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Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

Emory Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Program
Director: Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Certified PCIT Level I Trainer
Address: Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Emory University School of Medicine
12 Executive Park Drive, NE, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30329

To make an appointment for an evaluation for PCIT, please contact Dr. Celano at

The Emory Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) program offers clinical services to children ages 2 to 7 with disruptive behavior (e.g., defiance, tantrums, aggression). PCIT is a 12 to 20 week evidence-based intervention for young children and their caregivers that uses live coaching in a playroom environment. PCIT consists of two stages, Child Directed Interaction (CDI) and Parent Directed Interaction (PDI). In CDI, caregivers are taught specific communication skills to improve their children’s social behavior and strengthen the parent-child relationship. In PDI, caregivers learn to use effective commands and specific behavior management techniques in the therapy room and in real world settings.

How does PCIT work?

Live coaching is the primary method of caregiver training in PCIT. Caregivers are coached in specific communication and discipline skills through an earpiece while the therapist observes the caregiver and child playing through a one-way mirror. If the child has two caregivers, each caregiver takes a “turn” playing with the child and wearing the earpiece. Live coaching has several advantages: (a) the therapist sees child behavior problems that emerge when the child is not in his/her presence, (b) the caregiver receives immediate feedback in real time, and (c) coaching helps caregivers to acquire skills rapidly.

Does PCIT have homework?

Yes. Caregivers in PCIT practice the special communication skills at home with the child every day for five minutes.

Is PCIT effective?

PCIT is an exceptionally effective treatment for young children with behavior problems. Research shows that PCIT helps children to obey rules, reduces their aggressive and destructive behavior, improves their social skills, and strengthens the parent-child relationship. PCIT has been identified as an evidence-based program by the Substance Abuse Mental Health and Services Administration (SAMHSA) and by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

Information on the efficacy of PCIT is also available on the PCIT International website at

Will PCIT be effective for my child?

At Emory we are committed to working collaboratively with you to maximize treatment benefits for your child and family. Together we develop specific treatment goals, monitor your child’s progress on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and tailor the intervention to your child’s specific needs, your parenting style, and your family’s cultural beliefs and values. For example, we have found that some children with Autism Spectrum Disorders require adaptations to the PCIT protocol.

How do I find out if my child is eligible for PCIT?

To find out if PCIT is the right treatment for your child, we do an evaluation that includes an interview with you, completion of questionnaires about your child’s behavior, and an observation of you and your child playing together. The evaluation usually takes two sessions.