Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much does therapy cost?
My fee is $150 per 45 minute session. However, as I understand that some parents are under significant financial stress, I can offer a reduced fee for selected clients. Kindly contact me and explain your situation, and I will do my best to accommodate you. The fee includes phone time during the week as needed. I try to make myself available to parents in need or who have questions outside of the session.
2. Do you take insurance?
I don’t take insurance directly but I am an out-of-network provider, which means that if you have out of network benefits, your insurance company will reimburse you for a significant portion of the cost. Check with your insurance company to see if you indeed have out-of-network benefits.
3. How often are Play Therapy sessions?
It’s generally best once per week preferably at the same time every week. Taking into account holidays, vacations and illnesses, at least three sessions per month is fine. The more you are careful not to miss sessions, the faster the child will improve.
4. How many Play Therapy sessions will my child need?
For behavior problems such as tantrums, anger, defiance and the like children generally need 2-5 months of Play Therapy together with Parenting Counseling to resolve the problem. This is much quicker than therapy with teens and adults, which usually requires at least one or several years. For children with ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms, therapy often takes 6-12 months. I have gotten children off ADHD meds in 12 months of Play Therapy and Parenting Counseling. Most parents, however, begin to see improvement after only a few sessions, and every session brings another notch of improvement.
5. What does Parenting Counseling involve?
Parenting Counseling is about the parents and I forming a relationship gradually over time. That relationship is the structure through which I help parents to develop their own parenting wisdom to resolve their child’s issues. Once we get to know each other, I will gradually guide you towards coming up with your own ideas how to change the way you interact with your child, which will generate great improvement in behavior and emotional health. The parent-child relationship is the most important element in any child’s life, and through wisely nurturing that relationship, we can effect a tremendous change!
For example if your child is having tantrums, I will help you develop your own ideas of how to inject happiness into your child’s day at key points, which will prevent the tantrums from developing in the first place. You know your child better than anyone, and therefore combining your wisdom with my experience with what has worked with many other children and parents is usually the key to resolving the issue. Teamed up with Play Therapy, Parenting Counseling is doubly effective.
6. Can I do Play Therapy without Parenting Counseling?
Yes. Many parents have worked on their parenting and don’t feel they need help in that area, but feel that Play Therapy is what is really needed, in which case we can do Play Therapy sessions alone. Usually in that case we would schedule 15 minute phone conversations twice a month or as necessary to monitor progress and deal with any issues that may arise. This often works for parents who are advanced and effective in their parenting skills, but whose child is unfortunately undergoing severe stressors such as the separation of his parents, bullying or other stressors. The Play Therapy alone will help the child process the stress and develop a healthier reaction to it.
7. Do I need a consultation first?
We start with a free 15-minute phone consultation, to ascertain if I am the best choice to help you. Then we would schedule one 45-minute in-person consultation with the parent or preferably both parents to fully assess the situation, get an understanding of the child’s emotional health, the family system, parenting styles and to establish the critical therapeutic alliance, or the working relationship between myself and the parent or parents. Weekly Play therapy sessions and/or Parenting Counseling sessions will usually follow.
8. How do I do Play Therapy together with Parenting Counseling?
After the initial consultation with the parent or parents, we will work out a schedule that fits your needs. Some parents who would like four sessions per month will opt for 2-3 sessions of Play Therapy alternating with one session of Parenting Counseling. Some who wish to make faster progress will opt for Play Therapy every week and in addition Parenting sessions twice per month. Some prefer to take care of Parenting issues with short phone sessions and have Play Therapy every week. For older children aged 10-12 who can wait by themselves in the waiting room, we may have weekly sessions of 15 minutes of Parenting Counseling followed immediately by 30 minutes of Play Therapy or talk therapy as the child desires, or we may need a family session to work on issues between parent and child together. The main logistic is to avoid talking about the child in front of the child.
9. When are sessions available to be scheduled?
I am generally available Sundays 10-6, Mondays through Thursdays 2-9pm. In the spring and summer I offer Fridays from 2-5.
10. Do you see tweens and teens?
I have done Play Therapy with children as old as 15, but generally at age 10 children begin to grow out of it to a certain extent, and therefore beginning at that age I do a combination of Play Therapy combined with traditional talk therapy/family conflict resolution. The important thing is to allow the child to decide when he wants to play and when he wants to talk, as this choice empowers and respects him and his needs and desires. If I see a child is not interested in playing I will engage him or her in therapeutic interventions geared towards: gaining conscious awareness of his emotional life, honoring his own desires, resolving family conflict or other issues with his parents, and resolving issues with school or friends. Often I will see that a family session is necessary to work through issues. However if the child wishes to play, that is the strongest indication that that is the medicine his body and emotional health requires.
With teenagers who generally are too old to play I specialize in traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy which means, I get to the root of the emotional forces that are causing their distress, and unravel the problem from there, then reprogramming healthy emotional reactions. Concurrently I do Parenting Counseling, for parents of teenagers, as with children, have immense power to influence the youngster’s well-being. Tuning up your parenting is extremely helpful. Issues with teenagers generally take 6-12 months to treat.
11. I feel my child needs someone to talk to. Will you talk to my child during Play Therapy?
Child-Centered Play Therapy involves a constant stream of communication between myself and the child. However most children under 10 choose to engage mostly in Play Therapy and not in traditional talk therapy. It is very important to respect that decision and allow the child to choose what he would like to do, as this empowers and respects him. Most of the time the child will express through play whatever he needs to express, that is he prefers not to talk about his issues abstractly. However if a child feels the need to talk about his feelings or issues conceptually, I will switch to talk therapy for as long as the child feels the need to use it. However it is critical to allow the child to choose the direction of the therapy. For example, I will not “Bring up” topics such as problems in school or his parent’s separation unless the child brings it up himself.
12. What issues do you treat?
Child-Centered Play Therapy is the magical solution that treats almost any childhood emotional or behavioral problem! But the truth is it is nothing magic, just pure, solid science that has been amply supported by research. Together with Parenting Counseling, it is doubly effective. Most commonly I treat children who have ADHD symptoms, are having frequent tantrums, exhibit defiance or oppositional behavior, are angry or aggressive, hurt themselves, suffer from anxiety, perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive behavior, depression and sadness. In addition I address family conflict and rebellious behavior. Most but not all my children come from parents who are separated.
13. How does just playing with my child help him? Can’t I just play with him or her at home?
Child-Centered Play Therapy is a medical treatment carried out by a specially trained professional. It involves very specific techniques which actually heal emotional illnesses and behavioral disorders. In the Playroom I interact with the child with a special technique called tracking, where, similar to a sportscaster describing a game, I verbally reflect back to the child each action taken, feeling expressed or decision made. Play for children is an extremely important and meaningful business. For example whenever a child picks up a toy to examine it or play with it, this is an important event for that child. He is realizing a desire and exercising his executive functioning. I track that event by saying an enthusiastic, “Oh, you got THAT!” Done repeatedly, this gives him conscious awareness of his accomplishment and celebrates it with him. The child then learns, “My taking that toy is important. My desires deserve respect. I have the right to make decisions and to have those decisions honored by adults. I am an important and worthy person” Over time, this makes a child feel so good about himself that behavior problems disappear, as they had been fueled by the child feeling badly about himself. Tracking has numerous amazing benefits. Let’s say a child puts down a toy and goes to the balloons. I say, emphatically, “Oh, you’re decided you want to blow up some balloons!” calling conscious attention to his accomplishment and celebrating it and creating pleasure accompanying that decision. Done repeatedly over time, the child will learn, “I can make decisions, I can control myself and my own life. Making decisions feels good. I will honor my own decisions in the future.” Thus the child becomes more decisive, gains self-control and learns self-respect. Let’s say a child feels joy over success manipulating a particular toy, I say “Oh that makes you happy!” and the child learns, “I can make myself happy and control my own emotions to a certain extent.” I show so much respect for the child in the playroom, that the child learns to respect him or herself. I empower the child to make all of his or her own decisions and to honor his desires and feelings. These things are the definition of mental health. One time I had a four year old client who was on the way in the car to her fifth session, when she started to misbehave a tiny bit in the back seat. Her mother said, “Hey you’d better behave or I’m going to tell Joseph!” She responded, “Oh, Joseph, don’t worry about him, he likes me!” She was used to getting treated so well that she learned to view herself the same way. Since most emotional problems are fueled by a low sense of well-being, all this making the child feel great about himself resolves most of these problems!
14. What is your approach to Parenting?
My Philosophy of Parenting is one of gentleness, kindness, tolerance, patience, flexibility, joy and warmth. Such an approach makes children so happy that they automatically behave much better and are more emotionally healthy. Limits need to be set, but I have clearly seen that paradoxically and amazingly by exercising parental authority LESS often, we actually increase compliance significantly! Too many commands cause children to resent the over-control and to rebel and resist, but if you save your commands for the less often more important items, children are usually much happier to comply. Let’s say a particular child can handle being told what to do 20 times per day and he will more or less comply happily. If you’ve been giving him just 22 commands per day, you’ve gone beyond his limit and resentment and frustration will build up, and soon he will refuse to listen to all 22! But by just cutting out those two commands per day, you bring him into his comfort zone. Since you never know how many commands a child can handle, I recommend cutting out 20 percent across the board, and checking back a few weeks later for results. Which ones do you cut out? The small ones. Save your commands for important items.