Condensing parent training: A randomized trial comparing the efficacy of a briefer, more intensive version of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (I-PCIT)

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2020 Jul;88(7):669-679. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000504. Epub 2020 Apr 30.


Objective: The current study examined the comparative efficacy of a more intensive version of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (I-PCIT; 5 days/week over 2 weeks) versus a time-limited weekly PCIT format (1 day/week over 10 weeks) in treating early childhood externalizing behavior problems.

Method: Using a randomized trial design, 60 young children (mean age [Mage] = 4.33 years; 65% male; 85% Latinx) with clinically elevated levels of externalizing behavior problems and their parents were assigned to either I-PCIT (n = 30) or time-limited PCIT (n = 30). Families completed pre-, post-, and follow-up assessments 6-9 months following treatment completion. Parents completed measures of child behavior, discipline practices, and parenting stress. Observational data on child behavior and parenting were also collected.

Results: Noninferiority and multivariate repeated-measures analyses indicated comparable improvements across 6 out of 7 observed and parent-reported outcomes, including parenting skills, discipline practices, and child externalizing behavior problems at posttreatment. Comparable treatment gains remained at follow-up, with the caveat that parents in time-limited PCIT reported lower externalizing behavior problems compared with I-PCIT, although both groups were still significantly better compared with pretreatment. Lastly, moderation analyses indicated that parents experiencing high levels of stress benefited more from I-PCIT in terms of decreasing child externalizing behavior compared with time-limited PCIT.

Conclusions: I-PCIT appears to be a viable treatment option for families, especially those experiencing high levels of stress, in terms of targeting early externalizing behavior problems within a short period of time. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting
  • Problem Behavior / psychology*