MountainStar Relief Nursery Selected for Treatment Program

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Deschutes County Grant funds will enable MountainStar to create a therapy space dedicated to Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) along with training to certify a two-therapist team made up of Cherie Skillings, MS, LPC and Laurie Hunter, MS, NCC.

What is PCIT

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy is a specialized treatment program designed for parents or foster parents and their young child (ages 2-8). PCIT is made up of 15 to 20 weekly sessions in which the parent and child are in one room and the therapist is in an adjacent room with an observation window. The parent and child are given instructions to play with toys while the therapist talks to the parent through an earpiece. This “live coaching” during interactions between parent and child gives the parent real-time feedback and suggestions for improving their parenting behaviors. In the first phase, the therapist helps the parent learn to increase praise of their child and ignore behaviors that are not harmful. Upon mastery of the positive behavioral skills the parent then moves into the disciplinary stage and is coached through giving clear direction to their child and following through with consequences if the child does not listen or comply with directions.

Parenting a child with difficult behaviors often leaves the parent feeling overwhelmed and at the end of their rope. PCIT is successful in changing children’s behaviors so that they can experience a more positive relationship with their child. It has also been adapted successfully for use with populations who have experienced child maltreatment or exposure to trauma. By providing concrete ways for parents to interact positively and maintain clear boundaries with their child parents are able to have a more positive experience. This increased enjoyment and attachment results in reducing a child’s risk of being abused and/or neglected.

Goals upon Mastery of PCIT Skills

  • Improved following of directions, listening, and cooperation
  • Increased ability to manage frustration and anger
  • Increased use of appropriate social skills
  • Improved attention skills
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Improved parent-child relationships
  • Increased parenting skills
  • Decreased parental stress

Support for Foster Parents

Children in foster care often exhibit high levels of behavior problems. Foster parents frequently need help in managing foster children’s difficult behaviors. PCIT helps support foster parents caring for children with behavioral problems by enhancing the relationship between foster parent and child along with teaching foster parents behavior management skills. In addition to reporting decreases in child behavior problems, Foster parents frequently report less parental stress following PCIT and high levels of satisfaction with the program.

If you would like to find out more about PCIT please contact Cherie Skillings at MountainStar Family Relief Nursery at info@mountainstarfamily.org or 541-322-6820. MountainStar is a child abuse and neglect prevention program that offers a Therapeutic Classroom and Home Visiting program to families with children three and under. MountainStar is dedicated to helping keep Children Safe, Parents Successful and Families Together!

Resource: Child Welfare Information Gateway Jan. 2007

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