Little is known about processes through which behavior therapy (BT) for adolescent ADHD improves outcomes. The purpose of this study was to build a theoretical model for the processes through which a BT for adolescent ADHD (Supporting Teens' Autonomy Daily; STAND) impacts functioning. Seventy-eight audio recordings from a standard therapeutic task in the final STAND session were analyzed as parents and adolescents (ages 11-16) reflected upon what changed during STAND and why. Qualitative coding sorted parent and teen statements into orthogonal categories of perceived changes. Network analysis examined inter-relations between categories. Results indicated twenty-one categories of perceived change areas. Parent use of behavioral strategies, adolescent motivation, and adolescent organization skills were central nodes in the network of perceived changes, with strong relations to academic and parent-teen relationship outcomes. A model is proposed in which skills training in STAND increases parent behavioral strategy use and teen organization skills, while Motivational Interviewing (MI) in STAND increase parent behavioral strategy use and initial adolescent motivation. In turn, parent behavioral strategy use is proposed to further reinforce teen motivation through contingency management, thereby increasing teen application of organization skills to daily life. As a result of improved teen motivation and organization skills, the model proposes that ADHD symptoms, academic problems, and parent-teen conflict abate. We discuss secondary mechanisms and outcomes in this model, the possibility of person-specific processes, implications for community-based adaptation of STAND, and plans to validate this conceptual model using sophisticated mediational models.
Keywords: ADHD; behavior therapy; motivational interviewing.
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