U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Toward Evidence-Based Treatment: Child-Parent Psychotherapy with Preschoolers Exposed to Marital Violence

NCJ Number
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Volume: 44 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2005 Pages: 1241-1248
Date Published
December 2005
8 pages

This study examined the effectiveness of Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) for a population of preschoolers exposed to marital violence.


Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CCP) is based on the premises that the attachment system is the main organizer of children’s responses to danger and safety in the first years of life, that early mental health problems should be addressed in the context of the child’s primary attachment relationships, that child outcomes emerge in the context of transactions between the child and environmental protective and risk factors, that interpersonal violence is a traumatic stressor, that the therapeutic relationship is a key mutative factor in early mental health treatment, and the family’s cultural values must be incorporated into treatment. This study reports outcome findings from a randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of CPP with preschoolers exposed to family violence, compared with case management plus individual treatment. It was hypothesized that CPP would be more effective in alleviating children’s traumatic stress symptoms and behavior problems because it focuses on improving the quality of the child-mother relationship and engages the mother as the child’s ally in coping with the trauma. The findings support CPP effectiveness for preschoolers exposed to marital violence. The findings are attributed to CPP’s focus on fostering child mental health by promoting a relational process in which increased maternal responsiveness to the child’s developmental needs strengthens the child’s trust in the mother’s capacity to provide protective care. References

Date Published: December 1, 2005