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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10547
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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How does one help a teenager overcome compulsive lying? We

Customer Question

How does one help a young teenager overcome compulsive lying? We have had our son see therapists but should we angle therapy in a certain direction? The lying is usually followed up by rage.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 9 months ago.

*This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice in a Q&A format. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area. Please note that anything said here is not private or confidential, as this is a public forum.

Hello and thank you for using JustAnswer. Typically lying is the result of two possibilities 1) This individual has a low sense of self worth and uses the lies to build himself up in a way to superficially impress others and improve his confidence, but of course this is only temporary. And also the lies can help mask the truth about himself and his vulnerabilities to others so again it would be tied to that low sense of self-worth. 2) The other most common reason for repetitive lying for an adolescent is because of a Conduct Disorder where the individual has no empathy, lies because he feels he can, and/or lies to manipulate and gain something from it. If the individual is more in line with the first reason I would tailor therapy to try to improve his sense of self worth and to more honestly express himself and who he is so that he would not have to hide behind the lies. Now if he is more in line with a Conduct Disorder than I would recommend more specialized therapy called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) which can help improve the mood and cognition which are the source of the problem.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I think 2 falls more in line with his personality. When he asks for something, he has a huge sales pitch as to why he can get it before anyone tells him no. However, he is materialistcally obsessed. He lies to get his mothers house and our house against each other,. While he is not suicidal, he scratches himself and claims he will kill himself if one parent does not pick him up from the others immediately. Usually because there has been a verbal incident. My husband will talk to him about his bad behaviors and within seconds the child is screaming and yelling, refusing to talk, pulling his hair out, but when he does talk it is all manipulative lies.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 9 months ago.

A Conduct Disorder needs to be treated right away with specialized forms of therapy like DBT or possibly Wilderness Therapy (this involves going to a 6-12 week camp/retreat where he learns to work as a team and develop empathy through exercises). Conduct Disorders can lead to a greater personality disorder when the child becomes a young adult like Borderline Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder, so if it is treated now before it evolves into a personality disorder than that would be best for the child's future as personality disorders cannot be cured nor do they respond well to treatment. I would recommend asking the next psychologist that sees him if he/she has experience working with treating a Conduct Disorder as that will at least point you in the right direction to get this young man help.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
He has punched his mother in the face multiple times and on multiple occassions and just recently has hit my husband in the face. He says that this is not his fault, that his parents drove him to this behavior. With me, he talks, he will talk about his feelings, never gets upset, or violent, so I know he has control. I do take a different approach with him though. He is currently in a behavioral health facility because he threatened to kill himself if his mother did not pick him up. He was in trouble with my husband for yelling and being disrespectful and before my husband could speak to him, he escalated.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 9 months ago.

It does sound like he may have a Conduct Disorder or possibly a co-occurring mood disorder as well. In addition to therapy, a psychiatrist should be consulted for medication management to help reduce his anger/rage.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
He has been diagnosed with anxiety and "mood disorder", but nothing of real substance. He can get out of having any diagnosis when he "wants to". This makes us believe that these things may be manifested. He is currently making up stories of physical and mental abuse by his father so he can live with his mother, problem with this is, his mother is just as erratic as he is. She drives the drama train and him and her have a volatile relationship which leads him to wanting to stay by .us. Then this happens. He gets in trouble and scratches himself. We do not know what to do.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 9 months ago.

You need to find a psychologist that specializes in treating Conduct Disorders as that type of specialist will be able to see through the lies and manipulation and try to help him, but ultimately a psychologist can only do so much. This young adolescent has to want to change in order to get the most out of treatment, because if he does not want to change than he will not put forth the effort in treatment and will get nothing out of it.

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