By Joyce Kubik, President
ADHD in France
Soon after my research study, Efficacy of ADHD Coaching for Adults With ADHD was published in March 2009, a French ADHD Coach called to explain the difficulties in her country regarding the treatment of ADHD. She had tried explaining ADHD Coaching’s effectiveness using the data from my study, but ran into an insurmountable obstacle: French governmental agencies and mental health professionals did not recognize ADHD as a neurobiological (and therefore coachable) disorder. Her efforts didn’t make much of an impact, and the French mental health professionals maintained their belief that ADHD is psychologically based. She also informed me that French psychiatrists still follow the ideas of Freud and Lacan. I was not familiar with this situation and could only offer her suggestions on her approach. I never heard from her again.
Three years later, in March 2012, an article titled Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD by Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D. was published in Psychology Today.
It stated that French Psychiatrists “view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes”. Therefore, they “treat the child’s social context through psychotherapy or family counseling”. The article was comparing ADHD treatment in France to how the USA treats it. According to Wedge, the percentage of kids in France diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than 0.5% and the USA is 9%. She goes on to say that ADHD in the USA is firmly established as an epidemic.
This article caused an uproar in the ADHD Community in the USA. Wedge was accused of writing an ill-informed and poorly researched blog post. The biggest upset was that parenting was still being blamed for ADHD behaviors.
Coaches are used to hearing denials from clients, spouses, students, but rarely from the mental health professionals.
When I hear such statements from my clients, I ask them to think about this: “why would anyone want to get up everyday and anger and disappoint the very people who love them, feed them, clothe them, educate them and so much more. It doesn’t make sense that anyone would carry that attitude into adulthood and actually enjoy it!”
ADHD in the rest of Western Europe
For this month’s President’s Message, I decided to pull together thoughts on Wedge’s article from our coaches in Western Europe as well as how ADHD is accepted in their respective countries.
In a conversation with member Xavier Van Oost, PCC, PACG, he tells me that in Belgium the situation isn’t so bad. But there are three languages in this small country – Dutch, French and German – that’s three cultural differences. The Dutch speaking community does very well at ADHD management through the support of the KUL University. The French speaking community is influenced by the French community from France, having only a few ADHD specialists (+/- 15 Psychiatrists, Neuropediatricians, Neurologists) who manage ADHD the right way. He didn’t have any data regarding the German speaking community.
Wedge stated that “Italy seems to share the dominant French view of ADHD as indicating a malaise in family, school, and social systems”. ADHD coach Elizabeth Paparo, who coaches in the USA as well as Italy, assures us that education and treatment is evolving. While having the same resistance to medication, they are becoming “excited about bringing ADHD awareness to Italy and all are very open minded about the benefits of coaching.”
In the UK, coach Jan Assheton sees continued skepticism from the general public about the existence of such a diagnosis as a real condition that needs to be treated. She sees that “only the more severely impulsive or inattentive types are being medicated, so missing those who vastly underachieve or fail to make the vital social connections required in school”. She feels the attitude of the French, as stated in the article, is in no way reflected in the UK. “We are more open and forward thinking”.
I also heard from Gillian Hayes, a coach in the UK, who sees things changing for the better as more adults get diagnosed. I like how Gillian put it. “Getting diagnosed easily is still something of a “post-code lottery” and very patchy throughout the UK. . . “
In Denmark and Sweden, ADHD coaches Charlotte Hjorth and Anna Maria Lindell weighed in. Both agree that blogs such as Wedge posted just adds fuel to both sides. Charlotte believes “that continuing educating the public by creating awareness and sharing success stories is all we can really do”. Anna Maria feels as most do that “it is shocking reading, and scary to see that Freudian explanation-models still have such a strong impact in a well-educated country.” But she is proud to be a part of expanding the ADHD-coaching field in Sweden and offering effective multimodal treatment to as many as possible.”
What Coaches Can Do
One thing I recognized in all the articles I read was the lack of any reference to ADHD coaching. We’ve created an awareness of ADHD around the world, yet none of these articles spoke about ADHD Coaching – a most important step in treating ADHD. It’s always therapy and medication. We need to make ourselves move visible. We need to get the ADHD Coaches Organization into every article we write and every presentation we give.
Wherever we live, it is our responsibility as ADHD coaches to continually spread the word that ADHD IS REAL! And we do have the research to back it up. Your ACO research committee is doing a great job bringing you research on ADHD and coaching. And, as a member of ACO, you have free access to the Journal of Attention Disorders and (starting this month!) The ADHD Report, edited by Russell Barkley, PhD. Take advantage of these and use this information both in your coaching and ADHD Awareness efforts.
Until next time . . . Joyce