A variety of approaches to bipolar disorders that are therapeutic but that do not rely on talk as the primary principle. These include bodywork, light therapy, and other interventions that you may hear about. Most of these are considered alternative medicine by psychiatrists and psychologists–although many professionals support or even recommend trying them.
For bipolar children, certain other interventions that use the word “therapy” may also be recommended, based on individual symptoms and needs. These have been used for many years to help children with other neurological problems, and have been effective for some people with bipolar disorders as well. They include:
- Auditory integration training
- Occupational therapy
- Sensory integration
- Speech therapy
Auditory Integration Training
Some children with unusual sensitivity–or lack of sensitivity–to sounds or types of sounds have found relief with auditory integration training (AIT) or auditory processing stimulation, both relatively new approaches.
Although it’s rarely addressed in the medical literature, extreme auditory sensitivity is actually fairly common in people with bipolar disorders. These patients will describe many normal sounds as affecting them like fingernails scraping a blackboard. Naturally, this distortion can increase a child’s level of anxiety and discomfort, make school more difficult, and encourage him to withdraw from social contact.
Many audiologists (hearing specialists) and other professionals can test for auditory sensitivity and offer therapeutic treatment. Based on principles first developed by French audiologist Guy Bérard, AIT involves listening to particular sounds through earphones. The process is believed to retrain the hearing mechanism, and there is some evidence that it is effective for many patients. A similar therapy is called the Tomatis method.
The most dramatic results from AIT have been in people with autism or related disorders. You can learn more from the Society for Auditory Integration Training or through the Autism Society of America.
Strides are also being made in auditory processing stimulation and other auditory therapies for those who seem to have problems in differentiating and processing sounds.