Michelle Barratt Psychology - Brisbane Child Clinical Psychologists


Conduct Disorder


Please feel free to read the following information on Conduct Disorder.  If you feel your child is exhibiting any of the behavioural features below and you are at all concerned, please seek immediate Professional Psychological support and treatment for your child.  Simply, the earlier it is treated, the better the outcome.  Therefore, please do not hesitate to make an appointment to see Michelle Barratt (Brisbane Clinical Psychologist) at either Wynnum West or Toowong.


Make an appointment as soon as you possibly can, either by telephone, online or by email.  See the tab 'Appointments' above for times available at either practice. 


Conduct disorder (CD)  represents a diagnosis that elicits behaviours that are overall more seriously aggressive and anti-social in nature, and more elevated in nature to that of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).  Additionally CD is in children that are more in the age-range from Middle Childhood to Adolescence.


Problem behaviours witnessed in children with this diagnosis and in serious need of support, are both overt and covert; and is distinguished by more violent behaviour that is seen in ODD:  Children exhibit:


  • Defiance

  • Aggressiveess and destructiveness, i.e., the destruction of property

  • Anger and irritability;

  • Pervasive relationship dfficulties within the family, school and peer group; and

  • Difficulties with the ability to internalise social norms for example; lack of empathy for others is observable, and this is often indicated when children partake in:   

  • Substance use/abuse, high-risk taking behaviours/impulsive behaviour,s promiscuity and other anti-social behaviours.


Any family living amongst these types of behaviours would be extremely difficult for them.  More often than no, it is found that parents arrive in their first session expressing not only grave concern but feelings of  high frustration and a massive sense of helplessness. 


Additionally, the negative impact on the child themselves is visible, which is distressing for their parents.   Furthermore, the parents can see that their child is clearly struggling to emotionally regulate themselves, and appear to not be able to absorb family and society norms expected of them.  Unfortunately, it is not long before the influence of their child's behaviour is  not only affecting their immediate family, but also their peers, school community and the community itself; particularly because the behaviour they exhibit are considerably harmful.


Parents and Family Support


Unfortunately, by the time most individuals and or families attend psychological support, they have sessions that include many many stories that are saturated with negative behaviours they have either experienced themselves by the family member who has 'conduct disorder' or have themselves witnessed or heard of other family members experiencing such behaviours. Family members find themselves to feel a combination of feelings that are likely to cover some of the following:

  • exhaustion

  • being overwhelmed

  • burnt out

  • exacerbated

  • scared and confused

  • a sense of helplessness and are therefore at a loss as to what to do next to support their child and are more often than not experiencing

  • low self-esteem as a parent and possibly

  • low self-worth

  • having high levels of concern for other members in the family - like their other children and how it is impacting on them

  • high levels of family conflict - either between siblings, siblings and parents, and siblings to siblings


Experiencing even one or a range of these feelings can possibly have long lasting effects on the overall functioning of your family, yourself and your other children. It might feel that you don't even know where to begin, that it all seems futile because nothing has worked as of yet. Even at the best of times, things may feel almost impossible of going forward. However, it is never too late to start, and some progress is better than no progress - even if it is support, clarification on the diagnosis or the use of ongoing support for others in the family, it is essential you reach out for support sooner rather than later. Experiencing any of the above emotions can negatively distort your perceptions of reality, so it is highly advisable that you, your child in question, other children and family seek psychosocial support.


Please do not hesitate to contact Michelle Barratt of you find yourself relating to anyone of these issues as you and or your family surviving a child with Conduct Disorder can be extremely difficult.

Author: Michelle Barratt          

           Clinical Psychologist 

Michelle Barratt Psychology, Brisbane Clinical Psychologist, Conduct Disorder, Agessive, Defiance, Cruelty people animals, stealing, sex,fight
Conduct Disorder



Aggression to people and animals

  • Often bullies, threatens or intimidates others

  • Often initiates physical fights

  • Has used a weapon that can cause serious physical harm to others (eg., a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, gun)

  • Has been physically cruel to people

  • Has been physically cruel to animals

  • Has stolen while confronting a victim (e.g., mugging, purse snatching, extortion, armed robbery)

  • Has forced someone into sexual activity


Destruction of property

  • Has deliberately destroyed others' property

  • Has broken into someone else's house building, or car

  • Often lies to obtain goods or favours to avoid obligations (i.e., "cons" others)

  • Has stolen items of nontrivial value without confronting a victim (e.g., shoplifting, but without breaking or entering; forgery)


Serious violations of rules

  • Often stays out at night despite parental rules

  • Has run away overnight at least twice

  • Is often truant from school


To understand Relational Aggression more closely; these behaviours are driven by the desire or intention to damage another individuals feelings or friendships - for example:

  • Purposely leaving a child out of a game or some other activity

  • While getting mad at another person, they choose to exclude them and at the same time, coerce others to do the same. 

  • Manipulating a person to do want by threatening them that if they don't they won't like them or her (high levels of bullying behaviours)

  • Consistently putting the other person down, or lying about what they are like, so that someone will not like them (Crick & Grotpeter, 1996).


Anyone of these behaviours can seem just a part of girls behaviours as they grow up, but it is the persistent and combined nature of these types of behaviours that create the negative impact on others.


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Qld 4066.

Tel: 0411 731 516

Fax: (07) 3009 0075


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Michelle Barratt is a Fellow of the Clinical College at the Australian Psychological Society.