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Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is a short-term, specialized behavior management program for young children experiencing behavioral and/or emotional difficulties. PCIT uses a concrete, skills-based approach to teach parents and children new and appropriate ways to relate to improve overall behavior and to reduce parenting stress.

PCIT Goals

  • Improve your parent/caregiver-child relationship
  • Improve your child’s minding and listening
  • Increase your child’s ability to manage frustration and anger
  • Increase your child’s appropriate social skills
  • Improve your child’s attention skills
  • Build your child’s self-esteem

Deciding if PCIT is Right for You and Your Child

PCIT is designed for young children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old.

  • Children with oppositional/defiant problems or aggressive behaviors
  • Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Children experiencing adjustment problems
  • Children impacted by substance use or parental abuse/neglect
  • Children in foster care placement, adopted or recently reunited with their parents

The PCIT Commitment

Each phase of PCIT typically takes between five to six sessions. This is dependent on attendance of weekly sessions and home practice of the skills. Caregivers include parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, and legal guardians.

The Two Phases of PCIT

CDI-Child Directed Interaction:
  • Creates or strengthens a positive and mutually rewarding relationship between the parent and child.
  • The parent learns to praise positive behaviors and interact positively with the child.
PDI-Parent Directed Interaction:
  • Teaches specific and effective parenting skills for parents to use in managing their child’s behaviors.
  • Parents learn to use clear, positively stated and direct commands while also using consistent consequences for compliant or non-compliant behaviors.

Benefits of PCIT

Children with challenging behaviors often have difficulty in home, childcare, school, and public settings. Stress levels are high for the parents/caregivers and also between them and their children. Unfortunately, children rarely outgrow many of these difficult behaviors. Should their behaviors continue or increase, they are likely to interfere with the children’s learning abilities and development of appropriate social skills. The overall effectiveness of PCIT has been well-established through scientific research. Positive changes in the children’s behaviors have been seen in home, school, and childcare settings. These changes have even been noted in siblings of children participating in PCIT. At the completion of PCIT, parents/caregivers generally report a high level of satisfaction, improved mood, and decreased stress levels.


For more information or to  schedule an appointment, call intake at 636-296-6206.


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