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Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

What is PCIT?

PCIT was developed to treat behavioral and emotional problems in young children, and also has been found to reduce incidence of harsh discipline and physical abuse in families. PCIT is a treatment that involves both children and caretakers and lasts between 12-14 sessions (on average). The purpose of the treatment is to improve the caretaker-child relationship and the ways in which caretakers and children interact with one another to improve children's behavior.

Treatment format

The first part of treatment focuses on Child-Directed Interaction (CDI). During CDI, caregivers are taught to utilize positive parenting skills to increase the child's willingness to comply and to improve their relationship with their child.

The second part of treatment focuses on Parent-Directed Interaction (PDI). During PDI, caregivers are taught effective discipline practices to reduce the incidence and frequency of child behavior problems. Caregivers are also taught effective ways of communicating with their child to increase the chances of child compliance.

Caregivers must meet mastery of CDI skills to move into PDI, and then must meet mastery of PDI skills prior to treatment termination. The combination of CDI and PDI has been shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of child behavior problems by improving the relationship between caregivers and the child.

How can I participate in PCIT? 

PCIT is open to child patients ages 2-12 who are experiencing emotional and/or behavioral problems as a result of physical abuse victimization. Non-offending caregivers of these children are also expected to participate in PCIT treatment. Caregivers and their child must have ongoing contact with one another to participate in PCIT.

To fully benefit from treatment, it is necessary to attend all sessions and to complete weekly assignments. An initial assessment at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Traumatic Stress is required before receiving PCIT. Additional questions can be answered during this session.

For further information, please call (330) 379-5094.