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Affective and Behavioural Disorders

Many children suffer from affective, behavioural or movement disorders and, in many cases, these are difficult to identify and diagnose at an early stage

The difficulties presented by these children and adolescents usually affect their social, emotional, academic and family life, and in most cases stem from neurological and/or environmental conditions.

Often, the result is that the children and those around them suffer for a long time without finding an effective treatment that minimises the difficulties they face in their day-to-day lives.

For this reason, it is important to make an accurate and early diagnosis in order to begin a specific intervention that guarantees the emotional wellbeing of the children and those around them.

Some common disorders and/or difficulties among children and adolescents are: 

  • ADHD
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety Disorder 
  • Fears and phobias
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Behavioural disorder, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Tic Disorder (Tourette's Syndrome)
  • Emotional management
  • Self-esteem
  • Cognitive rigidity

What do we offer at SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital?

Diagnosis

Neuropaediatrics
Psychiatry
Clinical psychology
Neuropsychology
Speech therapy

Treatment

Psychoeducation
Intervention / Cognitive-behavioural approach
Self-regulation strategies
Family advisory service
School advisory service
Workshops for parents
Social skills workshops
Medical treatment
Family psychology

Progress monitoring

Follow-up visits depending on the needs identified.

Frequently asked questions about affective and behavioural disorders

How are affective, emotional and behavioural disorders diagnosed?

Through a clinical interview with the patient, their relatives and the school, specific symptoms may be observed that affect the child's condition. An examination may also be performed using certain psychological tests.

To what extent do these difficulties impact on schooling?

Often, children with affective, emotional or behavioural difficulties suffer in their day-to-day lives. Problems such as low self-esteem, inadequate management of certain situations, poor conflict resolution skills, and a decline in school performance, among others, are some of the difficulties that frequently appear in the school environment.

An appropriate intervention, together with family and school support, are crucial so that we can guarantee the emotional wellbeing of the child.

What process should be followed from the School Learning Disorders Unit (UTAE)?

In some cases, after an initial visit with neuropaediatrics or psychiatry, a psychological examination tends to be carried out to evaluate cognitive, behavioural and emotional functions that constitute the basis for proper day-to-day management. 

Once the assessment process is complete, a full report is prepared, including the results and interpretation of the different tests performed and the diagnostic conclusion, with personalised recommendations for treatment. 

From there, if necessary, the family is given the chance to begin a psychological intervention aimed at working with the child, offering advice and guidelines for the parents. There is also coordination with the school. 

At other times, a psychological intervention is possible from the outset, adapted to the needs of each case. The assessment process that follows is similar to the previous one. 

All patients will undergo follow-up, which will depend on how each case progresses.

Family therapy

Through the family therapy conducted in the UTAE, we offer a comprehensive and enriching overview of the problems detected, where we support the child and those around them.

The role of the family and how it functions are of the utmost importance in understanding how this functioning is affected by the child or adolescent's diagnosis. It is also essential to understand how the family can influence the child's clinical prognosis.

This approach is carried out in clinical family sessions lasting an hour and a half, alternating sessions with all family members and sessions with just a few members, at varying intervals, depending on the circumstances and needs at the time. The therapeutic space is adapted to each family and their specific characteristics.

What will we do in family therapy?

At the UTAE we offer a clinical and systemic approach to the families that visit us where one or more members of the family have been diagnosed.

We conduct a functional analysis of the family system, taking into account the relationships between different family members, and diagnose how the behavioural styles of each family member functionally impact on the family dynamic and how these dynamics can influence the implementation of the indicated guidelines.

Finally, we deal with aspects that may hinder the proper development and adaptation of all members, taking into account the personality styles and clinical diagnoses of any kind, that the family members may have.

Who can benefit from family therapy?

Any family system in which a family member presents a problem or dynamic that does not always work to benefit the needs of all its members. 

What is the point of family therapy if only one family member is diagnosed?

The diagnosis of one member is an important variable in the daily functioning of the family as whole. The aim of therapy is to detect family dynamics and to demonstrate that these dynamics must be functional, since this benefits all family members. 

Family therapy alleviates the burden of responsibility in care, being a space for unloading, containment and delimitation at all levels.

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