Do you feel like your child is out of control?
Tired of getting phone calls from school about your child’s behavior?
Is your child destructive? For example, do they break things on purpose?
Feeling overwhelmed by your child’s tantrums?
Embarrassed by your child’s behavior when out in public?
Love your child but don’t like your child because of challenging behaviors?
PCIT may be right for you!
Parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) is an evidence-based treatment for young children with emotional and behavioral disorders that places emphasis on improving the quality of the parent-child relationship and changing parent-child interaction patterns.
What Is Parent-Child Interaction Therapy?
Parent Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT) is a combination of play and behavioral therapy for young and their parents or caregivers. PCIT helps adults learn and practice new skills and techniques for relating to children with emotional or behavior problems, language issues, developmental disabilities, or mental health disorders.
When is PCIT used?
Aimed mostly at parents and caregivers, this intervention teaches specific skills they can use to help improve physical and verbal exchanges with their children. PCIT was developed for children ages 2 to 7 and has been shown to be effective for children who exhibit disruptive behavior or have experienced trauma, as well as those on the autism spectrum. PCIT and PCIT-based programs are also evidence-based interventions for preventing child abuse and neglect and for increase the child’s ability to create healthy and positive relationships.
What happens in a PCIT session?
Parents and caregivers play with the children in one room, while the therapist observes and coaches from an adjacent room equipped with a camera or one-way mirror. The therapist communicates with the adults through an earphone, providing training and guidance. Parents and caregivers are discouraged from using negative language and encouraged to ignore harmless negative behaviors while showing enthusiasm and giving praise for positive behaviors. They also learn other skills, such as reflecting the child’s language back to him or her to help with communication, describing out loud what the child is doing to increase the child’s vocabulary, and imitating the child’s good behavior to demonstrate approval.
How does PCIT work?
By learning specific techniques, parents and caregivers can build a better relationship with a child, and the child may start to demonstrate improved behavior. Overall, PCIT can help improve family dynamics by working to reduce negative behavior and interactions within the family and to practice new behaviors and ways of communicating that are more encouraging and reassuring. When practiced consistently, these new skills and techniques can reduce anger and aggression, instill confidence, and encourage better individual and interactive behavior in both parent and child.
What can PCIT do for me and my child?
The first phase of PCIT can lead to…
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 pro-social behaviors (such as sharing and taking turns)
Interested in learning more?
Contact Tomilyn Ward, MSPC, LPC, NCC
Phone: 412-945-7670 x102