Tag Archives: Child Therapist

Behavior Therapy Parenting

Behavior Management and Parenting

Parents often seek out psychotherapy services to help remediate their children’s behavior problems. There is little evidence to support that play therapy alone is an effective treatment for childhood behavioral problems. For childhood behavior problems to be effectively remediated, it is necessary for parents to be included in the treatment, if not be the sole participators in the psychotherapeutic process. Depending on the age of the child and symptoms, children may be included in very few sessions.

Parental Psychotherapy Intake

Parents first have an in take session for psychotherapy. It is common during the intake for behavior therapists to see a parent explain her child’s behavior problems, and place the blame on the child for the behavior, and frequently fail to see how their own actions or passivity have contributed to these problems. At the outset, parents should be made aware that they will be primary participants in the psychotherapy process. If behavior is the primary issue, behavior modification and parenting skills should be the primary treatment.

Behavior Modification

The first step in parenting skills and behavior modification for the treatment of childhood behavioral disorders is psychoeducation to the parents regarding the process and theory. It is important for parents to understand that every behavior has a specific function. Functions for behaviors are reviewed with parents. People behave for several reasons and for every behavior there is some type of reinforcement that a person is gaining, even if only for a second. People (and children) do not engage in a behavior unless it is in some way self serving.

Functional Behavioral Assessment

Each function of behavior should be explained to parents at the outset of therapy. There are five main behavioral functions that should be explained to parents. The first function of behavior is attention seeking. It is often the case in childhood behavioral disorders, in which the child’s behavior serves the purpose of gaining the parents’ attention. Parental attention may not always be positive. It may be reinforcing for a child to receive negative attention from his parent as well, such as a parent yelling at a child. The second function of behavior that is reviewed with parents is an escape/avoidance. This means, that a person may engage in a particular behavior to avoid undergoing a task that he finds aversive. It is important for parents to understand that if a child is engaging in a behavior to avoid a certain task, they must not give in and allow the child to avoid that take, but persist until the child completes the task that he was trying to avoid. Otherwise, the child will learn that by engaging in this behavior he is permitted to escape from doing what he is required to do. A third function of behavior involves getting something tangible. People go to work because they receive monetary gain. Children cry in a store because they receive candy. If a child receives something tangible for behavior, it is likely that is the function of the behavior. Fourthly, people engage in behaviors due to medical reasons. For childhood behavioral disorders, it is always important for a skilled therapist to rule out medical conditions as a function for specific behaviors. Finally, sensory issues may be the function behind behavior. If a child is flapping his hands for sensory stimulation, the function of the behavior is sensory. It is important for a behavior therapist to rule out sensory issues before beginning a behavioral management program.

Behavior Plans

Once parents understand the functions of their children’s behavior, they are ready to begin devising a plan to extinguish these behaviors. If it is determined that a behavior is attention-seeking, then parents are trained to ignore those behaviors. Parents should be warned that a behavior is likely to escalate before it extinguishes. This is known as an “extinction burst.” The behavior will get worse before it gets better. It is important to review with parents that their resiliency and remaining calm is crucial to successfully extinguishing and attention seeking behavior. Behavior therapists may teach parents deep breathing skills or other relaxation techniques to manage their own emotions when trying to extinguish their child maladaptive behaviors. If the function of behavior is determined to be escape/avoidance, the behavior therapist will work with parents on maintaining consistency and enforcing rules, as not to give into a child’s attempts at avoiding a certain task. It is important for two parents to both be consistent, as well as any other caretakers or babysitters that are involved in child care. Starting a behavioral management program involves setting up tangible reinforcers for the child. This means the child earned something tangible for engaging in specific behaviors. A reward chart is helpful in achieving this. Children may earn a certain number of stars or points, which add up to a specific prize. Similarly, a punishment system may also be put in place if the child disobeys or engages in negative behaviors.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for ADHD Treatment

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an empirically-based psychotherapy used for the treatment of various childhood mental health disorders. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has attracted increased attention over the last two decades. Research shows that ADHD is in fact a real disorder stemming from malfunctions with a persons prefrontal lobe of the brain. While medication management is effective in treating certain symptoms of the disorder, the best results are seen with medication management plus cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.

ADHD Diagnosis in Children

ADHD is often diagnosed in childhood, though adults struggle with this disorder just the same. It is first important for the cognitive behavioral therapists to understand and express to the parents of a child with ADHD that it is a medical condition and largely beyond the control of the child. Parents often become frustrated and discouraged with their ADHD child, feeling as though they have tried everything to improve the child’s behavior to no avail. Parents often place blame on the child for his behavior, and teachers may do the same. When a child internalizes that it is his own fault for having this disorder, self-esteem is negatively impacted. It is common for children with ADHD to feel depressed about the disorder and have a low self-esteem related to it. A cognitive behavioral therapist would work with the child and parents to help them understand that it is not the child’s fault that he is diagnosed with ADHD. Rather, help the parents and child to understand that there are certain aspects of the disorder that may be controlled with behavior management. Cognitive behavioral therapists must work with parents consistently on adhering to the plan they devise in sessions.

Cognitive Behavior Therapist Specializing in ADHD

A cognitive  behavioral therapist working with a child with ADHD will do a thorough intake on the specific symptoms of the disorder. Common symptoms of children diagnosed with ADHD include, forgetfulness, poor attention, easy distractibility, failure to prevail on tasks that require sustained mental effort, fidgety behavior, seeming like one is “driven by a motor,” interrupting, and often does not seem to be listening when someone is speaking to him. Cognitive behavioral therapists should work closely with the child’s school to help lessen the severity and frequency of the child’s ADHD symptoms. For example, forgetfulness may often result in the child forgetting to bring home his homework, books or school supplies. One technique of cognitive behavioral therapist may use is to call the schoolteacher and arrange for the teacher to check the students school bag before he leaves school. This will ensure that he has the necessary materials he needs to complete the homework assignment. The cognitive behavioral therapist may also encouraged parents to check that the child’s homework assignment is completed before returning to school the following day. Cognitive behavioral therapists may work with parents on homework completion issues. It is often the case for children diagnosed with ADHD to struggle with completing homework. The cognitive behavioral therapist may recommend breaking down homework into smaller chunks of time, setting a timer, and rewarding the child for completing work with in those specific blocks of time. Organization skills are highly important for children diagnosed with ADHD. A cognitive behavioral therapist may have the child bring his school bag into session and teach them how to organize is bad. Teaching the child how to organize his school binder and books is also important. It is often the case for children diagnosed with ADHD to have messy notes. A cognitive behavioral therapist may work with the school to have a copy of the notes given to the child, so that he does not go without school notes.