The Benefits of Parent Child Interaction Therapy by Kristen Estrella, LCSW

Updated: Sep 25



Parent Child Interaction Therapy, or PCIT, is an evidence-based treatment for young children with behavioral problems and suspected attention deficit hyper activity disorder. PCIT is conducted through "coaching" sessions during which you and your child are in a therapy room while the therapist is in an observation room working with you and  your child through a one-way mirror and/or live video feed. Parents wear a "bug-in-the-ear" device through which the therapist provides in-the-moment coaching on skills you are learning to manage your child's behavior.


PCIT is done across two treatment phases. The first phase of treatment focuses on promoting warmth in your relationship with your child through learning and applying skills proven to help children feel calm, secure in their relationships with their parents, and good about themselves.  ​

Desired outcomes of the first phase of treatment in PCIT include:

  • Decreased frequency, severity, and/or duration of tantrums

  • Decreased activity levels

  • Decreased negative attention-seeking behaviors (such as whining and bossiness)

  • Decreased parental frustration

  • Increased feelings of security, safety, and attachment to the primary caregiver

  • Increased attention span

  • Increased self-esteem

  • Increased pro-social behaviors (such as sharing and taking turns)

The second phase of treatment will equip you to manage the most challenging of your child's behaviors while remaining confident, calm, and consistent in your approach to discipline. In this phase, you will learn proven strategies to help your child accept your limits, comply with your directions, respect house rules, and demonstrate appropriate behavior in public. ​


Desired outcomes of the second phase of treatment in PCIT include:

  • Decreased frequency, severity, and/or duration of aggressive behavior

  • Decreased frequency of destructive behavior (such as breaking toys on purpose)

  • Decreased defiance

  • Increased compliance with adult requests

  • Increased respect for house rules

  • Improved behavior in public

  • Increased parental calmness and confidence during discipline

With consistent attendance and homework completion, PCIT can be completed within 12-20 sessions, though treatment is not time-limited. Treatment is considered complete when you have mastered both sets of skills and rate your child's behavior within normal limits on a behavior rating scale.

For more information, visit PCIT.org. *This page was adapted from http://www.pcit.org/what-is-pcit.html


Lukin Center Psychotherapy Offers Tele-Therapy

To help support our community, we are offering a 15% discount for new patients that are interested in getting started with tele-health to help manage feelings of anxiety and isolation during this time.



Kristen Estrella, LCSW, a Psychotherapist at Lukin Center Psychotherapy, earned her B.A. in Psychology from American University and her Master of Social Work from Boston University. During Kristen's studies, she practiced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) under the guidance of Daniel Beck, faculty member at the Beck Institute for CBT. Following graduate school, Kristen pursued her interest in working with children ages 0-7. Kristen's clinical expertise earned her national certifications in Child-Parent Psychotherapy and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, two premier evidence-based practices that address difficulties between children and parents. She is also nationally certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Kristen's specialization in infant and early childhood mental health led her to become the Child-Parent Psychotherapy supervisor across three children's programs in outpatient mental health.



Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Ridgewood, Hoboken, Clifton, Jersey City and Englewood. He has extensive clinical and research experience spanning individuals of all ages, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He specializes in men’s issues, couple’s counseling, and relationship problems. His therapeutic approach focuses on providing support and practical feedback to help patients effectively address personal challenges. He integrates complementary modalities and techniques to offer a personalized approach tailored to each patient. He has been trained in cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavior, schema-focused, and emotionally focused therapy, and has also been involved with research projects throughout his career, including two National Institute of Mental Health-funded studies. He is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Jersey Psychological Association, Northeast Counties Association of Psychologists, New York State Psychological Association, The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy, the International OCD Foundation, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACSB) and a regular contributor to Psychology Today.

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