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Parent-Child Interaction Therapy research across cultures

Amsterdam scholar visits Central Michigan University to collaborate on research, interact with students

Contact: Dan Digmann


​​​​In countries nearly 4,000 miles apart, Marielle Abrahamse and Larissa Niec use Parent-Child Interaction Therapy to help children struggling with severe emotional and behavioral issues and their families. The two have developed a partnership to collaborate on research into the unique intervention that could positively impact children and families throughout the world.

Niec, a Central Michigan University p​sychology professor and one of only 20 worldwide certified to provide expert training and consultation on PCIT, met Abrahamse while conducting training at De Bascule Academisch Centrum, a child and family psychiatric center where she works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

"In doing that training, I realized a lot of the barriers they were running into to train therapists were similar to ones we were running into," Niec said. "I wanted to explore that more to try to reduce barriers and make it easier to disseminate the program globally."


Niec and Abrahamse began collaborating on research on training programs, as well as the implementation and effectiveness of PCIT within their respective cultures. This work brought Abrahamse to CMU as a visiting scholar May 18 through June 5 to collaborate on current projects, implement new initiatives, and work with CMU graduate and undergraduate students.

"Learning about what Marielle is doing with this same intervention to make it work in her population is something that really has expanded my students' exposure to implementation science as they learn how we disseminate interventions effectively and adapt interventions," Niec said.

Abrahamse worked closely with Niec and her student research team in the CMU Center for Children, Families and Community, one of the few PCIT training and research centers in the country, of which Niec is the director. Abrahamse said she valued her close interaction with other researchers in her field.

"I really like to see how the team is working here because PCIT in the Netherlands is young," Abrahamse said. "I am the only one in the Netherlands studying PCIT so I am really happy to be a part of the research team here."

Niec believes collaborations such as this are invaluable.

"International collaborations among faculty lead to important research that can have a positive influence on the well-being of children and families globally," Niec said.

 Along with the researchers' ongoing work on training programs, the two are collaborating on prevention intervention research and implementation.

About Parent-Child Interaction Therapy

According to PCIT International, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy is an empirically supported treatment for young children with emotional and behavioral disorders that places emphasis on improving the quality of the parent-child relationship and changing parent-child interaction patterns. 

Related links:  CMU opens Center for Children, Families and Communities


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