Children’s mental health
Early childhood evidence-based practices

Early childhood is a period of rapid growth and development and a time when children are remarkably adaptable to change. Research is producing more evidence about what strategies and interventions are most effective in helping many more children and families to grow healthfully and successfully through these early years and beyond. This includes implementing appropriate evidence-based services and supports in family friendly and culturally appropriate environments. There also is growing awareness of the need to recognize the importance of parents and apply more multigenerational approaches when working with young children or parents of young children.

DHS is committed to improving outcomes for the state’s youngest children. Successful early mental health interventions can mean these children are more likely to be ready for school. Prevention literature demonstrates that effective mental health treatment may do more to prevent delinquent behavior and school failure than more generic prevention strategies. The right treatment can reduce risks in young children’s lives and boost their resiliency in responding to future challenges that may come their way.


Attachment Bio-Behavioral Catch-up (ABC)

Attachment Bio-Behavioral Catch-up (ABC) is an infant-parent treatment developed to treat infants who have experienced early adversity. The evidenced-based model is for children ages 6 months to 24 months old and includes 10 weekly home visits with the children and their parents. Parents are coached by the therapist in three skills (providing nurturance, following the children’s lead, and delighting in their children) while also learning how to reduce frightening or overwhelming behaviors with their young children. All sessions are videotaped so the parents are able to reflect on the needs of their children as they watch their interactions with them. Parents receive a video montage of their sessions with their children engaging in the three skills at the end of treatment. Research of this treatment has shown more normalized stress response systems in traumatized infants, as well as significant developmental gains. It takes about one year for the training and consultation needed to obtain ABC certification.

Parent-Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT)

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an effective evidence-based treatment protocol for improving outcomes for young children, ages 2 to 7, with disruptive behavior problems (aggression, non-compliance, defiance, and temper tantrums). Parents receive coaching from therapists and practice skills in weekly sessions with their child to:

  • • develop consistently positive and supportive communication with their child
  • • decrease negative aspects of the parent-child relationship
  • • learn effective discipline and child management skills

  • PCIT is a unique treatment program that focuses on promoting positive parent-child relationships and interactions while teaching parents effective behavior management skills. Parents learn and practice specific skills until mastery is achieved and the child's behavior has improved. These skills help parents to strengthen a nurturing, secure relationship with their child while increasing their child’s positive social behavior and decreasing negative behavior.

    The PCIT training protocol requires intensive classroom training and practice, with the use of bug-in-the-ear technology, as well as videotaping of training sessions and clinical consultation with trainers over a one year period.

    Trauma Informed Child-Parent Psychotherapy (TI-CPP)

    Trauma Informed Child-Parent Psychotherapy (TI-CPP) is a highly effective treatment for children ages birth through six, who have experienced traumatic events, and their parents. Through family therapy, the treatment supports the parent in addressing the child’s traumatic symptoms, while providing developmental guidance and repairing parent-child relationship breaches resulting from the traumatic events. This treatment has been shown effective in treating young children with four or more adverse experiences or traumas, as well as children with a single traumatic event. The training and consultation time needed to obtain TI-CPP certification is approximately eighteen months.

    Related Links:

  • Evidence-Based Practices
  • Trauma-Informed Care
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