Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is treatment for young children with emotional and behavioral disorders. It has the greatest impact on children between the ages of 2 and 7. It is an effective method in addressing common childhood behavioral issues such as aggression, defiance, short temper, and non-compliance.

In PCIT, parents gain new skills that can help them provide a caring, nurturing, and positive environment for their child/children. It is focused on improving the quality of the parent-child relationship and changing parent-child interaction patterns. The goal is to help adapt negative behaviors into more positive behavior patterns.

PCIT uses two phases: Relationship Enhancement and Discipline/Compliance. At the start of treatment, the therapist discusses the key principles and techniques with the parents. PCIT uses a live-coaching model where parents are in a therapy room with their child while the therapist is in an observation room watching via one-way mirror. The parent wears a ‘bug-in-the ear’ device through which the therapist coaches the parent live on the skills being learned in treatment.  Targeted behaviors are tracked to highlight progress being made by both parents and children.

The relationship enhancement phase teaches parents how to minimize any negative characteristics within the relationship.  It also helps parents develop new behaviors and communication skills that provide support and encouragement.  This phase emphasizes effective and safe disciplinary techniques that can be used to help the child improve behavior by addressing and managing symptoms and/or issues leading to negative behavior.  During therapy, parents practice the skills they have learned until they are able to use them easily.  Children learn how to adapt their behavior and many families experience positive outcomes.

According to research, PCIT may be especially helpful for building positive parent-child interactions, developing positive child-rearing strategies, reducing the likelihood of child physical and verbal abuse, reducing child behavior issues, and increasing communication and interaction skills within the family.  Children that participate in PCIT develop greater self-esteem, experience less anger and frustration, communicate more effectively, and see improvement is social, organizational, and play skills.  Parents are able to learn consistent techniques for parenting and experience greater confidence when dealing with behavioral concerns.

Sieda Behavioral Health and Treatment Services has a certified PCIT therapist. If you are interested in this service or have questions about it, please contact us at 641-683-6747.