Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
PCIT is an empirically supported treatment modality for young children (2-7.5 years old), which focuses on improving the caregiver and child relationship, as well as provides skills for the caregiver to better manage the child’s behavior. This modality of treatment is frequently used for children who have experienced trauma, and are dealing with emotional and/or behavioral disorders. PCIT utilizes live-coaching, to help improve the interaction patterns between caregiver and child.
In 2015, Ms. Khuns, a mother of three, came in with her five year old daughter seeking PCIT services to address behavioral concerns. Ms. Khuns is a single mother in addition to having the challenge of having a child with developmental disabilities along with other stressors in her life. Through the course of treatment, Ms. Khuns learned and practiced the PCIT skills, and reported that she was able to generalize the skills with all three of her children.
At mid-treatment of the program, Ms. Khuns reported a significant change in her child’s behavior, both at home and school. She reported that her attachment strengthen, and that her dauther really enjoyed going to therapy (“special play time”).
Further in treatment, PCIT clinician payed close attention to the parent’s concerns, including challenging trips to the mall, especially when her son who is diagnosed with Autism would join the shopping trips. The great part of PCIT is that clinicians tailor interventions to meet the family’s concerns, and in this situation clinician set up a coaching outing at the mall. When the outing took place, Ms. Khuns made use of all her skills, and required little to no prompting. Her son started feeling overwhelmed by the noise and bright colors at one point during the trip, Ms. Kuhns stopped, remained calm, took son’s developmental factors into consideration and assisted in getting him to calm down and relax as well, before proceeding with the shopping trip. She handled that situation all while also praising the daughter for remaining patient and well behaved. As a clinician, it was a wonderful experience to witness, seeing a parent put the skills into practice in such a real life setting.
Ms. Kuhns and her daughter ended up graduating from the program successfully. Ms. Khuns stated that she has learned so many things as a parent through the PCIT program, that she wishes other parents can also learn. She appreciates the way that praise and other positive ways of interacting with children are used, and also stated that she has learned why direct play is so important.
Parent Statement: “En las clases yo aprendí mucho sobre ser mejor madre, tener más comunicación, más expectativas realistas y sobre como disciplinar sin tener que gritar o llegarlos a insultar y a cómo reducir el estrés.”
Translation: In the classes, I learned a lot about how to be a better mother, having more communication [with my kids], having realistic expectations, and how to discipline [my children] without having to scold them or yell at them. I also learned how to lower my stress levels.
Facilitator Statement: Throughout the weeks spent with the Nurturing Parenting participant, the facilitator witnessed an improvement in the parents problem solving and communication with her children. The parent would bring her youngest child to child care and the positive interaction with him was evident, as she would better communicate with him and began to praise his accomplishments rather than highlight the actions that did not satisfy her. Also, during class, as the facilitator and parent began to problem solve some of the issues she was facing at home with her children, she displayed more empathy and stated utilizing techniques that would communicate a strong but positive message. One of the biggest accomplishments with the Nurturing Parenting participant, was having her talk with her children about their family values. The facilitator instructed the participant to talk to her children about these values, write them down on a piece of paper, and post them up in their house. This activity allowed the family to work together and determine what values were important to them, and encouraged them to refer back to that paper that hung on their door as they felt some of those values were not being respected.
Overall, the Nurturing Parenting participant applied most of the lessons learned and the facilitator was happy to hear mini success stories from home that the participant shared.