Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
What is PCIT? Could it be a valuable resource for your child and family? Or a child and family in your care? There are strong emotions and behavioral responses that can result from experiencing a serious medical event. At times…Trust, parent/child bonding and interactions can be disrupted or damaged. For example: Parents might be separated from their child during prolonged hospitalizations due to work demands or the needs of other siblings. Or…A child may perceive a parent’s efforts to advocate for them as a breech of trust if their perception is that their parent is “helping” the medical team when painful or difficult procedures must be performed. Or…Fear responses can be triggered when child and parent are separated at daycare, school, etc due to heightened separation anxiety. Children and families often need and greatly benefit from the help of a professional that can help them process their experience and restore healthy and positive parent and child interactions. Thank you to Guest Blogger: Alisha Fletcher, LCSW for providing a closer look at PCIT.
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is a behavioral based therapy for young children and their parents or caregivers. Parents learn and practice new skills and techniques for relating to children with emotional or behavior problems, language issues, developmental disabilities, or mental health disorders. PCIT provides effective strategies that parents and caregivers can use to help transition back to their daily routines after the stress and anxiety that often accompanies a medical event. When participating in PCIT, parents are taught a combination of play therapy and behavioral therapy strategies that are known to help reduce stress and anxiety. Parents use these skills daily during “special play time” in which a parent plays with their child in a specialized way for five minutes a day.
In PCIT, parents are taught to reflect what their child says, ask less questions and give specific labeled praises. These interventions teach specific skills that parents use to help improve physical and verbal exchanges with their children. Practicing these skills helps children feel more secure and decreases stress and separation anxiety. Children who participate in PCIT may develop greater self-esteem, experience less anger and frustration, see an improvement in social, organizational, and play skills, feel safer and calmer, and communicate more effectively. Parents typically learn consistent, predicable techniques for parenting and may experience greater confidence when dealing with behavioral concerns, whether publicly or in the home. The ultimate goal of this approach is to help adapt negative behaviors into more positive behavior patterns.
According to research, PCIT may be especially helpful for:
- Building positive parent-child interactions
- Developing positive child-rearing strategies
- Reducing the likelihood of child physical and verbal abuse
- Reducing child behavior issues (anger, aggression, defiance, etc.)
- Increasing communication and interaction skills within the family
For more information about PCIT or to find a certified therapist in your area, please visit: http://www.pcit.org
Recommended Reading List:
13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do: Raising Self-Assured Children and Training Their Brains for a Life of Happiness, Meaning, and Success-Amy Morin 2017
Growing Up Brave: Expert Strategies for Helping Your Child Overcome Fear, Stress, and Anxiety -Donna B. Pincus 2012
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy-Sheryl Sandberg 2017
Favorite Therapy Tools
Marble Fidget Toys – A great fidget that keeps kids hands busy when they are picking at themselves or require a substitute item. When offered, most children choose this fidget and use it appropriately.
Time Timer – 60 minute visual timer with its signature red-disk “shows” exactly how much time remains. Check out Friendship Circle review of a wide variety of visual timers (both physical and timer apps) to compare products and find the best fit for your child & their needs.
Hand Mirrors – “What Are You Feeling?” Using a hand mirror to talk about facial expressions and increase emotional vocabulary.