What is Parent Child Interaction Therapy?

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Parent Child Interaction Therapy - also known as PCIT - is a specialized treatment program designed for caregivers and their young children (2 to 7 years old) who are experiencing social, behavioral, and/or emotional difficulties.

 

PCIT has been found to help children who have any of the following:

  • 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

  • Constantly seeking attention

  • Hyperactivity

  • Interrupting others

  • Short attention span

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

Deciding if PCIT is Right for your Family

Seeking therapy services for your child is a major decision. Families who participate in PCIT services often report the following during initial sessions:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by their child

  • Feeling frustrated or angry with their child

  • Feeling like their child is out of control

  • Feelings of embarrassment, especially in public places

  • Feeling lost because current behavior management strategies are not working

  • A desire to learn skills or tools to deal with behavior challenges

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What are the Benefits of PCIT?

During the first phase of PCIT (Child-Directed Interaction), children are encouraged to lead a play activity while their caregivers observe and comment on their child’s positive behaviors (and ignore inappropriate behaviors). 

Benefits of the first phase of PCIT include:

  • Increased feelings of security, safety, and attachment with caregiver(s)

  • Increased attention span

  • Increased self-esteem

  • Increased pro-social behaviors (sharing, taking turns)

  • Decreased frequency, severity, and/or duration of tantrums

  • Decreased hyperactivity

  • Decreased negative attention-seeking behaviors (whining, bossiness)

  • Decreased caregiver frustration

 

In the second phase of PCIT (Parent-Directed Interaction), caregivers learn how to deliver clear, direct commands to reward child compliance, and utilize effective strategies for child noncompliance.  

 

Benefits of the second phase of PCIT include:

  • Increased compliance with caregiver requests

  • Decreased frequency, severity, and/or duration of aggressive behavior

  • Decreased frequency of destructive behavior

  • Improved behavior at home, and in public

  • Increased caregiver confidence

  • Decreased caregiver stress

Related Articles & Resources

Please note that the recommendation of particular websites, resources, or support groups does not necessarily indicate an endorsement of all the opinions or content within them.

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Find a PCIT Therapist

To find a PCIT Therapist in the United States, click the button below

*We are not responsible for verifying the training and skills of PCIT therapists listed in this directory. It is always good practice for families to inquire and assess the training, experience, and skills of a therapist before starting PCIT treatment.

Woman on a computer searching for PCIT Therapists around the world

Find a PCIT Therapist

To find a PCIT Therapist around the world, click the button below

*We are not responsible for verifying the training and skills of PCIT therapists listed in this directory. It is always good practice for families to inquire and assess the training, experience, and skills of a therapist before starting PCIT treatment.

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