How Counseling Can Help Address Impulsive Behavior

Experiencing impulsivity might be overwhelming. Some people would shift their attention from one stimulus to another without addressing the other. And this is a result of the continuous stimulation of the brain. Responding without much forethought, you might also find yourself in this situation.

Engaging in unexpected and risky behavior is a characteristic of impulsivity. Often, a triggering event or an uncontrollable urge may cause this behavior. The lack of thought about the consequences of these actions can lead to long-term adverse effects.


People with chronic impulsivity can experience significant social and psychological problems. This is particularly observable in people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They may be unable to concentrate at work leading to financial incapacity. Some may also have difficulties in building stable relationships. 

Seeking a counselor can address symptoms of impulsivity in ADHD, including: 

  • Having extreme impatience
  • Showing signs of dangerous recklessness
  • Exhibiting temper outbursts
  • Uncontrollable blurting of phrases
  • Unnecessary interrupting of conversations

Counseling can help you in the differential diagnosis and planning for effective therapy. A counselor may provide you various coping strategies to address your impulsive behavior.

Determining A Diagnosis

Attending a counseling session can determine an underlying mental health disorder. As mentioned earlier, impulsive behaviors are primarily associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A counselor can evaluate signs of shifting of interests of a person with ADHD. They can also identify the lack of control and concentration problems.

Impulsive behaviors are also common in people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). People with BPD exhibit significant impairment of personality and interpersonal functioning. They also have a poor self-image and lack of empathy due to hypersensitivity.

A counselor can also provide differential diagnoses for impulsive behaviors, including:

  • Bipolar mania
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Substance use disorders
  • Binge-eating behaviors 

Often, the lack of control over impulsive behavior can affect different aspects of a person’s life. 

For instance, it might affect professional life, be it work or school. In some cases, ADHD makes someone distracted and forgetful. So, eventually, this condition can lead to missed deadlines for either school or work.

Impulsive behavior may also lead to impulsive spending. If you are unable to control your buying tendencies, you might end up with a wiped bank account. In worst cases, you might even have debt or insufficient credit due to uncontrollable spending. Without proper help and support, it might lead to serious financial problems. 

Those with impulsive behavior are also prone to emotional outbursts. ADHD can make it difficult for the brain to control reactions to different situations. In situations of annoyance, anger, or frustration, it can lead to unwanted outbursts. Eventually, it may lead to further conflicts and damaged relationships.

But note that people with ADHD may have an emotional fit in any situation and with other people. It is not exclusive to family and friends. 


Consulting a counselor with clinical expertise can help prevent misdiagnosis of these disorders. 

Familiarizing And Planning For Triggers

A counselor can help in managing impulsive behavior by identifying triggers. Understanding the behavioral, biological, and cognitive determinants is crucial for your treatment plan.

First, your counselor will help you identify your triggers and familiarize yourself with them. Your counselor will then conduct a psychological assessment to determine your stressors. 

Secondly, your counselor will plan an approach involving your treatment. Your counselor may use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). 

In CBT, the main focus will be determining your behavioral triggers. Your counselor will also help you learn healthy coping mechanisms. Meanwhile, in DBT, your counselor will emphasize improving your cognitive process. In this case, reflection may help you acknowledge the consequences of your actions.

 During sessions, your counselor will teach you methods of avoiding impulsive thoughts. This can help you to function better throughout your day.

Additionally, your counselor can also offer you pharmacological options for treating your impulsivity. However, using psychotropic medication to control impulsive behavior requires extensive research. Moreover, it needs further studies to explore its benefits and risks better.

Providing Coping Strategies

Seeing a counselor or a therapist can help you cope better with your impulsive behaviors. As mentioned earlier, your counselor can help you identify and address your triggers.

Some coping strategies include conducting a chain analysis. During the session, your counselor will check your thought process and emotions. It involves before and after impulsive behavior. 

Your counselor will help you reflect on the harmful consequences of your actions. In this process, you will replace impulsive behavior with healthy habits. This behavior modification can cause a long-term positive effect in your life.

Your counselor may also encourage you to join support groups for battling impulsivity. A supportive group may boost your confidence and may further develop your self-awareness.

Lastly, counseling may provide you alternative meditation techniques for controlling your impulsive behaviors. Meditation can regulate your mood and distract you from your impulsive thoughts.



Taming your impulses is difficult, especially when you struggle with a mental disorder. Impulsive behavior is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. And it may have self-destructive consequences. 

Visiting a counselor can help you in identifying your symptoms. They can also diagnose conditions such as bipolar personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and others. Moreover, your counselor can conduct a clinical assessment to help you acknowledge your triggers.

Continuous counseling sessions may also help you in mitigating your stressors. Consult a  counselor with the appropriate expertise on managing your impulsive behavior.

Your counselor may offer you CBT or DBT as your therapy. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, you can focus on assessing your triggers. While in DTB, you can focus on behavioral modification. So, your counselor can also track your progress and setbacks.

Finally, a counseling session may also provide alternative coping strategies. This is essential to help you further manage your impulsive behavior. Other treatments may include oral medication, meditation, and joining social support groups.

Seeking professional help is essential. If you or someone you know shows signs of impulsivity, we encourage you to seek help from a mental health professional.

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