What is Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)?

This specialized therapy helps young children and their parents work through emotional and behavioral issues that some children experience. PCIT is meant to reduce parent stress and improve a child’s behaviors.

PCIT typically lasts between 12 and 14 weeks with one session per week. In that time, parents learn how to guide interactions in ways that increase positive behaviors and decrease negative behaviors from the child. The end goal is a happier family with healthier interactions.

Who Benefits from PCIT?

Children who are between the ages of 2 and 6 years can benefit from PCIT if they:

  • Show abnormal levels of defiance
  • Have experienced trauma
  • Lose their temper easily
  • Have trouble taking turns (more so than what is developmentally appropriate)
  • Purposefully annoy or anger other people
  • Have difficulty staying still or playing quietly
  • Purposefully destroy property

Although the name indicates that PCIT is for parents, this therapy can assist in many child-caregiver relationships. In addition to biological parents, other caregivers may benefit from the coaching in PCIT, including:

  • Foster Parents
  • Adoptive Parents
  • Legal Guardians
  • Kinship Caregivers
  • Grandparents

If you care for a child in the appropriate age range and struggle to have peaceful, meaningful interactions, PCIT can help.

How Does PCIT Work?

PCIT sessions use a coaching method to improve the quality of caregiver-child interactions. Licensed therapists observe these interactions and give live feedback. This live coaching method is backed by more than 30 years of scientific research. To be most effective, PCIT takes place over 12 to 14 weeks, which is split into two distinct phases.

Phase 1: Child-Directed Interaction

In the first phase, the goal is to highlight the warmth and love within the caregiver-child relationship. Children take the lead in the sessions, and caregivers play with their children to create positive interactions. During this time, the therapist observes the interactions and makes suggestions on how to best foster a deeper connection. This phase increases positive behaviors and sets the stage for productive sessions in phase 2.

Phase 2: Parent-Directed Interaction

When the family and therapist agree that it’s time to move into phase 2, the parent-directed interactions begin during the weekly sessions. During this part of the plan, parents learn how to confront the child’s negative behaviors while remaining confident and calm. These strategies help caregivers redirect children, get them to follow house rules, and avoid aggressive behaviors.

Book PCIT Appointments Now

You and your family do not have to struggle alone. Our compassionate experts can help you improve your relationship with your child and live a more peaceful life as a family. Contact us today to book your appointment.