What Is Parent-Child Psychotherapy?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 May 2018
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Parent-child psychotherapy is a particular type of mental health treatment intended to help children and parents or other primary caretakers bond more effectively. This treatment model is typically used to assist children and families who have experienced or witnessed abuse, trauma or the loss of a loved one at an early stage in the child’s development. As these instances often cause children to develop trust issues and anxiety, parent-child psychotherapy helps children and caretakers develop closer, more intimate relationships in an effort to guide children toward a more healthy emotional development. Such also helps children develop better coping skills so as to deal with the original stressor, as well as future ones. Parent-child psychotherapy is offered by a licensed clinician who engages in activities such as talk therapy and play therapy to help strengthen parent-child relationships.

In addition to parent-child psychotherapy helping children repair damaged trust, develop new coping mechanisms and regain confidence, parents who participate in this type of therapy are also exposed to key concepts that assist in understanding a child’s point of view. Child development stages and behavioral symptoms triggered by stress are among the ideas a parent is introduced to in parent-child psychotherapy. With greater understanding of these concepts, parents are often able to more calmly and confidently address a child’s behavior outside of therapy sessions.


Among the benefits of psychotherapy when used to treat children and their caretakers is that children are often able to overcome extreme symptoms of stress which many times are manifested as behavioral disturbances. For parents and caretakers such can be particularly vexing and frustrating. One of the aims of this type of psychotherapy, however, is to help adults gain insight and perspective concerning a child’s feelings and to offer tools to help the child grown into a healthy adult. As one of many uses of psychotherapy, parent-child psychotherapy can be very helpful in restoring balance and peace in troubled families.

Parent-child psychotherapy may be recommended by a social worker or a healthcare provider and is usually offered in a clinical setting, at a therapist’s private office or may be administered in the child’s home. It is one of several types of psychotherapy available to assist in an individual’s personal development and is sometimes combined with other therapies. Licensed therapists offering parent-child psychotherapy often specialize in this type along with others that are geared toward helping families individually or as a group.



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