Adhd Social Skills Training For Adults

Reviewed by Heather Cashell, LCSW

Published 06/27/2022

ADHD is a condition that disrupts major functions, including memory, attention, time management, and impulsivity, as well as communication and social skills. Adults dealing with this disorder are usually extraordinarily creative, high-performing, and resilient, despite the limitations. Ongoing research and professionals in psychology suggest that training has advantages for adults with ADHD to overcome the challenges with cognitive functions and interpersonal skills.

ADHD social skills training is a form of therapy that can motivate adults with ADHD to boost their memory, attention, time management, impulsivity, prioritization skills, emotional lability, and social skills. If you have received a diagnosis of adult ADHD or think you might be exhibiting signs of ADHD, then you may benefit from assessment and social skills training.

The Importance Of Social Skills Training

Most humans crave and find pleasure from social relationships. Also, meaningful social relationships present many positive health benefits. Nevertheless, the symptoms of certain mental disorders disrupt the ability to form and sustain profitable social relationships conveniently. There are many factors responsible for the lack of social skills. When it comes to ADHD, some social skill issues are the result of not paying any attention to social cues and mindfulness of the immediate environment (usually called social context). Other social challenges are due to ADHD habits or patterns that other people find unpleasant, like being perpetually late or interrupting conversations.

Another interpersonal pattern that could be bothersome to others is repeated self-criticism. Many adults with ADHD have negative opinions of themselves because of their condition. They are often harsh on themselves when mistakes happen. They usually do this in a well-intentioned bid for reassurance from others. Other unpleasant habits sometimes exhibited by adults with ADHD include disorganization, consistent inability to correctly interpret other’s body language or cues, and talking without paying attention to others. Gradually, such patterns can become grueling for friends and family. Some may even choose to take a break from the relationship.


ADHD social skills training is a well-documented and practical treatment intervention. The training is often provided in small groups by medical professionals with specialty in social skills training. Groups create a natural social climate for investigation and practice; however, some certain websites and books offer social skills training for patients who prefer to tackle challenges on their own. Researchers are yet to determine the effectiveness of such standalone social skills studies, in contrast to social training groups.

Social skills training can assist children or adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to learn to be less impulsive, aggressive, control anger, and act in a more socially acceptable way. The methods used include:

  • Role-playing
  • Coaching
  • Practicing conflict resolution methods
  • Watching videos of positive behavior

The training utilizes unique methods and goals, such as practicing how to:

  • Give and get compliments and criticism
  • Handle frustration
  • Integrate with group situations
  • Listen and participate in a conversation

Social skills training is a crucial aspect of ADHD management. Personal sessions or small groups are both suitable settings for adopting these skills. Today, many school districts provide social skill classes for students with ADHD (including other conditions), utilizing focused curricula.

Applications Of Social Skills Training For Adults

Social skills training seems to be effective in aiding children, teenagers, and adults to learn how to behave properly. However, more studies are required, particularly regarding the long-term effects of this type of training. Both adults and children require help with improving social skills for ADHD. The settings that adults operate in and the ways ADHD might manifest might be different, but adults with the condition oftentimes need the same level of assistance with their social interactions. As with children, the following are three of the most crucial areas where adults might benefit from help with social skills training:

In Romantic Relationships

Romantic relationships may be the most challenging aspect of social interactions for adults with ADHD. In fact, ADHD often has a significant impact on marriages that, sadly, many couples find it hard to handle. Because of this, a clinician will start with improving ADHD social skills for adults by closely checking romantic relationships. Whether the relationship has just started or recently celebrated a 10-year milestone, the assumption is that there is still room for improvement.

Every long-term relationship comes with its challenges. With ADHD included, some of the challenges could worsen remarkably. To make your relationship stronger, you need to pay attention to making your partner feel wanted, loved, and cherished. Unfortunately, one emotion that many adults with ADHD find difficult is empathy. ADHD and empathy do not have to wreck your relationships if you can make attempts to improve understanding.

To improve social skills in romantic relationships, you need to pay attention to building rapport or understanding. One step you can take to improve your relationship is to set a reminder to ask your partner two specific questions regarding their day each day. Also, ask specific questions about how they feel about the decisions you made or are about to make. This does not have to happen every day but should occur relatively often so they can see that you care. When they open up about their feelings, be sure to acknowledge their feelings, and be thoughtful to them.

Finally, to improve social skills in romantic relationships, note that actions leave a stronger impact than words. Relationships require hard work and effort to work. Ask your partner regularly what you can do to assist them. If your partner asks something of you, put in special effect to do it excellently and quickly. Showing them that you listen and care with your actions will play a major role in strengthening the connection you already have in your relationship.

In The Family

Improvements to ADHD social skills in adults should cover an evaluation of interactions within the family. These interactions can be between parents, between parents and children, or between parents and extended family. Sadly, as humans, it is common to take intimate and crucial relationships for granted, especially within the family. To improve your relationship with family members, you need to see and admit this specific weakness and related weaknesses as well. Knowing and accepting the weaknesses in familial relationships can help improve the home setting.

To improve social interactions at home, you need to become accustomed to asking questions and listening. Ask your family members about their day and their likes and dislikes. Give them a chance to express themselves and learn to respond appropriately to what they say, and try to include the habits or hobbies of each family member when you plan activities and events.

Another crucial thing that you should learn in relationships, particularly those within the family, is humility and the ability to admit your mistakes. To improve social skills within the family, adults with ADHD can start with personal reflection. You should be able to evaluate how you have dealt with each person in your family. Consider how you may have done something that might have upset them or leave them disappointed. Relationships in the family need to have a foundation enmeshed in trust, and trust requires admitting when you have made a mistake and are making attempts to correct it.

Adopting ADHD coping skills for handling relationships within the family may take some time. This dynamic, however, has a remarkable impact on your relationships in other environments, so take care not to neglect your family or take them for granted. Sustaining a positive and healthy relationship at home should take precedence in every one of your social interactions.

At Work

Finally, often, regardless of their nature, everybody can benefit from improving ADHD social skills in work environments. Depending on the work setting, this could be easy or more challenging. Regardless of the environment, however, you can still attempt to improve your social interactions at any time or place.

To improve social skills, there have to be opportunities for social interactions as much as possible. Though it may seem uncomfortable or intimidating, for any improvement to happen, you need to be proactive. In the workplace, this means going the extra mile to ask questions about coworkers and trying to learn more about them. You can search online for ideas on questions to ask if you need help.

One challenge to take is to make a list of the information you would like to know about your coworkers. After compiling the list, you will need to begin the process of talking to your coworkers to get the answers to your questions. Try to make the questions as natural as possible so that they appear to be part of a conversation, instead of making them feel interrogated. Make an effort always to discover something new about your coworkers during regular conversations. That way, there will always be something to talk about when you meet.

Likewise, to help your social interactions, it would go a long way if you try to remember and follow up with every coworker about something they said they liked. After about a week, you can talk to them about a favorite song or sport as a follow-up. Show them you are interested in their interests. A significant part of social interactions depends on building a bond over common interests. Seek to know the interests and after identifying them, follow-up, and use them as building blocks.

The Bottom Line

Improvements to ADHD social skills requires time and effort. Generally, social skills are hardly natural for those with ADHD. The pleasant thing is that most aspects of social interactions in life can be learned. The personalities that some people have made them better proficient in handling certain social interactions. Still, there is still a chance to learn to improve social skills.

If you often find yourself struggling in social settings, know that you’re not alone. Millions of people all over the world struggle with different social interactions. It is possible to learn social skills and improve them gradually. Take some of the tips presented here and put in a conscious effort to practice them.

Also, devise a way to evaluate or judge your progress so that you are aware of the impact of the changes you have made. Hopefully, it will be motivating for you. Learning ADHD coping skills might be a slow process, but with the right methods, time, and effort, you can achieve your goals. If you would like to assess your improvements with ADHD, follow this link.