Treatment Modalities for Conduct Disordered Adolescent Males Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

treatment modalities for conduct disordered adolescent males has primarily been focused on comorbidity. Adolescent males with conduct disorder typically receive individual and family therapy, but when overt behaviors are extreme, pharmacotherapy may supplant insight-based therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and social skills training are complementary approaches to intervention. Using an experimental approach, this study examines the impact of combined intervention approaches on perceived and observed improvement in the expression of problem behavior and life change strategies of adolescent males with conduct disorder.

Adolescents, across the board, experience a range of emotions. Negative impacts of these emotions include struggling with acceptance, self-esteem, isolation, confusion, anxiety, and depression, which can also be a result of instability at home (Searight, et al., 2001). In addition to these social effects, many adolescents experience a distorted perception of reality (Searight, et al., 2001). On occasion, this distortion may cause them to make poor choices, which demonstrates an "acting-out" behavior (Searight, et al., 2001). All of these behavior conditions can lead to a diagnosis of Conduct Disorder (CD) (Searight, et al., 2001). A diagnosis of CD is based on DSMR-IV_TR criteria, which include the presence of aggressive conduct, non-aggressive conduct, deceitfulness, theft, severe violations of rules, and difficulty responding appropriately to negative experiences (Searight, et al., 2001).

Many types of interventions and treatment modes have been applied to the therapeutic challenge of assisting adolescent males with CD (Searight, et al., 2001). This research proposal, addresses two of these therapeutic processes: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Pharmacotherapy. The research compares these intervention types, each of which is considered best practice when working with individual adolescent males between the ages of 14-16 who exhibit conduct disorder.

Problem Statement

Research shows that various therapeutic modes and methods can positively impact the expression of problem behaviors and the disordered thinking of patients with CD. However, there is a dearth of research that demonstrates the effectiveness of combined therapeutic approaches with adolescent males with CD. Therapeutic interventions that address the expression of problem behavior in social settings, that provide methodical approaches to altering patients' destructive thinking, and pharmacological support for mood lability have been utilized by therapists in clinical settings -- however, these interventions have not been systematically combined with this population.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a comprehensive theory of psychopathology and personality, in which specific disorder treatment models were developed (Beck & Weishaar, 2000). An empathic and active clinician, who is typically a psychotherapist, collaborates with patients to define specific treatment goals and a therapeutic life changing plan (Beck & Weishaar, 2000). Treatment sessions are structured to enhance the development of new cognitive and behavioral skills in the patient's repertoire (Beck, 1987; Beck & Weishaar, 2000). Application of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) reduces symptoms and learned disordered thinking in cooperative patients, and it has been shown to be effective for individual, couple, family, and group therapy (Beck & Weishaar, 2000; Corey, 2009). CBT is based on the premise that feelings and behaviors stem from thoughts, not external things, like people, situations, and events. Thus, CTB can be used by to change the irrational thinking patterns of individuals with CD to more rational and constructive thinking, through self-counseling and correcting underlying assumptions (Pucci, 2010).

A recent study (Ducharme & Shecter, 2011) found that "modification of keystone behaviors leads to collateral improvements in a range of other behaviors" (p. 273). Moreso (XXXX) argues that, "by improving attention and increasing inhibitory activity, medication may improve children's capacity to benefit from other treatment modes" (p. XX ). Most studies of the use of pharmacological interventions for conduct disorder involve patients with cormorbid conditions, such as ADHD or depression (Riggs, 2007; Searight, Rottnek, and Abby, 2001; Trowell, 2007). Although stimulants, anti-depressants, lithium, anticonvulsants and clonidine have all been used in the treatment of conduct disorder, there are no formally approved medications for CD. Research is needed to evaluate the role of pharmacotherapy for individuals with conduct disorder.

Further, while many adolescent males with CD require pharmacological intervention to cope with their underlying social and emotional impairments, counseling has been shown effective in increasing the ability of patients with CD to adapt and cope with the pressures and demands of their environments. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a structured and collaborative means of providing self-help strategies that can be utilized during individual and family therapy and carried over to daily living.…

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