Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 654–668 | Cite as

A Community Mental Health Implementation of Parent–Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

  • Aaron R. Lyon
  • Karen S. BuddEmail author
Original Paper


Parent–Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) has been identified as an evidence-based practice in the treatment of externalizing behavior among preschool-aged youth. Although considerable research has established its efficacy, little is known about the effectiveness of PCIT when delivered in a community mental health setting with underserved youth. The current pilot study investigated an implementation of PCIT with primarily low-socioeconomic status, urban, ethnic minority youth and families. The families of 14 clinically referred children aged 2–7 years and demonstrating externalizing behavior completed PCIT initial assessment, and 12 began treatment. Using standard PCIT completion criteria, 4 families completed treatment; and these families demonstrated clinically significant change on observational and self-report measures of parent behavior, parenting stress, and child functioning. Although treatment dropouts demonstrated more attenuated changes, observational data and parent-reported problems across sessions indicated some improvements with lower doses of intervention. Attendance and adherence data, referral source, barriers to treatment participation, and treatment satisfaction across completers and dropouts are discussed to highlight differences between the current sample and prior PCIT research. The findings suggest that PCIT can be delivered successfully in an underserved community sample when families remain in treatment, but that premature dropout limits treatment effectiveness. The findings suggest potential directions for research to improve uptake of PCIT in a community service setting.


Disruptive behavior Parent–Child Interaction Therapy Community mental health Engagement 



This project was supported in part by funding provided by the DePaul University Research Council, awarded to the second author. In addition, the authors would like to thank the project research assistants, participating therapists, and families, without whom this project would not have been possible.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyDePaul UniversityChicagoUSA

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