Conduct disorder is usually diagnosed in children and teenagers. It’s characterized by extreme behaviours that occur for 6 months or more. The behavioural issues interfere with normal family life, and can be either disruptive, violent, or both. On top of the standard groups of symptoms, those with conduct disorder can have low self-worth, frequent temper tantrums, and may be at risk for future drug and alcohol abuse.
Symptoms & signs of conduct disorder
The four main groups of symptoms that can indicate conduct disorder are:
- Rule violation – purposefully ignoring societal behavioural rules or acting-out that goes far beyond what’s considered normal for the child’s age.
- Willful destruction – committing acts of vandalism, arson, etc.
- Use of aggression – using weapons, starting fights, cruelty to animals, bullying, etc.
- Deceitful acts – such as lying, shoplifting and/or breaking into vehicles, etc.
When is it time to get help?
Conduct disorder is a serious mental health disorder and can have grave consequences. Children and youth with conduct disorder usually show little remorse or understanding for the consequences of their actions. They may also have other mental health issue such as low self-esteem, anger management concerns, anxiety, and older children may go on to use alcohol or drugs and other self-destructive behaviours that usually only get worse without treatment – so seeking help as soon as possible is important.
Conduct disorder treatment methods
There are treatment options available for conduct disorder, however, an assessment must be done first in order to rule out any other potential causes for the disturbing behaviour. Effective treatment methods for children who have conduct disorder include:
- Solution focused therapy views people as inherently strong and resilient, and capable of creating change and discovering solutions to their everyday problems.
- Reality therapy generally believes that individuals choose their behaviour and as a result, are responsible for not only what they are doing, but also how they think and feel. Clients develop the psychological strength to evaluate their own behaviour and acquire more effective behaviour with the support of a warm and accepting counselling environment.
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a treatment method that’s similar to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) but emphasizes building skills to manage stress, emotional response and regulation, mental health issues, and the psycho-social aspects of relationship building.
- Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is defined by EMDR Canada as an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and many other mental health problems that utilized bilateral eye stimulation or somatic responding.
- Behavioural therapy tends to view human beings and behaviour with the assumption that humans are a product of their sociocultural conditioning and environment, looking at the current problems and the factors influencing them and emphasizes behaviour changes more than the underlying unconscious processes.
- Family systems therapy looks at the family as one emotional unit. This therapeutic approach looks at the relationships within the family and the structure as a whole.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
Early intervention for treating conduct disorder can greatly reduce the chances of serious mental health issues and societal consequences from poor behaviour such as social isolation, legal problems, financial problems, etc. Learning coping strategies for conduct disorder for both your child and for you can help to alleviate some of the negative behaviours and prevent future problems.
The trained counsellors at Insight Psychological can help! Contact one of our Alberta locations to learn more.