Parent–Child Interaction Therapy for Toddlers (PCIT-T)

  • Jane KohlhoffEmail author
  • Susan Morgan


PCIT-T is an adaption of PCIT designed for toddlers aged 12–24 months presenting with challenging behavior. The program has been developed over many years at the Karitane Toddler Clinic in Australia, and has recently been further developed and communicated in a formal treatment manual. PCIT-T shares many features with standard PCIT including utilization of dyadic treatment sessions, direct live coaching, and emphasis on “Do skills” (Praise, Reflect, Imitate, Describe, and Enjoy) and “Don’t skills” (questions, commands, and negative talk). PCIT-T differs from standard PCIT, however, in its assumption that difficult toddler behavior is a sign of emotional dysregulation rather than purposeful defiance or a coercive parent–child interactional cycle. The prominence of the parent–child attachment relationship in the first 2 years of life is acknowledged as the vehicle through which the child’s capacities for emotion regulation and social-emotional functioning emerge and are consolidated (Sroufe, 1995). The focus in PCIT-T is therefore on enhancing the quality of the parent–child relationship, and in particular on improving a parent’s capacity to understand and meet the emotional needs of his or her toddler. This chapter begins by discussing disruptive behaviors in toddler-aged children and provides a rationale for early intervention. It then provides a detailed description of PCIT-T including theoretical underpinnings, key features and differences from standard PCIT, recommended assessment and treatment procedures, and a case study illustration.


Parent–Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Toddlers Early intervention Emotion regulation Attachment-based interventions Parenting Disruptive behavior concerns Social emotional development 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychiatry, University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Karitane Toddler ClinicSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Karitane Toddler ClinicSydneyAustralia

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