Parent-Child Interaction Therapy
PCIT (Parent-Child Interaction Therapy) is an evidence-based treatment for children ages 2 – 7 who have frequent meltdowns, or who act in ways that are defiant or aggressive.
PCIT is conducted through “coaching” sessions during which you and your child are interacting at home, while your therapist observes and coaches through live video feed. You wear a “bug-in-the-ear” device through which the therapist provides in-the-moment coaching on skills you are learning to manage your child’s behavior.
PCIT is done across two treatment phases. The first phase of treatment focuses on establishing warmth in your relationship with your child through learning and applying skills proven to help children feel calm, secure in their relationships with their parents, and good about themselves.
Desired outcomes of the first phase of treatment in PCIT include:
- Decreased frequency, severity, and/or duration of tantrums
- Decreased activity levels
- Decreased negative attention-seeking behaviors (such as whining and bossiness)
- Decreased parental frustration
- Increased feelings of security, safety, and attachment to the primary caregiver
- Increased attention span
- Increased self-esteem
- Increased pro-social behaviors (such as sharing and taking turns
The second phase of treatment will equip you to manage the most challenging of your child’s behaviors while remaining confident, calm, and consistent in your approach to discipline. In this phase, you will learn proven strategies to help your child accept your limits, comply with your directions, respect house rules, and demonstrate appropriate behavior in public.
Desired outcomes of the second phase of treatment in PCIT include:
- Decreased frequency, severity, and/or duration of aggressive behavior
- Decreased frequency of destructive behavior (such as breaking toys on purpose)
- Decreased defiance
- Increased compliance with adult requests
- Increased respect for house rules
- Improved behavior in public
- Increased parental calmness and confidence during discipline.
With consistent attendance and homework completion, PCIT can be completed within 12-20 sessions, though treatment is not time-limited. Treatment is considered complete when you have mastered both sets of skills and rate your child’s behaviors within the average range for their age on a behavior rating scale.