Elizabeth Fitzgerald, LPC - Program Supervisor

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an evidenced based form of experiential and educational therapy for parents and their children who are between the ages of 2 and 7. The skills that parents and children learn in PCIT assist in addressing  emotional and behavioral symptoms which may be causing distress for both the child and family, by improving parent-child attachment and communication through structured play and child and parent empowerment. Parents will learn effective skills to address their child’s behavior and, through the support of trained PCIT clinicians, parents are coached in teaching their child healthy emotional regulation and expression of needs, positive social skills, self-esteem and effective coping techniques for everyday situations which may be stressful for parents or children. PCIT was developed under the belief that a child who is securely bonded to a responsive parent that can demonstrate both love and limit setting will be well-behaved, confident, healthy and happy.

PCIT is helpful with:

  • Teaching effective limit-setting for problem behaviors.
  • Teaching healthy emotional expression.
  • Teaching healthy ways to express needs.
  • Teaching good social skills like sharing, patience and coping with change.
  • Improving self-awareness in both parent and child.
  • Improving parenting skills and confidence to strengthen parent-child bonds.
  • Increasing respect and feelings of trust and safety for both child and parent.
  • Helping children and parents heal and reconnect in a healthy way after a loss, separation or other stressful event in the child’s life.

How does PCIT work?

You and your child will be assigned to a primary therapist who will guide you through approximately 20 weeks of “live coaching” through the use of an ear-bud. This communication between you and the PCIT therapist is often called the genius of PCIT, as parents are immediately empowered to give appropriate commands and responses to their child through the use of this tool. The first stage of PCIT is called CDI, or Child Directed Interaction, and the second stage is called PDI, or Parent- Directed Interaction. Your therapist will also provide you with coaching worksheets so you can practice your new skills at home. Many families are pleased to discover that PCIT skills, when consistently practiced at home create positive change in a short amount of time.

To learn more about PCIT, please visit www.pcit.org.