Parent–Child Interaction Therapy with Toddlers: A Community-based Randomized Controlled Trial with Children Aged 14-24 Months

Jane Kohlhoff, Susan Morgan, Nancy Briggs, Ryan Egan, Larissa Niec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: Children with early-onset behavioral issues are at high risk for ongoing behavioral, psychological, and social issues. Method: This study examined the efficacy of the first phase of Parent–Child Interaction Therapy with Toddlers, Child-Directed Interaction–Toddler, using a randomized control design. Sixty-six mother-toddler dyads (Child Mage = 19.13 months; 63% male; 34% from a non-English speaking background) referred to a community-based child behavior clinic in Australia received CDI-T immediately or were assigned to a waitlist control condition. At baseline (Time 1) and post-treatment/post-waitlist (Time 2), mothers completed questionnaires (Child Behavior Checklist, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, Parenting Stress Index–Short Form) and participated in a structured parent–child dyadic play-based interaction later coded using the Dyadic Parent–Child Interaction Coding System and the Emotional Availability Scales. Results: Compared to those who did not receive treatment, mother-child dyads who received the intervention showed significantly better parenting skills (increases in positive parenting skills and decreases in negative parenting skills), emotional availability (increases in parental sensitivity and parental non-intrusiveness), child behavior (decreases in externalizing and internalizing behaviors) and parental perceptions of child difficulty. Conclusions: Results suggest that the CDI-T phase of PCIT-T is a promising intervention for toddlers presenting with behavioral issues. Future studies should be conducted to assess efficacy in other settings and to assess longer-term outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-426
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


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