My teenager has Conduct Disorder.
Conduct Disorder (CD) can be described as a behaviour problem in children and teenagers. Their behaviour may include aggression and law-breaking tendencies.
Conduct Disorder is one group of behaviour disorders known collectively as Disruptive Behaviour Disorders, these may include Opposition Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (1)
What are the characteristics of Conduct Disorder?
There are 4 types of behaviours that can indicate Conduct Disorder.
1. Physical Aggression.
- Can be cruel to animals and people.
2. Violation of people’s rights.
3. Lying or manipulation.
4. Delinquent behaviours.
- Truancy from school.
- Running away from home (4).
Conduct Disorder is characterised by a disregard of people’s rights and needs as well as aggression towards others.
The teenager may meet the criteria for conduct disorder if they engage in some of the following behaviours:
- Bullying and threatening behaviour.
- Physical aggression.
- Cruelty towards people and animals.
- Setting fires.
- Breaking curfew.
- Truancy from home and school (2).
- Emotional or physical abuse.
- Wielding a dangerous weapon.
- Forced sex (3).
Some children with Conduct Disorder have low self-esteem, have frequent temper tantrums and many use drugs and alcohol.
What are some of the causes of Conduct Disorder?
There is no direct cause of Conduct Disorder. Research found that it can be influenced by genetics and environmental factors.
- There is a link between ADHD and Conduct Disorder.
- There is a risk to develop Conduct Disorder if a parent or carer has depression, schizophrenia, a personality disorder, or alcohol and/or drug addiction.
- There is a possibility to develop Conduct Disorder if the child suffered abuse, parental rejection and neglect.
- If the child live in a low-income or disadvantaged area, there is a high risk for them to develop Conduct Disorder.
How can a counsellor help?
The first step for the counsellor to help someone with Conduct Disorder is to build trust, this can be very challenging because sufferers of Conduct Disorder have a mistrust in others, especially authority figures, the counsellor will be classed as an authority figure.
The therapies that the counsellor use, will depend on the individual. Therapies that proved effective in treating Conduct Disorder are:
- Behaviour Therapy.
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).
- Anger management.
- Stress management.
- Social skills training.
- Special education program.
- Parent management training.
- Family therapy.
- Multisystemic therapy.
- Integrated approach by family, teachers, and carers.
- Management of any co-existing problems.
- Medication (in cases of depression and ADHD) (1).
In conclusion, Conduct Disorder is a complex and challenging mental health condition that impacts the lives of affected individuals and those around them. This condition surfaces during childhood or adolescence and have long-term consequences if left untreated. Therapy includes a combination of a variety of methods that included individual therapy, family therapy and behaviour interventions. In some cases, medication is used for depression and ADHD.
Future research and public awareness are needed to fully understand Conduct Disorder and to develop more effective ways to help individuals and families. By addressing this disorder with counselling, it is possible for the individual to live a fulfilling and productive life.
Corey Human has nearly 20 years’ experience working with teenagers and young people at risk, or struggling with self esteem, depression, video game addiction and other problems. He provides counselling to adolescents, adults, couples, parents and families in both English and Afrikaans.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3067 9129
- Better health Channel, Conduct Disorder (CD), https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/conduct-disorder
- Dresden, D, 2017, Conduct Disorder: What you need to know? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320386
- Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Conduct Disorders, https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/conditions/conduct-disorders
- WebMD, Mental Health Conduct Disorder, https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-conduct-disorder