PCIT (Parent-Child Interaction Therapy)

What is PCIT?

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an evidence-based therapy for caregivers and their young children (ages 2 to 7-years old).  PCIT is found to be effective in families who are experiencing disruptive and/or oppositional behaviors and who are experiencing difficulty managing these behaviors.  The goal of PCIT is to enhance a positive relationship between caregiver and child and promote effective discipline techniques.  Therapists coach caregivers, in real-time, as they interact with their children.


Who Benefits from PCIT?

Both the parent and the child benefit from PCIT.  PCIT helps parents with children who display problem behaviors like:

  • Temper Tantrums
  • Intentionally taking or breaking others’ things
  • Not listening to adults
  • Difficulty playing with other children
  • Starting fights, hitting or kicking others
  • Not paying attention

PCIT can help children who are at risk of losing their daycare or early childhood education placements because of these kinds of problem behaviors or who are experiencing behavior problems during family transitions.


Who is Eligible for PCIT? 

  • PCIT is an empirically-supported treatment for children ages 2 to 7-years old with emotional and/or behavioral disruptions. An older child protocol is available for children ages 8 to 9-years old.
  • Children with severe temper tantrums that include verbal and/or physical aggression.
  • Children with ADHD, anxiety, behavioral symptoms, etc.
  • Selective Mutism is treated through PCIT-SM adaptation
  • Children with strong emotional experiences.
  • Children who have experienced trauma

The participating caregiver must be in a parenting role and have significant and consistent contact with the child.


Who Pays for PCIT?

PCIT is a billable mental health service, covered by most insurance companies.  Counsel NOLA providers can bill Medicaid MCOs and accepted insurance plans (contact our office for current list of participating companies).


How Long is Treatment?

Treatment is short-term and delivered in an office setting.  To accomplish the goals of PCIT, weekly, hour-long therapy sessions generally occur for 12-20 weeks.  PCIT is delivered in two phases.

  • Phase 1 Child-directed intervention involves the parent following the child’s lead using PRIDE skills (Praise, Reflect, Imitate, Describe, and Enjoy). The parent ignores annoying behavior and manages dangerous behaviors.  During Phase 1, the child develops good pro-social skills (sharing, taking turns, etc.), focuses on tasks for longer periods of time, and becomes more connected to the parent.
  • Phase 2 The parent teaches his or her child to follow directions and have good behavior at home and in public. During Phase 2, the child learns to follow directions, accept limits, and develop good behavior at home and in public places.


How does PCIT work?

Parents PCIT focuses on increasing self-esteem and compliance while decreasing difficult emotional outbursts and behaviors in the moment.

Parents will implement specialized strategies to increase the behaviors that are desired in the moment.

PCIT is data-driven; therefore, the parents will experience clinically significant improvements in the behaviors and the relationship.


How do Parents and Children learn the PCIT skills?


Parents learn the PCIT skills from their therapist during weekly sessions.  The PCIT playroom is set up so that the therapist can observe the parent and child play.  The therapist gives direction or “coaching” through an earpiece worn by the parent during the therapy session.  Parents have homework to practice the new PCIT skills at home and in community settings.

PCIT is successful because it helps parents and children learn by doing.  Live coaching helps parents discover what they are doing well and helps them to master skills so that they can use PCIT skills in everyday life.