Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

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Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

PCIT, or Parent Child Interaction Therapy, was developed for 2-7 year old children with externalized behavioral disorders such as ADD/ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Conduct Disorder.

It’s based on the theory of authority in parenting as it relates to behavior and social issues in a child. It often contains play therapy. Here’s how it works:


Phase 1
Child-Directed Interaction (CDI)
In this phase, parents are directed to use very specific guidelines in their interactions with their child. As they praise the child, reflect the child, or imitate the child, the relationship with the child is established on a deeper, more authoritative, level.


Phase 2
Parent-Directed Interaction (PDI)
Within the PDI phase of PCIT, parents are taught ways to gain authority over their child, specifically in scenarios where the child may be disruptive. Parents learn, specifically, how to direct with specific instruction and how to provide consistent consequences.

All PCIT therapy sessions are conducted using a one-way mirror, and a ‘bug in the ear,’ which allows the therapist to coach the parent while the parent is interacting with their child.

The Result:
PCIT most commonly treats children with emotional and behavioral issues, sometime stemming from conduct problems and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). It establishes boundaries and a clear line of authority within the parent/child relationship. These boundaries have proven to reduce disruptive behaviors and improve the interactions between the parent and child.

Statistical and clinical Research has shown significant improvement in behavioral and disruptive issues in children after participating in PCI. Therapy once a week for an average of 14-16 weeks can make measured, mark differences in parent/child relationships, boundaries in authority, and general mental health.


If you believe your child may benefit from Parent Child Interaction Therapy, please contact Family Innovations for more information.

We want people to know that they can have better marriages, better relationships, a better view of themselves and the world around them. They can find balance, joy, and purpose.

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