Monday, November 10, 2014

Why Work When You Can Plork?

by Kirsten Milliken, PhD

Dr. Stuart Brown is the founder of the National Institute for Play. His research has centered on asking his guinea pigs (humans) how they played as a child. The purpose of his original research was to gather data about serial killers. What he found was that one of the things that was consistent among them was that they did not play as kids. What kind of future can one imagine for oneself if one doesn’t play?

In my “plork” (combination of play and work) with clients I also ask them how they played as kids. Now I am not interviewing serial killers. Nor do I coach them, do therapy with them, or offer career counseling services in hopes that they might find a more suitable profession. My clients all have ADHD. Asking them about how they played can help them in a variety of areas.

When you think about how you played, the thought alone can often change your mood. Think about how old you were, where you were, who you were with, what you were doing, how it felt. Once you can capture that mood a lot of other things can shift. For instance, when we are in a happier mood and feeling playful we are often more open to flashes of insight, we are more creative, more optimistic, and more social. Feeling playful helps us to focus, raises our level of motivation, and makes us feel more energized. We can be more effective, productive, and happy in all aspects of our lives.

Many career coaches ask clients to recall what, when they were kids, they wanted to be when they grew up. This often sheds some insight into their true passion, interests, and abilities, and offers a path to consider for their next career. Some of my clients cannot recall what they wanted to be when they grew up. But the information is readily available when they are asked about how they liked to play as kids. Plus, the focus is then on play rather than work! This alone seems to help my clients become more open to possibilities for themselves. Of course, if they can’t answer either question I may want to refer them back to Dr. Brown!

Back to that word I used earlier—PLORK. I passionately dislike the word “work.” It suggests that what I am doing is difficult and a burden. But the word “play” suggests to many that what I do is frivolous, immature, nonproductive. So a combination of these is what I do. This satisfies everyone, gives me a little giggle, and typically leads to a conversation about my thoughts about the connection between play, work, and ADHD.

How did you play as a kid? How does this show up in your plork now?

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Kirsten Milliken, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, a certified ADHD coach, and the founder of PlayDHD. She lives in Portland, Maine, with her two amazing children and two really freaky dogs. Dr. Milliken is passionate about helping those with ADHD communicate about the ways that ADHD affects them and coaches them to develop skill sets that build on their strengths in order to manage the day-to-day challenges of ADHD. She created PLAYDHD to create a specific awareness of the connection between ADHD and the value of play. Her website,, is dedicated to the art of using play in managing symptoms of ADHD, achieving goals, and enjoying life. She is an active member in the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO), CHADD, Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), International Coaches Federation (ICF), and a graduate of the ADD Coaches Academy (ADDCA). She regularly presents at ADHD conferences on the subject of play. She also hosts the PlayDHD podcast, is a frequent guest and former co-host on Attention Talk Radio, and contributes to various other websites serving the ADHD community.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! wish I could be helped and guided by you, ms. Milliken! ;) cheers from Brazil!
    Rebbeka Cynthia