What is Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for Toddlers (PCIT-T)?
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for Toddlers (PCIT-T) is an evidence-based early intervention program for 12-25 month old children and their caregivers. It focuses on increasing emotional regulation and building self-esteem in toddlers through teaching parents supportive and nurturing parenting practices. Parents learn how to effectively soothe their child when they experience a “big emotion” (e.g., crying, whining or yelling due to frustration or anger) and provide positive attention for their positive behaviors. Parenting skills learned not only lead to increased emotional regulation, but also a secure and trusting parent-child relationship, increased compliance and language development, and decreased parental stress.
Who would benefit from PCIT-T? Toddlers with:
Aggression (e.g., hitting, biting, pinching)
Fussiness (e.g., screaming, whining, crying)
Anger, frustration, head-banging
Attachment difficulties (e.g., rejection of parent, difficult to comfort)
Separation anxiety or withdrawal from parent
Developmental concerns (e.g., autistic behaviors, language problems)
History of child abuse and neglect
Parents who are experiencing parental stress (e.g., anxiety, dissatisfaction, difficulty coping, lack of confidence)
What do PCIT-T sessions look like?
PCIT-T utilizes both teaching and coaching sessions. During teaching sessions, parents meet individually with their therapist to learn specific parenting strategies. These sessions are then followed by coaching sessions during which the therapist coaches the parents in using the skills from behind a one-way mirror using an earpiece. This allows parents to receive immediate feedback on their use of learned parenting skills, helps parents to rapidly learn the correct use of skills, and improves skill generalization to outside of the clinic.
PCIT-T involves two main treatment phases: Child Directed Interaction (CDI-T) and Parent Directed Interaction (PDI-T).
During the CDI-T phase, parents learn positive parenting skills focused on increasing their child’s positive behavior, language development and emotion regulation. Skills include both the PRIDE skills of traditional PCIT (praise, reflect, imitate, describe, enjoy) as well as the CARES model (come in, assist, reassure, emotional validation, soothe). The latter is used by parents when their toddler experiences a “big emotion” and an adapted CARES model for parents is also taught to help parents learn relaxation and positive self-talk strategies to use during stressful parenting situations.
During the PDI-T phase, parents learn an adapted parent-directed interaction in which children learn to follow directions through a tell-show-try again-guide procedure and labeled praise for listening.
How long does PCIT-T last?
The length of PCIT treatment varies, but families remain in treatment until parents feel confident that their primary concerns have been addressed and they have learned effective skills in managing their toddlers’ difficult behaviors. The average length of treatment is 8 to 12 sessions with sessions scheduled twice per week when possible in order to increase skill retention and mastery.
Our PCIT Therapy Staff & Locations
We are currently the only treatment center in Manhattan with one of the very few clinicians nationwide who is being formally trained in PCIT-T. We have 3 formal PCIT rooms with 1-way mirrors, and offer PCIT-T at our West Side office: 107 West 82nd St, LL Suite 101. Home-based services are also available for caregivers who would prefer to learn the skills in their home environment. Like our other services, we are out-of-network regarding payment for PCIT-T.