Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Expands in the State, Across the Globe

By: Ashley Trentrock

ThinkstockPhotos-154331922Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) has been a practiced model of care in Pennsylvania only since 2010. But in just five short years, this therapy model, aimed at families whose children have challenging behaviors, has grown with more than 270 trained PCIT clinicians from 100 agencies in 60 of 67 Pennsylvania counties.

PCIT is an internationally recognized, evidence-based, parent training program for families who have children with such behaviors as grabbing, being bossy or extremely disobedient. It is also an intervention for families with a history of child physical abuse. Parents are actively supported by a PCIT clinician on how to apply specialized skills so that they can increase appropriate child behaviors such as sharing, using good manners and listening.The program is unique in that it involves coaching parents to master specific skills as they interact with their young child (ages 2.5 to 7 years). The intervention is short-term, typically from 12 to 20 weeks in duration, and tailored to the needs of individual families.

Recently, The Parent-Child Interaction Therapy International Convention, held in Pittsburgh, brought an international and local audience together to support the mental health of young children and families. More than 340 participants from countries as far away as Australia, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Norway and New Zealand attended the convention, hosted by the PCIT Across PA team within Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh.

The convention was supported by Community Care Behavioral Health and PCIT International.

Of those in attendance, nearly 100 were Pennsylvania residents. Most recently, Amy Herschell, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was awarded $3 million in funding by the National Institute of Mental Health to study training models during a statewide PCIT initiative.

To locate PCIT services across the commonwealth, contact Shelley Hiegel at