Combined treatments may offer new hope for troubled children

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Children with psychological problems, such as anxiety or antisocial behaviour, may be better helped by integrating psychological and biological treatments, predicts Professor Mark Dadds from the University of New South Wales.

In his keynote address to the 40th Annual Conference of the Australian Psychological Society in Melbourne, Professor Dadds will outline his view of future developments in clinical child psychology. He proposes that combining the two treatment approaches will produce a much more powerful therapy which can be focused on failures in normal development.

“For example,” says Professor Dadds, “antisocial children may be unable to benefit from normal socialisation processes because of an inability to read emotions in other people at critical points in their lives. Therapy could aim at strengthening this ability when it should be developing.”

“Anxious children may have over-reactive fear conditioning systems so they learn excessive fear responses. This nervous over-reactivity can benefit from new combinations of behavioural and drug therapies that specifically target conditioned learning.”

“Such developments will mean an increasing role for neurosciences in the assessment and treatment of childhood disorders,” Professor Dadds concludes. “Practitioners who want to be most helpful to these children will have to be become increasingly skilled in biological and behavioural applications.”

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Professor Dadds is available for interview: contact Elaine Grant 0412 683 068.

The 40th Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference - from 28 September- 2 October at Crown Promenade, Melbourne, Australia.

Themed Past Reflections, Future Directions, the five-day program includes international scholars and psychologists, interactive workshops, themed days and streams provided by APS Colleges and Divisions, research papers and symposia and fora.