Lessons Learnt for Group Analysis from a Group for Adults with Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Susanne Vosmer


Group treatment is beneficial for adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and recommended by NICE. The extant literature suggests that short-term cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is beneficial for adult ADHD rather than short-term group analytic treatment. Whilst (short-term) CBT and (short-term) specialized psychotherapeutic analysis differ, there are commonalities between these approaches with regard to client selection, preparation with a circumscribed focus, ‘manualised’ treatment groups in the here-and-now, engaging group members and the group, facilitating and maintaining a group structure, pursuing the goal of therapy and paying attention to termination of the group. Hence, I suggest that both approaches can learn from each other. In this article, I shall describe a 12-week structured CBT group for adults with ADHD, which was developed and subsequently evaluated by using qualitative content analysis. I shall then explore what lessons can be learnt from this experience for specialized (applied) group analysis. In so doing, I hope that group analysts will conduct and evaluate groups for this client group on a larger scale, so that the effectiveness of short-term group analytic groups can be established as well as key ingredients for therapeutic change delineated. In this way, group analysis can contribute also to current conceptualization of ADHD and counter stigma attached to this label.


Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, ADHD, Short-term Groups, Specialized Psychotherapeutic Group Analysis; CBT

Full Text:



Ahn, H. and Wampold, B. (2001) ‘Where oh where are the specific ingredients? A meta-analysis of component studies in counseling and psychotherapy’, Journal of Counseling Psychology, 48: 251-7. CrossRef

Barkley, R. (1998) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A handbook for diagnosis and treatment. New York: Guildford Press.

Behr, H. (1993). The Group Therapist as Dynamic Administrator. In E. Schneider (1996) Holding and Caring: A Borderline Patient in A New Psychotherapy Group, p. 128.

Behr, H. (2008) ‘Education about Group Analysis is as Important as Research: Response to ‘From Freud to Foulkes to the Future: The Development of Group Analysis and its Continual Evolution’ by Az Hakeem’, Group Analysis, 41: 53-9. CrossRef

Bramham, J., Young, S., Bickerdike, A., Spain, D., McCartan, D. and Xenitidis, K. (2008) ‘Evaluation of group cognitive behavioural therapy for adults with ADHD’, Journal of Attention Disorders: 1-8.

Brown, D. (1979) ‘27th November, 1978 – Developing Concepts in Group Analysis’, Group Analysis, 12: 69-72. CrossRef

Dies, R. (1993) Research on group psychotherapy: overview and clinical application. In (A. Allonso & H. Swiller, eds.) Group Therapy in Clinical Practice. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.

Foulkes, S. (1948) Introduction to Group Analytic Psychotherapy.London: Karnac, 1983.

Foulkes, S. (1964) Therapeutic Group Analysis. London: Maresfield.

Foulkes, S. (1975) Group Analytic Psychotherapy: Method and Principles. London: Maresfield.

Glenn, l. (1987) ‘Attachment Theory and Group Analysis: The Group Matrix as a Secure Base’, Group Analysis, 20: 109-17. CrossRef

Graneheim, U. And Lundman, B. (2004). ’Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measure to achieve trustworthiness. Nurse Education Today, 24: 105-12. CrossRef

Hesslinger, B., Van Elst, T., Nyberg, E., Dykierek, P., Richter, H., Berner, M., and Ebert, D. (2002) ’Psychotherapy of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults. A pilot study using a structured skills training program’, European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 252: 177-184. CrossRef

Johansson, L. and Werbart, R. (2009) ‘Patients’ Views of Therapeutic Action in Group Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Group Analysis, 42: 120-42. CrossRef

Kennard, D., Roberts, J. and Winter, D. (1993) A Work Book of Group-Analytic Interventions. London: Routledge.

Knouse, L., Cooper-Vince, C., Sprich, S., and Safren, S. (2008) ‘Recent developments in the psychosocial treatment of adult ADHD’, Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 8: 1-12. CrossRef

Lorentzen, S. (2006) ‘Special Section: Contemporary Research Challenges for Group Analysis, Group Analysis, 39: 321-40. CrossRef

Lorentzen, S. (2012) ‘Writing Manuals for Psychodynamic Group Treatments’, Group Analysis, 45: 28-45. CrossRef

Martin, D., Garske, J. and Davis, K. (2000) ‘Relation of the Therapeutic Alliance with Outcome and Other Variable: A Meta-Analytic Review’, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(3): 438-50. CrossRef

Montgomery, C. (2002) ‘Role of dynamic group therapy in psychiatry. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment’, 8: 34-41. CrossRef

National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (2008) ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: diagnosis and management of ADHD in children, young people and adults. VIEW.

Nitsun, M. (1989) ‘Early development linking the individual and the group’, Group Analysis, 22(3): 49-60. CrossRef

Pines (1984) ‘The contribution of S. H. Foulkes to group therapy’ in M. Pines (ed.) The evolution of group analysis. London: Routledge Kegan and Paul.

Philipsen, A., Richter, H., Peters, J., Alm, B., Sobanski, E., Colla, M., Münzebrock, M., Scheel, C., Jacob, C., Perlov, E., Van Elst, T. and Hesslinger, B. (2007) ‘Structured group psychotherapy in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Results of an open multicentre study’, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 195: 1013-1019. CrossRef

Ramsay, J. and Rostain, A. (2008) Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adult ADHD. An Integrative Psychosocial and Medical Approach. Oxon: Routledge.

Rizzolatti, J., Fabbri-Destro, M. and Cattaneo, L. (2009) ‘Mirror neurons and their clinical Relevance’, Nature Clinical Practice Neurology, 5: 24-34. CrossRef

Safran, S. (2006) ‘Cognitive-behavioral approaches to ADHD treatment in adulthood. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry’, 67: 46-50.

Safran, S., Otto, M., Sprich, S., Winett, C.L., Wilens, T. and Biederman, J. (2005a) ‘Cognitive-behavioural therapy for ADHD in medication-treated adults with continued symptoms. Behaviour Research and Therapy’, 43: 831-842. CrossRef

Safran, S., Perlman, C., Sprich, S. and Otto, M. (2005b) Mastering your adult ADHD: a cognitive behavioural treatment program. Therapist Guide. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. CrossRef

Schermer, V. (2010) ‘Reflections on ‘Reflections on Mirroring’, Group Analysis, 43(3): 214-27. CrossRef

Simon, V., Czobor, P., Balint, S., et al. (2009) ‘Prevalence and correlates of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: meta-analysis’, British Journal of Psychiatry, 194: 204-211. CrossRef

Solanto, M., Marks, D., Mitchell, K., Wasserstein, J. and Kofman, M. (2008) ‘Development of a new psychosocial treatment for adult ADHD’, Journal of Attention Disorders: 1-9.

Stevenson, C., Stevenson, R., and Whitmont, S. (2003) ‘A self-directed psychosocial intervention with minimal therapist contact for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder’, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 10: 93-101. CrossRef

Stevenson, C., Whitmont, S., Bornholt, L., Livesey, D. and Stevenson, R. (2002) ‘A cognitive remediation programme for adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36: 610-616. CrossRef

Valbak, K. (2003) ‘Specialized Psychotherapeutic Group Analysis: How do me make group analysis suitable for ‘non-suitable’ patients?’, Group Analysis, 36: 73-86. CrossRef

Virta, M., Vedenpää, A., Grönroos, N., Chydenius, E., et al. (2008) ‘Adults With ADHD Benefit From Cognitive—Behaviorally Oriented Group Rehabilitation: A Study of 29 Participants’, Journal of Attention Disorders, 12: 218-226. CrossRef

Vlastelica, M., Pavlovic, S. Urlic, I. (2003) ‘Patients’ ranking in therapeutic factors in group analysis’, Collegicum Antropologicum,27: 779-88.

Young, S. and Toone, B. (2000) ‘Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: clinical issues. A report from the first NHS clinic in the UK’, Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 13: 313-319. CrossRef

Young, S. and Bramham, J. (2005) ADHD in Adults. A Psychological Guide to Prace. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.