Western Pennsylvania Guide to Good Health
Departments Health Links Calendar Archived Issues Media Kit Contact Us
  Senior Care Senior Living Camps & Activities for Special Needs Children Ask the Expert  

Parent Child Interaction Therapy Brings Joy Into a Family’s Home
By Nancy Kennedy

About 6 months ago, a family telephoned Wesley Spectrum Services in Pittsburgh, PA, asking for help. Their child, Ben, had been diagnosed at the age of 3 with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS is one of the Autism Spectrum Disorders. It is characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in social interactions or communication skills.

Ben played with toys in a ritualistic fashion, had frequent temper tantrums, and refused to do anything his mother and father asked. He had poor relationships with every member of his family and with his classmates and teachers. Ben and his family had been receiving in-home services for the past 3 years. The in-home services had been helpful

to the family in establishing household routines and family life was less disruptive, but Ben’s mom was concerned that she didn’t have a connection to Ben; He didn’t want to be around her and she felt rejected and a failure as a mother. Ben’s mom came to us asking that we help Ben manage his emotional outbursts and help the family show their love for each other. Ben’s dad was concerned that Ben would not listen to what he was told to do and was not disciplined for his disobedience.

The family was referred to Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). PCIT is a behavior management therapeutic technique for children ages 2- 7 who demonstrate disruptive behaviors such as temper tantrums, hitting and kicking, bolting from parents, and fighting with siblings and peers. It uses live coaching of parent and child in a specially built playroom. The treatment focuses on changing the interactional patterns between the parent and child through two phases of treatment; enhancing parents’ relationship to their child during child directed play and using consistent, predictable discipline techniques during parent directed interactions.

During the first session in the playroom, Ben sat as far away from his mother as possible. He refused to allow her to touch the toys and told her to get away from him. The pain that caused was clearly seen in the mother’s face. As the therapist coached the mother in the use of the positive interaction skills, the child and mother moved closer to each other so that by the end of the session, the child’s and mother’s cheeks were touching and they were playing cooperatively and happily together. Mom said that she had not lovingly touched her child in many years. As the sessions went on, Ben looked forward to coming to therapy with his mother and played with her daily at home as well. When the discipline techniques were introduced, Ben readily followed mom’s directives exhibiting only one temper tantrum in the 18 weeks of treatment and almost no temper tantrums at home.

Following treatment, mom told us “Where there was chaos and disruption in our home, there is now happiness and cooperation. I always loved my child and now I like him as well. PCIT has changed our family life.”

PCIT is offered by behavioral health organizations throughout the United States and in many other countries as well. This evidenced based treatment is highly effective with children with disruptive behaviors.

More information can be found at www.pcit.org. Please also feel free to contact Joyce Blackburn at Wesley Spectrum for additional information. Joyce can be reached at jblackburn@wesleyspectrum.org or (412) 342-2340.

Return to Top

Westmoreland County Special Edition Download a PDF version Advertise Subscribe for FREE
Subscribe to GTGH




Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD)

Scott and Christie

CMS Housing – Apartments


Legacy Medical Centers

WR Cameron Wellness Center

Medicare Specialists of Pittsburgh

Blind and Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh

Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children

New Story

East End Food Coop

Reserve This Space | Call 412-835-5796 or email goodhealthmag@aol.com

Western Pennsylvania Guide to Good Health. All rights reserved.

Send email to goodhealthmag@aol.com