Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an empirically-supported treatment for conduct-disordered young children that places emphasis on improving the quality of the parent-child relationship and changing parent-child interaction patterns. In PCIT, parents are taught specific skills to establish a nurturing and secure relationship with their child while increasing their child’s prosocial behavior and decreasing negative behavior. This treatment focuses on two basic interactions: Child Directed Interaction (CDI) is similar to play therapy in that parents engage their child in a play situation with the goal of strengthening the parent-child relationship; Parent Directed Interaction (PDI) resembles clinical behavior therapy in that parents learn to use specific behavior management techniques as they play with their child.

Potential Risks and Benefits of PCIT

PCIT is a lot of work AND it is often a lot of fun. There are potential risks of participating in PCIT that parents should consider as they make the commitment to PCIT. One such risk is the possibility of frustration during the initial stage of the treatment if parents are anxious to begin working immediately on “discipline” (or punishments) for misbehavior or are expecting an immediate solution for a long-standing or severe behavioral problem. In PCIT there is an initial emphasis on relationship-building and less directive methods of behavioral management in order to create a foundation of skills and interactions that are believed to maximize the chances for the potential benefits of treatment. Finally, parents may experience some discomfort in relation to the amount of effort and change required in their own behaviors, as well as in response to the highly directive interactions between therapist and parents during coaching session.

With these potential risks in mind, it is important to point out the potential benefits involved, as well. First, PCIT has been found to be a highly effective approach to treating children’s disruptive behaviors and noncompliance. In clinical studies, PCIT has resulted in improvements in children’s behavior at home, improved behavior in untreated siblings, reduction in parenting stress, and improvements in children’s self-esteem.

We’re looking forward to working with you and your child and to doing our best together to make a positive difference in your life.

Professional Administration

The PCIT Clinic at the Moore Counseling Center, P.C. is administered by Drs. Lindsey Bardwell, Ph.D., and Ilse Carrizales, Ph.D.

Drs. Bardwell and Carrizales trained in 2014 in the latest PCIT theory and techniques at Children’s Hospital in the Child Study Center.