When parents come to The Village for Parent Child Interaction Therapy, they’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and at a loss for what to do. “They feel like they are always walking on eggshells with their children,” says Nicole Sayre, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with The Village’s Alexandria office.
“When families come to me, it’s high, high stress,” says Heather Siek, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Moorhead. Sometimes the child is at risk of being kicked out of school or daycare. In one family, the father was ready to move into his own apartment. He couldn’t deal with his child’s behavior issues any longer.
After taking part in Parent Child Interaction Therapy, or PCIT, that dad didn’t leave his family. Parents who’ve graduated from PCIT tell Heather and Nicole they enjoy their children again. “They feel a sense of relief and greater confidence in their parenting abilities and how to handle future behavior or emotional concerns,” Nicole says.
PCIT is an evidence-based therapy model for children ages 2½ to 7. Therapists coach the parents through an earpiece and a two-way mirror, teaching them new, effective means of discipline. It’s one of several strategies counselors at The Village use to help their youngest clients and their families. Now The Village will be able to help even more people through PCIT. Grant funding from the Minnesota Department of Human Services allowed Nicole and Heather to be trained in 2017 as PCIT trainers. They are able to teach the model to other Village providers, expanding the use of PCIT across the agency.
This is one example of how The Village is working to grow its behavioral health services for children. “We’re dedicated to making sure we’re the premier behavioral health provider,” says Chief Clinical Officer Kelly Olson. “We want to make sure our therapists are well-equipped with the most cutting-edge therapies so we’re able to relieve symptoms at early onset and in early years.”
Trauma is an increasing issue for young people, and PCIT can play a role in helping children who’ve experienced traumatic events. “When kids have a history of trauma, they typically will have behavioral issues, which will cause a strain in the parent-child relationship. The model of PCIT really focuses on repairing that relationship and making that attachment as strong as we can,” Heather says. PCIT also provides parents with developmentally appropriate ways to discipline that don’t traumatize the child again.
Another example of a cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment is Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), which is designed for children ages 0 to 6 who have a history of trauma. Efforts are underway to ensure more Village providers are trained in CPP, as well. Kelly says CPP has a significant impact on children’s symptoms.
When The Village can intervene at an early age and focus on the family system, the child’s overall prognosis is better. Fewer medications are prescribed, and treatment costs are lower. Improved access to researchsupported therapy models benefits communities. And most of all, it benefits kids and families.
“The parents don’t always feel like they’re yelling,” Heather says. “They feel they have tools that can be effective. They feel more in control. Their self-esteem improves, and their children seem happier.”
For more information about therapy options offered by The Village, contact the office nearest you, call 800-627-8220 or contact us online. This article was originally published in The Village's 2017 Annual Report.