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Therapy Methods

Therapy Methods and What to Expect

CBT, DBT, and IPT are shown to be highly effective in online therapy environments.

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Therapy Methods2018-02-12T11:56:45+00:00

Parent Training

Parent Training for ADHD and other Childhood Disorders

Parent training is a treatment modality in which parents are provided with resources to help them parent a child with a behavioral, emotional, or developmental disorder. It is essentially a program of education to help parents adjust their behavior to the developmental needs of their child. For instance, parents of children with disruptive behaviors are taught how to set rules and define consequences for disobeying those rules. There are many different types of programs available – each specifically designed to address the symptoms of the disorder.

Parent training has become increasingly more popular as a form of treatment due in large part to recent research supporting its effectiveness. One study on the effectiveness of parent training in preschool children with ADHD found it reduced symptoms in a number of indexes, including the participants’ inattention and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, aggression, and rule-breaking behaviors. Parent training is also shown to be effective in decreasing anxious symptoms, withdrawn/depressed symptoms, affective problems, poor social skills, somatic problems, early conduct disorder, disruptive behaviors, and overall improve a child's well-being.

In addition to helping parents cope better with their child’s symptoms, these programs help improve parent-child interactions. With many parents reporting to have improved relationships with their children after participating in a program. Parent training programs are also shown to have a positive influence on parents’ own view of their mental well-being and a decrease in family stress.

These type of training programs typically last about 10 weeks. Participating in a program with an online therapist can be highly effective as well as convenient for busy families. Therapists at Well Street are available today to design a parent training program for you and your family.

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Parent Training2018-02-12T11:56:27+00:00

Understanding Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Understanding Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) falls under a group of behavioral disorders called disruptive behavior disorders (DBD).  Children who have these types of disorders tend to disrupt those around them. ODD is believed to occur in 2% to 16% of children. ODD is found to be more common in boys than girls at the preschool age. However, ODD occurs equally in both school-age boys and girls.

ODD is defined by professionals as a pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behaviors in a child that is directed toward authority figures. Authority figures can be defined as a child’s parents, teachers, caregivers, or coaches. Typically, children and adolescents with Oppositional defiant disorder show signs of stubbornness, rebelliousness, argumentativeness, and refuse to comply with directions, rules, and discipline. They are also described to have angry outbursts and struggle with controlling their temper. Children with ODD also fight against being controlled. For them, control feels as though they are drowning. Many of these types of behaviors, of course, occur in even the best-behaved child. However, the key difference is that children with Oppositional defiant disorder show a constant pattern of anger and verbally aggressive behaviors; typically aimed at parents and other authority figures.

Parents of kids with ODD say their child struggles academically in school and with making and/or keeping friends. They also find that their child seems to thrive on deliberately annoying other people. Moreover, children with Oppositional defiant disorder typically refuse to take responsibility and instead blame others for their mistakes and/or misbehaviors.

Common symptoms of children with ODD include:

  • Defiance
  • Spitefulness
  • Negativity
  • Hostility and verbal aggression

If you suspect your child has ODD, check your observations with the free Heads Up Checkup symptom checker. We encourage you to seek diagnosis and treatment with a behavioral health professional as soon as possible. Left untreated, your child may develop Conduct Disorder (CD), which is a more serious disruptive behavior disorder.

A word of caution, many parents have a difficult time seeing their child’s defiant behaviors as a symptom of a behavioral disorder. Some choose to try to wait it out or think their child will grow out of it. If this sounds familiar, please remember that early intervention and treatment will help your child overcome ODD and create a more peaceful home environment for everyone.

What kind of treatment is available to my child with ODD?

Your child’s therapist will decide which kind of therapy is best for you and your child suffering from ODD. The most common types of therapy for ODD are behavioral therapy, parent training, and family therapy. With treatment, children can overcome the behavioral symptoms of ODD. They can learn techniques to manage their anger and develop new ways of coping with stressful situations. Therapy is very effective in helping children overcome negative behaviors.

Through therapy, you will learn more effective ways to discipline your child, as well as new techniques to reward good behavior. Therapy will also help you avoid power struggles and remain positive with your child, helping you and your family lead a more fulfilling, happier life.

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Understanding Oppositional Defiant Disorder2018-02-11T01:04:57+00:00

Tips for Coping with Conduct Disorder

Tips for Coping with Conduct Disorder

If you believe your child is either moving into conduct disorder or appears to already be there, use the Heads Up Checkup symptom checker to verify your observations. Then check out the five tips below:

Acknowledge the situation.

As parents, we never expect to be faced with our own child’s intimidation or illegal behavior(s).  It’s tempting to rationalize or make excuses for our children’s behaviors. However, by doing so, we may be making things worse.  Accepting the reality of our situation certainly does not mean we are accepting our child’s behaviors. Rather, it means we are acknowledging the situation and are more likely to seek the help needed. It also gives you, as the parent, a starting point for how to respond to the behaviors displayed.

Safety for you, your child, and other family members should be your number one priority.

As much as possible, avoid putting yourself in situations where your child can physically intimidate you. This may sound like you are allowing your child to control you and your home, but instead, it simply means that you are acknowledging the situation for what it is, not what you would like it to be. Moreover, you are avoiding escalating the situation. Often times, the physical intimidation is an attempt to control you through fear. The moment your child recognizes that you are afraid of him or her is the moment the power in the relationship shifts to your child. It’s important to reiterate that safety is difficult to achieve if you have not acknowledged the situation for what it is.

Avoid blame.

Placing the blame for your child’s behavior will not do anything to help. Blaming yourself, your child’s other parent, friends/peers, or even your child is a waste of time. It’s important to hold your child accountable, but blaming him or her will only leave you feeling angry and resentful; which in turn may keep you from responding effectively to the negative behaviors. Children and adolescents with conduct disorder typically strive to manipulate others. Getting you to take responsibility for negative behavior can be a form of your child’s manipulation.

Control what you can.

Although it may seem nearly impossible to control a child with conduct disorder, it is important to keep in mind that you do still have some areas of control. For instance, if your child is cutting class do not buy him or her all the clothes and shoes they want. Simply put, a child who chooses not to attend class does not need new clothes for class. If you feel that your child or adolescent is being violent toward you or another family member, call the police. Yes, this sounds very harsh.  However, by doing so, you are showing that there are consequences for violating the rights of others.

Get help.

A behavioral health professional can help you deal effectively with conduct disorder. Getting the support you need will you help bring control back in your life and ease the stress in parenting a child with conduct disorder. Don’t try to do it on your own! The support you need and deserve is available to you.

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Tips for Coping with Conduct Disorder2018-02-11T01:06:03+00:00

Conduct Disorder in Teens

Conduct Disorder in Teens

Conduct disorder (CD) is sometimes confused with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), however, children, adolescents, and young adults with CD tend to exhibit behaviors that are more aggressive and hostile. A quick differentiation might be ODD and rule-breaking versus CD and lawbreaking. Individuals with conduct disorder are often described as lacking empathy – they simply have a very difficult time understanding or even caring about how their behavior(s) may physically or emotionally hurt others. This callous disregard for others often begins with pushing, hitting, and biting in early childhood and later progressing to bullying, cruelty, and violence in adolescence. Children and adolescents with conduct disorder display repetitive and persistent behaviors in which they violate the rights of others and basic social rules. These behaviors occur in a variety of settings and cause significant impairment to his or her social, academic, and family functioning.

A key difference between oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder lies in the role of control.  Children with ODD do not like being controlled – so much so that they will fight against it at every opportunity. Children who have either begun to move or have already moved into conduct disorder will not only fight against being controlled but will attempt to control those around them as well. This sort of behavior can look like they are manipulating others to do what they want, taking things that do not belong to them or using aggression or physical intimidation to control situations.

The symptoms of conduct disorder generally fall into the following four categories:

Aggressive Behaviors

These are behaviors that threaten or cause physical harm and may include fighting, bullying, being cruel to others or animals, using weapons, and forcing another into sexual activity.

Destructive Behaviors

This involves intentional destruction of property such as arson (deliberate fire-setting) and vandalism (harming another person's property).

Deceitful Behaviors

This may include repeated lying, shoplifting, or breaking into homes or cars in order to steal.

Violation of rules/laws

This involves going against accepted rules of society or engaging in behavior that is not appropriate for the person's age. These behaviors may include running away, skipping school, playing pranks, or being sexually active at a very young age.

Parents that have children with conduct disorder describe feeling scared – have a fear of living with their child, a fear of disciplining their child or just fear in general. If this sounds like you or your child, you may want to use the Heads Up Checkup symptom checker to validate your observations and concerns.

How common is conduct disorder?

Conduct disorder is more common in boys than in girls.  It typically begins in late childhood or in the early teen years.  Approximately 2% to 16% of children in the United States are believed to have conduct disorder.

What causes conduct disorder?

Many parents of children with conduct disorder wonder what caused their child to develop CD. This wonder often turns into to self-blame. If this sounds familiar, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no one thing you did as a parent to cause your child to develop conduct disorder. The exact cause of conduct disorder is unknown. Many professionals believe that conduct disorder is a combination of biological, genetic, environmental, psychological, and social factors. Biologically speaking, some studies have suggested that defects or injuries to certain parts of the brain can lead to behavior disorders, such as ODD or conduct disorder. In other studies, conduct disorder has been linked to particular brain regions involved in regulating behavior, impulse control, and emotion. If the nerve cell circuits of these brain regions do not work properly, symptoms of conduct disorder may begin to develop as a result. Genetically speaking, it has been found that many children and adolescents with conduct disorder have relatives who suffer from mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and substance use disorders; suggesting a possible genetic link. Environmentally speaking, a dysfunctional family life, history of childhood abuse, traumatic experiences, or inconsistent discipline by parents may contribute to the development of conduct disorder. From the perspective of psychology, some professionals believe that conduct disorders can reflect deficits in cognitive processing and problems with moral awareness. It has been found that children and adolescents with low socioeconomic status and/or lack of acceptance by their peers are risk factors for the development of CD.

Research indicates that children and adolescents with conduct disorder typically suffer from other behavioral disorders such as depression, substance abuse, anxiety, learning challenges, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD).

If you feel that your child or adolescent is displaying many of the symptoms of CD, it is important to get help as soon as possible. If left untreated, your child may be at an increased risk of failing or dropping out of school, substance abuse, legal problems, injuries to self or others due to violent behaviors, incarceration, sexually transmitted diseases, depression, or suicide.

How can I get help for my child with conduct disorder?

There are a variety of treatment options for you and your family.  A professional behavioral health therapist can identify which treatment options would suit your family best based on many factors, such as your child’s age, the severity of symptoms displayed, and your child’s ability to participate in specific therapies. Nonetheless, treatment for conduct disorder typically consists of counseling aimed at helping your child learn more adaptive ways to express and control his or her anger. The most common and effective form of therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to reshape your child's thinking to better improve his or her problem-solving skills, moral reasoning skills, impulse control, and anger management.

Family therapy has also been shown to be effective in improving family interactions and communication. Through family therapy, parents are able to learn techniques to positively help alter their child’s behaviors at home. Family therapy may also help families create a more nurturing, supportive, and consistent home environment with an appropriate balance between love and discipline to decrease the frequency of symptoms related to CD.

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Conduct Disorder in Teens2018-02-11T01:07:17+00:00

Help for Temper Tantrums

Why does my child have temper tantrums?

Temper tantrums are exhausting and no parent enjoys experiencing it with their child.  As much as we do not like dealing with one, whether it occurs at home, while shopping, in the middle of a restaurant, or even in the car, they happen. Often, when we least expect it.  Sometimes anything can set your child off into whining, crying, screaming, kicking, or hitting.  Leaving you tired, embarrassed, and helpless.

Here's some information to help you better understand why temper tantrums happen, strategies to help you deal with temper tantrums in your child, and when to seek help for temper tantrums.

Temper tantrums usually begin to surface between one to three years of age and are equally common in boys and girls. They most commonly occur in your child’s second year of life, as this is usually when language begins to develop for your toddler. For some children, temper tantrums occur frequently throughout the day and other children rarely have them. Temper tantrums are a normal part of your child’s development. Children will usually have a temper tantrum to show they are upset or frustrated. Why they may be upset or frustrated really just varies from child to child and can be situational. For instance, they can occur when your child is tired, hungry, uncomfortable; or even when they cannot get something they want.  Since your toddler’s language skills are just developing, they may not be able to communicate what they want, feel, or need. Their difficulty in communication causes them to feel frustrated, causing the tantrum. As your toddler’s language skills improve, you may begin to see a decrease in tantrums. Over time, your child will learn to deal with frustration, a necessary skill needed throughout their life.

Temper tantrums can also occur as your child’s way of expressing his or her desire for independence and control over their environment; often leading to a power struggle. The tantrum most often is a result of your child realizing that he or she cannot do or have everything they want.

Strategies to help avoid temper tantrums.

Familiarize yourself with your toddler’s mood. Running errands with your toddler can wait if you notice he or she is tired or grumpy.

Instead of using the word NO for everything, incorporate other words in your vocabulary. Toddlers hear the word “no” quite often and sometimes that word can lose its meaning for them. You can start using other words for different situations that essentially have the same effect as “no”. For instance, if your child wants to touch the stove, walk in a busy area without holding hands, or jump off high surfaces say DANGER or HURT. You can essentially use any word you want, as long as you keep it consistent.

Out of sight and out of mind. Keep off-limit objects away from your child. If they do not know it exists, they may not be tempted to have it. This, of course, is situational, as you cannot control every environment your toddler encounters.

Encourage positive behavior. This requires you to really pay attention to your toddler. Every time you catch your toddler being well behaved, reward him or her with some positive remarks. This can sound as simple as “Thank you for being so patient while I was on the phone”, “Thank you for waiting your turn”, or “Thank you for showing kindness in sharing your toy”. In this manner, not only are you encouraging further positive behavior, but you're also teaching your child about virtues.

Offer choices. Sometimes feeling like they have no control can cause toddlers to feel even more frustrated. By offering your child minor choices you are giving them some of the independence they are seeking. Choice giving can sound like: “do you want milk or juice?” or “do you carrots or broccoli?” You’re also more likely to hear “no” less from your toddler because they chose their decision. You're giving them a sense of control.

Make sure your child is receiving enough sleep for his or her age. Children are easily bothered and emotional if they are not receiving enough shut-eye a night. Keeping your child well rested can often reduce the frequency and duration of temper tantrums.

Whatever tactic you choose, it is important to keep in mind that all children are different. What may work for one does not work for the other.  Consistency is also key. If you try something once and you do not get the outcome you had hoped- try again! Some of the above tactics just take some practice for your toddler.

What can I do when my child is having a temper tantrum?

It is important to always keep your cool when dealing with temper tantrums. Yes, it natural to feel frustrated and angry; however, by doing so you may only exasperate the problem.  Your child is looking to you for examples. Remaining calm can help your child learn to calm down. However, using force or physical punishment, such as hitting and spanking, can only result in more negative behaviors from your child.

There is not one specific way of handling your child’s temper tantrums. Each tantrum may need to be handled differently depending on what caused the tantrum in the first place. For instance, provide a snack if he or she is hungry; provide comfort when they are sad or upset; provide an alternative when they want something they cannot have.

Never reward a child’s tantrum by giving in. For in doing so, you are teaching your child that his or her tantrum is effective which only encourages future tantrums.

Once your child’s temper tantrum has subsided and your child is back to being calm, it’s a good idea to talk to him or her about what happened.  Acknowledge her frustration, and help her put her feelings into words, this could sound like, “You were very angry because your food wasn’t the way you wanted it.”  Let her see that once she expresses herself in words, she will get better results.

When should I seek therapy to help with temper tantrums?

If you find that your child’s temper tantrums are beginning to take a toll on you and your family, therapy can be your best option. It is also important to seek therapy for temper tantrums if the duration and/or frequency of your child’s temper tantrums are becoming frequent; your child’s temper tantrums have not stopped around age four, or your child’s actions are causing harm to either himself or others. Use the Heads Up Checkup symptom checker to see if you should follow up on your concerns.

What can I expect from therapy for temper tantrums?

Therapy for your child’s temper tantrums can be very useful for you and your child. A mental health professional will typically work with you and your child to help reduce temper tantrums in your child by providing useful therapeutic approaches. Depending on the needs of your family and child, the therapeutic approaches can range from helping your child with his or her coping skills, establishing a schedule and routine, teaching choices and reinforcement, skill building, emotional development, or developing meaningful tasks. The number and length of each session will depend on your concerns and goals for therapy. The primary focus of therapy for temper tantrums is helping you and your family change and manage your child’s behaviors. Sometimes resolving a discipline problem in your child is not necessarily changing how your child behaves, but rather helping parents learn new and more effective ways to interact with their child.

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Help for Temper Tantrums2018-02-11T01:08:58+00:00