Imagine: Your little one is acting out again. You are at your wits end and don’t know what to do.
Yelling at your child doesn’t seem to help and neither does being soft. Now imagine that a voice in your ear tells you exactly what to do to calm your little one, feel in control again, and to help the situation.
That is the magic of a new form of family therapy called Parent Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT).
How PCIT Works to Help Families
At the time of the counseling session, parents are instructed to have special “playtime” at home with their child while the PCIT professional counselor is offsite and observes via a webcam. The therapist provides the parent with in-the-moment coaching on how to communicate, discipline, and parent the child via ear buds. In other words, parents are taught how to respond to the child’s behavior in the moment.
Parents learn when to apply parenting skills such as praising to increase certain behaviors and setting limits and giving time outs to reduce negative ones.
Depending on the specific needs of the family, those receiving PCIT therapy are usually seen for a 90-minute assessment to start. This helps the child therapist to really understand the child, the family, and the current and past issues and struggles. After the assessment, families coming for PCIT have weekly therapy sessions (between 45 to 60 minutes in length) once a week – usually for four to six months depending on their unique situation.