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It is normal for a child to test the limits of a parent’s patience. Children will act out and misbehave for a variety of reasons – from wanting to understand what they can and cannot do, to trying to find ways to release stress and frustration in the absence of coping mechanisms. But not all forms of misbehavior are normal or healthy. Sometimes, a child or teen’s actions aren’t simply a form of expression or the symptom of an underlying need, but a greater problem in and of itself. Some adolescents struggle with extremely inappropriate thoughts and behaviors. When a teen’s behavior is consistently and repeatedly disruptive, it may be time to seek a disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders assessment.

Symptoms of Teen Disruptive Impulse Control and Conduct Disorders

Teen disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders are characterized by frequent, long-lasting, and indiscriminate aggressive and disruptive behavior, often causing significant problems for teens and their loved ones.

Normal teens act out and can even get aggressive, but when the aggression is taking on a level beyond normal, it may be a sign a teen is struggling with a mental disorder rather than typical teen angst. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Abnormal irritability
  • Consistently argumentative behavior
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Explosive anger/violent tendencies
  • Starting fires
  • Rapid mood swings and anxious behavior around others
  • Poor social skills
  • Apparent low self-esteem
  • Stealing

Different symptoms correspond to different conduct disorders, and teen disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders may coincide with another diagnosis. Disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders in teens and children also often struggle with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, and mood disorders (such as depression).

Some of the symptoms associated with teen disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders can be misattributed to other conditions, which is why differentiating symptoms are important – such as sudden and extreme outbursts of aggressive or inappropriate behavior towards others.

Teen Disruptive Impulse Control and Conduct Disorders Treatment

Teen disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders are underdiagnosed and understudied. There are no FDA-approved medications for most impulse control disorders or conduct disorders, and while there are select medications and other effective therapies for various impulse control disorders, treatment still must be carefully tailored to each teen. The single most effective evidence-based treatment for impulse control and conduct disorders is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and similar psychotherapy derivatives. At Visions Treatment Centers, we work with treatments such as:

Talk Therapy

CBT is effective in the treatment of disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders because it helps to identify and single out behavioral triggers and thoughts. By developing the ability to differentiate between a thought related to their disorder and “normal thinking”, teens can begin to adapt learned coping mechanisms to block out and replace these thoughts and avoid relying on disruptive behaviors to seek relief.

Talk therapy can involve one-on-one psychotherapy with a professional, or it can involve group therapy or family therapy. Parents are often heavily involved in the treatment of impulse control and conduct disorders, as they must learn how best to support their teen and help them control their behavior.


Medication often does not play a role in treating a conduct disorder when it is the only diagnosis. For teens with multiple mental health diagnoses, medication may play a critical part in helping them become more compliant during individual and group therapy, as well as help them begin adopting effective coping mechanisms after treating the most severe and immediate symptoms of other conditions, such as generalized anxiety, ADHD, and depression.

Experiential Therapy

At Visions Treatment Centers, we help teens discover effective coping mechanisms, help boost their self-esteem, and improve their social skills through a variety of programs and alternative therapies. Our facilities sport the equipment and space for different therapeutic activities, and we coordinate with specialists and psychiatric professionals to develop treatments fitting every teen’s needs and circumstances. Experiential therapy can help teens with conduct disorders learn to fit in and better control their compulsions, in combination with therapy.


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    How Staying at Visions Can Help Your Teen

    At Visions Treatment Centers, treatment plans are adapted to meet teens’ unique needs. We rely on an in-depth assessment process to develop an effective treatment path for your teen. By considering biological, psychological, and environmental factors, we develop a more effective treatment experience at Visions Treatment Centers.