Therapist for Child with ADHD

Parent Q&A

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  • We are looking for a therapist who can help our son with his difficulty forming and maintaining social connections with his peers.

    Our 8yr old son was diagnosed with ADHD during kindergarten and is now in the 3rd grade. Since then he has had virtual therapy as well as in-person group OT. He has not had therapy since he summer when his therapist stopped seeing patients after having a child. 

    his inability to fit in with peers (and their subsequent treatment of him) has contributed to developing a negative self-image and some counter-productive coping mechanisms that reinforce his experience of ‘nobody wants to play with me.’ however      should add that he is also dealing with a recent move and fresh separation of his parents. 

    He is in a very supportive school with a team of teachers and staff in communication with us and helping to support him in various ways. While in-the-moment guidance is helpful, there are understandable limits to the time and attention dedicated to these efforts by the school. Likewise, while his weekly group OT therapy sessions have been productive, they lack the effectiveness that individualized and more comprehensive one-on-one sessions could provide.

    We are currently traveling to Concord for his weekly OT, which is a bit disruptive schedule-wise. Our preference is to find somebody in the Berkeley/Oakland area, but the Orinda/Lafayette/Walnut creek area is not out of the question.  

    On a related but non-contributing note, I have to say it is incredibly heart aching to see my son endure this. The fact that I had and weathered very similar experiences as a child and young adult certainly helps me to relate with him and provide helpful perspective and advice, however it also brings heightened awareness of his suffering and disparaging outlook - especially when I know him to be such a bright, sensitive, and caring human. 

    It is really good that you have a diagnosis at age 8, and he has had individual and group therapy.  I read your last paragraph, and around age 15 my son who also has ADHD and had trouble making friends, said to me, "Mom, why did no one like me?".  So I understand your mother's heartache.  I just give you kudos for being in there getting your son help.  A resource that helped me (I wish I had found it years earlier), is additudemag.com   It's free and has a lot of good explanations and suggestions.

    Hi there,

    I hope you can find a good therapist for your son.  If you're ever interested in a playdate, I have a 6 year old first grader who is high energy and has some impulse control/affect regulation issues.  This has impacted his ability to have friends.  He would love to have more friends and playdates.  We are in North Berkeley and he goes to school in Albany.  Let me know if you might be interested in a playdate.  I also have 10 and 11 year old girls who might join. 

    My 4-year-old daughter, with sensory processing disorder, is doing weekly individual OT sessions with Full Circle. They usually have a waiting list but it paid off to get on the list and keep following up. The individual sessions have helped her tremendously. Feel free to message me directly if you want the name of the occupational therapist. 

    Not a therapist but your child should absolutely consider joining a social skills group with Shelly at Think Social East Bay. She is a speech language pathologist but she specializes in teaching social skills to kids who don't pick them up naturally. Bonus is that most kids think her groups are fun and want to go. She was a life changer for our ADHD kid with poor social skills as a result.

    Your son is lucky to have you.  I have a neurodivergent toddler and so this is definitely one of my fears.  Other parents have recommended this book about making friends, which is geared towards kids your son's age (I just bookmarked it for a potential future need).  Growing Friendships: A Kids' Guide to Making and Keeping Friends

    You might also search for this same issue in some of the parenting subreddits on Reddit as this question comes up from time to time.  Often the advice is to get your kid involved in activities outside of school (sports, but also chess, D&D, scouts, rock climbing, music, etc.).  

    +1 to Shelly Hansen and Think Social.  Stacy outten is an excellent therapist in the east bay who specializes in neurodivergent kids and is making a world of difference in helping my kid.  Hang in there. You're doing great in getting your kid all the help he needs.  

    Our 8-year old son just spend 6 months in therapy with Dr. Sam Kaplan (https://www.drsamuelkaplan.com/), whom we'd highly recommend. Our son had various issues in school - he was beginning to leave class at random times without permission, wouldn't verbally express almost anything about school, and didn't seem to be connecting deeply with anyone at school (teachers and students alike) along with expressing feelings of loneliness and disconnection. This along with some unresolved issues, unrelated to school behavior, led us to seek support via therapy. 

    Sam embraced our son's natural strengths and unique qualities and helped to bring out a really different side of him through play and connection. He was very communicative and transparent with us about his observations and reflections via email between our sessions. As parents, we joined many of the sessions, talking together about what was and wasn't working for our son, and building stronger communication with our son. We have seen major improvements in our son's behavior and mindset, and I draw on our conversations from therapy almost daily. I believe that therapy helped us to cope with our heartbreak at his discomfort and with our own parenting challenges, as much as it helped our son to have a safe and special space to talk through his challenges and reflections.

    I hope you find the support (nearby!) that you're looking for soon.

  • ADHD therapist for 9 year old boy

    (1 reply)

    Hello BPN community - I am looking for a recommendation for a therapist for our 9 year old with ADHD, preferably in Berkeley, Albany, Oakland, or Richmond. It has taken months for Kaiser to agree to help cover therapy expenses, and of course the person we originally found to help our family, is now booked. As are many others we have tried. Does anyone know of a therapist who is willing to do in person sessions? Our son's ADHD issues include anger management problems, impulsiveness, and low tolerance for frustration. He is taking medication and it is helpful with school issues, but we need more support. Thanks- nb

    • Tatiana Guerreiro Ramos is a fantastic resource for ADHD. She is the Co-founder of Classroom Matters and advocates for families that need support around ADHD.  

    • Jenifer Matthews, MD is a pediatrician and acupuncturist at UCSF Oakland Children's Hospital and works with ADHD using both Chinese and Western medicine.

    • At UCSF Osher Center in San Francisco, Sanford Newmark, MD is a renown ADHD focused doctor who leans into natural approaches to managing ADHD. He is actually quite famous for his wholistic approach.

    If you have a son and he is middle school age, check out East Bay School for Boys. My son goes there largely because of his ADHD and it is the perfect fit for him—the smaller classes, and their approach to ADHD really works for him. They also have a scholarship program if you are on a tight budget. 

    Finally, I found the key to advocating for your child is a neuro-psych evaluation. It's not as scary as it sounds. Your pediatrician can refer you, but you may need be pushy as they aren't inexpensive and Kaiser is not going to hand them out like candy. During the evaluation the clinician will spend the better part of the day with your child, but in the end you will have a full report that you can point to when going full mamma/pappa bear on your child's school and/or Kaiser to get your child the support they need. It will unlock so many doors for you as a parent. 

  • Therapist for Tween

    (1 reply)

    I'm looking for an experienced therapist for my 12 year old son who has some ADHD/OCD/ASD like behaviors. Looking for someone on Beacon Health.

    If you are looking for someone on Beacon Health I'd suggest getting a list of names of therapists in the area and doing a search on Yelp and Psychology Today.  Many therapists also have their own websites- if you google their name + their city you might be able to find out more about them.  Psychology Today will often include the website.  I suggest interviewing/having a free consultation with at least two therapists before making a decision as fit is critical. Best wishes!

  • Hello BPN Family,

    We seek a psychiatrist for our 11-year-old with ADHD and social issues. Our child tends to bottle up what is bothering them and then has severe meltdowns at home as a result. Most of the meltdowns are because of social issues. We constantly communicate with their teachers, so the anxiety is not related to typical ADHD-related problems like time management or stress over school assignments. As we enter the teen years, we want to cover all our bases. We prefer talk therapy with strategies over art therapy.

    My daughter is 8, almost 9 and struggling with anxiety, depression, anger, showing the beginning signs of self harm.

    At school, she does very well. It is at home when she shows how she feels, has melt downs, says troubling things. For several years I felt she needed a therapist, though her father was resistant. We are separated.

    Recently, he agreed, after emphasizing her pediatrician thought it was a good idea.

    Have called so many numbers, and no luck yet.

    Please advise

    Best,

    M

    That sounds like a lot to handle. The fact that you’re seeking answers is amazing and courageous.

     If you discuss this with their pediatrician, the doctor can make a referral. You might also want to discuss a neuropsych evaluation with the pediatrician— They can make that referral as well.

    Neuropsych evaluation is not inexpensive, so you may have to press for it to get insurance to cover it. But having a formal evaluation can be really helpful as you move forward. It’s also an excellent tool to force the schools to accommodate your child’s unique needs.

    you’re doing an amazing job! Your child is very lucky to have you as their advocate!!

    Hi, Virginia Cunningham is amazing. Schools all over the Bay Area refer to her. My son and I have seen her since he was in kindergarten. Super helpful. I've referred her to tons of people over the years and ALL have responded that their child loved her and she helped them. 510-468-7128

  • Therapist for 10 YO Girl w/ ADHD

    (4 replies)

    We're seeking a therapist for my 9 year old daughter (soon to be 10 in June) with ADHD. Although she is medicated, she still struggles with anger management, impulse control and emotional regulation. We had planned to seek family therapy, but then shelter in place started and then kept going. During the pandemic things have gotten worse and her behavior has deteriorated along with her emotional state. She lies, stays up late into the night and prowls around for sweets after everyone has gone to bed and then lies about it (some more). She'll have two hour crying sessions because we wouldn't let her watch TV till she finished her homework. Any leads on a therapist would be welcome.  

    Hi - we have also been looking for our ADHD daughter, who sounds very similar to ours (she is 8.5, almost 9). Your username is hidden, but I'd love to connect -- I think support with others going through these challenges is really needed. (I'm also interested in finding a great therapist, as our experience with play based felt like it lacked skills and tactics that are really needed to help our kid.) If you're interested in connecting, please reach out, we'd love to get to know you (even though I also know that with children like ours, 'extra' time and socializing can be extremely difficult).

    We had begun to explore this modality (DBT group therapy) https://www.clearwaterclinic.com/dbt-children/

    Your daughter sounds just like my son (10yo)! We put even a lock on our pantry just for that same reason. There are holes in the walls at our house because he hit them with his toys with so much rage. He lies about being on zoom school all the while playing online games. I can go on and on. Anyway, we are seeing Mindy Szelap on zoom. She talks mainly to us parents, giving us tips and parenting skills to deal with him. It is more like family therapy actually. We really like Mindy. She has lots of experience with ADHD kids. Mindy Szelap (510) 394-5670

    Marla R Rosen, MFT has been a great support to my 8 year old son, my husband, and myself this past year.  We do not have an ADHD diagnosis, but were struggling with some similar behaviors and difficult dynamics.  Marla was highly recommended to me (by a trusted therapist) as a profoundly skilled and experienced child therapist, and her expertise with us as parents has been transformative.  She can be reached marlarosenmft (at) gmail.com, 510-399-0473.  Highly recommend.

    Hi there,

    I was experiencing challenges with my daughter a few years back. We had wonderful success working with Rebecah Freeling from Wits' End Parenting. While not a therapist, she is a specialist, and all I can say is that we got excellent results we were looking for. 

    Her contact info is: 

    Rebecah FreelingWits' End Parenting

    rebecah [at] witsendparenting.com

  • Child Psychologist with ADHD experience

    (4 replies)

    I am looking for recommendation for a child psychologist with ADHD experience. Would prefer a female and in the East Bay. I have looked and contacted many and all seem to be full.   Thank you in advance.

    Hi-

    I don't know if she is full, but you could try Renee Talmon at the Berkeley Therapy Center: https://www.bti.org/renee-talmon-psy-d. Good luck! 

    We are working with Heidi Zeichick with Psychiatric Alternatives.  Our daughter has ADHD and other learning differences. We’ve found her to be helpful to our daughter and to us. My husband and I started seeing her concurrently for parent support and this has also been extremely helpful. 

    Heidi also has personal experience with ADHD so we find this helpful because she gets it as a parent as well as from a clinical perspective.  

    Not sure if she has space but their admin office is really responsive. 

    Wishing you the best.

    Alison Potter on Grizzly Peak is a psychiatrist, but she has experience with ADHD, dyslexia, etc. She is relatively new to the area, and we had no trouble getting an appointment with her.

    My son has been using Dr. Amber Lerma for probably 4 years.  She just recently left a group practice in Lafayette and is now on her own in Orinda.  She’s always been very responsive and we recommend her highly.  

  • We are looking for a psychologist for a six year old girl who may have ADHD. We'd like to find someone who works well with children and is very knowledgeable about ADHD. It would be great if he/she uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and has some experience working with bright children. We can get to appointments in Berkeley, Oakland, Orinda, Lafayette, and Walnut Creek. 

    Ross Andelman (510) 527-9615

    He works with kids, specializes in ADHD, super-competent and a really really nice guy.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Psychologist for negative child with ADHD

March 2013

I have a grade school child who was diagnosed with ADHD. However almost everything out of his mouth is doom and gloom. He seems to always tell me the negative side. I have tried asking what are some positive things and he wants no part of it. His life is good, family, friends and doing well in school and sports. However he seems unhappy. Does anyone know of a child psychologist that works with ADHD children? Thank you for reading. Worried Mom Anon


Kent Grelling is a wonderful psychologist who works with kids and adolescents. He is in Orinda. Been There