With persistent concerns about using powerful psychiatric drugs on children, there is growing interest in counseling techniques for troubled kids that aim to change destructive behavior.
These therapies are getting a push because they have been shown in numerous clinical trials over the past decade to be effective on kids with severe behavioral problems, where other approaches have often failed. The techniques take a pragmatic approach, often using a set curriculum to teach new behaviors, rather than ferreting out the underlying emotional problem as with traditional psychotherapy. In another departure from traditional talk therapies, much of the counseling is often directed at parents.
Developed mostly in the past decade at academic centers, the therapies target kids with diagnoses like conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder or bipolar disorder, who are at risk of getting kicked out of school or breaking laws. By some estimates, there are 1.4 million to 4.2 million children who meet the criteria for conduct disorders alone