Adjustment Disorder Treatment
Table of Contents
Adjustment disorder, by definition, is a short-term difficulty that rarely goes beyond 6 months. Lingering feelings may occur beyond that time, but those are natural and likely not to be severe enough to require additional attention or treatment. It often helps treatment progress (and is required in many agencies) to put together a firm but realistic treatment plan, so the patient can also see the short-term nature of the therapy. Clinicians should be careful not to lapse into acting as an advice-giver to individuals who suffer from an adjustment disorder.
The exact content and type of therapy used will vary widely. Treatment will often emphasize the importance of social support within the client's life, alternative activities to explore or to find meaning in, increasing a person's range and effectiveness of coping skills, learning better ways of dealing with stress, etc. If stress is an issue, therapy may also offer relaxation training and techniques and examine methods for reducing stress.
Family therapy may be appropriate for certain individuals, especially if the presenting person is an adolescent. This type of therapy also is appropriate when the family is "scapegoating" a particular family member, or there is a clear "identified patient," when the actual problem is family-systems related. Education related to the disorder is sometimes needed, and the family can be reassured as to the nature and seriousness of the disorder, as well as its prognosis. Couples therapy is appropriate when the disorder is additionally negatively affecting the romantic relationship.
It is imperative that a thorough initial evaluation be conducted to ensure that the individual is suffering from only an adjustment disorder and not a more serious mental disorder. This evaluation should also be used to determine the best modality of treatment to ensure timely treatment effectiveness.
As an adjunct to regular psychotherapy, people can also be encouraged to use a support group to try out new coping skills and express their feelings to others who have gone through similar experiences. This is usually very rewarding and helpful.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Oct 2013
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