Program

Jun 11, 2015

OVERVIEW

Parenting with Love and Limits is a group therapy intervention that aims to reduce conduct problems among adolescents with criminal records.  A random-assignment study compared mothers and teens who received 6 weeks of treatment, with those who received customary probation services.  A year after treatment or probation services ended, adolescents who had participated in treatment had significantly fewer emotional and behavior problems and arrests than their peers in the control group.  There were also significantly greater improvements in the treatment group in adolescents’ efforts to address their problem behaviors and mothers’ willingness to help with this process, in caregiver-adolescent communication, and in family functioning outcomes, compared with the control group.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Adolescents with criminal records

Parenting with Love and Limits is an intervention for mothers and their teens that uses the principles of structural family therapy to decrease conduct problems among adolescents with criminal records.  Two group facilitators and two co-facilitators lead six weekly two-hour sessions of 12 participants.  In these sessions, facilitators use role-playing, modeling, teen- or parent-only breakout sessions, and workbooks to teach mothers and teens concepts and skills to address conduct disorder behavior problems and to improve their relationship.  Mothers are taught why teens engage in behavior problems associated with conduct disorder,  and how to develop effective contracting and associated consequences to stop these behaviors. Additionally, both mothers and teens are taught about how conflict reduces the quality of their relationship and how to improve this relationship.  The program cost, which includes a manual, is $2,022, as of 2013.

EVALUATION OF PROGRAM

Sells, S. P., Early, K. W., & Smith, T. E. (2011). Reducing oppositional and conduct disorders: An experimental design using the Parenting with Love and Limits(R) Model. Professional Issues in Criminal Justice, 6(3&4), 9-30.

Evaluated population: A total of 38 adolescent juvenile offenders with oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder, who were recruited from the Georgia juvenile court system, and their mothers participated in the study.  Adolescents were ages 12-17 (mean age 15); most (80%) were African American, but a small number were Caucasian (12%) and Hispanic (1%). About half (57%) of the participating teens were male, and shoplifting was the most common offense among participants.

Approach: Adolescents were matched for the type of offense committed, gender, age, and socioeconomic status before being randomly assigned to the control or treatment group.  Adolescents and mothers in the treatment group received six weeks of the intervention, while those in the control group received typical probation services (e.g., counseling, community schools, and/or community service).

Parent reports were used to assess adolescents’ aggressive behavior, depression, attention deficit disorder symptoms, and conduct problems. Severe stress and the likelihood of violence within the family were also assessed using parent reports.  Both parent and adolescent reports were used to obtain information about the positive attitude and behavior changes each made (i.e., becoming more willing to change, changing behavior, and maintaining these changes) and the quality of parent-teen communication.  These reports were collected before the beginning of the program and soon after its conclusion. Information about the number of additional times adolescents had been arrested 6 and 12 months after the end of the program, or after parole was granted, was obtained from Georgia juvenile court records.

Results: Adolescents in the treatment group had about one-third as many re-arrests, and spent about one-tenth as many days in detention as their peers in the control group did (both of which differences were statistically significant).

Mothers in the treatment group made significantly more progress in their positive attitudes about being willing and able to help their children change their behavior, and in their desire and readiness to take action to change their children’s behavior, than mothers in the control group did.  Treatment did not have a significant impact on adolescents’ attitudes about changing their behavior.  However, adolescents in the treatment group made significantly more progress in the number of changes they made in their behavior, experiences, or environment to help address problem behaviors.

Mother-teen communication, as rated by both teens and mothers, improved to a significantly greater degree among mothers in teens in the treatment group, compared with those in the control group.  Additionally, mothers in the treatment group experienced significantly greater decreases in severe family stress, and in the incidence of violence in the family.

Additionally, adolescents in the treatment group made significantly greater improvements with regard to nearly all symptoms related to aggressive behavior, depression, attention deficit disorder, and conduct problems (aggressive behaviors, anxiety/depression, withdrawnness/depression, attention problems, rule-breaking problems, externalizing problems, social problems, and internalizing problems). However, adolescents in the treatment group did not make more progress than their control-group peers in the reduction of somatic complaints and delusional thinking.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Sells, S. P., Early, K. W., & Smith, T. E. (2011). Reducing oppositional and conduct disorders: An experimental design using the Parenting with Love and Limits(R) Model. Professional Issues in Criminal Justice, 6(3&4), 9-30.

Website: http://www.gopll.com/

http://kcchild.com.

Contact Information

Scott P. Sells, Ph.D., LMFT, LCSW
(800) 735-9525
spsells@gopll.com 

KEYWORDS: Adolescents, Youth, Males and Females (Co-ed),  Juvenile Offenders, High-Risk, Counseling/Therapy, Parent or Family Component, Parent or Family Therapy, Parent-Child Relationship, Delinquency, Anxiety Disorders/Symptoms, Conduct/Disruptive Disorders, Depression/Mood Disorders, Aggression, Skills Training, Social Skills/Life Skills, Other Mental Health,

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