Discussion: reactions to disruptive behaviors

Many children and adolescents who go to counseling engage in behaviors that are disruptive to others. These children and adolescents are sometimes labeled as having “externalizing” disorders because they tend to “act out” their symptoms, which causes other people distress. Disorders such as depression and anxiety are “internalizing” disorders because children and adolescents generally internalize their symptoms in a way that causes them distress. When children “act out” their symptoms, adults can become impatient, annoyed, and angry. These responses often intensify when children are unwilling or unable to take personal responsibility for their behavior. As a future child and adolescent clinician, it is important for you to gauge your reactions toward children and adolescents with disruptive behaviors and consider how your reactions may impact the counseling process.

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