diagnosis: Youth Behavioral Issues


Behavioral issues involve a multitude of concerning behaviors such as aggression, delinquency, noncompliance, impulsivity, and more. Behavioral issues affect many children and are among the top reasons for youth being referred to mental health services (Riise et al., 2021). Children and adolescents displaying such behaviors can be at-risk for significant negative outcomes (Riise et al., 2021). The evidence-based group treatments highlighted here were selected based on the results of a recent meta-analysis looking at youth group therapy for behavioral issues (Arnold et al., 2023). The treatment included herein are supported by multiple RCTs that assess the effects of youth group treatment on relevant outcomes (e.g., aggression) among children and adolescents with behavioral issues. Articles included in the meta-analysis were published 1990 or later, required at least 30 participants in the study, and were published in the English language. Studies were only included if the focus was largely on interventions in which the child was the primary recipient. One of the challenges we experienced was the absence of clarity on theoretical orientation that particularly affected the cognitive behavioral entries.

Some of the included resources and meta-analyses are not specific to group therapy or behavioral issues but can be applied to group treatment for behavior problems. Resources and meta-analyses involving parent treatment are included, with parents often being a part of youth treatment. The page of promising treatments for youth behavioral issues includes additional approaches with emerging research; these treatments had more limited support and lacked available group therapy manuals.


Arnold, R. A., Burlingame, G. M., & Rosendahl, J. (under review). Group therapy for youth behavioral concerns: A meta-analysis. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice.

Riise, E. N., Wergeland, G. J. H., Njardvik, U., & Öst, L. (2021). Cognitive behavior therapy for externalizing disorders in children and adolescents in routine clinical care: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 83, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2020.101954