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ADHD Natural Treatment: Play Therapy

The attention and behavioral problems experienced by children with ADHD are not merely the manifestations of a chemical imbalance; they are also the results of a developmental delay.  The nervous system of child with ADHD is always younger than his or her biological age in terms of self-control. As a result, ADHD children have difficulty getting along with children from their age group and often express their feelings in socially inappropriate ways. 

Although medication does "tame" the ADHD child, it does little in the way of rehabilitating behavior and teaching the child much-needed social skills. One of the best ways a child can naturally overcome the symptoms of ADHD and other behavioral problems is through play therapy.  Developed in the early 20th century, play therapy is based on the premise that children can easily express themselves through the language of children's games.  Most adults would find talking very therapeutic, but children often lack the vocabulary to express their feelings verbally.  In the playroom, however, kids can discover that they can communicate their thoughts and feelings more naturally using toys, art work, dolls, games, story-telling, and role-playing activities rather than words.  Besides allowing children to express their issues and make sense of their world, play therapy is also used to detect undiagnosed disorders and co-morbid disorders that need to be treated

Before the play therapy sessions can begin, the therapist interviews the parents and gathers information about the child's symptoms, problems, and any traumatic events that may have affected the child's development.   In order to provide the child with structure and consistency, therapy sessions are usually scheduled weekly at the same time in a child-friendly environment.  A play therapist usually meets the child alone while giving feedback to the parents about any progress made.  Emotional experiences that may be important or may have made a significant impact on the child's life will often show up as recurring themes in the child's play fantasies. For instance, a child's  shifting agitatedly from one play activity to another may indicate anxiety.

Since the play therapist needs time to observe, understand, and interpret the child's behavior, it will take several weeks before the play therapist can figure out the best ways to help him or her.  In order to gain the child's trust and teach certain important life skills, the play therapist uses certain strategies to build an equal relationship with the child.  These strategies include encouragement, reflecting feelings, actively interacting with the child, giving explanations, and cleaning up the room together. The number of sessions needed depends on the progress made by the child, but treatment usually ends when a child shows improved behavior at home and in school, better grades, and the ability to maintain peer relations.

Play therapy only addresses the behavioral component of ADHD and should not be the only treatment given to the child. As with any natural treatment for ADHD, play therapy should be a component of a holistic healing plan, along with other natural interventions like a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and detoxification, as suggested in the UnRitalin Solution.