How do I know if PCIT is right for us?

PCIT is evidence-based and is most appropriate for children between the ages of 2-8 years who are exhibiting some challenging behavioral issues. PCIT is often the best fit for parents who want to improve their child’s behavior while also enhancing the relationship between them.

What actually happens during PCIT sessions?

PCIT entails weekly, hour-long sessions, over a period which typically lasts from 12 to 20 weeks, with both teaching and coaching sessions. Teaching sessions involve introduction, modeling, and role-playing of very specific skills. Coaching sessions involve review of home practice and live coaching of parent-child interactions. Through a one-way mirror or camera and a “bug in the ear” worn by the parent(s), the therapist gives live, ongoing coaching, advice and encouragement while the parent(s) interacts with the child. The new skills are practiced, reviewed and mastered in the office. Home practice sessions of just 5 minutes a day are an important part of the treatment.

What do parents learn in the sessions?

Parents learn exactly how to increase their rates of positive attention when their child’s behavior is appropriate and to use differential attention to reduce minor negative behaviors. Parents also learn a specific time-out procedure to use when their child does not comply with a command or demonstrates other previously agreed-upon disruptive behaviors (e.g., back talking, hitting a sibling).

How is progress determined?

Parents must master specific criteria to progress through the two treatment phases: Child and Parent directed interaction. Skills are coded, tracked, and reviewed with families each week to inform them of their progress. Families graduate from PCIT after demonstrating mastery in both phases, reporting their child’s disruptive behavior to be similar to typical child behavior, and expressing confidence in their ability to manage their child’s behavior in real-life settings.

What if we need more?

When needed, we also offer an in-home behavior management coach that works with you and your therapist, provide individual child or adult therapy when needed, and conduct psychological/academic testing upon request.

How did PCIT originate?

PCIT was developed by Dr. Sheila Eyberg at the Oregon Health Sciences University and is considered a form of cognitive, behavioral therapy. Dr. Eyberg is now a distinguished professor at the University of Florida.

Is research being conducted on the effectiveness of PCIT?

Over 30 published studies have documented the superiority of PCIT over other methods.

Outcome studies of PCIT have demonstrated important changes in parent-child interactional patterns. Findings have repeatedly shown significant changes with children’s behavior problems. After PCIT, children demonstrate significant improvements in compliance and reductions in other disruptive behaviors, such as whining. The effects of PCIT have been shown to generalize to untreated siblings.

Following PCIT, parent study’s show an increase in closeness where there are more frequent “positive talks” with their child. Outcome studies have also demonstrated significant changes on parents’ mood, as they are often no longer down, distressed, and feel that they are in control.

Have the effects been examined long-term?

PCIT success is largely maintained at least 6 years after treatment completion with no other treatment.

What questions should I ask my potential therapist?

Families should inquire on what materials their PCIT therapist is familiar with? Whether they are clinically supervised, or participate in a peer supervision group with others who are PCIT trained? Why do you feel that PCIT is the appropriate treatment model for this child? Would the child benefit from other treatment methods at the same time or after they complete PCIT (i.e., group or individual therapy?