Psychosocial Rehabilitation of Children with Emotional Disturbances and Maladaptive Behavior

Scenario of Childhood Rehabilitation

Building a scenario of methods and strategies to effect rehabilitation in children requires concentrating counseling efforts to the entire family or cultural unit. In a scenario that includes maladjusted family relationships, aggression, peer interaction, social skills, and academic difficulties; the team of rehabilitation specialists needs to be eclectic in their approach to therapy. Team Alpha has a unique situation with a group of maladaptive children with mental and social problems or issues similar to those previously listed. Team Alpha has five social workers and psychologists who will use cognitive behavioral therapy, socialization skills training, and eclectic measures for effective rehabilitation of the children and their families.

Situations that have groups of maladaptive and socially inept children require a review or study of the school environment, family interactions, and peer group functions. A dysfunctional determination in each area for cause and effect is necessary to guide rehabilitation efforts, and provide guidelines to effect creative and effective counseling methods age and gender specific. In this scenario, the problems and dysfunction go beyond the children and will require counseling for school personnel, parents, and adult mentors. To ensure rehabilitation efforts for the children is effective and has the support of the leadership of community, school, and family; behavioral training must be eclectic to compliment counseling efforts.

Behavioral Strategies for Rehabilitation

Behavioral techniques rest on classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and some social learning principles. These techniques can help the children with both mental and social problems. According to Psychology in Context,  when using classical conditioning as a behavioral technique, there are three major ways of doing so, “imaginal exposure, in vivo exposure, and virtual reality exposure” (Kosslyn & Rossenberg, 2006, p. 692). Depending on the child’s situation, each technique requires a specific situation. Within these three techniques, each requires either stimulus control, systematic desensitization, or progressive muscle relaxation. Gaining stimulus control and putting a child in the presence of the feared object or situation can help with social skills and family relationships. This is a widely used approach.

Techniques that will be used for family relationships, and peer interactions could be based on operant conditioning. To make the children use principles of reinforcement, punishment, and extinction would result in changing the behavior and participating in behavior modification. When the child does not focus on thoughts or feelings, setting the appropriate response or behaviors is key. This will in turn earn the child reinforcements. Observational learning also plays a major role when helping children cope (Taylor & Francis Group, “Cognitive Behavioral Principles Within Group,” 2009). The child would observe other people interacting with the unknown or feared stimulus in a relaxed way, and the child would eventually learn to do the same. To solve the issues related to behavior and mental processes, cognitive approaches and techniques are also necessary. Using behavioral and cognitive approaches, the child will be able to cope with family relationships, peer interactions, aggression, social skills, and academic difficulties.

Cognitive Strategies for Rehabilitation

According to Asarnow, Carlson, and Guthrie (1987) “there are some data to support a link between childhood depression and problem-solving deficits” (para. 8.) Additionally, “research with adults has indicated differences between the coping processes of individuals high and low in depressive symptoms” (Asarnow, Carlson, & Guthrie, 1987, para, 8). According to this data, children suffering from emotional disturbances or exhibit manipulative behaviors tend to demonstrate fewer and less adaptive strategies for coping (Asarnow, Carlson, & Guthrie, 1987).

Many cognitive strategies are useful to help people cope with aggression, academic difficulties, social skills, peer interactions, aggression, and familial relationships. The use of inner speech or self-talk is the first cognitive strategy that should be applied to any of these situations. This is because internalization of self-statements is fundamental to developing self-control an essential tool for anyone to have. Cognitive mediation is useful when applied in conjunction with behavior therapy.

For example if a child usually hits or pushes after a peer teases him or her, that child would be taught to use inner-speech to think something along the lines of “that made me mad, but I need to calm down and think about what happened.” An important part of cognitive intervention is the child lead system in which the child learns to generalize and use his or her newly learned behavior instead of relying on eternal reward and punishment procedures. One of the most basic but effective strategies is expert modeling. This occurs by adults modeling how to use self-talk as they think aloud on how they would handle their own anger or sadness.

Socialization Strategies for Rehabilitation

According to Koenigsberg, (2011) social skills training (SST) is a type of training that educators, counselors, and instructors use to assist him or her with children who have difficulty relating to his or her family, peers, or his or her aggression. Some parents do not have a clue how to exhibit or teach his or her children the proper way to use good social skills. Some interpersonal skills include the correct way to interact with one’s peers, family, and counselors by using good eye contact, subtle cues, or other social signals (Koenigsberg, 2011). Nonetheless, teaching social skills one-on-one or in a group setting assist in establishing good cognitive skills that link to one’s thoughts when making appropriate decisions when interacting suitably to other’s in diverse situations. In addition, according to Koenigsberg, (2011) when one develops his or her social skills one also change select social behaviors that elevate his or her self-esteem,  augment the probability that others will react positively to him or her, eliminate aggressive behavior, influence positive academic performance, influence positive family relationships, and involvement in extracurricular activities.

According to NASP, (2002) there is a correlation between good social skills, positive school environment, and school safety. However, when assessing a child with social problems to apply socialization strategies to aid with behavioral problems it is important to target specific behaviors. Moreover, it is significant to give the child a chance to name behaviors that he or she prefers to modify (Koenigsberg, 2011). According to NASP, (2002) a good regiment will consist of cognitive restructuring, coping skills, anger management, exposure therapy, peer resistance skills, family therapy, and assertive case management. Additionally, in combination with other precise method like, modeling, observational learning, role-playing acceptance, and tolerance of diverse groups, shaping, feedback, and underpinning of positive interactions may be also useful.

Furthermore, according to Learning-RX, (2011) social cognitive behavioral skills training is also important because the center of attention is on improving cognitive and metacognitive impairments and social skills discrepancies that impede normal behavioral functioning.


Kosslyn, S. M., & Rossenberg, R. (2006). Psychology in Context (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.

Taylor & Francis Group, . (2009). Child & Family Behavior Therapy. Retrieved from


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