Parent Child Interaction Therapy

            Children with autism and other developmental delays are often faced with challenges interacting and socializing with family and peers.  In many cases, parents find it difficult to interact with their child in a way that is meaningful and beneficial for both the child and the parent.  ABA incorporates a treatment approach called parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) that focuses on developing a positive parent-child dynamic and increases positive interactions while simultaneously decreasing inappropriate interactions.  This therapy has led to greater relationship satisfaction between children and their parents.  PCIT includes two phases: the first phase is child-led, and the second phase is parent led.

The first phase focuses on building the parent-child relationship.  In this phase, parents get on their child’s level, they do not place any demands, ask questions, or use negative talk with their child.  Phase one includes a lot of positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior from the parents including labeled praise, reflecting on the behavior displayed by their child, and describing the behaviors of their child.  It also includes the parents interacting with their child by imitating them and echoing them, which seems a little peculiar at first but helps tremendously when creating a positive and encouraging environment. 

In the second phase of PCIT, parents lead the session.  In this phase, parents place a direct demand that is positively-stated and includes only one command that allows the child to respond correctly or incorrectly.  If their child complies with the command, the parent should use labeled praise, reflect on, and/or describe the child’s behavior.  If their child does not comply, the parent then gives the child a warning, before putting him or her in timeout.  Once timeout is over, the parent presents the command again and follows the same procedure until their child responds appropriately to the demand being placed.

At ABC, we strive to train parents throughout PCIT to ensure they receive the maximum benefits of this therapy and cultivate a healthy and reinforcing relationship between the child and the parents.  Creating a greater relationship satisfaction between individuals with autism and their families is a goal we aim to achieve through all of our services, including PCIT.

As a parent, it’s hard to always know the answers. We’re here to help! For more information visit or give us a call at (630) 402-6060.