Improved Perceptions of Emotion Regulation and Reflective Functioning in Parents: Two Additional Positive Outcomes of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy

Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck, Jessica L. Kerin, Haley J. Webb, Alex A. Gardner, Shawna Mastro Campbell, Kellie Swan, Susan Goff Timmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to test whether Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), a widely used effective therapy for children's externalizing behaviors and parenting problems, was associated with improvements in parents’ emotion regulation and reflective functioning. We also investigated whether these improvements had unique associations with children's improvements in externalizing and internalizing symptoms. Participants were 139 Australian children aged 29 to 83 months and their caregivers; all were referred for child externalizing behavior problems coupled with parenting skill deficits or high parent stress. All data were gathered via a questionnaire completed prior to and after completion of PCIT. Significant improvements were found in parents’ self-reported emotion dysregulation and capacity to use cognitive reappraisal for emotion regulation. There was also improvement in parents’ self-report of children's symptoms, parenting practices, and reflective functioning in the form of prementalizing, which measured a low capacity to understand the emotional world of the child. Multiple regression showed that improvements in cognitive reappraisal, prementalizing, and negative parenting practices were associated with improvement in children's symptoms. The findings extend the existing evidence for PCIT as an effective parenting intervention, adding parents’ perceived emotion regulation and reflective functioning to the list of positive outcomes from PCIT. Improved emotion regulation and reflective functioning, unique from changes in parenting practices, could be mechanisms that help explain why PCIT has been associated with improvements in children's externalizing behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBehavior Therapy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • behavior problems
  • emotion regulation
  • parent training
  • parenting
  • reflective functioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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