New parent-child therapy offers a lower risk model for dealing with early childhood depression

Children as young as three years of age suffer from depression. Helping them deal with it is a major challenge. Now, a new therapy-based intervention called Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is showing positive results in helping preschool-aged children with depression.

This new model between parent and child is one of the first psychotherapeutic treatments to target clinical depression in children. Experts say the new approach is a powerful and low-risk one.

The aim of the therapy is to come up with a line of treatment that can target children with depression as early as possible.

The published findings on the study talk about a form of psychotherapy used to treat children with behavioural disorders such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The new treatment method is three-way. In the standard PCIT treatment, parents are taught techniques for successfully interacting with their children through sessions that are directed by the child as well as the parent.

In the third and new model. parents are trained to be more effective emotion coaches for their kids.

The aim of this model is to teach the child to become more emotionally competent and to be able to experience a broad range of emotions, to recognize them in themselves and in others, to label them, and to manage intense emotions.

During the sessions, the parent and child are observed by a therapist interacting in play through a one-way mirror. The parent takes the child through tasks that induce emotions like frustration and guilt. The parent, who is wearing a bug in their ear, is prompted by the therapist on how to respond so as to teach the child how best to express and understand how they are feeling.

The study looked at data from nearly 230 children between the ages of 3 and 6 years who met the criteria for early childhood depression. The therapy was found to be almost as powerful as the effects of medication.

Kids who went through the therapy were found to have a less severe case of depression, better emotional functioning, and fewer disorders. Children’s parents also experienced relief from the treatment and were found to have lower signs of depression and less parenting stress.

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