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Parent-Child Interaction Therapy

Parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) is an evidence-based treatment addressing young children's emotional and behavioral problems. It is designed to promote positive interactions and attachment between parents and their children.


PCIT addresses a wide variety of concerns, including:

  • Anger and mood dysregulation
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Defiance
  • Prolonged or severe tantrums
  • Aggressive or destructive behavior
  • And many additional emotional, social, and behavioral concerns

PCIT focuses on:

  • Enhancing attachment and positive parent-child interactions
  • Building self-esteem
  • Developing emotional regulation
  • Demonstrating pro-social behaviors (examples include cooperation, speaking politely, taking turns)
  • Increasing a child's ability to be successful at home, in school, and in the community


PCIT is a valuable resource because, unlike traditional counseling, in PCIT, the parent and child play together while a therapist coaches the parent. Therapists coach parents on specific interactions and skills that promote the child's ability to regulate emotions and behavior. They do this through an earpiece, so the parent is seen as the primary authority figure, not the therapist.


During PCIT, parent-child interactions are enhanced and motivate the child to improve their behavior while allowing the parents to develop skills and confidence. PCIT is all about "play therapy" and "positive discipline" techniques, which allow the gains made in therapy to expand into the home.

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