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Parent Child Interaction Therapy:
Frequently Asked Questions

Little girl in glasses raising her hand to ask a question

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). PCIT is a short-term, specialized therapy for young children with disruptive behaviors. PCIT is an International success that is often regarded as a gold standard treatment for emotional and behavioral challenges.

The list below represents the most commonly asked questions about PCIT. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to call or email. We are happy to help!

Common Parent Child Interaction Therapy Questions

What is PCIT?

Parent Child Interaction Therapy - also known as PCIT - is a short-term specialized behavior management program for young children experiencing emotional or behavioral challenges. Please visit our What is PCIT page for more detailed information about Parent Child Interaction Therapy.

What is PCIT

Is PCIT theoretically-based?

Absolutely! Parent Child Interaction Therapy utilizes Constance Hanf’s two-stage model and integrates components of social learning theory, attachment theory, developmental theory, behavioral principles, and traditional play therapy.

  • Attachment theory principles used in PCIT focus on helping the parent facilitate a warm, supportive relationship as a basis for the development of social skills and emotional regulation.

  • From a social learning theory perspective, PCIT uses differential attention to address behavioral problems, in addition to having the parent model calm, desired behaviors during parent-child interactions.

  • Additionally, PCIT incorporates authoritative parenting practices (Baumrind, 1967), which incorporates a child’s needs of warmth, psychological autonomy, and limit setting to achieve optimal outcomes.​​

Click here to learn more about the background and theoretical influences of PCIT.​

PCIT - Theory

How Effective is PCIT?

With over 300 peer-reviewed research articles from around the world, PCIT is arguably the most effective and scientifically successful early intervention program for children with disruptive behaviors. PCIT is regarded by national expert panels as a gold standard treatment for children who have any of the following challenges:

  • Frequent temper tantrums

  • Defiance - refusing to follow directions

  • Verbal and/or physical aggression

  • Destruction of toys and/or family belongings

  • Backtalk or sassing adults

  • Whining or crying for no apparent reason

  • Hyperactivity

  • Interrupting others

  • Short attention span

  • Difficulty with behaviors at school, preschool, and/or daycare​s

PCIT Effectiveness

What is the Basic Structure of PCIT?

PCIT therapy is implemented in two phases: (1) the Child-Directed Interaction Phase (CDI) where parents develop child-centered interaction skills to enhance the parent-child relationship; and (2) the Parent-Directed Interaction Phase (PDI) where caregivers learn additional behavior management skills. PCIT gives equal attention to the enhancement of the parent-child relationship, and the development of caregivers' behavior management skills.

PCIT Structure

What is the Age Range for PCIT?

The typical age range for PCIT is 2-7 years of age. However, Parent Child Interaction Therapy has been adapted for Older Children (ages 7-10), and Toddlers (ages 12-24 months).

PCIT Age Range

What are the PRIDE Skills in PCIT?

The PRIDE Skills in PCIT are:

  • Praise (Labeled Praise) - Behavior specific praise of a child's behaviors, product, or attributes

  • Reflection - Actively listening and repeating or paraphrasing a child's comments

  • Imitation - Engaging in similar play and mirroring the child's activity and level of enthusiasm

  • Describe (Behavior Descriptions) - Narrating a child's ongoing play

  • Enjoy - Genuine enjoyment or enthusiasm in the parent-child interaction

A more detailed description of each of the PRIDE skills, including examples of each PRIDE Skills can be found here.

PRIDE Skills

How do I get trained in PCIT?

We currently offer 3 Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Training options:

  1. Live, Virtual PCIT Training (via Zoom)

  2. Online (Self-Paced) PCIT Training

  3. In-Person PCIT Training


The content across PCIT training formats remains the same, simply select the option from our PCIT Training Calendar that works best for your learning style, availability, and budget. Click here to see a complete list of upcoming PCIT trainings.

If you have additional questions about PCIT Training, please review our PCIT Training Frequently Asked Questions page, or please call or email us. We are happy to help!

PCIT Training
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