October 8, 2021: Diagnosing and Treating Adolescent and Adult ADHD: It's Complicated - Frank Wolkenberg, Ph.D.
Diagnosing and Treating Adolescent and Adult ADHD: It's Complicated
Date: October 8, 2021
Credits: 3 Continuing Education Credits
Faculty: Frank Wolkenberg, Ph.D.
ADHD is a syndrome, meaning that constellations of disparate behaviors may give rise to the same diagnosis. It is also a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that other established psychiatric diagnoses that could give rise to the same behaviors must first be eliminated before the diagnosis is made. This is a requirement that often seems honored more in the breach than the observance. Because attention and executive functions are final common pathways of complex systems, they are subject to disruption by multiple factors. In children, particularly younger ones, the number of these possible influences is relatively circumscribed. In adults, who have complex histories, the issue becomes far more complex and requires a much more subtle and comprehensive approach than a symptom checklist can provide. As in children, stimulant medication remains a primary tool in treating this diagnosis. Contrary to earlier belief’s, it’s effects are non-specific to the diagnosis, and it is helpful in marshalling attention disrupted by a wide variety of complaints. Although diagnosis by medication response is frowned upon, this often validates a frequently simple-minded and reductionist use of the ADHD diagnosis. When excessively relied upon, it often leads to treatments that are arguably ineffective in the long-term. This seminar will attempt to address the following: (1) understanding the history of the ADHD diagnosis; (2) The state of the current research and some of the continued pitfalls; (3) historical and cognitive factors that can give rise to the complaints rightly or wrongly leading to the diagnosis; and (4) approaches to treatment based on a more comprehensive understanding of the individual that are likely to have more lasting results.
- Identify primary and secondary factors that affect attention and executive functions in adolescents and adults.
- Articulate the complimentary roles of client history and test results in assessing executive and attentional experiences.
- Integrate that information into a treatment approach that minimizes reliance on pharmacotherapy and embraces the client‘s strengths.
Frank Wolkenberg, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Towson, MD specializing in the neuropsychological assessment of developmental issues and acquired injuries in adolescents and adults. He is a graduate of Emory University’s Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, Division 40 neuropsychology track, where he was awarded his degree in 1999. His undergraduate degree, in English literature, awarded in 1977, is from NYU. He completed a Division 40 internship at the West Haven VAMC.
He has worked in a wide variety of research and clinical settings. In addition to his private practice, he has also worked as a Research Scientist at the National Institute on Drug Addiction’s Brain Imaging Division, doing fMRI research; providing mental health services to long-term care and rehab facilities; helping to develop a portable testing device sensitive to concussion for use by the military in the field; and serving as a board expert to a number of MD professional boards including the Board of Nursing, Board of Physicians, Board of Examiners of Psychologists and Board of Dentistry, developing a specialty in the assessment and treatment of professionals, primarily medical, suspected of impairment.
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