Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is short-term and empirically supported therapy for children aged two to seven. Originally developed by Dr. Sheila Eyberg and modeled after Hanf’s (1969) two-stage approach, PCIT is a blend of operant theory, traditional psychotherapy, and early child developmental psychology.

PCIT is founded on social learning principles. PCIT is effective in treating a broad range of behavior problems. PCIT is a dyadic intervention that is designed to alter specific patterns of interaction found in parent-child relationships. Parents participate in positive interaction training. This training results in changes to the pattern of parent-child interactions and helps to improve the quality of the parent-child relationship.

PCIT is a structured program and is divided into two phases. Each phase contains multiple components designed to impact both the parent and the child’s behavior. Parents are taught specific skills, practice the skills, and ultimately achieve “Mastery”.

1. The first phase emphasizes the parent-child relationship. Parents learn how to increase positive and supportive communication with their child.

2. The second phase concentrates on establishing structure and a consistent discipline program. In the Improving Compliance component, parents are taught and coached on the elements of effective child-management skills.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of PCIT for reducing child behavior problems. Treatment effects have been shown to generalize across time, to generalize to the home, to generalize to the school setting, and to generalize to untreated siblings.