What is Child-Parent Relationship Therapy?

One of my favorite things to do in my job involves running Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) groups. You may not have heard of this parenting model – it’s not as heavily marketed as big names like Love & Logic and Positive Discipline. However, Child-Parent Relationship Therapy has been well-researched and shown to be very effective at helping parents better manage their children’s behaviors.

Having run several CPRT groups myself, I’ve seen children begin to feel and act better, and parents begin to grow in their ability to lead their families with calm and confidence. I’ve truly never had a parent tell me that they didn’t get something out of this group. Although a parenting group like this can be a big time commitment, it is very much worth the effort!

What is Child-Parent Relationship Therapy?
Child-Parent-Relationship Therapy (CPRT) aims to help reduce children’s problem behaviors by strengthening the relationship between a parent and a child. Parents attend a weekly 1.5-hour (parent-only) group, and then hold weekly 30-minute special playtimes with their children at home.

Why Play?
Play is important to children because it is the most natural way they communicate: while adults talk about their experiences, thoughts, and feelings, children use toys to explore their experiences and express what they think and how they feel. This is not a typical playtime!

What kinds of things will I learn?
In Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT), parents learn and use many of the same skills that play therapists use with their clients, including:

  • How to help children open up to you
  • How to recognize and respond to children’s emotional needs
  • How to set limits and reduce power struggles
  • How to increase self-esteem
  • How to foster creativity, self-responsibility, and self-control

How is the information taught?
CPRT groups use a combination of videos, group activities, collaborative discussion, as well as some lecture. The atmosphere is friendly and the training is interactive, making it a lively and enjoyable experience. You also get the chance to connect and receive support from other parents who are going through similar issues.

How will CPRT help my child?
Research studies have shown that motivated parents who have completed CPRT can be just as effective as play therapists at:

  • Reducing problem behaviors
  • Developing responsibility and self-control in children
  • Increasing children’s self-esteem
  • Enhancing the parent-child relationship

Can any parent join a Child-Parent Relationship Therapy group?
Some CPRT groups have been adjusted to accommodate parents of teenagers or young toddlers; however, the traditional group is aimed at parents of children between 3 and 10.

How is CPRT different from any other parenting curriculum?
There are a lot of truly amazing parenting guides out there. However, here are some things that set CPRT apart from the others:

  • You are not expected to go home and change everything you do. You will learn one new skill each week, which you will get to practice in your 30-minute playtime with your child. CPRT is less overwhelming than other models can be, which helps you retain the information more easily.
  • CPRT will not make you a trained play therapist, BUT you will have a much greater understanding of what goes in a play therapy session between a trained therapist and your child. Other parenting models give great advice, but only CPRT involves showing parents how to have special playtimes.
  • Unlike other parenting guides, CPRT has been identified as an Evidence-Based Treatment by SAMHSA


If you live in the Austin area and are interested in attending a Child-Parent Relationship Therapy group, please contact me at amanda.robinson.lpc@gmail.com.

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