March 9, 2016

Francine Conway, Ph.D. ’99

Francine Conway, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist, Professor and Chair of Psychology in the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies. She has written articles and books on ADHD treatment and supervised undergraduate and doctoral students in conducting research on ADHD. Working with colleagues, Dr. Conway was instrumental in establishing the Derner Hempstead Child Clinic—a satellite clinic in Hempstead that provides psychotherapy services for underserved minority children who experience tremendous difficulty in their families and schools. She currently serves as the clinical director for the clinic and also supervises beginning therapists in an empathic treatment of children.

Cultivating Compassion for the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Child: Shifting Our Stance from Moral Indictment to Empathy

Cultivating compassion for the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) child—from moral indictment to empathy.

The prevailing medical models pathologize children’s behaviors. As a result, well-meaning adults focus on changing the child’s behaviors through medication or contingencies. Yet, these fail to bring about lasting change. Therefore, informed by psychoanalysis and neuropsychology, Francine Conway, Ph.D. advocates for a shift from the moral indictment of children to one of compassion—an empathic approach that focuses on the child’s inner world. This approach reinserts humanity and individualism into the treatment of children who are often lost in the morass of societal demands. Cultivating a compassionate response towards the child helps him to develop an empathic response towards himself and fosters mutually meaningful and gratifying relationships with others.

Allowing children space for the emergence and development of their authentic selves is the practice of cultivating compassion. As a result, the world would be a place where the inner experiences of children would be prioritized; children would learn to have empathy for themselves and others as they negotiate their challenges and adults would become more compassionate and effective parents and teachers.


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