There are many treatment options designed to help alleviate symptoms of trauma in children, but very few focus on rebuilding the important relationship between traumatized children and their caregivers. “Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), originally developed for families of children with disruptive behavior disorders, has shown potential to fill this gap in childhood trauma treatment by helping physically abusive parents transform their parenting practices and by offering a variety of skills to non-offending parents and caregivers,” said a team of researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “Originally developed by Dr. Sheila Eyberg in the 1970’s for young children with disruptive behavior disorders, PCIT has been successfully used with a variety of other populations, including children with developmental delays, children in foster care, children who have been exposed to domestic violence and children with prenatal substance exposure.”
The team enrolled 53 participants and 23 clinicians to conduct a study that examined the effectiveness of PCIT. The participants were enrolled in PCIT, and after the caregivers were taught skills for interacting with their children, they were instructed to engage with the child while being coached remotely by a clinician. This technique allowed the caregiver to build a bond with the child under the guidance of a trained expert. At the conclusion of the study, the rates of parental stress had decreased by 54%. The team also administered the Trauma Symptom checklist for Young Children and realized the levels of clinical rage had decreased, so much that 36% of the subjects no longer met the criteria for clinical rage. The team noted that some of the children did not respond well to the time-out approach used by the caregivers and suggest further research to determine what method would provide the best outcome for these children. They added, “Another area for future research may be to address whether a full trauma intervention protocol such as Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is necessary for children to decrease symptoms in addition to PCIT or whether adding certain treatment components (e.g., stress reduction and relaxation skills) could suffice for some children.”
Pearl, E., Thieken, L., Olafson, E., Boat, B., Connelly, L., Barnes, J., & Putnam, F. (2011, March 28). Effectiveness of Community Dissemination of Parent–Child Interaction Therapy. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0022948
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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