Coaching Child-Directed Interaction

Part of the Issues in Clinical Child Psychology book series (ICCP)


When therapists coach CDI skills, we employ the same strategies and philosophies that parents are taught to use with their children during special playtime. Therapists provide labeled praises to parents to increase particular CDI skills. We also use strategic attention and selective ignoring to increase certain parent verbalizations while decreasing others. Just as a goal of special playtime is to improve the parent-child relationship, therapists use coaching strategies that enhance rapport with the parents. For example, therapists avoid criticism when coaching, particularly the words “no,” “don’t,” “stop,” “quit,” and “not,” in order to prevent parents from feeling judged or incompetent. These negative feelings damage our relationships with the parents and lead to treatment attrition. Rather than criticizing, we enthusiastically give attention to their positive behaviors by describing and praising. When correcting the parent, we use constructive feedback telling them what “to do” rather than what “not to do.” Just as we teach parents to allow their children to lead the play, we allow parents to take the lead in their use of PRIDE skills.


Coaching Session Mastery Criterion Play Therapy Task Persistence Physical Closeness 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Eyberg, S. M. (2005). Parent-child interaction therapy: Basic coaching guidelines introduction. A Power Point presentation retrieved April 8, 2008, from
  2. Eyberg, S. M. (1999). Parent-child interaction therapy: Integrity checklists and session materials. Retrieved April 2, 2008, from
  3. McNeil, C. B. (2008). Parent-child interaction therapy. A 2-hour DVD in the APA Psychotherapy Training Video Series hosted by Jon Carlson.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheryl Bodiford McNeil
    • 1
  • Toni L. Hembree-Kigin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.Early Childhood Mental Health ServicesMesaUSA

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