PCIT FAQ

I’ve tried other techniques. What makes PCIT different?


The two-way mirror and live-coaching via electronic listening device allow therapists to intervene directly in the moment. Therapists are able to provide parents with immediate support, feedback and rationale as they are coached in the use of the PCIT interventions. Treatment is tailored to the specific needs of each child and parent based on clinical assessment. PCIT is a successful treatment that is strongly supported by research. Well over 30 randomized clinical outcome studies have found PCIT to be useful in treating families and children with behavioral problems. Research has shown that as a result of PCIT, parents learn more effective parenting techniques, the behavior problems of children decrease, and the quality of the parent-child relationship improves. Once parents learn the therapeutic skills, they can apply the techniques to all of their children throughout their lives.


My child has the problem, why do I need to participate in treatment?


The parent (or significant caregiver) in a child’s life has the most power to make changes with that child. PCIT therapists support parents in the use of specific interventions to reduce and effectively manage their child’s problematic behaviors. Long after treatment has been completed, parents are able to apply the techniques to various situations that arise as children mature through developmental stages. Additionally, parents are able to use the PCIT techniques to successfully manage the behaviors of the other children in the home.


What if my child doesn’t misbehave during the therapy sessions?


No problem. Although some children are on their best behavior during the initial sessions, they soon relax and demonstrate their challenging behaviors. It is also important to note that during times when acting-out behaviors are not occurring, therapeutic work is still being accomplished.


Can both parents/caregivers participate in PCIT?


Yes! This is the most ideal situation. The more consistently the skills are used with the child (by all caregivers involved), the more quickly behaviors will change. Additionally, many parents find it helpful to go through treatment together as they can support each other in the learning and use of the therapeutic skills.


What if I’m divorced? Who participates?


PCIT can be increadibly helpful for divorced or separating families. In some situations, each parent participatea on an every other week basis (while the child attends weekly). This allows each parent an entire session to work with the child one-on-one. These sessions not only build a stronger and more secure relationship with each parent, but they also help to assure that each parent is providing consistent parenting techniques. Your child’s anxiety related to recent life changes will be reduced as both parents use the same therapeutic and behavior management techniques. However, in the event that only one parent choses to participate, treatment has also been found to be higly effective.


I have more than one difficult child, can I bring both to the session?


PCIT sessions typically focus on one parent and one child at the onset of treatment, however once the basic therapeutic skills are acquired, it’s possible to introduce other children and/or caregivers into the sessions. The goal of treatment is for parents to eventually use the PCIT techniques in “real-life” settings as well as in the clinic. Including other family members is a part of this generalization process.


Do I have to commit to the full course of treatment?


No. Families are free to end treatment, or take a break, at any time. However, it is strongly recommended that the full course of treatment be completed so as to maintain treatment gains and to prevent behavioral relapses.


Is the cost of PCIT really worth it?


PCIT is not only an investment in a changed relationship with your child, but an opportunity to reduce your own level of stress. Many parents complain that their child’s disruptive behaviors cost them valuable time; at home with daily trials or even at work when having to take personal time to address issues with their child’s school or daycare. Compared to other therapeutic interventions, PCIT has been found to be more effective in a shorter amount of time. PCIT is typically completed in 15-20 sessions, unlike other treatments that may continue for over a year and with unclear progress.

PCIT FAQ Developed by Leslie Whitten, LMFT

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