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October 11, 2017



We often times use acronyms in our daily lives, but forget not everyone knows what they stand for. Many people have heard of the acronym PCIT, but are unsure what is stands for. PCIT stands for Parent Child Interaction Training. What exactly does that mean? PCIT is a way to increase the relationship between a parent and a child and build a level of respect. It helps to build a more solid foundation for the parent child relationship which is phase one (CDI) of PCIT.


CDI stands for Child Directed Interaction.  In this first phase of treatment the parents learn how to understand their child and really get into their world. The therapist coaches the parent on how to use PRIDE skills. PRIDE skills are the way that the parent interacts with the child as they are playing with them. After parents learn the PRIDE skills they are asked to use these skills for 5 minutes a day with their child during special play time. Children often become very excited once they learn about special play time and love that time with their parent. Parents begin to understand how much 5 minutes of their time affect their child in positive ways.


Once CDI is mastered by the parent(s) phase two is PDI. PDI stands for Parent Directed Interaction. This is the phase parents are most excited about, and ask about right away at the start of PCIT. However, research has shown that if a child does not feel like someone understands them, then they struggle to listen, which is why CDI is so important to implement first. During PDI the parent(s) is taught how to give effective commands. We often times forget as parents how well children do at finding the loop holes in what we say to them, which is why our wording is so important. An effective command is one that is given to a child where there is not an option. (No: Can you?, Will you?, or Would you?) Instead a parent(s) might say: Please put that red block away. In the example you can see the command is specific and not asking if the child is wanting to the task.


The next part of PDI is what if the child does not listen to the effective command? In PCIT there is a very detailed script on how to handle this. If the command is not followed after two chances the child goes to time out. WAIT??? Time out never works for my child! This is what I often hear from parents. Time out is not given for a behavior which is currently how most parent(s) use time out instead it is used for not following a command.

PCIT is an evidence based program and is international recognized. PCIT has helped many parents feel like they are in control again, and feel more connected to their child. If you would like to know more about this program please feel free to contact myself ChristineTopping, LMFT at Covenant Family Solutions.



About the Writer: Christine Topping, LMFT



Christine has years of experience working with variety of clients and in many different types of settings, assisting individuals, families, couples, and children. She has experience working with parent child interactions, parenting skills, co-parenting, anxiety, emotional management, depression, relational and trauma issues, and child/adolescent behavioral issues. Christine is currently trained in PCIT (Parent Child Interaction Training).


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