(503) 667-8878
Gresham Office
(503) 261-1171
Happy Valley Office
(503) 295-2546
Northwest Office
(503) 531-3434
Westside Office

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy


What is PCIT?

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an effective family-centered treatment for children, ages 2 to 7, who have disruptive and challenging behavioral problems. PCIT uses on-the-spot coaching to teach parents and children healthier ways to interact with each other. During PCIT, parents learn helpful behavior management techniques, including positive reinforcement and discipline strategies, as they play with their child.

As a result of PCIT…

  Parents learn more effective parenting techniques!

  Children’s behavioral problems decrease!

  Parent-child relationships improve!

While many treatment approaches target either parents or children, PCIT focuses on changing the behaviors of both the parent and child together. Observing how the adult and child interact (from behind a one-way mirror), our psychologist communicates with the parent through an earpiece, coaching him or her how to manage the child’s current behavior.

Earpiece2Parents receive coaching from the psychologist through an earpiece.

Real-time coaching ensures that parents receive hands-on experience working with their child, support during the learning process, and treatment tailored to their individual relationship needs.

Psychologist2The psychologist observes parent-child interaction from behind a one-way mirror.

PCIT uses a two-phase approach:

  1. Relationship Enhancement emphasizes building a nurturing relationship and secure bond between parent and child through child-directed interaction. In this phase, the parent follows the child’s lead, ignoring negative behavior and reinforcing positive behavior through supportive communication. Parents learn PRIDE skills: Praise, Reflect, Imitate, Describe, Enthusiasm.
  2. Discipline concentrates on establishing a structured and consistent approach to discipline through parent-directed interaction. In this phase, parents are taught to use effective commands and specific behavior management techniques as they interact with their child. Parents learn effective time out techniques and how to manage their child’s behavior in everyday situations.

During both phases, parents are given the opportunity to practice their new skills until they feel confident and their child’s behavior improves.

PCIT typically lasts 14-18 sessions with families completing homework assignments between sessions. Parents often report seeing an improvement in their child’s behavior following the third or fourth appointment.


Children between the ages of 2 and 7 years who:

  have experienced stress or trauma
  engage in power struggles
  resist/disobey adult requests
  lose their temper easily
  annoy others intentionally
  steal or destroy things
  start fights/hurt others
  have difficulty staying seated, playing quietly, or taking turns
  are disruptive at school, daycare, or home
  are on medication to manage behavioral problems


Caregivers—parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, or legal guardians—who need help dealing with children’s disruptive and challenging behaviors.

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Parent-Child Interaction Therapy is currently offered at our Gresham, Northwest, and Westside offices. Please contact your preferred clinic for more information or to make an appointment.