Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

University of Alabama Professor's Treatment Methods Yield Results

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

University of Alabama Professor's Treatment Methods Yield Results

Article excerpt

A University of Alabama professor's positive intervention methods yielded positive results for boys on the Vacca campus of the Alabama Department of Youth Services this summer.

Randy Salekin, a psychology professor and clinical child psychologist, brought the components he uses for treatment at the UA Disruptive Behavioral Clinic on campus to the DYS to help more severe conduct cases.

Salekin utilizes the biology behind the brain and behavior, making goals and working toward them, and positive reinforcement.

The summer began with him and his team of graduate students giving the staff at DYS workshops about the brain and behaviors of children they would be treating.

"Part of what we were doing there was giving them more information from science that would help them understand the people they are working with," he said.

The young people on the DYS Vacca campus are court-committed. They receive various services that are important to positive youth development, according to the Vacca website. The children have a variety of problems, such as defiance and conduct disorders.

"We don't know exactly what they've done. At this point, they've gone through several warnings with the police and maybe a detention center and now they are at the point where they are being held there for 10 weeks," he said.

The intervention began for the kids the same way it did for the staff -- by learning about the biology of their brain. Salekin and his team use a laptop computer and LCD displays to explain brain plasticity and how the brain develops.

"A lot of kids will say, 'This is how my family is or this is how I am,'" said Liz Adams, who is studying towards her doctorate in clinical child psychology at UA and works at the UA Disruptive Behavioral Clinic. "It gives them an understanding that what they do and what they decide is in their control, and it even can change their patterns of behavior or the way they think. It gives them a sense of self control."

Throughout the 10-week treatment, the staff has them making and keeping goals each week.

"What we are trying to do there is each week besides talking to them about the brain we are getting them to do something that involved making plans that they can specifically follow through on," Salekin said. …

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