would your Rachel benefit from developing a Moral Inventory?  Would you consider replaying this track before your next session with your ADHD client?

On this track, we have discussed the ADHD adult’s Moral Inventory, which is developed by answering three questions. These three Moral Inventory questions were: "What Can I Do Well?", "What Can I Do Adequately?", and "What Can’t or Shouldn’t I Do?".

On the next track, we will discuss two common Slippery Social Situations an ADHD adult may encounter. The two common Slippery Social Situations an ADHD adult may encounter are Good Manners, and the Fear of the Phone.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:

Acuff, S. F., Soltis, K. E., Dennhardt, A. A., Borsari, B., Martens, M. P., Witkiewitz, K., & Murphy, J. G. (2019). Temporal precedence of self-regulation over depression and alcohol problems: Support for a model of self-regulatory failure. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 33(7), 603–615.

Becker, S. P., Mossing, K. W., Zoromski, A. K., Vaughn, A. J., Epstein, J. N., Tamm, L., & Burns, G. L. (2020). Assessing sluggish cognitive tempo and ADHD inattention in elementary students: Empirical differentiation, invariance across sex and grade, and measurement precision. Psychological Assessment. Advance online publication.

McKeague, L., Hennessy, E., O'Driscoll, C., & Heary, C. (2015). Retrospective accounts of self-stigma experienced by young people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or depression. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 38(2), 158–163.

Walther, C. A. P., Pedersen, S. L., Gnagy, E., Pelham, W. E., & Molina, B. S. G. (2019). Specificity of expectancies prospectively predicting alcohol and marijuana use in adulthood in the Pittsburgh ADHD longitudinal study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 33(2), 117–127.

What are the three questions an ADHD adult can answer to develop a Moral Inventory? To select and enter your answer go to Test


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