What is PCIT?
Parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) is an effective, evidence-based parenting intervention for children aged 2-7 years old and their caregivers.
PCIT entails two phases. In the first phase of treatment (Child-Directed Interaction), caregivers will learn and apply skills to interact positively with their child. This fosters warmth and security in the parent-child relationship.
In the second phase of treatment (Parent-Directed Interaction), caregivers will learn to administer effective discipline techniques in a calm and consistent manner.
The skills taught in PCIT are hallmarks of authoritative parenting which is linked to a superior outcome. Children raised by authoritative parents are more likely to be independent, socially accepted, academically successful and well-behaved. They are less likely to report depression, anxiety and display fewer delinquent behaviours.
What Does A Typical Course of PCIT Entail?
Treatment entails weekly, one hour live coaching sessions that can span between 14-18 weeks. The components are as follow:
With reliable questionnaires & structured observation of parent-child interactions
Positive parent-child interactions
(6 or more sessions)
Effective discipline techniques (6 or more sessions)
How is PCIT Different From Other Therapies?
Most parenting courses teach parenting skills which parents take home to apply on their own. PCIT emphasizes one to one live coaching, whereby parents are coached (via a hearing device) to practice these skills during the weekly sessions. They receive immediate feedback which results in faster learning and more effective use of skills. The presence of an on-site coach lends support, guidance and encouragement which helps to reduce anxiety and boost parent’s confidence and mastery of skills.
What are Some Desired Outcomes of Therapy?
1. Reduction of problem behaviours in child
Decrease in frequency and severity of temper tantrums, negative attention-seeking behaviour (e.g. bossiness & whining), defiance, destructive behaviour (e.g. breaking of toys on purpose) and aggression.
2. Increase of desirable behaviours in child
Increase in attention span and focus, greater compliance with adult’s request, improved behaviour in public and improved self-esteem.
3. Improved attachment between parent and child
4. Improved parental confidence during discipline
Who is PCIT for?
Parents who are overwhelmed, depressed, stressed-out, feel guilty and are confused about how to deal with their child’s challenging behaviours.
Children, aged 2-7 years old who display any of the following:
Poor compliance to adult’s instructions
Defiance towards adult’s request
Frequent temper tantrums
Aggression towards others
Destruction of property
Difficulty staying focused or seated
Who are Appropriate Caregivers in PCIT?
Persons who have extended contact with the child
(e.g. grandparents, teacher, etc)
For more information on PCIT, please go to the PCIT International website here (www.pcit.org)