Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an evidence-based treatment using very specific, step-by-step, live coached sessions with both the caregiver and the child.

Backed by years of scientific research, PCIT helps parents build the foundation of a strong parent-child relationship as well as the structure to improve behavior in young children. Significant improvement has been seen in child behaviors in the home, school and childcare settings. These changes have also been noted in siblings of children participating in PCIT.

In most traditional forms of therapy parents learn skills and then go home to try the skills on their own. If they get stuck or run into unexpected problems, they are on their own. In PCIT parents get to work on the skills with their child and have the therapist to guide them towards accurate use of the skills and to troubleshoot when their child throws them a curve ball. At NCFWC we are fortunate to have the optimal PCIT set up: an observation room from which the therapist can coach the parent without disturbing the natural parent-child interaction in the adjacent play room. The parent and child play together in our Center Playroom as a PCIT therapist observes through a one-way mirror coaching the parent who wears a small ear mic to hear the therapist.

PCIT, designed for ages 2-7, consists of two phases: The first phase creates or strengthens a positive and mutually rewarding relationship between the parent and the child. The parent learns to praise positive behaviors and interact positively with the child while starting to decrease the child’s non-compliant behavior. The second phase teaches specific and effective parenting skills for parents to use in managing their child’s behavior. Parents learn to use clear, positively stated, direct commands and use consistent consequences for compliant or non-compliant behavior.

For optimal effect, PCIT requires one session per week for an average a 12-15 weeks. The number of sessions needed is dependent on the parent’s commitment to practicing the skills at home with their child. Like any sport or other endeavor, the more you practice the more quickly you master new skills.