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Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

PCIT works with parents and children together to improve the quality of the parent‐child relationship and to teach parents the skills necessary to manage their child's severe behavior problems. PCIT is proven effective by over 100 research studies. PCIT has also been shown to successfully reduce trauma symptoms of abused or maltreated children. Here is a short video describing how PCIT worked for one family with a history of trauma and abuse.

In 2012, First 5 LA entered into a strategic partnership with the County of Los Angeles Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) to: coordinate the training of mental health therapists to become certified in PCIT, increase the number and geographic diversity of qualified PCIT providers, and deliver PCIT services to eligible children 2-5 years old and their parents. First 5 LA's 5-year $17 million investment to LACDMH enables the program to provide stipend funds for mental health therapists to participate in 100 hours of PCIT training working at LACDMH-contracted mental health agencies, provide Medi-Cal match, indigent care support, and capital to upgrade their facilities to provide PCIT.

First 5 LA also entered into a 5-year $3 million contract with the Regents of California, University of California (UC) at Davis, CAARE Diagnostic & Treatment Center in September 2012. UC Davis PCIT Training Center was established in 1999, and has effectively trained more than 130 agencies world-wide in the fundamentals of PCIT service provision.

Who is served by this program?

The fundamental aim of this workforce project is to develop a sustainable capacity for PCIT service delivery in contracting agencies. Through utilization of an empirically supported Trainer of Trainer (ToT) model, we are working to develop a network of PCIT trainers who will assume the mantle of future PCIT trainings for many decades to come.

Parents who are overwhelmed, depressed, stressed, feel guilty and are confused about how to deal with their children's disruptive and challenging behaviors.
Children between the ages of 2 and 5 years (DMH supports services to children up to 7 without First 5 LA monies) who exhibit many of the following behavior problems:

  • Difficulty in school, preschool, and/or daycare
  • Aggression toward parents, siblings, and/or other children
  • Sassing back to their parents
  • Refusing to follow directions
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Swearing
  • Defiance
  • Are currently living with their parent (or will soon be reunited)
  • May be on medication to manage their behavioral problems
  • Are currently in foster care (treatment can be conducted with biological, foster, or adoptive caregivers)


What kinds of services are provided?

The overall aim of First 5 LA's investment is to dramatically increase the LA County mental health provider communities' capacities to offer PCIT to their clients (parents and young children with behavioral issues) and strengthen parent-child relationships. First 5 LA is investing approximately $20 million in this innovative workforce capacity initiative.

How does PCIT work?

There are two parts to PCIT. In the first part, Relationship Enhancement, therapists coach parents to increase positive and supportive communication with their child. The second part, Strategies to Improve Compliance, teaches effective child‐management skills. Parents learn and practice specific skills during therapy until they master them and their children's behavior improves.

Who is funded under this program?

For a spreadsheet of all PCIT providers listed by SPA, click here.

How does PCIT address First 5 LA's four goal areas?

The prevention and early intervention orientation of PCIT, addresses First 5 LA's strategic goal, to ensure children are safe from abuse and neglect by teaching parents effective strategies to improve their young children's behaviors through positive, nurturing interactions. PCIT enhances the quality of parent-child relationships, and reduces trauma-induced symptoms for children and parents and aligns with First 5 LA's Best Start Building Strong Families (BSF) framework's core results. Alignment occurs both at the family level (knowledgeable, resilient, and nurturing parents; and access to services and supports that meet families' needs) and community levels (a common vision and collective will to strengthen families).

For more information please call Bill Gould (213) 482-7550 or email [email protected]

More in PCIT

A Cry for Help Leads to a Ray of Hope
Desiree Puentes could only pray for help. The young mother was struggling to raise four children in Monterey Park in 2013 while caring for her bed...

Therapy for Two
The 2½-year-old girl was getting a little frustrated as she tried to play with a Mr. Potato Head. At best, this could lead to an unproductive...

Parent Child Interaction Therapy - A Kinship Case
“One of the most important target populations – partly because they are so underserved – is relative caregivers. PCIT can give...
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