Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Elizabeth Kellogg, PhD.


Although it is difficult to assess, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a prevalent diagnosis that exists among children. A major factor that contributes to the complexity of this disorder is the parallel symptoms presented in other diagnoses. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in children has been identified as being either comorbid with ADHD, or sharing similar symptoms, which can produce potential misdiagnosis and ultimately lead to ineffective or impertinent treatment. To better determine a child’s diagnosis and plan of treatment, an approach can be implemented to assist in distinguishing between the two disorders. Child-centered play therapy (CCPT) may serve as a significant intervention to re-assess trauma versus misdiagnosis of ADHD. CCPT has shown to be highly effective in treating traumatized children, as well as minimizing their symptoms. Additionally, children diagnosed with ADHD, who were previously exposed to trauma, showed a reduction in symptoms after receiving CCPT for treatment. The purpose of this thesis is to review the relevant literature for ADHD and trauma-exposed/PTSD diagnosed in children and explore CCPT as an effective intervention to better re-assess a diagnosis. Although limited research includes CCPT as a diagnostic procedure, CCPT has shown to reduce behavioral symptoms that result from trauma and that are often confused as ADHD. More research would be needed to test and review outcomes.

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