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Examining English- and Spanish-Speaking Therapist Behaviors in Parent–Child Interaction Therapy


Parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) is a best-practice treatment for behavior problems in young children. In PCIT, therapists coach parents during in-vivo interactions to strengthen the parent-child relationship and teach parents effective ways of managing difficult child behaviors. Past research has found that different therapist coaching styles may be associated with faster skill acquisition and improved parent engagement. However, most research examining therapist behaviors has been conducted with English-speaking families, and there is limited research examining therapist behaviors when working with Spanish-speaking clients. In this study, English- and Spanish-speaking therapists' coaching behaviors (e.g., directive versus responsive) were examined, as well as their association with client outcomes, including speed of parental skill acquisition and treatment completion. Results suggested that coaching styles varied significantly between sessions conducted in Spanish versus English. In Spanish sessions, therapists had more total verbalizations than in English sessions and demonstrated higher rates of both total directive and responsive coaching. Responsive coaching was found to predict treatment completion across groups, while directive coaching was not. Directive and responsive coaching were not found to predict the rate of parental skill acquisition. Implications regarding the training of therapists and emphasizing cultural considerations are discussed.

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