Child Parent Psychotherapy, or CPP, is an evidenced-based treatment intended to support both children and parents or caregivers after experiencing a traumatic event in the family.
CPP is a relationship-based treatment for parents and young children, meaning that the majority of sessions include both the child and their parent/caregiver, as a means to restore the attachment relationship that may have been negatively impacted by the traumatic event.
This treatment does not focus only on the child because trauma affects the entire family unit and healing requires the containment of safe and empathic familial relationships.
Child Parent Psychotherapy can be used when either the parent or the child goes through a traumatic event––or both.
This event can include the loss of a loved one, such as a parent, an accident, or even abuse.
CPP is generally geared towards younger children, between the ages of 0 and 5, who have undergone trauma, or are experiencing mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit disorders, or depression and anxiety.
It’s important to understand that there are many different ways we may respond to traumatic events.
These can range from a normal amount of stress, to stress that affects our emotions, to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Exposure to domestic violence, child abuse, or emotional violence can also trigger traumatic responses in your child, and it is extremely important to get help immediately in this event.
The longer you wait, the more ripple effects the trauma can have on our psyches and our lives.
HOW TRAUMA CAN AFFECT CHILDREN AND PARENTS
Trauma can also negatively affect the way children and parents relate to one another.
One of the things that can happen is that whenever you see each other, both you and your child remind each other of the traumatic event.
Since you most likely live with your child, this can cause overwhelming sadness and hurt, multiple times a day.
Your child might also change their way of thinking and have new negative reminders of the event.
An objective of Child Parent Psychotherapy is to restore normal developmental functioning of your child, as well as restore safety within a potentially ruptured relationship in the wake of a traumatic experience.
The most important aspect of CPP is to build empathy and understanding within the child/parent relationship as a means of fostering familial safety, acceptance, and resilience.
Oftentimes, adults think that children are “too young” to understand trauma, or believe that because the event did not occur directly in front of the child, that the child is therefore unaffected by the trauma.
However, while a child may in fact not cognitively understand a traumatic event, we know that children are greatly impacted by their surroundings and that healing begins when the trauma is allowed to be acknowledged and processed within the safety of a loving relationship.
The type of trauma experienced and the child’s developmental stage will determine the structure of your therapy sessions.
Child Parent Psychotherapy is play based, and supports developmentally appropriate communication and understanding between the child and parent/caregiver.
THE FOCUS OF CHILD-PARENT PSYCHOTHERAPY
There are several components that make up the child-parent psychotherapy process. These include:
- Focusing on the relationship between the parent and the child as the main area that needs intervention and improvement.
- Focusing on safety by emphasizing and correcting any issues that can lead to an unsafe environment, as well as establishing boundaries and roles that the parent and child should have in order to maintain a better relationship.
- Focusing on emotional regulation by identifying which experiences had an effect on the relationship between the parent and the child and learning emotional regulation and coping skills.
- Focusing on reciprocity in relationships by making sure that the parent and child know that they love each other and understand each other, while still emphasizing that the parent and child are different from each other.
- Focusing on the event that caused trauma by acknowledging and understanding how both parent and child viewed and are reacting to the trauma, as well as connecting any past traumatic experiences with how you might be feeling or acknowledging any behaviors that might be resulting from the trauma. This is also done by guiding the parent to assist the child in processing and looking at the trauma from a new perspective.
- Focusing on continuing daily life by establishing an emphasis on a daily routine, as well as learning which activities you should be doing throughout the day.
OUR CHILD PARENT THERAPY METHODS
Therapy can successfully improve your life by minimizing the anxiety in your life, identifying and changing underlying thought and behavioral patterns that contribute to your struggles, and providing you with strategies to decrease discomfort while restoring an overall sense of peace.
To experience true and lasting joy in our life, we must face and conquer our pain by healing our underlying trauma and confronting our fears.
See the About Therapy page for a deeper look into this process.
Our evidence-based, scientifically proven interventions are demonstrated by research to be effective in addressing trauma’s effects on the child-parent relationship.
Learn more about our empirically based therapy modalities by visiting our Methods page.
WANT TO TALK? SPEAK WITH A CHILD PARENT THERAPY EXPERT NOW
If you have any questions, contact one of our CPP specialists for a free consultation any time.