Does the teacher complain that your child just can’t seem to focus in class?
Does he miss information and directions?
Your child’s mind may seem to constantly wander, and he might struggle to tune in. He or she might become bored easily and constantly switch from one activity to the next.
Is he disruptive?
Is she rash and impulsive, acting without proper judgement?
Is he hyperactive and acts as if driven by a motor?
Is she extremely fidgety?
Many parents in lower Manhattan seek ADHD Treatment with a child psychologist or play therapist!
ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed disorder in children, affecting fully seven percent of the youth population. At least half of the children who come into my office have ADHD. I work with teachers who administer ADHD medications to many students every day. It almost seems like everyone has the disorder. But, living with a child with ADHD can be very challenging. The good news, however, is that Child-Centered Play Therapy together with parenting counseling can bring about a great improvement in ADHD symptoms. Medication, if you choose it, can be helpful, and I can manage the implementation of meds together with a child psychiatrist.
Child-Centered Play Therapy actually reduces ADHD symptoms!
Most emotional and behavioral disorders can be significantly remedied with Child-Centered Play Therapy. Play therapy involves weekly sessions in a specially designed playroom. The toys are carefully selected. I interact with your child in a very careful and special way that causes tremendous emotional healing and personal growth by addressing the causes of his ADHD behavior, and intervening to defuse them.
During play therapy, I do not direct him or her as to what to do or how to behave. Your child completely determines the course of the session and I reflect back to the child each thing that he does. This is called tracking, and it is similar to a sportscaster describing each play of a game. For example, I might respond, “Oh you’ve decided to bang with the hammer...” or “You don't want to make balloons anymore...” As the child makes one decision after another, the tracking and acceptance of the child’s activities displays to him my tremendous respect for the decisions that he is making. Your child will begin to think, “I can make decisions,” and, “My decisions are good.”
Therefore Child-Centered Play Therapy develops your child’s power of decision, actually giving him the power to choose to focus on his task and to pay better attention! Furthermore it is extremely pleasurable and satisfying to have a therapist who validates, supports and encourages his focusing decisions. This pleasure makes the child think about how focusing feels good, and he or she is encouraged to focus more in the future.
Play Therapy reduces impulsivity!
Furthermore, children with ADHD often lack impulse control. They misbehave in an impulsive and disruptive manner, interrupting and disturbing others. Play therapy, as a part of ADHD treatment, also remedies lack of impulse control by giving your child complete control and support in his or her actions. We need to remember that children often lack a sense of control over their lives as they are constantly told what to do at school and at home. They may be frustrated over a lack of self-determination. In play, I support and strengthen their feeling of control. Even if your child asks for directions or suggestions, the burden of directing the activity is returned back to him. Thus he learns to think, “I can control myself, my actions and my life,” and gains better control over his impulses.
Play Therapy increases self-esteem!
Children with ADHD are often unhappy and stressed. They suffer the constant disapproval of teachers and parents and feel poorly about themselves. Generally improving their happiness and level of pleasure results in improved behavior. In the playroom, I approve of, accept and support your child’s actions and decisions and communicate that those activities are important and worthy. Your child thinks, “Joseph thinks the games I play are important so therefore I must be important.” This dynamic is constant in Play Therapy and results in increased self-confidence and self-esteem. Your child feels better about himself even outside of the session and this increased happiness and well-being leads to less tantrums and misbehaviors, and increased focus.
Play Therapy helps your child process overwhelming emotions!
Children with ADHD often experience overpowering emotions, such as fear, worry, shame and anger, and these negative feelings further increase the distractions your child is facing. Child-Centered Play Therapy helps your child process those emotions so he or she is able to focus. For example, if your child is angry when he comes into the playroom, I reflect back the expressed feelings patiently and without judgment. In this way the child gains awareness of his emotional life because he's experiencing the validation of what’s called an enlightened witness. Moreover I am very accepting of your child’s expression of emotions, even negative ones. Your child learns that it's okay to feel his feelings, allowing him to process his emotions so they no longer distract him.
"Tuning up" your Parenting is very helpful!
I recommend parenting counseling as a supplement to the ADHD treatment of Child-Centered Play Therapy. Parents have tremendous power to influence their child’s well-being and emotional health by "Tuning up" the way they interact with them. Common parenting mistakes can make ADHD symptoms worse. No parent is perfect and we all stumble occasionally. But, it pays to try as hard as possible to reduce negative interactions such as criticism, over-control or anger. Limits still need to be set, however, and I work with you to try to find the right balance between limits and permissiveness under which your child can thrive.
I was a teacher for many years before becoming a psychotherapist, and I understand the challenges of a child with ADHD in the classroom. I work closely with teachers to manage behavior and administer medication if desired.
It is truly amazing how Child-Centered Play Therapy together with Parenting Counseling helps children with ADHD! 3-12 months of ADHD treatment can make a tremendous difference, bringing improved focus, reduced impulsivity and great improvement in overall behavior!
But you still may have concerns about ADHD treatment or Play Therapy…
My child needs help but I’m not comfortable with the idea of medication…
Medication such as Ritalin and Adderal can provide immediate relief of ADHD symptoms in many cases, but they address the symptoms only, not the cause of the problem. When the medicine is stopped all the symptoms come right back. However, Play Therapy and Parenting Counseling go to the root and resolve what’s causing the symptoms. We can discuss the pros and cons of ADHD medication and figure out a plan that’s right for you. In some cases it is possible to treat ADHD well enough without meds.
Isn’t ADHD caused by biology and genetics? How can therapy change something that is hard wired?
It has been demonstrated that ADHD comes from being born with a sensitive temperament combined with stressful experiences in early childhood. I personally believe that environmental factors play a very important role in generating ADHD symptoms, and by changing your child’s environment through therapy, we can bring about improvement. I have seen it happen with many children.
But, therapy is expensive and I’m not sure it is worth the money…
Play Therapy and Parenting Counseling are early interventions. These approaches to ADHD treatment nip the problem in the bud and make sure it doesn’t develop into a larger, full-blown problem when your child gets older. Investing in a year of ADHD treatment now can save you from years of costly treatment in the future as well as educational and social problems. Considering the tremendous benefits to your child’s emotional health, success and well-being, therapy now is a steal.
I have seen ADHD at work in New York City as a teacher, as a parent, and as a psychotherapist and this triple vantage point has given me the experience to successfully deal with ADHD and other problems, such as anxiety, depression, oppositional behavior and tantrums. Play therapy and parenting counseling can bring relief and reduce the intensity of the child’s overall challenges.
You Can Help Your Child Find Confidence And Success!
Do you wish you could do more to help your child? Do you still have questions about play therapy or ADHD treatment? If you choose you may download my free report on the effectiveness of punishment, and get on my email list. Or if you would like the guidance and treatment of a child therapist in New York City, you may call me for a free 15-minute phone consultation at 646-681-1707. Next time you’re in the middle of a parenting challenge give me a call and I can troubleshoot on the phone. I look forward to speaking with you!