Therapist/Counselor for college student with focus challenges

My son is having challenges at college with focusing with the result that he is behind and very unprepared for final exams.  The stress of these situations make him go through periods of extreme self-loathing.  This isn't a new issue and he wants to get evaluated for ADHD.  While we aren't opposed to this idea we feel that improvements will be made if he replaces bad habits with good ones.  For example putting any his phone etc.  for extended periods of time.  We've observed that he read complete books until middle school which is when he got a phone.  Now he can't read a book.  So we are seeking assistance in the form of a Berkeley based therapist/other type of counsellor who is mindful that adjusting habits can play a great role in affecting other areas of our lives.   Thanks for any assistance you can offer. 

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Your son has exhibited symptoms of a common documented medical neurological disorder over a long period of time, resulting in serious negative impacts to his life, self-esteem and potential for graduating from college and you don't want him to be evaluated for it even after all these years because he *can't* (no matter how much he wants to) control his impulsivity, which is a key marker of that same brain disorder (ADHD)?  Knowing whether he has neurological condition that *affects his ability to form habits* would be key to know before you seek help, so that you know the correct form of help to seek.  You say this has been going on since at least middle school, and now he is in college.  Did you know that kids with ADHD are reprimanded at school (in front of peers) and and home on the order of 100s of times a day more, which negatively affects their ability to see themselves as likely to succeed?  Kids with untreated ADHD are far more likely to, as they grow up, drop out of college, lose their jobs, establish relationships, because their impulsivity is neurologically-driven, and not a matter of willpower.  If he has ADHD, his inability to do the things you are telling him to do to "replace bad habits" is not his fault but rather the way his brain chemistry operates, much like the way a diabetic's insulin production is different than someone without diabetes.  While regulating suger is helpful for diabetes, it is not the whole fix.  Please help your son obtain a complete evaluation so that he knows what he is dealing with and can evaluate all of his options.

-been there

Are you opposed to medication? It’s helped our son get to know himself even if 10-12 yrs later he’s still pretty disorganized about schoolwork.

He was diagnosed with ADHD in 4th grade. He’s been taking medication he says he’ll take for the rest of his life. we’ve tried to influence his habits, hired 2 professional counselors (for a couple of months each) & several graduate students over the years and NONE of us have made a significant impact on his lack of organization, preparation, etc.- his grades suffer (B’s, an A or 2 & often a C). At 17 & a junior we’ve noticed he’s beginning to get up very early to do HW cuz he recognizes he can’t work at the end of day. That’s a HUGE insight (only taken 10 years lol)

I am so sad for your son.  You have a kid who has been struggling at least since middle school, and who exhibits "self-loathing", in your words, as a result. Kids whith ADHD are regularly reprimanded in front of their peers by teachers and parents 100s of times more than others, resulting a massive damage to self-esteem.  The ability to change habits, while difficult for anyone, is monumentally different for people with ADHD and in the absence of anything else, these kids blame themselves for something they want to change but can't.  That, among other brain chemistry differences, is the reason to find out if ADHD or some other neurological and biological difference is what is causing your son's challenges.  You can't fix something when you don't know what the problem is.  Your son wants to change but he has to be trying to fix the right thing for it to work.  If you were tired and weak all the time, would you let your doctor figure out if it was mono or anemia, or forego a medical analysis and go to a trainer who would push you to work harder and get over it?  Finding out what the issue is doesn't commit your son to any particular course of action (I'm assuming you are afraid of and against ADHD meds which is why you are afraid of him being diagnosed); instead, it gives him the tools to understand how his brain works and adjust accordingly.  Meds might work for him, or they might not.  At some point he will be old enough to find these things out on his own - do you want him to blame you for preventing him from getting the help he needs?  Please allow your son to be evaluated as soon as possible.  There is no magic bullet for long-term issues like these, but rather a medley of medical and psychological interventions.  I wish your son the empathy and compassion and love he deserves.