What is Child-Parent Relationship Therapy?

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What is Child-Parent Relationship Therapy? essay
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What is Child-Parent Relationship Therapy? Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) is a program that works with a child and its parent to form healthy relationships and good communication skills between them. In this type of therapy, a trained professional watches as a parent interacts with their child and makes comments to the parents to create a more positive experience/interaction that is most beneficial for the child.

This program has mostly been used with families who have been through a divorce, have a chronically ill child, have an adopted child and have children with emotional or behavioral issues. It has been shown to be helpful in all situations and can be beneficial to all families. This program promotes healthy connections and relationships which help a child build positive relationships with others throughout their lives.

Program Description

Child-Parent Relationship Therapy was first developed by Virginia Axline in 1947 (Baggerly, Ray, Bratton, 2010) . Later Landreth researched and developed the program further. The program started as a way of working with non-offending parents and kids who have experienced sexual abuse.

The program now works with many children also focusing on children who are chronically ill and those with learning disabilities. Carnes – Holt (2012) explained Child-Parent Relationship Therapy as “ a structured, time-limited approach that trains caregivers to be an active participant as a therapeutic change agent in their child’s life.” (Carnes – Holt, 2012, pg. 419).

Child-Parent Relationship therapy is a place where families can meet and work on their relationship with a therapist. Over time this type of therapy can change a family dynamic for the better. Child-Parent Relationship therapy focuses on play and helping parents and children mend and work on their relationship through play (Landreth, 2012). Therapist work with parents to train their responses to their children while they play. This works mostly through relationships, interactions, as well as communication. The therapy provides trained facilitators, worksheets, toys, kits and video playback equipment (Baggerly, Ray, Bratton, 2010).

Divorce Families Study

When looking into the effectiveness of Child-Parent Relationship Therapy reviewing three research studies is helpful. The first was Dillman Taylor, Purswell, Lindo, Jayne, Fernando, & Leblanc (2011) study on Child-Parent Relationship Therapy in relationship with families who have experienced divorce. The researchers used children between the ages of 2-10 years old and had families who had experienced divorce (Dillman Taylor et al., 2011). Most of these children also had emotional or behavioral problems which are common among children experiencing divorce. The study had a team of trained professionals who worked with these families and used the CPRT for 2-hour sessions for ten weeks, as recommend (Landreth & Bratton, 2006).

To assess effectiveness, this study used pre and post interviews with the families to see change over time. After conducting their study researchers found “that parents noticed a positive change in their children’s behavior and reported that the process was helpful to them in becoming more effective parents.” (Dillman Taylor et al., 2011, pg. 1). Overall this study had positive results and proved successful with families experiencing divorce.

Chronically Ill Children Study

Another study that researched Child-Parent Relationship Therapy effectiveness was Tew, Landreth, Joiner, & Solt (2002) study on CPRT with chronically ill children. These researchers found particular interest in chronically ill children because of the fact that they are more prone to acting out.

To participate in this study children needed to be between 3-10 years old, have a chronic illness, be literate in English and participate in all events given by the study (Tew, Landreth, Joiner, & Solt, 2002). To make sure the study was effective researchers guaranteed validity through a percent of agreement from judges and internal consistency through positive feedback of parents in the study.

After reviewing scores from the chosen judges and receiving feedback from parents the study concluded that the therapy had been helpful to the families that participated. The researchers did admit that no further research had been done about the long term effects of this study (Tew, Landreth, Joiner, & Solt, 2002).

Adoptive Family Study

One more study looked into Child-Parent Relationship Therapy. This study was Carnes-Holt (2012) study on CPRT with adoptive families. This study took research looking at behavioral issues with children in adoptive families and then compared it with children in the same situation but had gone through CPRT.

There was interested in this study because, at times, depending on the age of the child can be challenging to adapt to a different parenting style or even a new family that is taking them in. Child-Parent Relationship Therapy can be extremely helpful in working on those relationship connections and finding a parenting style that best fits the child.

This study got amazing feedback from parents saying “I[t]’s Just Not 10 Weeks It’s A Lifestyle” (Carnes – Holt, 2012, pg. 424).Families felt that CPRT changed their relationship with their children for the better and helped their families become united again. This study concluded successful just like the others.

Personal Evaluation

After personal research I believe that Child-Parent Relationship Therapy is extremely beneficial to families of all types. Most studies were done on children who experienced either emotional or behavioral issues to show the drastic changes after experiencing the therapy. However, this type of therapy can be helpful for all parent-child relationships, when given the opportunity to participate. All children need to be parented differently, this can even be true with siblings.

Child-Parent Relationship Therapy can help families discover what works best for their child or children to become a more cohesive family. The unique way of incorporating play into the therapy makes children more engaged and a family feel together and present.

Although there has not been much research on the long-term results of CPRT, if parents use the tools given to them during the program and maintain what they have been doing it should still show positive results. This type of therapy should be provided to all families and shown how effective it truly is.


Child-Parent Relationship Therapy has been found, through many studies, to be helpful to families with chronically ill children, adopted children and children in divorced families. Through feedback and observation the studies done on CPRT all showed positive results in these families after participation.

CPRT not only gives the child a greater opportunity for learning but also building connections. CPRT also provides parents with ways to connect with their child and build a healthy relationship. Although most of the studies done on CPRT were on children with behavioral and emotional issues, this type of therapy can be helpful for all families.

What is Child-Parent Relationship Therapy? essay

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What is Child-Parent Relationship Therapy?. (2020, Sep 25). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/what-is-child-parent-relationship-therapy/


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