How do you approach couples where one partner has attention deficit disorder? Alexine Thompson-de Benoit, ICEEFT certified EFT trainer from Switzerland, and Ben Kneubühler, an ADHD specialist and EFT therapist, will lead a workshop titled “Hope for ADHD-Impacted Relationships.”

Your workshop will focus on EFT therapy with couples affected by ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. How did you become interested in this topic? 

Alexine: “I’ve been married for 25 years, and it was only about ten years ago that we realized my partner has ADHD. As I delved into research and understanding the impact of ADHD on couples’ dynamics, I began recognizing it more frequently in the couples I saw in my practice.”

Ben: “After graduation, I joined a practice specializing in helping adults with ADHD. While initially focusing on assessments and group therapy, I soon recognized the significant impact ADHD had on relationships. This led me to explore EFT as a means to address communication challenges influenced by ADHD. Upon meeting Alexine, we began discussing strategies for working with couples impacted by ADHD within the EFT framework.”

How does ADHD influence a couple’s communication pattern?

Alexine: “Symptoms of ADHD, such as forgetfulness, distractedness, and hyperfocus, can trigger patterns between partners, posing threats to their connection. The partner without ADHD may interpret these symptoms as intentional neglect or lack of care, leading to feelings of insecurity or frustration. However, it’s essential to recognize that these symptoms stem from executive functioning impairments, not intentional actions.”

Ben: “I frequently observe that ADHD symptoms exacerbate existing patterns within couples. Identifying these symptoms as triggers can be pivotal in therapy.”

What can we expect from your workshop?

Ben: “While briefly mentioning research, our focus will be on understanding what ADHD is, how it works, and the key principles of working with couples affected by ADHD.”

Alexine: “Our main focus will be on recognizing ADHD during couple therapy, understanding its impact on relationships, and addressing suspicions of ADHD during therapy sessions.”

Can you give us advice on how to work with these couples?

Ben: “Understanding ADHD is crucial for partners and therapists alike. Couples affected by ADHD have a higher risk of dropping out of therapy. The first step is acknowledging the presence of ADHD in one or both partners. Be open to the diagnosis and learn from your clients’ experiences. Attunement is key; adapt your approach to meet their specific needs. For some clients, shorter sessions may be more effective.”

Alexine: “Educate yourself to empathize with both partners—the one with ADHD and the affected partner. Embrace the diagnosis as a tool for tailored support, not as a stigma. Stay attuned to your clients’ needs; adjust your approach accordingly. Recognize when you need to shift focus during sessions.”