Ever wish you had someone to whisper in your ear what to say or do, in-the-exact-moment your child chooses to misbehave, withdraw, or cop an attitude? … Your wish has just been granted.
As its name implies, PCIT addresses the interactions between the parent and child. Parents receive training on an interactional approach that has been determined to enhance the parent-child relationship, increase the child’s self-esteem, and provide skills for children in numerous domains of development.
The parent and child play in a comfortable, interruption-free room, their relationship and interactions are directly observed by the PCIT therapist through a one way mirror. This arrangement supports the child in acting natural and being himself with his parent. These are two of the unique and valuable attributes of PCIT: 1) the therapist observes the parent-child dyad without being part of the interaction, and 2) the parent receives immediate step-by-step coaching that is fine-tuned to their child’s responses.
Birth parents of three daughters, ages 2 – 6 at the start of therapy. The client was the middle daughter, aged 4 – 5 during PCIT therapy.
Progressing through the PCIT protocol the child’s initially identified behaviors and mental health concerns dissipate and are replaced with higher functioning behavior and a happier child. The parent-child relationship becomes more peaceful and enjoyable. PCIT has been proven to significantly modify the behavior of children between the ages of 2 and 8 years.
PCIT helps the parent-child relationship by establishing expectations of mutual respect and cooperation from an early age. As parents consistently maintain these important expectations they facilitate greater ease in managing the relationship as their child moves into adolescence and begins to individuate.
While parent and child play together the PCIT therapist discreetly observes their interactions through a one-way mirror and coaches the parent “in-the-moment” through an ear-bud.
Dr. Cohen conducts three to four training sessions over the course of the treatment to introduce the PCIT curriculum. In between training sessions parents practice using PCIT skills with their child and receive real time coaching during “special play time.” As the parent demonstrates consistency and comfort applying the PCIT skills, the coaching evolves to help them better understand the strategies and subtleties involved in applying the most appropriate skill for each presenting behavior.
The PCIT therapist observes typical parent-child interactions and behavior weekly. The therapist has numerous opportunities to test various theories that may be motivating a child’s behavior by directing the parent to apply PCIT skills and approaches until a desired behavioral outcome is reached. The PCIT approach with in-the-moment coaching enables the parent to integrate skills useful across multiple situations and environments.
Once parents have mastered the PCIT skills, Dr. Cohen can travel with families, when needed, to address any high risk or lingering child behavioral challenges that are occurring in specific situations and environments; e.g., non-compliance in parking lots, aggressive behavior in playgrounds, inappropriate behavior at birthday parties or other errands, or events.
PCIT is for families with children between the ages of two and eight years. It is for parents who want to experience more ease with parenting, improve their parenting skills, and enjoy family time more. It is for children who are having a difficult time navigating their emotions, controlling their bodies, handling challenging situations, or are demonstrating deficiencies in social, coping or problem solving skills.
PCIT is exceptionally effective for addressing maladaptive behaviors and developmental delays with young children. PCIT also provides structure and support when children are having a difficult time adapting to, and coping with, significant life events.
What follows is a more detailed list of the parent and child conditions, life circumstances and behaviors that are effectively addressed in the PCIT model.
As an evidenced based therapy there have been numerous research studies done on PCIT attesting to the strength of the therapy.
Sighting from one publication that reviewed the research on PCIT, participating families reported the followings outcomes:
|Enhanced parent-child relationships|
|Increased positive and supportive interactions between parents and children|
|Children improved in the areas of compliance, emotional stability, and mood.|
|Families experience a new sense of freedom. Parents feel liberated by the improved well being and behavior of their child, enabling the family to comfortably “go out,” socialize, and travel.|
|Children receive more invitations, increasing their opportunities for socialization
Improved school performance.
|Children demonstrate improved frustration tolerance, patience, and ability to wait their turn.|
|Parents have less anxiety about behavioral or emotional relapse, because they are confident in knowing how to respond, and what steps to take to support and manage their child’s challenging behavior.|
|Increased satisfaction and joy in parenting|
|In families with more than one child, the child who participated in PCIT ultimately became the family’s best behaved child.|
|Teachers, relatives, and family friends noticed and commented on the positive behavior changes in the child.|