The Parent-child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Program is an evidence-based treatment for young children between the ages of two through seven that teaches parents specialized, therapeutic parenting strategies to use with their children who display emotional and/or behavioral difficulties.
Children are wondrous. The rapid pace that they acquire knowledge, gain skills, and develop their very own personalities is truly miraculous. How can such small people who are so new to the world have so much to say and do?
But sometimes, having so much to say and do can have negative repercussions. For some children, personality development can go hand-in-hand with emotional and behavioral difficulties that become a burden on the whole family. These children may be defiant or oppositional, misbehave, be unable to handle negative emotions, throw tantrums, break or throw things, and not comply with what is being asked of them. They may also be inattentive and/or hyperactive, have developmental delays, or be anxious, withdrawn and unwilling to speak or to engage with others. These difficulties can lead to tremendous stress in the family and lead to conflict between parents and their child, and even between parents who may differ in their approaches to disciplining their child.
Even the most skillful parents need specialized assistance to manage children with defiant, oppositional or anxious and withdrawn behaviors and would benefit from skills to prevent these challenges from spiralizing out of control.
PCIT stands for “Parent-Child Interaction Therapy,” an evidence-based treatment for young children between the ages of 2-7 who display emotional and/or behavioral difficulties. PCIT is not individual therapy; it is a comprehensive treatment program that teaches and guides the use of specialized, therapeutic parenting strategies that have been shown to be highly effective in managing children’s emotions and behaviors. PCIT teaches parents these valuable skills to manage their child’s emotions and behaviors, guides parents to engage in these skills during sessions to modify their child's behaviors, and works to establish a healthy, positive dynamic between parents and the child so they can thrive as a family.
We offer specialized versions of PCIT for toddlers (12-24 months) and for older children (7-10 years old).
PCIT is unique in that children and their parents are seen together in session. Before beginning treatment, the family attends an initial intake session where the therapist gathers information about the child’s history and the parents’ goals and concerns for their child. At the intake session, a baseline observational assessment of the parents’ skills is also conducted.
Within the session itself, parents are coached to practice skills with the child. Our PCIT therapists observe the parents and the child from a special observation room with a one-way mirror, and use a “bug-in-the-ear” headset system to coach parents to apply specialized, therapeutic parenting skills as they play and interact with their child. PCIT Therapists at CBC often use a co-therapy model to facilitate training and provide additional support to families in treatment. Our PCIT team provides both in-person and Internet-based Telehealth PCIT. Research has found that Internet-based PCIT is just as (or even more effective) than clinic-provided PCIT, as the therapists can help you practice the skills in the comfort of your home!
At the beginning of each PCIT session, the therapist checks in with parents about any stressors or barriers to homework practice. Parents also complete the same questionnaire about their child’s behavior each week, and this questionnaire is used to track their progress in treatment. At the end of each PCIT therapy session, the therapist and parent collaboratively decide which skills should be practiced at home in between sessions.