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How Relational Therapy Can Help Your ADHD Student Improve Communication Skills

If your student struggles with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they likely struggle with communication skills. A lack of communication skills will make it hard for them to thrive in college and live as an adult where communication is important, both personally and professionally. However, your student can learn to improve their communication through relational therapy. By improving self-awareness and understanding their internal patterns, your student will have a clearer understanding of themselves and how they can communicate effectively with others. Even if your student struggles with communication skills, they can get the support and help they need.

ADHD and Communication Skills

Symptoms of ADHD and lack of communication skills commonly occur together. If your student struggles with ADHD, they likely exhibit many behaviors that are abnormal for communication and therefore disrupt their ability to have relationships. This is due to their inability to inhibit impulses, scattered thoughts, and lack of focus.

Lack of impulse inhibition results in behaviors like blurting out answers, speaking excessively, or speaking overly loud. While scattered thoughts, inattention, and lack of focus will cause your student to disrupt conversation in one of many ways. This includes bringing up tangential subjects in the middle of a conversation or interjecting with something completely irrelevant.

Relational Therapy

As a type of psychoanalysis approach, relation therapy focuses on the therapist-client relationship as a way to work through behavioral and psychological issues that are occurring. The goal of a relational therapy session is for the client to leave the session feeling connected and engaged in a relationship, rather than leaving while feeling empty or exposed.

At its core, relational therapy relies on the necessity for a therapist to have a connection with a client. With a strong relationship, your student can learn to trust their therapist. This helps them to be open about issues that are occurring. However, it also improves the likelihood of your student addressing issues that may cause shame or embarrassment.

Improving Communication With Relational Therapy

If your student struggles with ADHD, they likely lack communication skills that will help them to succeed as an independent adult. However, through relational therapy, they can learn how to draw boundaries, express emotions, and listen. These all help them to create new patterns of communication.


Understanding the need for boundaries is very important. However, your ADHD student likely struggles to identify their comfort level and effectively communicate these boundaries to others. When your student learns how to communicate boundaries, they are more likely to protect themselves and have healthy relationships that meet their needs as adults.

Relational therapy relies on client-therapist relationships. There are several ways in which your student can learn the skills required to draw boundaries. This includes watching and learning how the therapist creates healthy boundaries, such as starting and ending at the set time and keeping professional boundaries. Additionally, your student's session might include role play for them to practice how to communicate boundaries to another person.

Expressing Emotions

Being able to express feelings and thoughts is vital for relationships. However, it requires focus and self-awareness that your student with ADHD might lack. By being unable to express emotions, your student might lack depth in relationships or hold in their emotions until they come exploding out.

In relational therapy, the therapist will work with your student to help them identify their feelings. By using warmth and a client-centered approach, they will help your student learn about how to respond to others with empathy while learning how to express their emotions. Therefore, your student can improve on communication skills, including how to respond empathetically to others.


Due to impulsivity and lack of focus, your ADHD student likely lacks good listening skills. This can lead to a disruption in normal conversational flow. As a result, it can be hard for your student to connect well with others. Additionally, necessary communication as a young adult will be less effective.

Listening is a skill that is necessary for your student to be responsible and live independently. Through relational therapy, your student can improve their listening skills. By working with a therapist, they can learn how their pattern of not listening impacts relationships. Then, they can work on creating a new pattern that helps them to flow with a normal conversational style.

Helping Your Student Thrive With Relational Therapy and Support

ADHD causes many issues, including negatively affecting communication skills. If your student struggles with ADHD, transitioning into adulthood can be very challenging. However, relational therapy along with support can help them. It can help them to learn the skills necessary to stay on task, get to class, and communicate. Getting your ADHD student support during their transition into adulthood will help them to thrive as a young adult and into adulthood.

ADHD makes many things more difficult, including communication. However, communication is a key skill for living as an adult. At Northwest College Support, we understand that students with ADHD are more likely to struggle with the transition into adulthood. However, our programs can help. We offer a range of services that help students to improve executive functioning, communication, and life skills. Therefore, students do not have to go at it alone; they can approach adulthood with the support and care that they need. Our offerings include relational therapy, along with other types of therapy. To learn more about our programs, campus in Boise, ID, or services, call (877) 485-2776 to speak with a staff member today.

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