Conduct Disorder: EMDR Therapy and Neurofeedback as Effective Interventions

Discover the insights and interventions for overcoming conduct disorder. Explore the transformative potential of EMDR therapy and neurofeedback for children and adults. Expert guidance from a psychologist.

Conduct Disorder: EMDR and Neurofeedback

Conduct disorder is a complex mental health condition characterized by disruptive and aggressive behaviors. It can have a significant impact on the lives of individuals, their families, and their communities. As a psychologist, I aim to provide a holistic understanding of conduct disorder, its symptoms, underlying causes, and effective interventions. In this blog, we will explore how EMDR therapy and neurofeedback can play a crucial role in helping individuals with conduct disorder achieve positive change and improved well-being.


It’s a psychiatric disorder characterized by a persistent pattern of behaviors that violate societal norms and the rights of others. It is typically diagnosed in childhood or adolescence and can have significant detrimental effects on the individual’s personal, academic, and social functioning. Conduct disorder is classified as a disruptive behavior disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

To meet the diagnostic criteria, an individual must display a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior that falls into four main categories:

  1. Aggression to People and Animals: This category includes behaviors such as physical aggression towards others, initiating fights, bullying, cruelty to animals, and using weapons. Individuals with conduct disorder may display a lack of empathy or remorse for the harm they cause to others.
  2. Destruction of Property: Individuals with conduct disorder may engage in deliberate acts of vandalism, arson, or property damage. They may show a disregard for the property of others and fail to take responsibility for their actions.
  3. Deceitfulness or Theft: Conduct disorder may involve lying, deceit, and manipulation to exploit others for personal gain. Persistent theft, shoplifting, or breaking into homes or cars are also common behaviors associated with conduct disorder.
  4. Serious Violations of Rules: This category encompasses behaviors that involve repeatedly violating rules and societal norms. These behaviors may include truancy, running away from home, substance abuse, and engaging in illegal activities such as theft, vandalism, or prostitution.


Conduct Disorder

To receive a diagnosis, the individual must exhibit a specified number of these behaviors over a specific period, usually at least six months. The severity can vary, ranging from mild to severe, depending on the frequency, duration, and intensity of the disruptive behaviors.

It is important to differentiate the disorder from normative childhood misbehavior or occasional rule-breaking, as conduct disorder represents a persistent and pervasive pattern of behaviors that significantly impair the individual’s functioning and well-being. It often coexists with other mental health conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), substance use disorders, and mood disorders.

Causes and Contributing Factors of Conduct Disorder:

Conduct disorder is a complex mental health condition that arises from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and sociocultural factors. Understanding these causes and contributing factors is crucial in developing effective interventions and support strategies for individuals with conduct disorder. Let’s explore these factors in more detail:

  1. Genetic Factors: Research suggests that conduct disorder has a genetic component, with certain genetic variations increasing the susceptibility to developing the disorder. These genetic factors can influence brain structure, neurotransmitter functioning, and impulse control, contributing to behavioral dysregulation seen in conduct disorder.
  2. Parenting Styles and Family Dynamics: Parenting styles characterized by harsh discipline, inconsistent or neglectful parenting, lack of supervision, or exposure to aggressive or antisocial behaviors within the family can increase the risk of conduct disorder. Inadequate bonding disrupted attachment patterns, and a lack of positive role models can further contribute to the development of conduct disorder.
  3. Peer Influences: Peer interactions play a significant role in shaping behavior and socialization. Associating with delinquent peers, engaging in deviant behaviors, and seeking acceptance within antisocial peer groups can reinforce and escalate conduct disorder symptoms. Peer rejection, social isolation, and a lack of positive social support can exacerbate conduct disorder symptoms.

It is essential to note that while these factors can contribute to the development of conduct disorder, not all individuals exposed to these risk factors will develop the disorder. The interplay between genetic vulnerabilities, biological factors, and environmental influences is complex and multifaceted. Understanding these causes and contributing factors helps guide interventions and support strategies tailored to address the specific needs of individuals.

EMDR Therapy for Conduct Disorder:

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is a promising intervention for individuals with conduct disorder. It aims to address underlying traumatic experiences and attachment issues, promoting emotional regulation, empathy, and prosocial behaviors. EMDR therapy utilizes bilateral stimulation techniques, such as eye movements or taps, to facilitate the processing and integration of distressing memories, leading to adaptive behavioral changes.

Neurofeedback as an Intervention:

Neurofeedback, a form of biofeedback therapy, offers another avenue for intervention in conduct disorder. By targeting brain dysregulation, neurofeedback helps individuals improve self-regulation, attention, and impulse control. Through real-time monitoring of brainwave activity and positive reinforcement, neurofeedback trains individuals to modify their brain patterns, enhancing executive functioning and decision-making abilities.

The Power of EMDR Therapy and Neurofeedback Combined:

When used in conjunction, EMDR therapy and neurofeedback offer a comprehensive approach to tackling this disorder. EMDR therapy addresses traumatic experiences and promotes emotional healing, while neurofeedback targets brain dysregulation and enhances self-regulation skills. The combined effects of these therapies can lead to significant improvements in behavior, emotional well-being, and overall quality of life.

Conduct disorder presents significant challenges for individuals and those around them, but effective interventions like EMDR therapy and neurofeedback offer hope and the potential for positive change. By understanding the nature of the disorder and utilizing evidence-based interventions, individuals with this disorder can overcome their challenges, develop empathy, and build healthier relationships. As a psychologist, I have witnessed the transformative power of EMDR therapy and neurofeedback in empowering individuals with conduct disorder to thrive and lead fulfilling lives.

Serin Center experts have been utilizing applied neuroscience to enhance the lives of children, adolescents, adults, families, and executives with effective and innovative therapy.

Experience the power of innovative and effective applied neuroscience therapy for mental and emotional wellness. Visit Serin Center in Phoenix, Arizona. With offices in Peoria and Scottsdale, our experts provide cutting-edge approaches for faster, long-lasting results. Upgrade your life today and contact us to see how we can help your child, teen, or yourself.