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Self-Paced Online Seminars

Directive Group Play Therapy for Children Diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and High Functioning ASD

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Date Published

July 19, 2017


UT School of Social Work


ADHD, High Functioning ASD, ODD


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Directive Group Play Therapy is the use of fast-paced structured and/or semi-structured games designed for children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), as well as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and applicable to high-functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). By means of design and reinforcement methods in the play therapy process, the therapist teaches interpersonal & social skills, values, emotional expression, academic skills, and manages behavior.

The play therapy games empower the players, build self-esteem, promote self-confidence as well as self-control, internalize social values, and offer a safe experience for making friends. The fun atmosphere of play therapy dissipates fear and past frustrations in learning. The group play therapy process facilitates growth in the ability to handle interpersonal conflicts and teamwork. The positive experience learned in the group is transferable to their own homes, school setting and other social situations with peers and adults.

Modules 1-2: ADHD, ODD, and ASD: Use of Directive Group Play Therapy
These sessions address criteria and behavioral characteristics of children diagnosed with ADHD, and the importance of providing structure for assuring predictability and safety. Therapeutic tools necessary to work with this special population of children will be reviewed. The presenter will also address how she educates and engages parents in better structuring their daily routines in ways that manage their child's behavior.

Participants will be able to:
- Describe characteristics of children diagnosed with ADHD
- Differentiate functions of the left and right brain and relationship to ADHD
- Describe the use of structured play therapy games
- Apply these games to work with children diagnosed with ODD and ASD
- Educate and engage parents in providing appropriate structure for their children

Modules 3-4: Use of Groups for Children Diagnosed with ADHD
Learning to work with ADHD children using group modalities can be challenging, especially as ADHD can correlate with other diagnoses such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder and learning disorders such as Dyslexia. These sessions address the use of directive play therapy groups with these populations. The presenter differentiates between directive and non-directive techniques, and discusses directive play therapy as applied to use with groups. Five stages of group development are described, including guidance on how to choose games appropriate to stage of the group process, and how to offer feedback to participants in a way that enables the transfer of behavior to home and school.

Participants will be able to:
- Describe types of ADHD and correlation with ODD, CD, and Dyslexia
- Differentiate between use of Directive and Non-directive play therapy methods with these populations
- Describe five stages of group development in directive group play therapy
- Decide on use of play therapy games guided by consideration of stages of group development
- Troubleshoot game selection for members with disruptive behaviors that slow group cohesiveness

Modules 5-6: Use of Directive Group Play Approaches in School Settings
Clinicians who work with children, whether community-based or school based, must also be able to work effectively with parents, and with teachers and other school personnel. This session addresses how to support children with ADHD, ODD, Dyslexia, and ASD in school settings. The presentation also addresses running school-based social skills groups, including academic-related and SEL related structured games.

Participants will be able to:
- Apply play therapy techniques in supporting routines at clients' home and school settings to support behavior management
- Support parents in learning how to effectively advocate for their children with school personnel
- Use effective strategies to troubleshoot behavioral issues in school-based play therapy groups
- Learn special sensory techniques to reach the quiet students and/or children with sensory integration issues
- Practice components of group termination for school-based Directive play therapy groups

Materials package available for purchase separately for $90: Directive Group Play Therapy, Feelings Wheel Game, and The Smiley System for Responsibility Training for Children (Kit/Handbook)

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Norma Leben

Norma Leben, LCSW, ACSW, RPT-S, CPT-PROF, is the founder of Morning Glory Treatment Center for Children. She has over forty... Read More

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Program Titles and Supporting Materials

This program contains the following components:

Directive Group Play Therapy Part 1 - Video
Directive Group Play Therapy Part 2 - Video
Directive Group Play Therapy Part 3 - Video
Directive Group Play Therapy Part 4 - Video
Directive Group Play Therapy Part 5 - Video
Directive Group Play Therapy Part 6 - Video
Directive Group Play Therapy - Paper
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If applicable, you may obtain credit in multiple jurisdictions simultaneously for this program (see pending/approved list below). If electing credit for this program, registrants in jurisdictions not listed below will receive a Certificate of Completion that may or may not meet credit requirements in other jurisdictions. Where applicable, credit will be only awarded to a paid registrant completing all the requirements of the program as determined by the selected accreditation authority.

Click on jurisdiction for specific details:

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How to Attend

Join the self-paced program from your office, home, or hotel room using a computer and high speed internet connection. You may start and stop the program at your convenience, continue where you left off, and review supporting materials as often as you like. Please note: Internet Explorer is no longer a supported browser. We recommend using Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari for best results.

Technical Requirements
You may access this course on a computer or mobile device with high speed internet (iPhones require iOS 10 or higher). Recommended browsers are Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

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