Date of Award

Winter 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services


Counselor Education and Supervision

Committee Director

Theodore P. Remley, Jr.

Committee Member

Kathleen Levingston

Committee Member

Garrett McAuliffe


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that has been documented in medical and mental health literature for over 100 years (Still, 1902). ADHD is a neurobiological based disorder characterized by three major symptoms identified at clinical levels and validated by diagnostic criteria established for the diagnosis of children before the age of seven (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4 th edition-Text Revision; DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The three diagnostic criteria are inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity that have been observed at clinical levels.

Because many signs of the disorder were believed to discontinue with maturity, it was originally believed that ADHD did not apply to adults (Nadeau, 1995). Barkley, Murphy, and Fischer (2008) argued that nearly 5% of adults or 11 million adults in the United States have been identified as ADHD adults. Research suggests that ADHD remains hidden in adults and the prevalence of other comorbid conditions further complicates diagnosis and treatment (Wasserstein, 2005).

Due to a growing realization that adults can have ADHD, there is a pressing need for diagnosis and psychological treatment. Diagnosis and treatment options for this population are largely under researched. No qualitative studies have been located that have asked mental health professionals who have experience treating adults with ADHD about their practices. This study will explore the experiences and perceptions of mental health professionals who provide diagnosis and treatment to adults with ADHD. The DSM-IV (APA, 2000) was the diagnostic standard used and discussed by research participants during the majority of the study. The DSM-5 (APA, 2013) was introduced in May, 2013; the implications of these diagnostic changes are yet unrealized. It is anticipated the results of this study will contribute to the field to provide information on best practices in treating ADHD adults.