Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) provides support for students managing issues related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in an academic environment. We review symptoms, current functioning, and past history of problems with students concerned they might have this disorder or who have been diagnosed with ADHD in the past and provide a variety of appropriate treatment options.

Evaluation of ADHD

Effective treatment of attentional problems requires accurate diagnosis. However, the diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is complicated.  Difficulty with focusing and completing work is common for students at times of increased stress and during periods of adjustment. Distinguishing between ADHD, other disorders that impair focus, and normal problems with concentration requires a thorough and thoughtful assessment that requires several visits. The extra time and care it may take in getting diagnosis right increases the likelihood that the treatment we recommend will be effective.

If you have previously been diagnosed with ADHD and would like to transfer your care to CPS for short-term treatment, or have never been diagnosed, but would like to be evaluated for ADHD, please carefully review the instructions outlined below to help facilitate your initial appointment with us. This service is only available to students who have paid the Columbia Health and Related Services Fee

Please note that CPS does not prescribe refills for stimulant medications prior to the completion of our assessment process. We suggest that you reach out to your current/most recent prescribing physician for continuing care or prescription refills—if needed—until your evaluation has been completed at CPS.

In addition, CPS cannot provide documentation for academic accommodations through Disability Services prior to the completion of our assessment process. The procedures described here are used in determining the appropriateness of a psychiatric consult and a possible trial course of medication.  Students requiring academic accommodations will need to connect with Disability Services and provide additional documentation.

The ADHD Assessment Process at CPS

Process graphic of ADHD assessment at CPS: Initial phone conversation with CPS; Submit documentation; Intake appointment; Follow-up appointments; Assessment complete. Duration will vary by individual.

Services at CPS ordinarily begin with a brief phone assessment that can be scheduled by calling 212-854-2878 during regular business hours. 

During your phone appointment, a CPS provider will review the ADHD assessment process with you and will assist you with scheduling an initial in-person appointment. The clinician will send you further instructions, via secure messaging on the Patient Portal, that will help expedite your assessment.

Prior to your first in-person intake appointment

We ask that you submit a variety of documents that are critical in assessing ADHD as they provide a window into possible attentional impairment in different settings and at different times of life. These documents are best submitted as attachments to the above-mentioned secure message.

Sending the documents before you arrive for your scheduled initial ADHD assessment appointment will help expedite the process. Alternatively, you can bring them as hard copies to your initial assessment. 

Please consider the time you will need to gather these documents when scheduling your initial assessment. If you need more time, please call to re-schedule.

Requested documents:

As reasonably available, please provide the following:

  1. If you have previously been diagnosed with ADHD, learning disability, or another mental health condition: testing results or documentation of former evaluation/ treatment/neuropsychiatric assessment.
    1. If you have never been evaluated for ADHD, but have previously been in treatment for another mental health condition, please obtain copies of your treatment records. 
    2. Please note: outside clinical records may not satisfy the requirements of the CPS ADHD assessment, even if they contain a diagnosis of ADHD
  2. Academic records (transcripts) from elementary school through present.
    1. Additionally, report cards, IEP/accommodations documentation, and formal or informal feedback/comments from former or current educators
  3. Student Questionnaire
  4. (Optional) Work-related feedback: If available, work performance evaluations or other forms or written evaluation between you and a supervisor.

Your CPS provider will offer further education and guidance about ADHD throughout the evaluation process to help you understand what’s going on.

After the Assessment

If you are diagnosed with ADHD, you may be referred to a psychiatrist for a medication evaluation. You may also make use of other CPS services, including short-term counseling, time management and procrastination workshops, and medication management. We also assist with referrals for ongoing care. 

Your primary care provider at Columbia Health Medical Services may participate in an interdisciplinary team with your CPS provider to give you the highest quality of care.

In some cases, your provider may recommend that you register with Disability Services to request academic accommodations related to attention issues or learning difficulties

If diagnostic interviews prove inconclusive or raise questions that can best be answered by neuropsychological or psychoeducation testing, CPS can assist you with referrals to those off-campus resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

Attentional issues may create academic difficulties and adversely affect work, social activities, and relationships with friends and loved ones. This is an opportunity to review whether attentional problems stem from ADHD, other factors such as anxiety or stress, or from a combination of factors.

We want to provide the best care possible and that starts with accurate diagnosis.

There is not a specific test that can determine whether or not an individual has ADHD. The diagnosis of ADHD is made based on a comprehensive clinical assessment. This may include information from multiple sources, including rating scales, getting history from you, your family, physicians/mental health professionals, academic/vocational records, and current or former teachers.

Even if you are currently being prescribed medication for ADHD by a physician outside of Columbia Health or have been diagnosed with ADHD in the past, in the interest of ensuring you receive the highest quality care possible, we provide a careful re-evaluation, since situations can change over time.

Functioning may improve or worsen with changes in life circumstance and age. Similarly, the effectiveness of treatment interventions, including medications, may change over time, and need to be reviewed periodically.

Academic Accommodations

The procedures described here are used in determining the appropriateness of a psychiatric consult and a possible trial course of medication.  Students requiring academic accommodations will need to connect with Disability Services and provide additional documentation.

Disability Services provides nonclinical consultations to students experiencing academic difficulties related to attention issues or learning difficulties and evaluates all requests for academic accommodations related to the disorder. Students must register with Disability Services for such requests.