Feasibility of intensive parent-child interaction therapy (I-PCIT): Results from an open trial

J Psychopathol Behav Assess. 2015 Mar 1;37(1):38-49. doi: 10.1007/s10862-014-9435-0.


Objective: The current pilot study examined the feasibility, acceptability, and initial outcome of an intensive and more condensed version of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (90 minute sessions for 5 days/week over the course of 2 weeks).

Method: Using an open trial design, 11 children (M child age = 5.01 years) and their mothers completed a baseline period of 2 weeks, a treatment period of 2 weeks, and a post-treatment evaluation. A follow-up evaluation was also conducted 4 months following treatment completion. Across all assessments, mothers completed measures of child behavior and parenting stress, and observational data was collected during three 5-minute standard situations that vary in the degree of parental control (child-led play, parent-led play, & clean-up).

Results: All 11 families completed the intervention with extremely high attendance and reported high satisfaction. Results across both mother report and observations showed that: a) externalizing behavior problems were stable during the baseline period; b) treatment was effective in reducing externalizing behavior problems (ds = 1.67-2.50), improving parenting skills (ds = 1.93-6.04), and decreasing parenting stress (d = .91); and c) treatment gains were maintained at follow-up (ds = .53-3.50).

Conclusions: Overall, preliminary data suggest that a brief and intensive format of a parent-training intervention is a feasible and effective treatment for young children with externalizing behavior problems with clinical implications for improving children's behavioral impairment in a very brief period of time.

Keywords: PCIT; brief treatment; child; externalizing behavior problems; parent training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural