Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is an Evidence Based Practice developed by Alicia Lieberman and Patricia VanHorn at the UCSF Early Childhood Trauma Project. It is used to treat young traumatized children ages 0-6 years and their families. CPP is effective with children from birth – few models work with children this young.
We recently provided CPP to a young family and the results were wonderful!
Rebecca age 4 years and Jody age 2 were living in foster care due to a history of witnessing domestic violence done to their mother, the mother’s drug misuse, and a lack of food in the house. For the first 6 months in foster care, the children’s only contact with their mother was through CPP sessions provided by a Children’s Relief Nursery (CRN) therapist. Initially, the children displayed angry and/or avoidant behaviors toward their mother. Their mother tried to make up for the damage done to her relationship with her children by buying them toys and gifts, however, that only made their behaviors worse. The foster mother said that initially the children struggled with getting to sleep at night and would hoard food in their bedroom. Slowly, after building a trusting relationship with the CRN therapist, the mother began to understand her children’s feelings of anger and mistrust. She began to get on the floor and play with them, giving them needed positive attention and support. After 6 months mother successfully completed her own mental health treatment and entered into a safe and secure housing program. With the CRN therapists help, she was able to develop a story to tell her children explaining to them why they had been removed from her home. She apologized to her children telling them that she was sorry they were frightened by the anger and hitting they saw. She reassured them that she is now able to keep them safe, promising it would never happen again. She also explained to them that she now has a home with plenty of food and they would never again go hungry. After 15 months of foster care, the children were returned to their mother’s care right before Christmas. Her children responded well to their mother’s atonement and are in the process of rebuilding trust in her.
Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is an evidence-based practice addressing trauma in young children age 0-6. CPP seeks to heal the impact of trauma on the child-parent relationship.
This dyadic attachment-based treatment is effective for young children exposed to maltreatment, witnessing or experiencing interpersonal violence, loss of a caregiver, and a variety of other disruptions in the child-caregiver relationship. Key components include: focus on safety, affect regulation, normalization of trauma related response, joint construction of a trauma narrative, and a goal of returning the child to normal social-emotional development.
CPP is an empirically validated treatment for children under the age of 6 and is also routinely successfully conducted with ethnic minorities. CPP allows for a wide range of acculturation (e.g. immigrants), parents with chronic trauma, children who have experienced multiple traumas, and a wide income range (although predominantly lower-income).*
Sharing the knowledge
Thanks to a partnership between the Oregon Health Authority, GHOBI, and a SAMHSA grant awarded to The Children’s Relief Nursery/LifeWorks NW, clinicians across the state are learning the CPP model through an 18 month long learning collaborative facilitated by endorsed trainers Debby Bassett and Leslie Brown
Submitted by: Leslie Brown and Diane Tutch, Children’s Relief Nursery/LifeWorks NW
For more information please contact
*Adapted from a report by: Alicia F. Lieberman, Ph.D. and Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D., UCSF Early Trauma Treatment Network

Child-Parent Psychotherapy

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