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Who Can Diagnose and Treat ADHD?

Jul 2, 2024 | ADHD

When seeking an ADHD diagnosis, many parents and individuals worry about finding the right professional who is qualified to accurately identify and offer support for their mental health, whether ADHD or another condition. This concern is understandable, given the significant impact an accurate diagnosis can have on effective treatment and management.

Several types of healthcare professionals are qualified to diagnose ADHD, primarily psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatricians, and neurologists. In some states, (including Michigan) other licensed healthcare professionals can diagnose ADHD, such as social workers or advanced practice nurses. Healthcare professionals must have expertise, training, and experience in diagnosing ADHD, be familiar with the DSM-5 criteria for ADHD, and be able to conduct a comprehensive evaluation.

As there are no single tests to diagnose ADHD, an evaluation that includes reviewing patient history, using standardized assessments, conducting interviews, and ruling out other factors is necessary to provide the most accurate information. Mental health professionals, including psychologists, social workers, advanced practice nurses and psychiatrists, are uniquely qualified for diagnosis because they have the most experience and training in identifying and providing support for individuals with ADHD.

Understanding the ADHD Diagnostic Process

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. An ADHD diagnosis requires children under 18 to exhibit six or more symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity for at least six months, while adults must show five or more symptoms. These symptoms must be inappropriate for the individual’s age and significantly impact the social, academic, or occupational areas of their life.

The requirement of persistent symptoms over six months helps distinguish ADHD from other conditions that may present similar behaviors. Neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder or learning disabilities, can have overlapping symptoms with ADHD, making accurate diagnosis crucial. Neurodevelopmental disorders are conditions that affect brain development and function, often impacting communication, behavior, and learning abilities.

An ADHD diagnosis involves a thorough and comprehensive approach to ensure accuracy. For both children and adults, the process includes an initial screening, comprehensive evaluation, and ruling out other conditions. Adult diagnoses will consider different symptom presentations and the impact on work and social life, which can vary from symptoms seen in children.

A comprehensive ADHD diagnosis includes:

  • Initial Screening: A preliminary step to identify symptoms and determine the need for further evaluation. This typically involves brief interviews or questionnaires.
  • Comprehensive Evaluation: An in-depth assessment that can include detailed interviews, behavioral observations, and gathering information from multiple sources, such as family members and teachers. An evaluation should include some type of psychological testing. Although many disciplines can diagnose ADHD, psychologists are uniquely qualified to collect and analyze psychological test data. For this reason, licensed healthcare professionals in disciplines other than psychologists refer to a psychologist for this part of the ADHD evaluation. They then incorporate the psychological test report into their comprehensive evaluation.
  • Use of Diagnostic Criteria: Healthcare professionals use the DSM-5-TR or ICD-10 criteria for ADHD, which outline specific symptoms and the required duration for diagnosis.
  • Ruling Out Other Conditions: A necessary step to ensure that symptoms are not better explained by other mental health or medical conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • Additional Assessments if Necessary: Further tests or evaluations may be done to gather more information.

Mental health professionals, including psychologists, social workers, advanced practice nurses and psychiatrists, are uniquely qualified to diagnose ADHD due to their extensive experience with these disorders. They can effectively rule out other conditions, ensuring an accurate diagnosis by recognizing the nuanced differences in symptoms and their causes.

Types of Clinicians Who Can Diagnose ADHD

Diagnosing ADHD typically involves healthcare professionals who have specialized training in ADHD and related neurodevelopmental conditions. These clinicians understand the diagnostic criteria, can conduct comprehensive evaluations, and have experience with conditions that may present similar symptoms.

Additionally, these clinicians are knowledgeable about treatment options and can tailor them to individual needs. However, in some cases, medical doctors and pediatricians with less specialized knowledge will refer individuals to a mental health professional for additional diagnostics.

The following healthcare professionals are qualified to diagnose ADHD:

Mental Healthcare Professionals

  • Psychiatrists: Medical doctors (MDs) specializing in mental health who can prescribe medication. The primary differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist are that psychiatrists have medical degrees with up to 12 years of training, typically have a biological approach to mental health, and can prescribe medication.
  • Psychologists: Mental health professionals who conduct evaluations and provide therapy but cannot prescribe medication.
  • Social Workers: Mental health professionals trained in human development, mental health conditions, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Advanced Practice Nurses: Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners with training and experience in the diagnosis, medical management, and behavioral therapy of ADHD and other mental health conditions.

General Healthcare Professionals

  • Pediatricians: Healthcare professionals focusing on children, who are often the first to identify ADHD symptoms in young patients.
  • Primary Care Physicians: Medical doctors who can diagnose ADHD but may have less expertise compared to psychiatrists.


  • Neurologists: Specialists in brain and nervous system conditions who can identify neurological aspects of ADHD.
  • Neuropsychologists: Psychologists specializing in the relationships between brain function and behavior and can provide detailed cognitive assessments.

The Role of Psychologists in ADHD Diagnosis

While many healthcare professionals can diagnose ADHD, the most crucial factor in ensuring an accurate diagnosis is the clinician’s experience and expertise with the condition. Mental health professionals, such as psychologists and psychiatrists, often provide the most accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans due to their specialized training and extensive experience with ADHD and related disorders.

Psychologists are particularly experienced in conducting comprehensive evaluations that include detailed interviews, standardized assessments, and behavioral observations. Their deep understanding of ADHD’s nuances allows them to differentiate it from other conditions with similar symptoms. Additionally, psychologists can develop tailored treatment plans that address the unique needs of each individual with strategies to manage specific symptoms.

While medical doctors and pediatricians can identify ADHD, they may not have the specialized knowledge to treat it effectively. Engaging with a mental health professional often means individuals can receive both diagnosis and ongoing support from the same clinician, reducing the need for referrals to additional specialists and ensuring continuity of care.

Choosing the Right Clinician for an ADHD Diagnosis

Choosing the right clinician for an ADHD diagnosis comes down to finding someone with extensive experience and expertise in ADHD who can understand your specific condition and provide comprehensive support options after the diagnosis.

It’s crucial to contact your healthcare provider or a psychologist and discuss their knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating ADHD. Choose a clinician you trust to provide an accurate diagnosis and effective follow-up treatment, ensuring you receive the best care and support for managing your condition.

Contact Start My Wellness Today for a Professional ADHD Assessment

Understanding the nuances of an ADHD diagnosis is crucial for effective management of the condition. Various healthcare professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatricians, and neurologists, are qualified to diagnose ADHD, but mental health professionals often have the most experience with ADHD testing.

At Start My Wellness, we are dedicated to providing exceptional care for individuals seeking an ADHD diagnosis. Our team of experienced psychologists and mental health professionals is well-equipped to conduct thorough evaluations and offer tailored treatment plans. We understand the complexities of ADHD and are committed to supporting our clients through every step of the diagnosis and treatment process.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of ADHD, contact us today at (248)-514-4955 to schedule a professional assessment. We are here to support you throughout your mental health journey.


  1. Start My Wellness: ADHD vs. Anxiety: Understanding the Overlap and Differences
  2. CHADD: Diagnosis of ADHD in Adults
  3. Start My Wellness: How do I know if I have ADHD? What if I also have symptoms of anxiety and/or depression?
  4. CHADD: Professionals Who Diagnose and Treat ADHD
  5. Start My Wellness: I Just Got Diagnosed with ADHD. Now What?
Dr. Anton Babushkin

Author: Anton Babushkin, PhD

Looking for a Therapist? Start My Wellness has highly experienced Licensed Therapists that are currently accepting new patients.


Blog Posts Tags: ADHD | ADHD Testing
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