Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)

Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) in Lexington, Richmond & Frankfort KY

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Parenting a strong willed and/or very emotional child makes the job so much more challenging. But there is a difference in a strong willed child and a child who has Oppositional Defiant Disorder. You can get help in differentiating the two with the help of a mental health professional who specializes in helping children.

ODD is a disorder that begins in childhood. The symptoms, according the DSM-5 (the manual used by mental health providers to make mental health diagnosis), are as follows: A pattern of angry or irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least 6 months and may include the following symptoms:
  • Often loses temper
  • Is often touchy or easily annoyed
  • Is often angry and resentful
  • Often argues with authority figures or adults
  • Often actively defies or refuses to comply with request from authority or follow rules
  • Often deliberately annoys others
  • Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
  • Has been spiteful or vindictive
Children with ODD may have trouble at home, at school, or with other authority figures, and they may struggle to make and keep friends and relationships. ODD can lead to problems in school work, antisocial behaviors, impulse control problems, conduct disorder, substance use and potentially suicidal behaviors. If ODD is not treated symptoms can become worse and can persist into adolescents and adulthood.

There's no known clear cause of oppositional defiant disorder. Contributing causes may be a combination of inherited, a child’s natural disposition and possible differences in the brain function, and environmental factors. Environmental factors include problems with parenting that may involve a lack of supervision, inconsistent and/or harsh discipline, or abuse or neglect.


Many kids with ODD have co-occurring mental health conditions. These can often include: ADHD, depression, anxiety, and learning disorders. Treatment of the other conditions may improve ODD symptoms. It is very difficult to address symptoms of ODD if other diagnosis are not evaluated and treated.  

Treatment for ODD is most helpful when it a combination of the following are used:

  • Parent training. This can be done individually or in a parenting group. The goal would be to create a parenting and discipline model that is consistent and can be implemented in the home.
  • Parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT). PCIT can be used for younger children. It is an evidence based therapy approach that improves relationship and problems with behavior decrease. This is an approach that incorporates training the parent in specific positive techniques for interacting with the child. It also teaches a system for discipline.
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). This therapy approach helps children/adolescents identify and change thought patterns that are connected to emotions that may lead to behavioral problems.
  • Social Skills Training. This training can be a very helpful approach in assisting the child in being aware of expected and unexpected behaviors and how those impact the thoughts and feelings of others. The social Learning approach can also help your child to become a more “flexible” thinker.
Treatment can be sought by a mental health specialist. A therapist or counselor is often a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Psychologist, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), or a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPCC).

There are ways to help your child and improve symptoms

According to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, parents need support and understanding. Parents can help their child with ODD in the following ways:
  • Always build on the positives, give the child praise and positive reinforcement when he shows flexibility or cooperation.
  • Take a time-out or break if you are about to make the conflict with your child worse, not better. This is good modeling for your child. Support your child if he decides to take a time-out to prevent overreacting.
  • Pick your battles. Since the child with ODD has trouble avoiding power struggles, prioritize the things you want your child to do. If you give your child a time-out in his room for misbehavior, don’t add time for arguing. Say “your time will start when you go to your room.”
  • Set up reasonable, age appropriate, limits with consequences that can be enforced consistently.
  • Maintain interests other than your child with ODD, so that managing your child doesn’t take all your time and energy. Try to work with and obtain support from the other adults (teachers, coaches, and spouse) dealing with your child.
  • Manage your own stress with healthy life choices such as exercise and relaxation. Take breaks as needed


Ross Green, The Explosive Child, A new approach for understanding parenting easily frustrated, and chronically inflexible children.

Thomas Phelan, 1-2-3 Magic: Managing difficult behavior in children 2-12. www.123magic.com

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Lexington, KY

Darby Creek Location
501 Darby Creek Road
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Lexington KY, 40509
Phone: 859-338-0466
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By Paul Dalton 05 Feb, 2016
So you live in Kentucky and only a few more weeks until spring. Everyone should be happy and feel better about that, right? I think most of us get a sense of relief and hope, and that cognitive energy to bust out of the winter season and get moving. For some, the spring can be a rough time. Depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, and relationship issues prevent the spring season from being all that it could be. Following are some reasons that these and other conditions may worsen in the spring, a few resources for you, and some concrete strategies you can implement to help yourself. 

So why do people struggle some in the spring when it should be all flowers and sunshine? 

1. Sleep
Many times the spring season causes a change in our circadian rhythm . The sun wakes you up in the am, it is difficult to keep a routine, and restlessness all contribute to the sleep problem. Our eating in the winter and spring can affect how much we sleep. Caffeine, napping, undereating, and how much we are moving, all contribute to how much we sleep. Spring likely has an effect on melatonin in the body, which aids in sleep. 

Strategies that help are EXERCISE and EATING RIGHT! If you keep moving with the help of  a tool like a Fitbit or utilize regular exercise of 45 minutes or more 4-5 times per week, you are far less likely to have sleep problems. Exercise helps you sleep. Exercise helps you eat better. Eating and sleeping adequately can reduce your stress and fight any symptoms you may have. Eating healthy keeps your mind, body, and spirit in a positive place. When your body is well, your mind has a great chance of being well too. Sounds too simple? Give it a try!

The sleep foundation can help here :  Sleep Foundation Healthy Sleep Tips
Eating Right For Spring
Here is a good link to read on symptoms getting worse in the spring: Spring Makes Symptoms Worse

2. Spring Fever is Real
Our office has existed for over 15 years now. I can tell you that March to May is our busiest time of the year, always. Bipolar disorder, marital infidelity, depression, and anxiety are the main reasons people call us in the spring. The real causes of spring fever include longer days that produce more sunshine and increased energy, changes in hormone production, sleep cycles, nutrition and diet changes, body needs, and possibly, a lack of self care. When we bust of out winter here in Kentucky we sometimes forget that it takes a little time to get our minds and bodies in shape for yard work, spring cleaning, and for many, an increased workload all the way around. Here are some links to let you know spring fever is real. 

Spring Fever
WEB MD-You Give Me Spring Fever
Wiki Spring Fever
Spring Time Bad for Depression

3. Expectations Are High

Sometimes in spring we have been thinking about all the things we should of, could of, would of done if we had lived in San Diego or Florida during our winter days. The reality of being human can set in when we find out that spring has sprung, it is time to get moving, and we don't have the energy or drive to complete our list of high expectations. Many people are disappointed in themselves and these outcomes. Don't worry about it. 

Strategies you can use include setting small attainable goals you can feel good about. Work on your list a little at a time. Make goals that regular people can reach with time built in for you to EXERCISE AND SLEEP. Do a mix of things that you enjoy and are healthy for you while completing your responsibilities. If you deny yourself from pleasure too long, that strategy is likely to backfire. Have a good balanced approach. Use a checklist that has 3 sections. One section is for today. One section is for the week. Reserve one part of the list for things your are really wanting to do. Put a vacation or planned fun activities on a calendar. Look up things you might want to do during that time online. Planning, thinking and dreaming are fine. They keep us hopeful. 

Tiny Buddha Expectations and Disappointment
Expectations at The Silent Blog
Three Ways Expectations Can Hurt You

4. Allergies

If you live in Kentucky, you know about allergies. Kentucky is known to be one of the worst states when it comes to spring and fall allergies.  Louisville is ranked as one of the worst cities in the entire country to live in due to allergies.   Many times people are unaware they are being affected. Sometimes the symptoms are less obvious than a runny nose, cough, and cold like symptoms. Many times people are lethargic, grouchy, have headaches, and have cognitive deficits. The allergic affect we have in Kentucky can quickly turn into a sinus infection, bronchitis, ear infections, and other maladies that make us mentally and physically drained. That flower below can cause us some issues! 

Get to a doctor. Take a seasonal allergy medication. Some are mild, like Allegra (please get your physician's approval before taking allergy medications) and can be taken everyday. Prescription nose sprays may help, but may also have some cognitive or mood altering side effects. Be careful, but don't suffer! Get help from an allergist if you need it. 

Allergy Resources
Pollen Map
How to Beat Spring Allergies by WEB MD
By creekmoremarketing 21 Sep, 2015

Welcome to our website!

Therapy is a great choice. It works, and I hope you make a commitment today to start. Most people find the idea of attending therapy with a therapist or counselor far more scary than the actual process itself. Here is a link that describes how the process works at our locations.

Our therapists are located in Lexington, Frankfort and Richmond, KY. See individual profiles of our therapy providers here . I hire our professionals personally and attempt to provide you with someone that will care about your outcome and treat you well. These are experts at counseling and therapy and provide services you will want to tell others about.

Our clinicians care, and you will know they are different in that respect. Providing therapy in Central Kentucky is much more than a job to our therapists. It is a profession, and a way of life.

Please let us help you today!   Contact us here   or at 859.338.0466 now.


Paul D. Dalton, MS, LPCC, CADC

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What is therapy?

Therapy is more long-term than counseling and focuses on a broader range of issues. The underlying principle is that a person's patterns of thinking and unconscious awareness affect the way that person interacts with the world. The goal is to uncover those patterns and become aware of their effect and then learn new, healthier ways to think and interact.
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