A Cohort Study on the Effect of Parental Mind-Mindedness in Parent−Child Interaction Therapy

Merlijn Meynen, Cristina Colonnesi, Mariëlle E. Abrahamse, Irma Hein, Geert Jan J.M. Stams, Ramón J.L.L. Lindauer

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Parent−child interaction therapy (PCIT) is a short-term, evidence-based intervention for caregivers with children aged between 2 and 7 who exhibit behavioral problems. PCIT is effective, but has a high attrition rate ranging from 27% to 69%. We hypothesize that a low level of parental mind-mindedness—the parent’s propensity to treat the child as an intentional agent with its own thoughts and emotions—might contribute to premature attrition or cause families to profit less from treatment. To test these hypotheses, we performed a retrospective cohort study in a time-limited, home-based PCIT sample (n = 19) and in a clinic-based PCIT sample (n = 25), to investigate whether parents with a medium-high level of mind-mindedness differ from parents with a medium-low level of mind-mindedness in the outcome measures of PCIT (child’s behavioral problems, parenting skills and stress and mothers’ anxious and depressed symptoms). Furthermore, we examined if mind-mindedness was related to attrition and (for clinic-based PCIT only) number of sessions. Repeated measures ANOVA showed that mothers with a medium-high level of mind-mindedness displayed more improvement in two parenting skills benefiting a positive parent−child interaction. Furthermore, we found a group effect of mind-mindedness in the PCIT-home sample, with mothers with a medium-high level of mind-mindedness showing better results on most outcome measures. Our findings suggest that adding a mind-mindedness improving intervention prior to or during PCIT could benefit mothers with a medium to low level of mind-mindedness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4533
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • PCIT
  • disruptive behavioral problems
  • mind-mindedness
  • parenting skills

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