Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is an intervention model for children aged birth to five years who have experienced at least one traumatic event and display behavioral, emotional, developmental, or social-emotional difficulties. This type of Parent Child Relationship Therapy is unique in that it incorporates attachment based interventions that holds both the child’s trauma and the caregiver’s trauma in mind as the dyad works on strengthening the relationship while using the parent-child relationship as a vehicle to address the behavioral, emotional, and psychological needs of the child. CPP is recognized by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network , The California Evidenced-Based Clearing House for Child Welfare, and SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidenced-based Programs and Practices as an evidenced base model of intervention for trauma in early childhood.
CPP was developed by the Child Trauma Research Program at the University of California, San Francisco in collaboration with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. The training includes three learning sessions and twice monthly consultation sessions with CPP trainers. It is implemented by clinicians during the learning process through a learning collaborative that includes supervision by administrators and supervisors within the agency. I completed this training in 2016 and have been using CPP in my work
with child-caregiver dyads since. This is the primary model of intervention I use in my work with children in the foster care system and their foster or biological parents.
Sessions are typically one hour in length and occur weekly. Caregiver only sessions are utilized periodically to appropriately address caregiver symptoms, progress, challenges, and traumas. Based on evidence, improvement in the following should occur:
- PTSD symptoms
- Comorbid diagnoses, including depression and anxiety
- General behavior problems including aggression and attentional difficulties
- Capacity to regulate emotions
- Cognitive functioning
- Children’s perceptions of caregivers and themselves
- Children’s and caregivers’ attachment relationships
- Caregivers’ PTSD symptoms
- Caregivers’ general symptoms
- Caregivers’ empathy towards children
- Caregivers’ ability to interact in positive ways with children
The CPP therapist helps the parent understand how their and their child’s histories can affect perceptions and interactions with the child and helps the parent develop new, more developmentally appropriate ways to engage with their child. The length of treatment varies depending on the complexity of the case but typically lasts an average of one year.
[Adapted from the Child Trauma Research Program]