Adjustment Disorders | Diagnosis & Treatment

How are adjustment disorders diagnosed?

A psychiatrist, licensed clinical social worker, or psychologist makes the diagnosis of an adjustment disorder in children and adolescents following a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation and interview with the child and the parents. A detailed personal history of development, life events, emotions, behaviors, and the identified stressful event is obtained during the interview. If your child is diagnosed with adjustment disorder and would benefit from therapy, your mental health professional will recommend the appropriate treatment.

What are the treatment options for adjustment disorders?

Treatment may include:

  • Individual psychotherapy using cognitive-behavioral approaches: A psychologist or licensed clinical social worker may use cognitive-behavioral therapy to improve age-appropriate problem solving skills, communication skills, impulse control, anger management skills, and stress management skills.
  • Family therapy: Family therapy is often focused on making needed changes within the family system such as improving communication skills and family interactions, as well as increasing family support among family members.
  • Peer group therapy: Peer group therapy, usually facilitated by a licensed clinical social worker, is often focused on developing and using social skills and interpersonal skills. Each member of the group will work with the group facilitator to identify an achievable goal to work on within the group.
  • Medication: While medications have very limited value in the treatment of adjustment disorders, your child’s psychiatrist may recommend medication on a short term basis if a specific symptom is severe and known to be responsive to medication.