Interventions for Family Members of Adolescents With Disruptive Behavior Disorders




The family members of adolescents diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs) experience profound stress and burden. Despite the need for empirically supported interventions that address the challenges faced by these family members, few such interventions are available.


In this qualitative descriptive study, we conducted in-depth interviews with 15 families of adolescents diagnosed with DBD. We asked the family members to identify what types of mental health services they needed and to describe the “ideal” program that would best address their concerns.


Family members identified several intervention modalities that would fit their needs, including multifamily groups, family therapy, individual therapy, and community-based hotlines. They indicated that programs should address the following topics: family communication, conflict resolution, education about DBD, and strategies to improve interactions with child service agencies.


Clinicians should recognize that all family members may need support to manage the stressors associated with caring for or living with adolescents with DBD. When working with families, clinicians should provide information about the etiology and management of DBD, help navigate interactions with child service agencies, and employ strategies to improve family communication and functioning.