Tim, a 12-year old boy was referred to the Malaysia Psychology Centre (www.Psychology.com.my) for counseling by his counselors and psychologist rather than psychiatrist trained to assess any ADHD/autistic/dyslexic and aggressive symptoms for various behavioral and attitudinal problems in school. Tim was an enigma in a sense. At home, he was extremely well behaved and obedient. He would do as he was told and did not display any form of rebellious or deviant behavior. He was all-round ‘good boy’. However, when he was at school, his behavior took a 180 degree swing and he was the menace of the school. He was always bullying the other children, regardless of whether they were younger or older than him and he was always extremely disruptive in the classroom. He would make rude remarks when the teacher was conducting a lesson or he would disturb some of the other more studious students who were paying attention, all just to disrupt the ongoing class. Finally, when the teacher did not know how else to tackle this problem, she reported his behavior to his parents. This caused his parents a great deal of concern as he was such a good boy at home. So, they decided to bring him in to ChildPsych, the Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents Psychology at the Malaysia Psychology Centre to receive some form of psychological treatment, possibly in the form of counseling.
Counselors at the Malaysia Psychology Centre (ww.psychology.com.my) first conducted the initial assessment session which was conducted over two separate therapy sessions, the parental interview and the child observation session respectively. The purpose of these sessions was to allow the counselors at the Malaysia Psychology Centre to successfully gather enough information regarding Tim, in order to be able to make the best possible assessment of the problem that Tim was facing. Thus, based on all the information that was successfully gathered in these two sessions, counselors at the ChildPsych, the Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents Psychology at the Malaysia Psychology Centre were able to make an assessment of the root cause of the problem that Tim was facing. Based on all the information gathered through these two sessions, it seemed that the root cause of the problem was the fact that Tim did not feel it was safe to express his frustration, dissapointments and anger at home, so he vented it out on his peers and teachers in school , the only place that he felt it was safe to do so. He was afraid that if he were to vent out his emotions at home, his parents would not love him or consider him as their son anymore. Thus, in order to tackle this, the counselors worked on helping Tim rebuild this trust and security in his family, thus allowing him to vent out and express his emotions at home as well in a healthy productive manner. This was achieved through a intensive 12 session therapy program which was also supplemented by a biochemically specific brain nutritional therapy program.
In counseling psychology, as well as other social and behavioral sciences, aggression refers to behavior between members of the same species that is intended to cause humiliation, pain, or harm. Ferguson and Beaver (2009) defined aggressive behavior as “Behavior which is intended to increase the social dominance of the organism relative to the dominance position of other organisms”. Predatory or defensive behavior between members of different species is not normally considered “aggression.” Aggression takes a variety of forms among humans and can be physical, mental, or verbal. Aggression differs from what is commonly called assertiveness, although the terms are often used interchangeably among laypeople, e.g. an aggressive salesperson. There are two broad categories of aggression. These include hostile, affective, or retaliatory aggression and instrumental, predatory, or goal-oriented Both of these can be classified under Relational aggression. Reactive relational aggression (hostile, affective, retaliatory) is used in response to feeling attacked, threatened, or mad. Usually the person who exhibits this type of aggression feels provoked to do so. Instrumental relational aggression (predatory, goal-oriented) is used in order for an individual to get what they want. Empirical research indicates that there is a critical difference between the two, both psychologically and physiologically. There has been some links between those prone to violence and their alcohol use. Those who are prone to violence and use alcohol are more likely to carry out violent acts.
By practicing suggestions mentioned above for a few weeks, Tim was able to make a drastic improvement in his behavior. The frequency and severity of his acting out behaviors in school among his teachers and peers severely decreased and he was able to have a progressively more open relationship with his family.
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Counseling ADHD/autistic children is one of the most popular services at Malaysia Psychology Centre. Jim, a nine-year old boy, suspected to be an ADHD/autistic child by psychiatrist was referred to the Malaysia Psychology Centre for counseling. Jim was always a quiet boy in his formative years, hardly speaking and he generally avoided social interactions. At family functions, he would always remain quiet and rarely socialized with his family, even those of his similar age group. At home, Jim was the only child and he did not have any brothers and sisters. His parents were always working so he hardly saw them and even when he did, his interactions and communications with them were very brief and formal in a sense. He did not share his problems, his experiences or his hopes, dreams and fears like any other normal child of his age group or any other age group would. He did not feel he could confide in them, it was like as though he could not trust them. So he suppressed his feelings, his fears, his disappointments and he told himself he could deal with it all by himself. Whenever he was upset with them, he would withdraw himself from them and others in general and lock himself up, dwelling in his own thoughts, he would ignore their advice, comments or any sign of attention or affection and shun himself from them almost totally. All of this behavior, caused his mother a great deal of concern, she decided that this could not go on any more and he possibly needed some professional counseling, so she brought him in to ChildPsych, the Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescent Psychology at the Malaysian Psychology Centre.
Child psychologists at the Malaysia Psychology Centre first conducted the initial assessment session in which they had two separate sessions, the parental interview session and the child observation session respectively. These sessions were aimed at gathering as much information in order to be able to make the best possible assessment of Jim’s problem. Thus, based on all the information gathered, child psychologists at the Malaysia Psychology Centre (ww.psychology.com.my) were able to make a sound diagnosis of the root of the problem that Jim was facing. Based on the information gathered in the initial assessment, our child counselors found Jim not to be autistic and not ADHD. It seemed that the root cause Jim’s problem was his inability to successfully express his thoughts and emotions to others around him, particularly his parents. He was always inwardly expressing his anger, frustrations and fears which in turn, caused these negative feelings to cause him even more unnecessary stress which in turn would have had a negative effect on his school work, family life and social life. So, child psychologists at ChildPsych, the Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents Psychology at the Malaysia Psychology Centre formulated a psychological behavioral therapy intervention program to specifically address these needs that Jim had. The main aim of the therapy program was to teach Jim ways for him to be able to successfully and constructively verbalize his anger in a positive fashion. He would practice this in the sessions with the child psychologists. His treatment program was also supplemented with comprehensive psychonutritional program which was aimed at being a catalyst to his behavioral and psychological change.
Passive–aggressive behavior, a personality trait, is passive, sometimes obstructionistresistance to following through with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations. It is a personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and passive, usually disavowed, resistance in interpersonal or occupational situations. It can manifest itself as learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible. Passive-aggressive behavior may present itself in many shapes and forms. Some of the common symptoms of passive-aggressive behavior include ambiguityor speaking cryptically as a means of creating a feeling of insecurity in others or of disguising one’s own insecurities, intentional inefficiency, examples of this include chronically being late and forgetting things, another way to exert control or to punish and convenient forgetfullness which is often used to win any argument with denial. Some commoon causes of this passive-aggressive behavior may stem from specific childhood stimulus , such as alcohol or drug addicted parents, in an environment where it was not safe to express frustrations or anger. Families in which the honest expression of feelings is forbidden tend to teach children to repress and deny their feelings and to use other channels to express their frustration. Children who sugarcoat their hostility may fail to ever grow beyond such behavior. Never developing better coping strategies or skills for self-expression, they can become adults who, beneath a seductive veneer, harbor vindictive intent.
By practicing sugggestions mentioned above for a few weeks, Jim was able to make a tremndous improvement in his behavior. He was now able to slowly but surely find and practice alternative methods of expressing the frustrations and anger that he felt through more positive methods such as being more assertive in her communication.
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Sean, a seven-year-old boy who was referred by a psychiatrist whose parents have been divorced since he was a very young boy came in for counselling at the Malaysia Psychology Centre (www.psychology.com.my). Over the years, Sean became increasingly angry and rebellious with his mother after the departure of his father from the family. He began to display various forms of rebellious and defiant behaviour. He regularly lost his temper with not only his mother, but also with other people, he refused to listen to his mother, and provoked his sisters. He also became much more defiant and narcissistic and demanded that his mother buy him new toys several times weekly. All this display of rebellious and defiant behaviour worried his mother a great deal and she felt that he might be in need of some form of counselling or therapy. So, she brought him in to ChildPsych®, The Centre of Excellence for Child and Adolescents Psychology at the Malaysian Psychological Centre® in Kuala Lumpur to get psychotherapy and counselling.
Counselors at Malaysia Psychology Centre® (www.psychology.com.my) suggested that Sean’s display of angry and rebellious behavior could be his own unique way of expressing his anger and frustration over the divorce of his parents. The divorce has clearly had an adverse effect on Sean and he has chosen to express the negative emotions built up through displays of angry and rebellious behavior. Therefore, counselors at ChildPsych, The Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents Psychology at the Malaysia Psychology Centre worked with Sean to confront and tackle these issues head on. Counselors at the Malaysian Psychology Centre helped Sean work through his issues by assisting him in identifying the root cause of his frustration and anger. They found that the underlying cause of his anger and frustration was his frustration over feeling like he was ignored by his parents. So, in order to help him overcome these feelings of being ignored by his mother and father alike, child psychologists at the Malaysia Psychology Centre (www.psychology.com.my) worked with Sean . After 6 sessions of Emotional Centred processing therapy, he was able to process these difficult feelings . Through a number of emotional expressive therapy including journalling and drawing out his feelings.
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a diagnosis described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior toward authority figures which goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behaviour. There are many cause of oppositional defiant disorder. Symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder include actively defying or refusing to comply with adults’ requests or rules, angry and resentful of others, argues with adults, blames others for own mistakes, has few or no friends or has lost friends. Children with oppositional defiant disorder tend to experience social and educational problems. If left untreated, about 52% of children with ODD will continue to meet the DSM-IV criteria up to three years later and about half of those 52% will progress into conduct disorder. Common features of Oppositional Defiant Disorder include excessive, often persistent anger, frequent temper tantrums or angry outbursts, and disregard for authority.
By practicing suggestions mentioned above for a few weeks, Sean was able to make some progress in his behavior. The frequency and severity of his angry and rebellious behaviors decreased and he was able to channel his frustrations and anxiety in a more positive fashion.
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Jonathan, a 13-year-old boy who came for counseling at the Malaysia Psychology Centre (www.psychology.com.my) whose parents have been divorced since he was very young. His mother has remarried and now has two children with her new step husband. Jonathan did not take all of this very well. He felt that his mother had abandoned him by remarrying and having other children and all of this frustrated him a great deal. So, he began to vent his frustrations through various examples of antisocial behavior such as stealing a neighbor’s credit card, displaying various forms of aggressive behaviors in school and also among peers of his own age group. All of these antisocial behaviors began to cause his mother a great deal of concern. She felt that he might be in need of some form of therapy, so she brought him in for counseling to the ChildPsych, The Centre of Excellence for Child and Adolescents Psychology at the Malaysian Psychological Centre, which offers a wide variety of counseling services.
Child psychologists at Malaysia Psychology Centre (www.psychology.com.my) suggested that Jonathan’s antisocial behaviour was partly due to his frustration over feeling like he was abandoned by his dear mother and also this ultimately means that he felt abandoned by those around him. He was in a constant state of anxiety that he was not loved and was being ignored by his mother so he acted out to gain more attention. Therefore, psychologists at ChildPsych, The Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents Psychology at the Malaysian Psychology Centre worked with Ben to confront these issues head on. They conducted therapy on Jonathan to reassure him that his mother and those around do indeed love him very much. Another goal of the therapy and counseling conducted on Jonathan was to help him increase his self-esteem as it was definitely bruised since his parents got divorced. They conducted different forms of therapy and also counseling on Jonathan in order for them to be able to successfully achieve the goals stated above. The therapists at the Malaysia Psychology Centre also conducted therapy with Jonathan and his mother to help communicate more effectively and increase and the quality and quality of the relationship between Jonathan and his mother.
Anti-social behaviour is classified as behaviour that lacks consideration for others and that may cause damage to society, whether intentionally or through negligence. There are two types of antisocial behavior, life-course-persistent antisocial behavior, where a child’s neuropsychological problems interact cumulatively with their criminogenic environments across development, culminating in a pathological personality, and adolescence-limited antisocial behavior, whereby a contemporary maturity gap encourages teens to mimic antiso¬cial behavior in ways that are normative and adjustive. Symptoms of antisocial behaviour include repeated lying, cheating, and stealing. Antisocial behaviors also include drug and alcohol abuse and high-risk activities involving self and others. Antisocial children can be accurately identified as early as three or four years old. Antisocial children and youth are at serious risk for a number of negative outcomes such as school dropout, vocational maladjustment and drug and alcohol abuse. If an antisocial behavior pattern is not altered by age eight, it can become chronic.
By practicing suggestions mentioned above for a few weeks, Jonathan was able to make some progress in his behaviour. The frequency and severity of his antisocial behaviours decreased and he was able to channel his frustrations and anxiety in a more fashion.
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Diana an 8 years old girl was brought to counseling due to her difficulty in attending school. Since she began her Standard 2 few months ago, her problems had significantly worsened. She constantly begged to stay home from school, had tantrums that caused delay in dressing and often result in her missing the bus. After arriving at school, Diana often complained of stomachaches, headaches and sore throat to her teacher and asked to visit the school nurse. This was because the school nurse would usually call her mother, Jess to picks her up. Jess typically picked her up early twice a week in the school. When Diana got home she spent the rest of the afternoon watching television and playing with her toys. If Jess was unable to pick her up early, Diana would called her mother’s cell phone from time to time throughout the afternoon to reassure herself that nothing bad had happened to her mother. Diana’s teacher had been expressed concern about her missing too many class times, and this resulted in incomplete homework and difficulties in learning. Jess was very worried about Diana being too sticky to her and this created many issues. Therefore, Jess brought Diana to Malaysia Psychology Centre (www.psychology.com.my) to seek help from the professional psychologists for counseling.
Going to school is usually an exciting and pleasant event for young children. However, for some it can cause intense fear or panic. Parents should be concerned if their children regularly complained about feeling sick or often required to stay home from school with minor physical complains. School refusal and anxiety were commonly found in children that dealing with the new challenges of going to primary or secondary school.
Also, it can be often begun following a period at home in which the child had become closer to the parents, such as holiday break, long vacation or a brief illness. Apart from that, it also may follow by stressful events, such as a change in schools, move to a new neighborhood or the death of a pet or relative. These children may suffer from a paralyzing fear of leaving their comfort zone and the safety of their parents and home. Children with separation anxiety and school refusal may displayed clinging behaviors to parents, excessive worry and fear about parents or about harm to themselves, shadow the parents around the house, and even have sever tantrums when forced to go to school. The child’s fear and refusal to go to school was usually very difficult for parents to cope with. However, these fears and behaviors can be treated successfully with professional help.
The potential long-term effects such as anxiety and panic disorder as an adult are serious for a child who showed persistent separation anxiety and does not received any professional assistance. The child may also developed serious educational and social problems if their fears and anxiety kept them away from school and friends for an extended period. Therefore, the child psychologists in EdPsych™, Centre for Educational Psychology, Centre of Excellence for Educational Achievement in the Malaysia Psychology Centre (www.psychology.com.my) suggested that Diana to go through the therapy intervention program to help her recognize her negative affect and fear rather than escaped them. For example, Diana was encouraged to do some deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation activities to calm her down. Also, gradual reintroduction and exposure to school can help her to ease the anxiety and worry to school, and separation anxiety. After few therapy sessions, there were obvious improvements found in Diana. She was more capable in handling her anxiety to school. Additionally, she did not complained having physical symptoms and more able to learn healthily in school.
Anne, 10 years old girl was brought to counseling because of her anxiety about school which began when she was 9. At that time, her family moved to another city and she had to change schools. Previously, Anne had been in a small, friendly private school, and she had been only taught by female teachers. After Anne moved to a public school, with a class of 40 kids and two thirds of them were boys, and she was taught by a male teacher who was very strict towards all the students. By then, Anne started to complain of headaches and stomachaches. At first, Anne’s parents believed her problem was physical and took her to the physician doctor for assessments, but nothing wrong was indicated. Things got serious when Anne’s father Josh realized that Anne getting very violent one night before school; when Josh and his wife Hannah insisted Anne to go to school the next day though Anne complained she was having stomachaches. Anne would grit her teeth, screaming, and stay anger. Josh and Hannah were very worried and they came to EdPsychTM, Centre for Educational Psychology, Centre of Excellence for Educational Achievement in Malaysia Psychology Centre to look for help. The psychologists suspected that Anne’s anxiety to the school was contributed by a few causes.
Why your children have anxiety to go to school?
High anxiety in the school may cause children to fear to go to school. It’s probably impossible to say that there isn’t anyone who does not think back on their school days without recalling times of anxiety. However, we might not be aware we went through the stages of high anxiety because our peers were going through the same thing. In some cases, children may feel very anxious about school or what is going on in their lives that they developed a fear of school. Furthermore, in some cases children would refuse to attend the school just to avoid the fear. Extra help from psychologists were needed if this happened.
Social stressors can be one of the factors in causing school anxiety. Many children experienced some level of stress or anxiety in social situations they encountered in school. While some of these issues provided important opportunities for growth, they must be handled with care to prevent the school anxiety become worst. A good experience with a caring teacher can cause a lasting impression on a child’s life, and so can a bad experience. Most teachers do their best in providing positive educational experience to the students, but not every student was suited for certain teaching styles and classroom types than others. Therefore, if there was a mismatch between students and teachers, children can form lasting negative feelings about school or their own abilities.
How to help them?
The educational psychologists in Malaysian Psychology Centre suggested a child therapy counseling program with Anne for six sessions. Through counseling, Anne learned to talk about how she felt in the new school and deal with her new friends. Also, the child psychologists taught her how to plan to cope with her anxiety if tense situation occurs in the school. Rather than being helplessness and anxious, Anne learned how to take action by solving the problem. The psychologists and parents tried to work with Anne on the problem and this help her to understand that she was not alone in this. After the counseling therapy program, Anne was coping well and attended school regularly. Furthermore, she was more able to socialize well with her friends and had great fun at school.
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Ben, a 7 years old boy was referred for counseling by his school teacher and he was in Standard 1. At the first few weeks of school he refused to go to school. He refused to wake up in the morning and put on his school uniform. In addition, he would cry and showed tantrum if his parents Henry and Michelle forced him to get ready to school. Eventually, Ben would still go but he became very quiet and not socially engaging with other students in the class. After few weeks, Ben started to complain he was having stomachaches and headaches on the night before school. Moreover, he had feared panic attacks when traveling to school. Henry and Michelle were very worried for Ben and decided to bring him to EdPsychTM, Centre for Educational Psychology, Centre of Excellence for Educational Achievement in Malaysia Psychology Centre to seek counseling.
School phobia or school refusal is a complex and extreme form of anxiety about going to school. It can be due to many causes and can include related anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia and selective mutism. Symptoms of school refusal included nausea, stomachaches, fatigue, shaking, a racing heart and frequent trips to the toilet. Young children up to age 7 or 8 with school refusal usually experienced separation anxiety and cannot easily consider being parted from their parents. Older children with 8 years old plus are more likely to face social phobia where they are anxious about their performance in school. For instance, having to read aloud or answer question in class. Children with anxieties about going to school may suffer a panic attack if they are being forced. This would make them have fear of having another panic attack and parents often have no idea how to deal with these worries.
Psychologists in Malaysia Psychology Centre suggested that Ben’s school anxiety behaviors were partly due to he going to start schooling in primary school. He was not able to adapt to the new environment and he did not get to make new friends in school due to his quiet personality. Therefore, educational psychologists and family therapists conducted family therapy to work together with Henry and Michelle to help Ben confront his school anxiety. During the therapy sessions, Henry and Michelle learnt that they had to explain to Ben that his fears to go to school were brought on by thoughts that were not accurate. He was reacting to normal things in an extreme ways. At the same time, the parents should reassure Ben that he would be fine once he had got over the part he was afraid of, which was going to a new school. EdPsychTM psychologists also suggested that Henry and Michelle should always encouraged Ben to find things he can enjoy in the school day and when he was able to go to school independently, his parents should tell Ben that they were proud of him being so brave.
By practicing these suggestions for few weeks, Ben was more comfortable to go to school without showing any physical symptoms. Ben was able to go to school independently, became less anxious and was looking forward to go to school to learn.
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