Child Parent Psychotherapy: A Comprehensive Overview

Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on the relationship between young children and their caregivers, with the goal of improving the child’s behavioural and emotional functioning, as well as the overall family relationship. This method of therapy was developed specifically for children between the ages of 0-5 who have experienced trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, and witnessing domestic violence, among others.

The Basics of Child Parent Psychotherapy

CPP is an evidence-based therapy approach that is rooted in the understanding that young children’s mental health and emotional well-being are closely tied to their primary caregiver’s mental health and emotional experience. The therapy process involves the therapist working with the parent and child together in a safe and supportive environment, fostering a sense of safety and trust between the two parties. The therapist then helps to guide the parent in developing and strengthening their parent-child attachment, as well as developing their parenting skills in a way that is attuned to their child’s emotional needs.

How Does Child Parent Psychotherapy Work?

CPP is a time-limited therapy approach, consisting of up to 50 sessions, with each session lasting approximately 50 minutes. The therapy process is often divided into three phases:

Engagement and Assessment

The first phase involves the therapist establishing a therapeutic relationship with both the parent and child, aiming to explore and understand the nature of the child’s trauma, as well as the child and parent’s interpersonal dynamic. This phase lays the foundation for the rest of the therapy process.

Parent-Child Focused Treatment

The second phase involves the therapist working with the parent and child together in the therapy room, utilizing play and other interactive techniques to strengthen the parent-child attachment and promote the child’s emotional healing. The therapist guides and supports the parent in developing parenting strategies that are attuned to their child’s emotional needs, while also helping the parent to recognize and respond to their child’s emotional cues in a supportive and responsive manner.

Termination and Follow-Up

The final phase of CPP involves the therapist working with the parent to ensure a smooth transition out of therapy and providing support to the parent in implementing the skills and techniques they have learned throughout the therapy process. The therapist may also provide follow-up sessions and support to the parent and child as needed.

The Benefits of Child Parent Psychotherapy

CPP has been shown to be an effective form of therapy for young children who have experienced trauma. Some of the benefits of CPP include:

  • Improved parent-child attachment and bonding
  • Reduced behaviour problems in children
  • Reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in children
  • Improved child self-regulation and emotional expression
  • Increased parental confidence in their ability to support their child’s emotional needs

Overall, CPP is a highly effective therapy approach that can make a significant positive impact on the mental health and well-being of young children and their families who have experienced trauma. By focusing on promoting the parent-child attachment and developing responsive and attuned parenting strategies, CPP provides a supportive and healing environment for children to explore and process their emotions, ultimately leading to improved behavioural and emotional functioning in the child.


FAQs about Child Parent Psychotherapy

What is Child Parent Psychotherapy?

Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is a therapeutic approach aimed at improving the relationship between a child and their caregiver. It is designed to help families with young children who have experienced traumatic events or have attachment difficulties. The focus is on building healthier relationships between the child and their caregiver by addressing the impact of trauma on their interactions.

Who can benefit from Child Parent Psychotherapy?

CPP is suitable for families with children between the ages of zero to five who have experienced trauma and have difficulty with their attachment relationships. This therapy can also help caregivers of young children who have experienced trauma, by providing them with the skills to support their child’s emotional regulation and attachment.

What are the goals of Child Parent Psychotherapy?

The primary goal of CPP is to repair and strengthen the attachment bond between a child and their caregiver. This approach aims to decrease the symptoms of trauma, including emotional and behavioral difficulties, and promote healthy emotional regulation in both the child and caregiver. CPP also aims to improve communication within the family and provide greater support for the child’s development.


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3. Burns, E. E., Cowen, E. L., & Dunn, J. (1996). Child development and classroom teaching: A review of the literature and implications for educating young children in poverty. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 24, 89-140.