60 Therapy Interview Questions for Clients with ADHD

Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder with signs and symptoms that can begin during childhood or in adulthood. When children are living with ADHD, they may have difficulty paying attention, be more active than most, and act without thinking about the consequences of their actions. These experiences can hurt their development and their functioning in multiple settings. Keep reading to learn 60 therapy interview questions for someone with ADHD. This list of questions including 50 for clients and 10 for your clients’ parents.

Three types of ADHD are currently recognized and can affect its presentation, and the severity of their symptoms. It is important to note that symptoms of ADHD can change over time, so individuals may not experience the same symptoms in adulthood that they did during their childhood. This includes:

  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: These individuals often find it challenging to remain still and may fidget frequently. They may feel restless, and struggle with impulsivity. In children, you may see that they are constantly moving, running, and jumping. These individuals may also experience more injuries and accidents due to their impulsiveness.
  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: Individuals find it challenging to finish a task, or stay organized. They may struggle to follow directions and pay attention to details. They may also forget the steps of their daily routine and get distracted easily.
  • Combined Presentation: Individuals who experience symptoms from both groups above, with an equal existence.

At this time, research has not been able to pinpoint an exact cause for ADHD. There is some evidence to suggest that genetics may play a role in the development of ADHD. Other risk factors that are currently being studied, according to the CDC, include:

  • Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
  • Brain injuries
  • Environmental risks at a young age, such as lead exposure
  • Low birth weight
  • Preterm birth

Receiving a diagnosis of ADHD often requires several steps, including a medical exam, hearing tests, and vision tests to rule out other causes. An ADHD checklist can also be used to assess symptoms and their severity. When working with children, parents and teachers may be asked to complete a checklist as well.

With proper treatment, individuals may notice a reduction in their symptoms. This can include behavioral therapy and the use of psychotropic medications. Behavioral interventions for children, and parents, are often the starting point for the treatment of preschool-aged children. 

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Getting Ready for Your First Therapy Session with a New ADHD Client

When you are getting ready to meet with a new client who may be living with ADHD, you may find yourself spending time acclimating yourself with related paperwork. This can include an ADHD symptom checklist and other documentation used for information gathering. If you have received information from a referral source, you may be able to develop a rough idea of how to conduct your session.

If you are working individually with a client who has already completed an intake session, you may find yourself focusing more on the behavioral aspects of ADHD. ADHD Worksheets can be a valuable tool in guiding sessions and giving your clients something to come back to if they find themselves distracted.

TherapyPatron offers numerous ADHD worksheets that could be used with adolescents, young adults, and adults who are living with ADHD. This includes:

Examples of Interview Questions to Ask Clients with ADHD

It is important to consider individual differences when we look at different interview questions for someone with ADHD. The questions that you would ask an adult are different from what you would ask a child or parent. Common questions ADHD interviews may utilize with adults include:

  1. How often would you say you misplace your keys or wallet?
  2. Can you tell me about a recent experience when you got distracted from the task at hand?
  3. Can you describe what it is like for you to wait in line? This could be at a restaurant, doctor’s office, the bank, or at work.
  4. Would you say that you get distracted easily?
  5. I see that you are (fidgeting, squirming in your seat, or tapping your leg), would you say this is typical for you?
  6. When you were younger, what was your experience staying seated in school?
  7. Would you describe yourself as restless? Can you tell me about your experience?
  8. Can you think of a time when others thought you were being loud that surprised you?
  9. Would you describe yourself as talkative?
  10. Do you find that you interrupt others when they speak unintentionally?
  11. Can you think of a time that your teachers said that you struggled to stay still or be patient?
  12. Did you get in trouble at school for not being able to wait for your turn?
  13. Can you think of different areas in your life that have been impacted by your symptoms? This could include work, school, and within your relationships.
  14. How do you feel your symptoms impact your functioning at work or school?
  15. Can you think of any friendships that were hurt or lost because of your symptoms?
  16. Can you tell me about your experience with punctuality?
  17. Can you tell me about your use of drugs and alcohol?
  18. Has there been a time when you used drugs or alcohol to cope with your mental health?
  19. Has there been a time in your life when you sought counseling?
  20. Can you tell me about that experience?
  21. Can you tell me when you began to notice your symptoms?
  22. Was this something that you experienced as a child?
  23. How would you describe your ability to concentrate on one thing at a time?
  24. Can you tell me about your ability to focus on the task at hand?
  25. Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed or stressed because you are unable to maintain your focus?
  26. Can you think of a recent experience when you made a silly or careless error?
  27. Do you recall making mistakes in your schoolwork?
  28. Have you ever tried something to decrease these errors in your work?
  29. Would you describe yourself as organized?
  30. Do you find that your mind wanders during meetings or presentations?
  31. How would you describe your ability to follow directions?
  32. Do you find that you struggle to complete tasks that you start?
  33. Can you think of a time when your difficulties maintaining focus caused concerns at work, school, or within your relationships?
  34. Would you say that others have a hard time getting your attention? Kind of like your mind is in a different place than you.
  35. Can you tell me a bit about your time management skills?
  36. Are there any tasks at work or school that you tend to avoid? This could look like procrastination.
  37. Do you feel that these errors are something that typically happen to you?
  38. If we were to go look inside your car, what would I see?
  39. Can you tell me a little bit about how your symptoms impact your day-to-day?
  40. Do you feel those close to you would say the same?
  41. Has there been a time in your life when you were thinking a lot about death or killing yourself?
  42. Has there been a time in your life when you intentionally hurt yourself or tried to kill yourself?
  43. Have you received treatment for other mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders?
  44. Can you tell me a bit about what you have tried to cope with your symptoms? Have you found anything that has helped?
  45. If you woke up tomorrow without any of these struggles, how would your life look different?
  46. Can you tell me what signs or changes you would see if therapy or psychotropic medications were helping you?
  47. What goals do you have for yourself regarding your mental health?
  48. Would you be open to meeting with a therapist?
  49. Would you be interested in learning about some behavioral changes that may be helpful?
  50. Can you tell me your thoughts about meeting with a psychiatrist to explore any possible medications that could improve your symptoms?

Examples of Interview Questions ADHD Parents Could be Asked

  1. Would you say that your child is easily distracted? Can you share an example with me?
  2. Have you ever thought that your child was forgetful? This could be forgetting school supplies, or remembering to pick up their toys.
  3. How does your child follow directions? Have you ever received feedback from their teachers that they struggle with directions?
  4. How does your child do following through, or completing tasks at hand?
  5. Would you say that your child can sit still?
  6. Does your child enjoy climbing?
  7. Do you feel as though your child becomes frustrated easily with challenging tasks?
  8. Would you say that your child does well taking turns?
  9. What environments do you see these concerns in? This could be at home, school, or with family.
  10. How long would you say that you have been noticing these behaviors?

Final Thoughts on Common ADHD Questions to Ask Clients

Thank you for taking the time to read our post about common questions used with clients who are living with ADHD! ADHD can have a significant impact on a person’s day-to-day life, including their work, finances, health, and relationships. With effective treatment strategies, we can provide our clients with the proper tools and strategies to navigate their symptoms and work toward long-term symptom management.

Being well-versed in the treatment options can help you support your clients as they determine which treatment strategies they would like to utilize. You may find that some clients prefer to take medications, whereas others prefer to focus on behavioral strategies. Providing clients with unbiased information allows them to make an educated and informed decision about their mental health treatment.

If you are working in a clinical setting with clients who are living with ADHD, or would like to learn more about this neurodevelopmental disorder, we encourage you to look for training and continuing education opportunities in your respective field.

TherapyPatron.com helps mental health professionals better serve their clients. Our (editable, fillable, printable PDF) therapy worksheets can help you streamline your practice, effectively deliver different types of therapy, and support your clients be the best version of themselves.

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Resources:

  • “What Is ADHD?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. DSM-5 Changes: Implications for Child Serious Emotional Disturbance [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2016 Jun. Table 7, DSM-IV to DSM-5 Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Comparison. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519712/table/ch3.t3/ 
Kayla VanGuilder, MA, LCMHC
Author: Kayla VanGuilder, MA, LCMHC

Kayla is a Mental Health Counselor who earned her degree from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. She has provided psychotherapy in a residential treatment program and an outpatient addiction treatment facility in New York as well as an inpatient addiction rehab in Ontario, Canada. She has experience working with individuals living with a variety of mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and trauma.

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