Frustration With School Counseling Service
Q: I'm a college senior at a very small (less than 400 students) college. A
year ago I was diagnosed with ADD and I'm receiving treatment for it
through the school's counseling services. However, I'm extremely
dissatisfied with them.
First of all, although I was seeing a therapist (she doesn't have a
doctorate but she's licensed to diagnose people... does anyone know what
this is called? Psychiatric nurse practicioner, or something similar?)
during my second year of college, she didn't realize that I had ADD. She
thought that I was severely depressed and even wanted to put me in a
mental hospital for a while so I could "take a break"! Looking back on
that time now, I believe that my ADD-related problems were causing my
symptoms of depression. I felt hopeless that I would ever get my work
done and finish college, and it seemed that college life was okay for
everyone except me, but I was desperate to succeed. I'm so glad that I
didn't take her advice and go to the hospital! I think it would have
just increased my feelings of failure. I'm glad that I decided to stick
it out and stay in college, even though it meant failing a course or two
(I have since made up for those lost credits through summer courses).
Anyway, the way that I finally *did* get an ADD diagnosis is by
realizing *on my own* that I probably had ADD. I went back to the same
therapist and asked her about ADD. She gave me the diagnostic
questionnaire and sent it to my parents and teachers as well, and after
it was determined that I have ADD, she gave me a referral so that I
could see the school psychiatrist.
A:I started on medication, but each medication that I've tried has problems for me, and I'm never sure whether they're caused by too high a dose, too low a dose, natural side effects that I just have to live with, or the medication being wrong for me altogether! The psychiatrist doesn't seem to know, either. I feel like there's nobody really knowledgeable about ADD medication to help me. The psychiatrist can tell me what she knows, but it's not much. As for non-medication treatment, forget it. I asked the therapist mentioned above if there was anybody at my school who specialized in ADD treatment and she said "no." I complained about this to a friend of mine, and he said that the size of the college is too small, as I mentioned earlier, for the school to have a therapist who has worked extensively with ADDers. So I feel very alone. I feel like I am basically treating myself, through reading about ADD and trying the organizational and behavior modification methods mentioned in the books I'm reading. That works to an extent, but the books can't help me with *my* specific problems. I want a therapist who knows a lot about ADD and ADD medication and can help me with both medication and non-medication treatment, but there just isn't one! I'm also in a very small town, not a city, so it's hard to find therapists outside of my school who could help me. I also don't have a car (or a driver's license) so my options are very limited. What should I do?? Do I just have to stick it out for the rest of this year? Do I have the right to demand better treatment from my school? Just a thought, but ask about going part time. Surely if you have ADD and they aren't able to find support for you, they should at least accommodate you in that way. Could you get longer for assignments and other tasks? Or even half an hour longer on exams. I'm sure there are ways of making it more fair for you. From what I understand ADD is a recognisable disability and you have a right to equity in education. Perhaps you can pursue this avenue. I actuall did my degree half time. I took twice as long to complete my degree and I found then that I could fit all of it in. I decided very early on that I couldn't do my degree full time (about three weeks into the course I was already swamped and feeling really depressed) and I changed to half time. That helped a great deal. I don't know if I have ADD but I did an online questionnaire recently, and it said it was highly probable that I had innattentive ADD and overfocus problems, so I'm planning to find out for sure.