Psych Services Center Offer Parents Program for Changing Challenging Behavior in Children
Children with behavioral problems often fall into a circular pattern of negative peer interactions, increasing frustration at home, and increased discipline at school. Often they find themselves sitting across from a psychotherapist, or taking oft-prescribed medications for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder or depression. But research shows that developing parenting skills for working with challenging behavior problems can, in many cases, be more effective than working with the kids themselves.
As Psychological Services Center Director Christopher E. Overtree described, “children spend considerably more time with their parents than they do with individual teachers and psychotherapists. Parents who improve their skills in dealing with challenging behavior have the greatest potential for a positive impact.” In support of this approach, the Psychological Services Center (PSC) at UMass, Amherst will be offering a parenting group designed to improve parental response to the challenges of raising children with ADHD or other behavior problems. As the PSC has a long history of community outreach, this group will be offered at low-cost to members of the local and campus communities.
Donna Kreher, M.S. and Sharonne Herbert, M.S., doctoral candidates in the Clinical Psychology Program at UMass Amherst designed this group based on a proven method for teaching parents effective strategies to increase positive behaviors, and reduce problem behaviors in their children. Both have interests in learning more about the significant positive impacts that parents can have on their children, even when they exhibit disruptive behavior that impairs their family, social and school relationships. These groups will help parents learn how to encourage positive child behavior through the use of play, positive attention, and rewards, and will instruct parents in setting effective limits and implementing effective consequences for misbehavior.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other disruptive behaviors are among the most common problems in school-aged children. Due to their difficulty paying attention and regulating their behavior, these children often have trouble obeying their parents, learning in school, and playing with peers. While medications can often be effective in improving children’s attention, they do not treat misbehavior. Groups that focus on helping parents work with misbehavior are not always easy to find, and the child treatment modality is considerably more common. However, Overtree feels that “alternatives to individual psychotherapy and medications are an important aspect of providing comprehensive community mental health care,” something that is central to the mission of the PSC. “Empowering parents to work within their own families to tackle challenging behaviors is a skill that will pay dividends well after the group is complete.”
PSC is the teaching clinic for the Clinical Psychology program at UMass Amherst, and offers low-fee psychotherapy and psychological assessment services to members of the local and campus communities. PSC has a long history of offering high-quality, low-cost psychotherapy to clients who are in need, such as those without health insurance or who have inadequate insurance coverage for mental health services. Just last year, the PSC provided over $300,000 worth of free and reduced fee care. PSC continues to offer low-cost psychotherapy for adults, children, adolescents, couples, and families, services that have been continuously available since 1963. For more directions, information about “Changing Challenging Behavior” or other programs, contact the Psychological Services Center by phone at 413.545.0041 or by email, or visit the website. The Psychological Services Center is located on campus at 135 Hicks Way, 123 Tobin Hall, Amherst, MA 01003. Free parking is available.
October 6, 2008