Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

What is Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)? PCIT is a cognitive-behavioral treatment for children experiencing behavioral problems (e.g., aggression, not following directions, temper tantrums) that are interfering with family functioning. PCIT has 40+ years of research evidence and is effective for children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). PCIT was originally developed to treat children ages 2-7. PCIT has also been adapted to treat children with anxiety disorders, including Selective Mutism (SM). PCIT is based in attachment theory (building back the bond with your child) and behaviorism (using behavioral principles to reinforce desired behaviors and decrease the occurrence of problematic behaviors).

In PCIT, the caregivers, rather than the child, are doing the work of treatment. Caregivers are live coached by the therapist in the skills, learning to implement them in real time with their child. Caregivers move through the program by showing they are proficient in the skills. This requires daily skills practice during the time of therapy, which is short-term (i.e., 4-6 months). PCIT can be offered both in-person and virtually (at home therapy has been studied even since before the advent of virtual therapy, and has research backing as being effective). When families are putting in the practice, PCIT can make a huge impact on home life in a short time period.

PCIT therapists must undergo a process of becoming certified, which requires months of supervised training. You can check if a therapist is PCIT certified here. Dr. Cameron Mosley is certified in PCIT and conducts it virtually.

What about medication? Children exhibiting behavioral concerns will be prescribed a variety of medications to manage their behavior. The effectiveness of these medications varies. PCIT teaches targeted skills that parents can continue to utilize for years. If your child is taking medication, their therapist and medical
provider should collaborate to ensure best care.