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The central focus of therapy with oppositional defiant disorder is usually behavioral, implemented through parent training. The parent training can often be done in a group setting (to help reduce costs and increase social support) and is often as or more effective as family therapy, conducted with the parents and child. In these courses, which are very psychoeducational in nature, parents learn specific behavioral techniques which help increase the likelihood of maintaining control in the relationship with the child. Gradual shaping of the child’s behavior toward more age-appropriate behaviors is accomplished through the implementation of a behavioral monitoring and reward program.
The alternative method of treatment, family therapy, can be as effective, in some cases, as parent training. But because it is usually more expensive and can focus heavily on the child’s behavior and causative factors, it may not be appropriate for all families. Parents will usually find a parent training class to be more effective as well as less expensive; therefore, this option should usually be tried first before family therapy.
Very little research has been conducted in the use of medications for oppositional defiant disorder. Therefore, medication is not recommended as a treatment option for this problem.
Parent support groups can be extremely helpful in propping up single parents or parents who are having a difficult time with a child who suffers from this disorder. A local community support group for parents is highly recommended. Often times, parent training classes can be found that run independent of mental health professionals, and these can be an effective and useful method in helping treat this disorder.
For more on symptoms, please see symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder.