SUMMARY: In this episode of the Life Tree Counseling podcast, Kathleen Mills and Phillip Crum discuss attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with Life Tree counselor Pat Murray.
Episode #11 |Life Tree counselor Pat Murray discusses attention deficit disorders.
Kathleen Mills-Proprietor, Counselor at Life Tree Counseling
Phillip Crum-The Content Marketing Coach
Pat Murray-Life Tree Counselor
KATHLEEN MILLS: Hi, Phillip. How are you today?
PHILLIP CRUM: I am rolling, Kathleen Mills. Kathleen Mills of Life Tree Counseling. We’re here for another edition of “It’s Just Coffee”.
KATHLEEN MILLS: It is just coffee. Today’s Showcase Time.
PHILLIP CRUM: Is that right? What are we showcasing today?
KATHLEEN MILLS: One of my wonderful colleagues, Pat Murray, at Life Tree Counseling Center.
PHILLIP CRUM: She’s here? That’s her over there?
PAT MURRAY: I’m here!
PHILLIP CRUM: Excellent.
KATHLEEN MILLS: Hi, Pat Murray.
PAT MURRAY: Good morning, Kathleen. Good morning, Phillip.
PHILLIP CRUM: Hello, Pat. You are one of the mainstays of Life Tree Counseling.
PAT MURRAY: A bit.
PHILLIP CRUM: Tell us a little bit about Pat Murray. Give us your background and where you came from, how you got here. How did you end up in Addison, Texas at Life Tree Cousneling?
PAT MURRAY: I’ve learned through the many years, careers are not necessarily by design, but they’re by circumstances. I actually started my professional life in special education and worked with hearing-impaired. Then, as life progressed and marriage and children and whatnot, I went into counseling and for a number of years, worked with elementary, middle school, high school kids in the public school setting. I eventually ended up working at a private school as a college counselor, which was an amazing and awesome job where I got to really travel and see college campuses and work with those young people at that critical time, when they’re trying to decide their future. Circumstances in my life changed again and took a bit of a retirement and had always been a licensed professional counselor and got the opportunity to join Life Tree and do that personalized counseling that I had a yearning for, so I feel like that was an answer to something that had been in my heart for a long time. During that time, my time with Life Tree, I actually started working with family and marriage counseling and relationships of all kinds. As that became a mainstay of what I was doing every day, I kept running into these situations where people were coming in that were struggling with their daily life, just managing their life. They were certainly struggling with managing relationships and there was somewhat of a pattern that was very common between them and as it turned out, this pattern was related to the presence of one of the members in the relationship, or sometimes both members, having attention deficit disorder, which is just that lack of control of attention and focus and the inability to restrain the impulses. That’s really hard on a relationship. The more I was involved with that, I began reading and researching and attending conferences and learned about this area that is now been developed through neuroscience, that they’ve identified and they call executive functions. Again, circumstances have evolved my career, and my focus has moved toward working with people who are struggling with just managing the demands of everyday life and helping them develop these certain skills called executive functions.
PHILLIP CRUM: For most people, it seems that their careers are determined by following a boyfriend or girlfriend across state lines, but for you, it’s been academic pursuits.
PAT MURRAY: It’s been academic and actually, it’s been the people that have come into my life. In the people and the needs of the people that I serve have really driven what I do, and I have become passionate about it because I can see the positive effects that come from addressing the issues.
PHILLIP CRUM: Talk about the relationship between ADD or ADHD and the executive functions.
PAT MURRAY: That’s very interesting because attention deficit has been around for years, like I started back in the 70s – that’s how long it was – it had a different name then. It was identified back then and we knew it existed. Through numerous science, because it can really now monitor all the activity in the brain, they’ve been able to identify that attention deficit is really a lack of control of attention or focus, and a lack of control of impulsivity to specific areas that they know about.
PHILLIP CRUM: A lack of some chemical?
PAT MURRAY: Well, it’s really just the way the brain misfunctions. It really has to do with the nerve synapsis and the way…
PHILLIP CRUM: Wiring.
PAT MURRAY: Yes. It is an organic issue. It is genetic.
KATHLEEN MILLS: How does the executive functioning…. Talk about the piece with the executive functioning with the development of the ADHD with adults and how does that help?
PAT MURRAY: One of the things that I’ve really seen from my experience and also research is that most people who deal with ADHD and especially with the adults who were not diagnosed until later in life, they did not develop this set of skills that they refer to the executive functions. A way to understand executive function is it is like the control center of the brain. It is going to direct the activity. There are some key areas that have been identified, and it has to do with self-monitoring of time; the ability to organize and prioritize, which of course is critical if we want to master procrastination; self-restraint, that controlling our impulsivity. We all have impulses but 85% of the people can catch those impulses before they roll out of their mouth; motivation, and the last and most critical in relationships, whether it’s a work environment or personal relationship, just managing stress, is that regulation of emotions.
KATHLEEN MILLS: You’ve done a few classes on executive functioning. Can you walk us through the different age groups that you have done in the past, and what you’ve seen as a result of doing those classes to help build those skills.
PAT MURRAY: That is the good news about knowing about executive functions. We can actually administer an assessment and we can identify particular areas that they have a breakdown or a deficit in. The good news is, it is trainable. You can learn strategies and you can strengthen these executive functions, and that can happen at any age. We actually start with working with parents who have children under the age of 14. We teach them these skills so that they then, in turn, incorporate it into their home life for their children. We also work with high school students, age 14 to 18, and then we have a group that we call Emerging Adults, and those are 18- to 22-year-olds. We work with adults. What we find in every stage – what our goal is, and what I think the participants will say they gained from the experience – is to raise that self-awareness, that understanding of self. I need to know why and how I work so I can manage myself. The second thing is, we teach specific strategies to meet their specific needs, so that they can address and self-monitor and self-regulate. The idea of self-monitoring and self-regulation is so critical to being able to stay on track for a goal. If we do not have that ability, then it is almost impossible to reach short- or long-term goals. The other thing is to empower them to make the changes in their life that they want to make in order to have more positive outcomes.
KATHLEEN MILLS: Are you still doing the executive functioning classes, and how do the classes actually work? You’ve got the breakdown of the groups, which is really unique in that it’s very specific with that particular age group and the parenting; you’ve got that parenting group and then you’ve got the different levels of ages because I do find that it’s specific differences in those age groups, and that’s why you’ve broken it down.
PAT MURRAY: Yes, mainly because when we look at this, and the way our group works and we feel like we offer a unique approach to this area of treatment in the sense that I work with someone who is an educational specialist. We have partnered together to address not only the areas of learning, but also the areas of social/psychological aspects of dealing with executive function and also with ADHD. We keep our groups very small in the sense of six to eight participants so that we can individualize and we start with just building a base knowledge and understanding of what they are dealing with and what they have been dealing with for quite a period of time. We do an assessment with them and go over it so that they can understand the areas that are going to be challenging and that they need to use some external strategies in order to strengthen those areas. Then we also do follow-up with them to see what you have put into effect. How is it working for you? What needs to be addressed again? So far, our participants have found it very beneficial. I will say we worked with high school student last year and the mother contacted us following the beginning of the school year, sometime in late September, and said, “I can only tell you that I’ve been buying my daughter a planner every year for the past eleven years, and by this date, she has lost it. This year, she bought her own planner. She went and picked one specifically to meet her needs, and she is living by the planner and her life has really become quite manageable for her, even in her senior of high school.”
KATHLEEN MILLS: That’s exciting to see, isn’t it, Pat?
PAT MURRAY: That is exciting.
KATHLEEN MILLS: And you know there’s an impact there and it is working.
PAT MURRAY: It’s very exciting for young people to have this ability in and to start their college career, their future workplace settings and all of that with that understanding and knowledge because, as we know, people with ADHD and some of them with or without strong executive functions, there are many who have done amazing things that are really critical to our society. The list of famous people that have dealt with the challenge of ADHD is amazing. You have people like the gentleman who started Virgin Air.
PHILLIP CRUM: Branson?
PAT MURRAY: Branson. You have Bill Gates. You have a number of actors and certainly comedians. We can think of numerous comedians. You have Nobel Prize winners that have dealt with ADHD and, in fact, two of the gentlemen, the medical doctors who were critical in the raising awareness of ADHD, Dr. Ned Hallowell and Dr. Raddy both are ADHD themselves. They knew it from the inside as well treating patients on the outside.
PHILLIP CRUM: Would you define for me, for anybody who might be listening who’s a layman, the difference between ADD and ADHD?
PAT MURRAY: Really, it’s just a name change. The condition is the same. Right now, because the psychological DSM has now used the term ADHD, saying attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It still has its two same components, which are the distractibility and the impulsivity. Sometimes, they’ll break it into a subset and they’ll say there’s the hyperactivity and there’s the inattentive style of it. The inattentive style, the person does not have the physical movements that might be associative with hyperactivity, but they still contain an internal energy and restlessness. Although, they can somewhat entertain themselves by just letting their mind flow and that is the one that is sometimes difficult for people to identify because, especially a young person, might be very compliant in school. They sit very quietly. They are looking at the teacher, but they are nowhere in the classroom in their mind. They do suffer educationally because their mind is just elsewhere.
KATHLEEN MILLS: You’ve got a nice combination, Pat. Your training is a special ed teacher, counselor, getting college seniors equipped to move to the next level and it just seems like an extension of what you just love to do.
PHILLIP CRUM: You’re well-suited for what you do.
PAT MURRAY: That’s going back to that whole thing about careers evolving by life, and I have to say I’m very, very grateful for the people that I get to work with because although I am not ADHD, I do happen to live with ADHD. It is a learning experience for me every time I deal with a client and certainly our groups.
PHILLIP CRUM: Every time you go home!
PAT MURRAY: Sometimes! But they are great teachers.
PHILLIP CRUM: Tell me going forward, who knows what tomorrow will bring, but what are your plans for tomorrow?
PAT MURRAY: What I am doing is working with my partner, Melissa Foley, who is an educational specialist and we work under the name of Metacognition Partners. We will be offering summer sessions. We offer one in June and it is an eight-hour session, meaning we meet Monday through Thursday for two hours with our group, and we will do that again in August. We do those a couple of times a year. That’s where our focus at the moment. We also work with individuals and I also am working on a support group for adults with ADHD because when they are diagnosed when they are 30, 40, 50, they don’t have the benefit of having some of the training that a young person that might have been diagnosed at age seven or eight, and has that self-awareness that starts early on. They’ve been on medication to help manage the ADHD.
PHILLIP CRUM: That would be quite a life change at age 30, 40 or 50.
PAT MURRAY: Yes, and usually they come into my world because they are experiencing some kind of difficulty in their life. They are struggling, and they have had a history of struggling.
PHILLIP CRUM: If someone wants to find out more about metacognition classes, what is your website, if any, or e-mail, phone number, what do we have?
PAT MURRAY: One way to contact me is on the Life Tree Counseling website, and on my page under Pat Murray, you can go into my scheduling program and send me an e-mail directly and I will be in contact with you or call by phone. We deal with people on a very personal basis.
PHILLIP CRUM: What’s that phone number over there, Kathleen?
KATHLEEN MILLS: It is 972-234-6634.
PHILLIP CRUM: It just rolls right off the tongue.
KATHLEEN MILLS: I’ve dialed it a couple of times.
PHILLIP CRUM: Tell me a little bit about Life Tree Counseling real quick. We have about three minutes left. If someone wanted to find you, what would they be dialing again, well, we did the phone number, so tell me the website.
KATHLEEN MILLS: The website is lifetreecounseling.com and it’s a pretty comprehensive website. We’ve got lots of information, Pat’s got some articles on our blog tab, if they would like to read more about they’ve heard today. In addition to learning about what our counseling center is all about, we do take employee assistance program services. We do insurance and self-pay, so it’s fairly comprehensive in that particular structure.
PHILLIP CRUM: What else do you do at Life Tree in addition to ADD counseling?
KATHLEEN MILLS: Marital, children, adolescents, depression, anxiety, all kinds of things.
PHILLIP CRUM: And you have a special fondness for helping other counselors learn to run their business better.
KATHLEEN MILLS: I do. We put on a business symposium yearly. We just got done with our spring 2014 April symposium, and we are working on our next venue, which might be as early as this fall with the more expansive programming for professionals who want to develop their business but for sure, we’re going to do another one in April, 2015. I’m excited. They can learn about that, too, on our blog tab.
PHILLIP CRUM: And you do consulting so if another LPHILLIP CRUM with their own business needs a little one-on-one help.
KATHLEEN MILLS: Just have ‘em give me a call at the number, Life Tree number, the 972-234-6634. My extension is 104. I’d be happy to meet with those professionals.
PHILLIP CRUM: I don’t know about you, but I thought Pat Murray did a pretty good job, didn’t you?
KATHLEEN MILLS: She’s awesome. She was so nervous and there’s nothing to be afraid of.
PAT MURRAY: I’d like to invite everyone to come and sit in the waiting room at the Life Tree Counseling Center because it is absolutely the most welcoming, comfortable place in the world. Everyone who walks our doors, they feel immediately at home. If you have a minute, come sit with us.
KATHLEEN MILLS: Yup. Say goodbye, Phillip
PHILLIP CRUM: Goodbye, Phillip. We’ll see you next time. Appreciate you listening.
KATHLEEN MILLS: Thank you, Phillip. Thank you, Pat.