For 17 years, my goal has been clear: reduce suffering and elevate the discourse around Adult ADHD. More specifically, though, what are my qualifications? Excellent question.
I am an award-winning journalist and pragmatic problem-solver who saw a crying need for increased ADHD awareness, support, and improved treatment standards—and set out to fill that need.
Beyond that, you’ll find that my work defies easy categorizations. That makes me a marketer’s nightmare. But, as a veteran journalist and ADHD advocate, my focus has been on service, on synthesizing information from many sources into comprehensible language and strategies.
Please know: It took 17 years of study for me to call myself an Adult ADHD Expert—and only after top experts endorsed my work and recognized me as such.
Bottom line: I bring to you a complex set of skills and approaches. My work is driven by a passionate devotion to help people understand—and thrive in the presence of—this complex condition called ADHD.
About Gina’s Background:
A few things you should know about me:
I do not have a Ph.D.
But I have earned the respect of top experts. For example, Dr. Russell Barkley invited me to contribute a chapter to his “gold standard” ADHD diagnosis and treatment guide—it’s first-ever chapter on couple therapy. You can find it here:
Routledge Press, a prestigious publisher of professional guides, asked me to produce the first evidence-based guide for therapists treating ADHD-challenged couples (Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy, with Arthur Robin, PhD, Routledge, January 2016, ).
I take this topic seriously.
Many of you know me for my rigor in
- Combing the literature
- Interviewing top experts
- Synthesizing in practical terms what we know about ADHD with what I have observed in my 16 years of intensive contact with people affected by ADHD
- Teasing out the cross-disciplinary issues that experts with a narrow focus miss
You will find that I am unafraid to call out charlatans and smooth talkers. That includes MDs and PhDs who proclaim ADHD expertise but truly lack it. Coaches, too.
Real people’s lives are at stake. Including children’s. We cannot afford the interference of hucksters and mindless marketers. As a journalist, it pains me what passes for “news sites”—with no vetting, no editing, and sometimes only “clickbait.”
When I started this work, many cross-disciplinary connections were unheard of. That includes ADHD potential connections to central processing disorder, sleep apnea, sexual difficulties, and more.
Early on, I pieced together and popularized many of these connections, digging through the literature (not just ADHD) to substantiate them. That includes ADHD’s potential effects on sleep, sex, parenting, and relationships.
Fortunately, I have a scientist in residence, my husband the molecular biologist. AKA Dr. Goat. When I am in doubt of my parsing of a study or the connection I’m seeing, I run it by him. But mostly, he leaves this “ADHD stuff” to me. Now that his ADHD is well managed, he is extremely engaged in his own scientific work involving genetic testing for cancer treatment.
Perhaps most importantly, I respect my limits and will point people to solid sources of information or professional care. If only more therapists and psychiatrists did the same, the quality of Adult ADHD care would be much improved.
I do not have ADHD, but that doesn’t make me “neurotypical”
I find “tribal” mindsets more divisive than helpful.
There’s a good reason that I call ADHD Extreme Human Syndrome. That’s because there is no gene yet identified that is associated with ADHD but not distributed throughout the human genome.
In other words, traits such as procrastination, stimulation-chasing, creativity….these are human traits; they are not limited to people with ADHD. It is only the severity and level of impairment that makes the difference, that tilts a person into the ADHD diagnosis. And, that line is blurry indeed.
My perspective: The less we put people into boxes, the better we are able to problem-solve on each person’s specific issues.
Make no mistake: I intimately understand the challenges faced by my many friends with ADHD. But I also understand that they are first and foremost individuals. They share only certain aspects of a highly variable condition.
For years, I have led a popular Adult ADHD discussion group in Silicon Valley—free and open to the public. We have a core group of regulars, but each time many new folks turn up. Each month, 25-40 adults with ADHD, age 18 to 85, discuss a range of topics. No one sitting in that room month after month harbors the illusion that people with ADHD are clones or fit some “type.”
The folks who gather there share overlaps of ADHD-related challenges. But they very much carry their own unique strengths and weaknesses, talents and abilities.
The same is true for my friends who are the partners of adults with ADHD. They are individuals. And, guess what? Some of them have ADHD, too!
I’m not a “relationships expert.” My expertise lies in addressing ADHD’s myriad potential effects in life, including relationships
Yes, my husband has ADHD, diagnosed several years into our relationship.
Yes, I have for more than a decade led free support groups for the partners of adults with ADHD. The private online group has 1,000 members.
Yes, I have produced a professional guide for couple therapists,
Yes, my first book was the first to squarely document and educate about the effect of poorly managed ADHD on the partners.
But these books are not about “relationships” per se. Instead, they are comprehensive guides to understanding ADHD itself, including its effect on the partners, and ADHD treatment and cooperative strategies.
With my colleague, psychologist Arthur L. Robin, PhD, we have now produced the first clinical guide for therapists treating ADHD-challenged couples. In it, we present an evidence-based model for this type of couple therapy.
But would I issue blanket “rules” and “steps” for helping these couples heal their relationships? No. Humans are too complicated for cookie-cutters. That includes humans with ADHD and their partners.
Bottom line: Many ADHD-challenged couples don’t need “couple therapy” at all. They need help in cooperatively organizing their schedules or their household. Each couple has their own needs.
I don’t participate in affiliate marketing or online ADHD marketing networks.
There is only one reason I would showcase an expert, book, video, or product with you: Because I deem that person or product credible and useful. Period.
My Personal Story:
How Did I Become
An Accidental Adult ADHD Expert?
My foray into the field of ADHD began by chance. In 1999, I picked up a library book about the brain. And what I read changed my life, my husband’s life, and eventually many other lives.
Funny enough, that book was Dr. Daniel Amen’s Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.
In that book, I read about something called Adult ADHD. Suddenly, I had a clue why, as much as we loved each other, my then-fiancee and I were driving each other nuts! I showed the book to him, a molecular biologist who fortunately could vouch for the authenticity of the information on ADHD. “Doesn’t this sound like you as a kid?” I asked him. “And, well, doesn’t it sound like you now?” He agreed.
In fact, he further opined that “something was up” with me, too. I could not disagree. (He was diagnosed with ADHD. I was “diagnosed” with being a “complex person.” We still joke about this.)
As I would later write in my book, I was “reacting to the inexplicable” by trying to “manage the unmanageable”—and getting more frustrated by the day. So, off we went to navigate our mutual mental-healthcare maze.
The Evaluating Psychiatrist Was…Uninspiring
I quickly learned that if we left this up to the psychiatrist, we’d never see progress. The prescribing process was lackadaisical at best, reckless at worst. And this was at a well-known ADHD clinic.
Could other “partners of” be in the same boat? Perhaps their physicians also poorly understood the pervasive effects of ADHD on their partners—not to mention the often drastic side effects of inappropriately prescribed medication.
To find out, I started an online discussion group. (That group is about 1,000 members strong now, with membership throughout the English-speaking world.) Many of the first-person stories in my book come from that group.
(Even though I was also leading a face-to-face group for adults with ADHD, I did not have their stories in the book. For many reasons, I could not sit there taking notes, and I had no written record. I figured that other books included their stories.)
It’s not enough to say that I was stunned at the widespread ignorance about ADHD, including among medical and mental-health professionals. Frankly, I was outraged. Story after story left me heartsick at what was passing for ADHD care in the U.S., not to mention beyond.
There is quite enough suffering in the world that cannot be prevented. The suffering that comes from unrecognized ADHD is not one of them.
We have a strong knowledge base about ADHD. We have excellent treatment strategies. All we lack is more people willing to step into the 21st Century and apply what we know.
First Step: Advocacy
Deciding to put to use my background as a print journalist, I became a persevering advocate for better awareness and evidence-based treatment standards—by lecturing, writing, and leading a discussion group for adults with ADHD in Silicon Valley and the international Internet-based group for the partners of adults with ADHD.
Despite what you might have read in the flame-o-sphere, I’m not a “pharma shill.” I do support anyone’s right to take medication without stigma. I know many ethical, brilliant, and compassionate ADHD researchers who have received grants and other support from the pharmaceutical industry.
Personally, however, I have never sought or received funding from pharmaceutical companies.
You also won’t see advertisements on my blogs. The reason is that I’d have no control over the products placed but their presence would imply my endorsement.
Next Step: Producing a Comprehensive Guide
After a few years, I grew tired of repeating the same information. Moreover, people were too stressed to absorb it verbally.
It became clear that folks needed a nuts-and-bolts guide to Adult ADHD, especially as it affects relationships. A guide that also addressed the “emotional baggage” that comes with late-diagnosis—baggage carried by both partners in the relationship.
These folks clearly needed a consumers guide to Adult ADHD treatment strategies, including:
- The particulars of therapy to seek (and avoid)
- A common-sense medication protocol that so few prescribing physicians seemed to know about (and perhaps that’s why so many people had unnecessary side effects and gave up on treatment altogether), and
- That big deal breaker: how to get through a loved one’s “denial” (another topic not covered in any existing consumer book on ADHD before mine).
That’s why I wrote Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D? Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder (2008, 1201 Alarm Press, San Francisco).
I am grateful to the many top experts who granted interviews, vetted chapters, and endorsed the book. It has won four national book awards and, last I checked, has 223 five-star reviews on Amazon. It’s a book I am thrilled to be able to hand to people who are struggling. (Because, after all, I couldn’t keep typing the same advice in our support group for another 10 years!)
You can purchase the book:
- Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble.com
- Barnes & Noble stores. To locate a store near you, click here.
- Your local independent bookseller; click on this link at IndieBound, enter your ZIP code, and you will be given a list of local booksellers who will order the book for you.
The book comes in several formats, most of them available through the links above:
- Audio (CDs and downloadable Mp3 files)
Through my book, it has been my greatest life’s joy to have connected with so many thousands of people around the globe and played a small role in elevating their lives.
The New Book! For Couple Therapists! (And Couples Who Cannot Find ADHD-savvy Therapists!)
For four years, I’ve holed up in my 10′ x 10′ office, producing the first evidence-based professional guide for therapists treating ADHD-challenged couples:
Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy: Clinical Interventions (Routledge, 2016).
Arthur L. Robin, PhD, and I co-edited this book, and we each wrote several chapters. Contributors include Russell J. Ramsay, PhD., Barbara Easterlin, PhD, Carol Ann Robbins, PhD, and Kevin Roberts, MA.
We are so grateful to have made it to the finish line with the guide we envisioned. And we hope it will revolutionize the state of ADHD couple therapy internationally. Leading experts in the fields of couple therapy and Adult ADHD have praised the book.
While I was working on this book, preeminent ADHD expert Russell Barkley, PhD, asked me to produce the first-ever chapter on couple therapy for his “gold standard” clinical guide: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment (Guilford; 2014). I am honored to be among a standout roster of ADHD expert contributors.
Soon: Online Training
Right now, web-based seminars are in the works—to train clinicians and consumers in the principles of Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy.
To be notified as these courses come online, please sign up for the mailing list at ADHD Success Training.
We are offering CE hours for professionals (NBCC, with APA pending application).
I truly have no time to pester you with marketing. Please know that when I send a mailing, it will contain useful information.
About This Blog
This blog contains a variety of information: book excerpts, guest essays, and updates on ADHD research and news in the popular press.
Always feel free to share in a comment your personal experiences and support. Your story could very well change someone’s life.
For more information about my journalistic credentials, awards, portfolio, presentation videos, etc. please visit: http://www.GinaPera.com
Thank you for your interest in Adult ADHD, and please try to keep an open mind if you are just beginning to learn about it.
One fact is clear: ADHD is real, and it affects real people’s lives. Maybe even your own or that of someone you love.
Thanks for your interest in my work,