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The Disruptive Behavior Disorders Program

Overview

The Institute for Juvenile Research’s Disruptive Behavior Disorders Clinic provides evidence-based outpatient treatment for children and adolescents who are having difficulties at home, at school, or in the community due to problems with oppositional, defiant, or otherwise disruptive behavior (e.g. tantrums, aggressive behavior, ignoring/breaking rules, etc.). Many of the children that we treat also present with mood problems, anxiety problems, difficulties adjusting to trauma or other stressors, problems with attention and hyperactivity, developmental delays, and various medical conditions.

Our clinical team includes Jesse Klein, Ph.D. (Clinic Director), Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, and Jaleel Abdul-Adil, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, as well as psychology trainees working under the supervision of Drs. Klein and Abdul-Adil, respectively.

Treatment

Children, adolescents, and their families are offered a range of services, including a comprehensive diagnostic assessment, evidence-based individual, family, and/or group therapy, as well as medication evaluation and monitoring, case management, and consultations with teachers and other school personnel. Treatment provided by clinicians in the Disruptive Behavior Disorders Clinic is typically family-focused, and targets problems that occur in a variety of settings (e.g. homes, schools, after school programs, neighborhoods, etc.).

Many of the families that we see in our clinic benefit from participation in our Disruptive Behavior Group. This group includes 10 weekly meetings, during which we meet separately with parents/caregivers and their children/adolescents, respectively. In the parenting group, we provide instruction in strategies for managing youth disruptive behavior. In the child/adolescent group, we address skill deficits that are common among children that we treat in our clinic. Children/adolescents participating in these groups typically range in age from six to fourteen years.

Topics covered in the parent group include:

  • The importance of praise and positive attention to promote good behavior
  • Strategic use of rewards and consequences
  • Effective use of incentive programs to promote good behavior
  • Communication skills
  • Collaborative problem-solving skills
  • Coping and stress management skills
  • Strategies for communicating with teachers
  • Advocating for special education services and other accommodations within schools
  • Time-out and other strategies for decreasing negative behavior

Topics covered in the child/adolescent group include:

  • Understanding emotions
  • Self-regulation skills
  • Social skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Effective communication skills

STRONG Families is a specialty treatment program within the IJR’s Disruptive Behavior Clinic that is designed to serve families of youth with co-occurring disruptive behavior problems and child trauma that live in urban neighborhoods with high violence rates. Families participate in a multi-modal intervention that includes psycho-educational multiple family groups, concurrent parent and child groups, and family therapy sessions. These core services are supplemented by school consultation, case management (especially community resource linkages), psychopharmacology, and crisis interventions. Topics covered during treatment in the STRONG Families program include:

  • Psycho-education about traumatic stress, community violence and disruptive behavior
  • Behavior management and parenting skills
  • Stress management and relaxation skills
  • Affective expression, modulation, and self-regulation
  • Cognitive coping and processing strategies
  • Traumatic stress narrative about community violence exposure
  • Family communication skills and effective family problem-solving
  • Enhancing community safety
  • Grief and loss related to community violence

This strength based approach focuses on resilience and transcendence, as well as maximizing community-based resources, with an emphasis on cultural sensitivity.

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