MTSU alumnus helps adults cope with ADHD

Terry Huff, an MTSU alumni, has been helping adults diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder for 20 years. Recently, Huff released his book, “Living Well with ADHD,” which features the everyday trials of people living with ADHD and ways to overcome them.

Through personal experiences since his own ADHD diagnosis in 1994, Huff’s work has assisted many students and working adults who live with the attention disorder.

Huff began his professional journey at MTSU and received both his bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology. During his time in school, Terry suffered from symptoms of ADHD when the condition was rarely recognized.

“I had no way of understanding some of the difficulties I had in my first couple of years at school,” Huff said. “Mostly, the benefit I had at MTSU was my personal challenges and having to figure out how to organize my work, plan ahead and study.”

Huff had to employ different tactics to fully focus on his work in daily college life. He practiced meticulous organization, quiet times for studying, and transcendental meditation. These experiences taught Huff how to successfully assist college-age adults struggling with ADHD.

After graduating from the university, Huff stayed in Tennessee and worked in the field of developmental disabilities before moving to California to work in mental health. Later, he returned to Tennessee to continue graduate school at the University of Tennessee. There, he received a master’s in social work and, later, a license to practice independently. While working at Vanderbilt and Family & Children’s Service in Nashville, he began his private practice in 1996.

Born out of his private practice, Huff founded several services and resources for adults diagnosed with ADHD.

“There wasn’t any recognition of adult ADHD officially until the early 90s,” Huff explained. “There have been vast improvements since then, but there is still work to be done.”

One of the first resources Huff created was an adult ADHD support group for those who struggle with the disorder or those who wanted to find and share coping strategies. The group is free of charge and open to the public. Huff spoke about how his past hurdles with ADHD provided him with the necessary insight to start such a group.

“My clients and participants in the ADHD Nashville support groups respect that I have struggled like they do. A lot of people with ADHD go to therapy and leave feeling misunderstood,” he said.

Pointing out that in similar therapy sessions he attended the main speaker talked for long periods of time, Huff wished to provide a more hands-on approach for adults with ADHD.

“I wanted to start a support group where there was more active engagement with one another,” Huff added. “If they leave feeling bad about their differences, they will be criticizing themselves rather than looking for creative strategies.”

Another resource that Huff created is an ADHD marriage workshop that is held once a year.

“I saw couples where one partner didn’t have a diagnosis but appeared to have ADHD. These couples would struggle for a while and did not know why. I realized if this was not addressed specifically, they would stay stuck.”

Huff stressed that the only way for the couple to work their way out of ADHD-related problems is to understand the influence of ADHD.

“I challenge my participants with ADHD to be aware that their symptoms have an effect on others,” he said.

After striving to better understand the challenges people face with the disorder, Huff decided to compile his findings and experiences into his new book, “Living Well with ADHD.”  Rather than pushing people with ADHD to change how they function, Huff said his writings argue the importance of successfully living with your differences.

“I think one of the things that set my book apart is the fact that many books on ADHD focus on improving the brain. I wanted to write something different. I think trying to change one’s brain is not a good starting place. I think trying to understand and accept it is better,” he said.

If you go: 

Terry Huff will be speaking and signing copies of “Living Well with ADHD” at Barnes & Noble in Murfreesboro on Sept. 24 at 2 p.m.

His adult ADHD support group will be held on the first and third Mondays of each month at Brentwood United Methodist Church, Room A392.

For more information about Terry Huff and his practice, visit his website.

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To contact News Editor Amanda Freuler, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

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