Parent involvement in behavioral therapy for children proves beneficial

parent involvmentParent-Child Interaction Therapy, known as PCIT, at UF Health Medical Psychology is an empirically supported therapy designed for young children who are displaying disruptive behavior. Through weekly therapy sessions, parents and/or caregivers learn new strategies and skills for improving their child’s behavior.

Under direction of Melanie Nelson, Ph.D., and Regina Bussing, M.D., M.S.H.S, certified PCIT master trainers, the therapy aims to make managing children’s behavior less stressful for parents and kids.

The therapy is designed to assist children between the ages of three and six years old who exhibit more disruptive behavior than the average child. The focus of the therapy is on both the parent and child working together to address the problem. Parents learn to reinforce positive child behavior, such as following directions or sharing toys, instead of reinforcing negative child behavior, such as temper tantrums or noncompliance. While the parent and child work together, the therapist observes and provides feedback to the parent.

The outcome of PCIT has been the improvement in children’s behavior with additional “side effects” of improved mood and self-esteem for children, as well as reduced stress for the entire family. Nelson says that parents’ feedback is remarkably positive.

“Parents often tell me they are grateful for this therapy because it improves their relationship with their children and gives them the freedom to do activities as a family that behavioral problems prevented them from doing in the past,” Nelson said.

To learn more about PCIT, or to make an appointment, call or visit the program online.