Facts about PCIT

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy or PCIT is a type of intermediation designed for children, which focuses on fixing and decreasing child behavior problems such as defiance or aggression. It increases positive parent behavior while improving the quality of family (parent-child) relationship.

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Adults learn and practice techniques, which relate to children’s behavioral and emotional problems, communication issues, mental disorders, and developmental handicaps. The process involves a combination of play therapy and behavioral therapy for children and their parents, guardians or caregivers.

How Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Works

The effects of PCIT aim to build a better relationship between a child and his/her parents, guardian or caregiver.  The child may or will show behavior improvements by practicing new ways of communication that are encouraging and reassuring thus reducing the negative behavior. Consistency in practice will also improve confidence while lowering anger levels and aggression. It promotes individuality improvement and interaction for the parent and child.  

It is advisable for children with:

  • Problem behaviors in school or daycare
  • Inability to comply with directions or discipline
  • Frequent Temper Tantrums
  • Aggression toward others including family, guardians, and caregivers
  • Defiance
  • Swearing
  • Negative Attitude


The techniques below are ways to execute PCIT

CDI or Child-Directed Interaction: Parents will learn guidelines on how to interact with their child. The parent-child relationship establishment will be more extensive and authoritative as they praise, imitate, and reflect on the child.

PDI or Parent-Directed Interaction: This is where parents learn how to gain authority over their child, direct specific instructions, and how to bestow consequences with consistency. It is precisely appropriate for scenarios where the child is disruptive or unruly.


Parents, guardians, or caregivers interact and play with the children in a room. The therapist will observe and coach from a one-way mirrored adjacent room. The parent and therapist will communicate through an earphone for the instruction of guidance and training. Parents, guardians, and caregivers are to praise the positive behavior with enthusiasm. They are also discouraged from using negative language while ignoring any harmless negative behavior. They also learn skills such as demonstrating approval by imitating the child’s appropriate actions, increasing the child’s vocabulary by describing what he/she is doing out loud, and child language reflection to help better communication.

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When is it Used?

PCIT is appropriate and effective for children from ages 2 to 7 who exhibit disruptive and unruly behavior, who experienced trauma, ADHD, ODD, intellectual disability, and those who are on the autism disorder spectrum. PCIT and other programs which utilize PCIT are evidence-proven interventions for child abuse prevention and neglect. They have efficiently decreased children’s risk of antisocial and criminal behavior while transitioning to adulthood.


Scientific and medical research proves that PCIT can improve the conduct-disorder behavior of children in preschool age. After the therapy, the child’s behavior will be within the natural range. Additionally, there are observable changes in parent ratings. It is the same for observational evaluation of children’s behavior problems. Research has also shown essential and significant changes in the parent-children play situations’ style of interaction. If you want to know more about parent-child interaction, you can check out BetterHelp for information. 

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