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Treating Problem Behaviors

Practical, effective, research-supported clinical interventions…
by Ricky Greenwald 2009, Routledge
An accessible guide to working with troubled teens and others with problem behaviors
A book cover with both purple and light yellow and a title on black named, "Treating Problem Behaviors" By Ricky Greenwald

This book teaches a clear rationale and a systematic approach to trauma-informed treatment for teens (and others) with problem behaviors – including anger, aggression, crime, school/work failure, domestic violence, child abuse, and substance abuse. The content and methods are research-supported and proven effective, including motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral skills training, trauma resolution, and relapse prevention/harm reduction. The book takes the reader step by step through the treatment process, using scripted exercises to teach hands-on skills. An entire course of treatment is transcribed verbatim and sessions are shown following each related chapter. For mental health professionals (and those in training).

This is the text book for the Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute’s Treating Problem Behaviors training program.

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Trauma-Informed Treatment for Problem Behaviors
  • Chapter 2: Initial Interview
  • Chapter 3: History
  • Chapter 4: Motivation
  • Chapter 5: Treatment Contract
  • Chapter 6: Avoid High Risk
  • Chapter 7: Self Control Skills
  • Chapter 8: More Skills and Strategies
  • Chapter 9: Reduce Stress
  • Chapter 10: Trauma Resolution
  • Chapter 11: Anticipate Future Challenges
  • Chapter 12: Challenging Cases


  • Trauma-Informed Treatment Information and Resources
  • Reprint of Greenwald, R. (2002b). The role of trauma in conduct disorder. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 6, 5-23.
  • Session Forms with scripts and room for notes


What people say about the book:

ohn Hamel, LCSW Author of: Gender Inclusive Treatment of Intimate Partner Abuse (2005); Family Interventions in Domestic Violence (2007)
“Greenwald’s book combines the best elements of short-term, solution-oriented therapeutic approaches with focused trauma work. It offers a HIGHLY PRACTICAL, STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE to help individuals with assorted acting-out behaviors, and well-thought-out protocols to guide the clinician through the assessment and treatment process. The book is rich with specific, detailed and believable case examples. The book SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING for any clinician working with difficult populations, including troubled adolescents and perpetrators of family violence. Unlike traditional models of domestic violence treatment, Greenwald’s sequential model assumes that perpetrators are often victims themselves and that their needs and goals must be taken into account. It is BASED ON SOUND RESEARCH and has much in common with my own three-phase approach for domestic violence work. I highly recommend it.” In language that is clear and accessible to a wide range of clinician-practitioners, he has translated research and theory into comprehensible and pragmatic tactics for recognizing and dealing with the developmental consequences of trauma in the lives of children. Without polemic, he exposes the gaps in traditional therapeutic approaches as well as in “common sense” when it comes to an effective response to child trauma (for example, the naïve assumption that a simple approach of “processing trauma by talking about it” without preparing the child with cognitive tools for managing arousal is naïve and often counterproductive). His approach is respectful, both for the child client and the adults in that child’s life (parents and therapists, for example). Grounded in his understanding of the research on trauma and his clinical experience he offers up A POWERFUL LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR THE READER.”

Lisa M. Najavits, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine. Author of: Seeking Safety: A Treatment Manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse

“Dr. Greenwald has developed a solid, user-friendly treatment to help a vulnerable population of clients who are so in need of expert care. His innovative approach addresses major treatment obstacles such as low motivation, poor self-discipline, and posttraumatic stress, while also incorporating more standard interventions such as relapse prevention. The practical, down-to-earth interventions offer a wealth of options that can become part of the clinician’s toolkit. This book has GREAT POTENTIAL TO HELP CLIENTS and to guide those who treat them.”

Teresa Descilo, MSW, CTS
Executive Director, Victim Services-The Trauma Resolution Center, Miami, FL

“This work book is TRULY GROUND-BREAKING. It teaches a model and overall discipline that closely parallels the model that has evolved at our agency. Those of us who understand the full spectrum of the impact of traumatic events on humanity would logically evolve mental health service delivery systems in similar ways, as healing the wounded soul definitely requires a different approach than what has become usual and customary. Dr. Greenwald’s VERY PRACTICAL AND USEFUL BOOK WILL BECOME A CLASSIC for all those who help people whose trauma has been so long unresolved that their behaviors have become problematic. This is another book that should be required reading for anyone that helps children in the juvenile system or adults mandated to treatment.”

Hans Steiner, MD
Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Human Development, Stanford University School of Medicine

“Treating Problem Behaviors” by Ricky Greenwald is a wonderful manual for those mental health clinicians who want to help youths in serious trouble and difficulty. As the author appreciates, there is a strong connection between psychiatric trauma and mental health problems. This manual will guide front line clinicians as they approach these difficult to engage youths. The field of developmental psychology and psychiatry is in great need of efforts such as this one: a clinician/expert trained in research methods instilling the front line clinician with knowledge which WILL LEAD TO BETTER PRACTICE and the generation of practice based evidence which complements findings from clinical trials. Highly recommended.

Phil Rich, EdD
Clinical Director, Stetson School. Author of: Understanding, Assessing, and Rehabilitating Juvenile Sexual Offenders

Ricky Greenwald’s trauma-informed model will help clinicians to understand and treat a range of treatment-resistant behavior problems. This book offers detailed step-by-step scripts and interventions in a manageable, systematic approach. This will help clinicians implement SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD AND PRACTICAL techniques that can help build relationships and resolve issues that may otherwise be quite difficult for the client, or therapist, to address. The book is well written, interesting, and recommended.

James Garbarino, PhD
Director, Loyola University Chicago’s Center for the Human Rights of Children. Author of: Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them; and See Jane Hit: Why Girls Are Growing More Violent and What We Can Do About It

“Understanding the role of trauma is often the key that unlocks the mystery of psychological and behavioral problems in kids. Ricky Greenwald’s book does an excellent job of showing the practitioner why this key works and how to use it effectively in the therapeutic process. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.”

Home Study for Professional CEUs:

Mental health professionals can earn 11 CEs, 10 EMDRIA CEs, and PC Credit with TICTI’s Home Study Program, which includes the book.

Ordering Info:

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Treating Problem Behaviors Book

Quantity Discount (%) Price
1 - 4 $50.00
5 - 9 6 % $47.00
10+ 12 % $44.00