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Parent Training for Child Conduct Problems

Webster-Stratton, C. and Hooven, C. (1998). Parent Training for Child Conduct Problems. In: Alan S. Bellack, Michel Hersen (Ed.), Comprehensive Clinical Psychology, (pp. 185-219), ISBN 9780080427072,

Chapter revised 2022

Samimy, S.M., Schettini, E., Fernhoff, K., Webster-Stratton, C., Beauchaine, T.P.,
(2022). Parent Training for Childhood Conduct Problems. In: Asmundson, G.J.G. (Ed.), Comprehensive Clinical Psychology, 2nd edition, vol. 5. Elsevier, pp. 126–147.


Prior to 1965, most attempts to treat childhood behavior problems focused exclusively on the child. Approaches included outpatient play therapy and inpatient child therapy. Since the mid-1970s, however, there has been a shift in treatment philosophy for child conduct problems from an exclusive focus on the child to recognition of the primary social context in which the child lives-that is, the family. As a result, parent training (PT) has become an integral part of services for many childhood disorders including autism and developmental disabilities; academic, learning and language delays; externalizing problems such as attention deficit disorder; oppositional and conduct disorders; and internalizing disorders such as fears and anxiety disorders. PT is also widely used with abused and neglected children as a component of a multi- faceted intervention, as well as for maritally distressed parents and for parents who are divorced. This extensive empirical base supports the hypothesis that when parents are trained to implement behavior change strategies, there is a corresponding improvement in their parenting interactions, which in turn results in improvements in children's social and emotional adjustment.

Despite some evidence suggesting that (PT) may be a useful treatment for children's internalizing disorders (see Sanders, 1996 for review), this chapter focuses on PT as a treatment approach for young preschool and school-age children with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD), defined generically in this paper as conduct problems. We have confined our review of PT to the treatment of conduct problems because there exists a large body of programmatic research regarding the etiology and treatment of conduct problems and because comparatively less is known about the causes of internalizing disorders. Conduct problems frequently co- occur with other disorders such as attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, language delays, and internalizing problems such as anxiety and somatization. Moreover, children with conduct problems frequently come from families who are experiencing considerable marital discord, depression, and distress. What we know about PT as an intervention for children with conduct problems may provide a paradigm for other less well-researched childhood disorders, including internalizing disorders.

Read the Book Chapter (1st edition, PDF)


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