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How does Group Therapy Benefit People with Conduct Disorder?

written by: Joy Lynskey • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 10/14/2010

There are many ways people can benefit from group therapy for conduct disorder. This article is a look at some of the most beneficial aspects of this type of therapeutic approach.

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    Group Therapy for Conduct Disorder

    When a child or teen begins to exhibit signs of conduct disorder, group therapy will often be recommended.

    Conduct disorder is recognized and defined as a persistent and repetitive cycle of behavior in children and teens in which the rights of others or basic societal rules are continually violated. The child or teen will usually display these behavior patterns in a wide variety of settings including school, home or other social situations.

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    Catch the Signs of Conduct Disorder Early

    Conduct disorder can be recognized by a few key behavior characteristics:

    • Repeated and serious rule violations
    • Truancy from school
    • Aggressive behavior that threatens or causes harm to other people or animals.
    • Bullying and intimidating others
    • Physical fights
    • Deceitfulness
    • Stealing

    Since most conduct disorders make themselves apparent by the age of ten it is often recommended to begin therapy and treatment as soon as the signs begin to emerge.

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    Patience During Group Therapy for Conduct Disorder

    Unfortunately the nature of conduct disorder itself may cause people to rebel against the idea of medications or even therapies. However,group therapy has been found to have surprising effects on those with conduct disorder. It is in essence using peer pressure, but in a positive and behavior modifying manner.

    Come Prepared and Patient

    Most therapists or group counselors will warn the parents ahead of time that it can take usually around ten sessions to acclimate the child or teen to the sessions themselves. Once they know they absolutely have to attend and you have spent a few sessions proving you intend to continue them they may start paying attention.

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    How is Group Therapy Helpful?

    Age can play a factor in the length of time it takes a child to see their actions as wrong or harmful. For this reason having children of a variety of ages is a good idea in group sessions, and usually this is why group therapy for this particular disorder is beneficial.

    Once a child becomes acquainted with other children in the group who have spoken about their own personal issues, they will often feel as if they are not so alone. Regardless of why they act out, they can gain some kinship with others who may also appear as well as feel out of control. Knowing others are dealing with the same issue can help to remove some of the shame a child may feel over their behavior and can in turn drive a child in group therapy to want to tell their side of it too.

    While most people with this disorder will declare that they do not care what anyone thinks about them, they indeed do. Some children will go through a quiet stage of embarrassment while listening to other members of the group share their stories and their attitudes. Others may be shocked at the past actions of other children as well as the disciplinary action they were met with.

    The overall goal of counseling is to learn which of our habits and patterns cause us problems. Group counseling is pretty much the same except it gives us the opportunity to see ourselves within someone else's patterns and habits. In this manner, group therapy for conduct disorder can be very effective for all but the youngest of children or those who are suffering from additional mental health issues.

    Last but not least group therapy for conduct disorder is a special setting in which children and teens can learn about themselves in relation to others. This can be very effective in helping to create better communication skills inside and outside of the child's home. Although it takes time, with proper observation, support and patience the destructive thought patterns can be greatly reduced if not removed.