ADHD and challenging behaviours in children and adolescents are common concerns that drive families to seek psychotherapy. There are various approaches to treat these issues, one that has proven to be effective by improving child’s behaviour, self-image and self-regulation is Behavioural Therapy. Parents are a very important part of the treatment in this type of therapy. For young children is very hard to change their behaviour on their own without their parents’ support. Some parent training approaches are: Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), Parent Management Training (PMT), Positive Parenting Program (Triple P), they each focus in different aspects and attempt to improve the behaviour and the life of the child and family involved.
During the therapy sessions parents can receive training that includes skills and strategies to help their child with ADHD and/or challenging behaviours improve at school, home and social environments. Since parents spend more time with the child it is key that they understand the strategies used in therapy in order to support them at home. Parents involvement also helps to generate long lasting benefits for the child and the whole family.
The parent training program demonstrates how to create a structured, predictable environment in which they reward positive behaviors and apply consequences in response to the challenging behaviours. In order for this approach to be effective consistency and close monitoring is vital, the therapist serves as a trainer, but he/she can also monitor and assess the process.
A therapist using the behavioural approach can incorporate parents training by:
The therapist can alternate sessions between the parents and the child. If this is the case both the child and the parents have time in therapy to work towards the treatment goals together. The therapy focus for the child would be learning new behavioural and social skills through play, modeling and structured activities. The therapy focus for the parents would be training on behavioural strategies and positive communication and interaction with their child. In between session the family would practice at home what they’ve learned in therapy. Parents usually attend to a minimum of eight sessions. In addition to training the therapist reviews their progress, provide support, and adjust strategies, as needed, to ensure improvement.