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Child-Parent Relationship Therapy

What is CPRT?

Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) is an evidence-based parent-training designed to help children aged 3 to 8 who are experiencing a wide range of social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. This training teaches parents how to use play therapeutically so that the communication between parent and child is improved and their relationship is enhanced.

How CPRT Can Help You and Your Child

When children experience a play relationship in which they feel accepted, understood, and cared for, they play out many of their problems and, in the process, release tension and anxiety. When your child feels better about themselves, they behave in more self-enhancing, and less self-defeating ways.

When to Consider CPRT

You should consider CPRT if you:

  • Feel like you have lost control as a parent
  • Find yourself yelling at your child often
  • Feel you have lost touch with your child
  • Do not feel as close as you would like
  • Feel frustrated at your lack of results
  • Say or do things that you later regret

How CPRT Works

CPRT creates a supportive group environment where parents learn how to respond more effectively to their children’s emotional and behavioral needs. In CPRT parents are taught specific skills to help them tune in to and respond to their child’s underlying needs. In CPRT parents also learn how to effectively limit their child’s misbehavior.

A Typical CPRT Session

CPRT is usually presented as a 10-week group therapy course where participants learn the fundamental skills of Child Centered Play Therapy. You are taught one new skill each week, and given supportive feedback on your new skills from a certified CPRT facilitator. You then practice your new skill at home with your child during special weekly 30 minute long playtimes.

Goals of CPRT

  • Create a safe space where your child can communicate their thoughts, needs, and feelings to you.
  • Help your child to experience more positive feelings and learn to get their needs met in more appropriate ways.
  • Strengthen your parent-child relationship and foster a greater sense of trust, security, and closeness.
  • Increase the level of playfulness and enjoyment between you and your child.

How CPRT Can Help Parents

CPRT Helps Parents Learn to:

  • Gain a greater understanding and acceptance of their children
  • Be better communicators with their children
  • Help their children to develop better self-control
  • Be more effective at discipline and setting limits
  • Regain the control they need to parent effectively

Skills Taught in CPRT

  • Recognizing and responding to children’s feelings
  • Reflective listening
  • Therapeutic limit setting
  • Building children’s self-esteem
  • Structuring play sessions around specific toys

How to Know if CPRT is Right for You

If you have general concerns about your child’s behavior or emotions, CPRT might be a good fit for you and your family. If your child is experiencing more acute challenges that cannot be adequately addressed at home, you may want to consider other types of therapies.

Alternatives to CPRT

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
This type of therapy is also suited for children who are experiencing behavioral problems, but unlike CPRT, the play sessions happen in a therapeutic setting instead of at home. The therapist is in another room, and coaches caregivers through an earpiece. This type of therapy is for children ages 2-7.

Parent Management Training (PMT)
This treatment program is for children with moderate to severe behavioral difficulties, including Oppositional Defiant Disorder. This training helps to reduce disruptive behaviors in children ages 3-13.

Behavioral and Emotional Skills Training (BEST)
This is a single-day training where parents learn to manage challenging behaviors in children of all ages. This training is also helpful for grandparents, babysitters, nannies, au pairs, and other caregivers.