For therapy based programs, or programs with a significant therapy component, we then look at the cluster under which the student’s issues fall.  There are three clusters under which the 10 personality disorders are classified:

Cluster A: Cluster A is called the odd, eccentric cluster. It includes Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorders.  This is going to be the cluster under which your medically based treatments fall, or programs with a significant medical component.  Generally a student in this category is going to be placed in an RTC or specialty psychiatric hospital.

Cluster B:  This cluster is called the dramatic, emotional, and erratic cluster. It includes: Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, and Antisocial Personality Disorder.  Under this cluster we look for programs with cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy components.

Cluster C: This cluster is called the anxious, fearful cluster. It includes the Avoidant, Dependent, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorders.  For this cluster we look for trauma, loss, and attachment programs, and programs with a dialectical behavioral therapy component.

The reason why we look at personality trait clusters is two-fold.  First, the curriculum for an avoidant/dependent personality is going to look much different than the curriculum for a oppositional/defiant personality.  If we group these two personality types together, the treatment becomes quite diluted.

Second, and perhaps most important- we don’t want to re-traumatize anyone with past socialization, depressive, or anxious issues.  If we were to put someone who has been bullied with a bully- we would not be serving the best interests of either child.

It is unfortunate that in the treatment world teens with disruptive behaviors- and those who violate the right’s of others- tend to dominate the treatment milieu.  That is because these individuals self-identify.  They get arrested, suspended, expelled- or other parents complain.  The avoidant/dependent personality needs a parent to advocate for services and therefore is a minority in most treatment settings.  Unfortunately, if not properly differentiated and placed appropriately, these students tend to get eaten alive in treatment centers.  This is another reason why hiring an experienced, clinically sophisticated educational consultant is so critical.

References for this page:

Esterberg, Michelle L.; Goulding, Sandra M.; Walker, Elaine F. (5 May 2010). “Cluster A Personality Disorders: Schizotypal, Schizoid and Paranoid Personality Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence”. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment. 32 (4): 515–528.

Magnavita, Jeffrey J. (2004) Handbook of personality disorders: theory and practice, John Wiley and Sons, ISBN 978-0-471-48234-5.

Click on a Factor below to explore the topic:

I. Severity of Issues

II. Etiology (how the issue was formed)

III. Diagnostic Cluster

IV. How the Child Handles Frustration and Discord

V. Child’s Belief System and Prevalent Issues

VI. Cost and Length of Stay, VII. Academics

VIII. The Child’s Interests, IX. Program Location, and X. Everything Else