Could Your Family Benefit From Parent-Child Interaction Therapy?

The expansion of the BCHA Behavioral Health program includes the initiation of the Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Center located at the Belington Medical Clinic. To support the new program is new hire Robert W. Kiser, a Licensed Professional Counselor from Buckhannon. Kiser sat down with us to answer some questions on the new program and share his thoughts on how offering PCIT will impact the Barbour community for the better.

Q. What is the difference between therapy and PCIT?

Kiser: Unlike traditional psychotherapies, PCIT focuses on parent-child relational strengthening using a “live” approach, where the therapist is able to easily assist the parent in gaining the skills and confidence necessary to effect positive and lasting behavioral changes. These skills may be continued routinely and integrated into the child’s daily routine which makes PCIT so effective.

Q. How does PCIT work?

Kiser: Prior to starting treatment, a child is first evaluated to identify specific parent concerns. When PCIT is recommended as the treatment of choice, an initial meeting is scheduled with the parents where a clinician orients them to the treatment model. A diverse range of families participate in PCIT services, including: grandparents, divorced, single, two-parent households, foster and adoptive families.

The first phase of treatment focuses on Child-Directed Interaction (CDI), which involves increasing positive engagement and offering praise in order to strengthen the parent-child relationship and reinforce appropriate behaviors. Parents are also taught to use selective attention to encourage pro-social behaviors while diminishing more problematic ones. After parents have learned the basics of CDI, they practice these skills with their child, while the therapist observes from behind a one-way mirror. The therapist helps parents succeed by unobtrusively coaching them via a small earpiece.

The second phase of treatment focuses on Parent-Directed Interaction (PDI), which entails teaching parents how to follow-through and increase consistency and predictability when giving their child directions. After learning this second phase of the treatment, parents practice PDI and CDI skills simultaneously while their therapist observes and coaches them from behind the one-way mirror. This involves having the parent practice giving clear and effective instructions as well as setting appropriate limits to noncompliance while reinforcing positive interactions via the use of their CDI skills.

Q. How long does it take to complete PCIT?

Kiser: While treatment duration is always focused on the particular needs of every parent and child, on average, many participants complete treatment within 16 weeks when attending sessions and following therapist recommendations on a regular and consistent weekly basis.

Because PCIT treatment is tailored to each child it plays a key role in successfully alleviating behavior issues and gives parents the effective tools necessary to address problems as they arise in the home.

“PCIT is a powerful intervention for families struggling to find harmony in their home and allows parents to regain confidence in their ability to positively and effectively parent their child,” Kiser states.

The program is expected to help Barbour County families learn effective communication and behavior management practices within families while strengthening positive social skills and self-esteem in children. For more information on the PCIT Center contact the Belington Medical Clinic at 304-823-4000.