American Psychological Association’s Best First Line Treatment Options

In order to aid in the treatment of several mental health disorders, the American Psychological Association has defined the best first lines of treatment. We at The Academy at Sisters understand the importance of a consistent philosophical approach to changing at-risk behaviors and use a cognitive behavioral therapy model which follows evidence-based validated best practices. A case manager guides each student through their own individualized treatment plan.

Although we believe short-term use of medication to control behavior may be necessary, it is not a healthy long-term solution to behavioral problems. In our programs, we include the services of a clinical psychologist, board certified psychiatrist, doctor of counseling and autism specialist, as well as other specialists as needed.

ADHD, Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder:
Behavioral treatments have the most favorable risk-benefit ratios, suggesting they be the first line interventions. Combining behavior based treatment with medication can yield better short-term outcomes than either intervention alone. Combining both medication and behavioral treatments enables lower doses of medication to be used.

Conduct Disorder Oppositional Defiant:
Evidence shows psychosocial cognitive behavior interventions should be first line of treatment and tried before psychotropic.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
Cognitive behavior treatment is the first line of intervention. Health Topics Medication should be added only if necessary.

Anxiety Disorders:
Strong evidence to support cognitive behavior treatment as a first line treatment and does not pose health risks as medications do.

First line treatment strategy designed to minimize risks would involve sequential use of psychosocial interventions and close monitoring followed by medication if necessary. (Fluoxetine is the only medication approved by FDA for treating depression in children.)

The limited research suggests psychosocial treatments are beneficial and do not present adverse side effects. Short and long-term medication trials are needed to clarify the risk-benefit ratios for medications used to treat bipolar.

For bulimia, cognitive behavior treatment appears to have the most scientific support and a more favorable risk-benefit ratio. For anorexia there is a general lack of evidence of effectiveness for both psychological and pharmacological.

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