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Combined Parent-Child Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CPC-CBT): Empowering Families Who Are At Risk for Physical Abuse


Delivery Approach:
  • Group
  • Individual
  • Group & Individual
  • Dyadic
Delivery Format:
  • In-Person
Provider Requirements:
  • Licensed/Certified Professional Led
Type of Experience Addressed:
  • Child Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Domestic Violence
  • Verbal/Emotional Abuse
  • Other type of experience addressed (see Program Details)
Engagement Methods:
  • Somatic
  • Arts based
  • Talk based
  • Experiential
  • Play based
  • Other Engagement Methods (see Program Details)
Level of Intervention:
  • Intervention
  • Tertiary Prevention
  • Greater than 12 weeks
  • Home
  • Mental Health Setting
  • Community-based Setting
  • Family Service Agency
  • Other Settings
Program Details:
Type of services provided:

Strengths-based therapy program for caregivers and children in families where caregivers engage in a continuum of coercive parenting strategies. While CPC-CBT is grounded in cognitive behavioral therapy, it incorporates elements from other evidence-based CBT models as well as motivational, family systems, trauma, attachment and developmental theories. The four essential components of CPC-CBT are:

Phase 1: Engagement and Psychoeducation
Phase 2: Effective Coping Skill Building
Phase 3: Family Safety Planning
Phase 4: Abuse Clarification

Program setting:

Home, community agency, outpatient clinic

Length of program/number of sessions:

16-20 90-minute individual sessions or 120-minute group sessions; Individual and group CPC both involve meeting with the child and caregiver separately and then meeting jointly with caregiver and child.

Type(s) of trauma/concerns addressed:

Child physical abuse, coercive parenting, significant parent-child conflict, coercive family interactions and conflict.

Symptoms addressed:

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, behavioral problems and other difficulties, parental depression, coercive parenting tactics

Education level of providers:

Master’s degree or higher in one of the mental health professions or earning a degree as a mental health practitioner and under supervision of a licensed mental health professional

Additional information:


Unique/Innovative Characteristics:

Implemented with families who speak Spanish only. Implemented with families who speak Swedish only.

Date Added/Updated:


Population Served

  • 0-5 (Early Childhood)
  • 6-12 (Childhood)
  • 13-17 (Adolescent)
Population Language:
  • English
  • Spanish
  • Other Population Language
Ethnic Racial Group:
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • White
  • Child
  • Child and Non-abusive Parent/Caregiver
  • Family
  • Survivor parent
  • Parent who uses Violence
  • Foster/Adoptive Parents
  • Other Client/audience
Population Adaptations:
Age range of children served:

3-17 years of age

Are parent/adult caregiver(s) included in intervention?


Ethnic/racial and other groups served:

Implemented with families that only speak Spanish and those who only speak Swedish

Specific cultural adaptations:

None specified

Languages that service/resource is available:

English, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish


Goals of the program/services:

• Reduce children’s PTSD symptoms, depression, other internalizing symptoms and behavior problems
• Improve parents’ coping and positive parenting skills and mood
• Increase parental empathy for children by enhancing insight into the impact of parenting behavior on children’s emotions and behaviors
• Enhance parent-child relationships
• Reduce parents’ use of corporal punishment

Evaluation Studies:
Has there been any evaluation?


Key evaluation results:

In a randomized controlled trial by Runyon and colleagues (2010), parents and children who received CPC-CBT were compared to parents who received CBT and their children participated in other activities such as games and art. Parents were referred from local child protective service agencies, prosecutors’ offices and health fairs. At posttest, children in the CPC-CBT intervention group had lower posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and their parents had higher scores for positive parenting compared to those families where only the parent received treatment.

Is there an evaluation currently in progress or planned?

A clinical trial comparing CPC-CBT to treatment as usual (TAU) in Sweden is nearing completion.

Publications about the program:

Kjellgren, C., Svedin, C. G., & Nilsson, D. (2013). Child physical abuse-experiences of combined treatment for children and their parents. A pilot study. Child Care in Practice, 19, 275-290.

Runyon, M. K., Deblinger, E., & Cruthirds, S. (2017). Interventions for families at-risk for child physical abuse. In L. Dixon, D. Perkins, L. Craig, & C. Hamilton-Giachristis (Eds.), What Works in Child Protection (pp.).Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Runyon, M. K. & Mclean, C. (2014). Empowering families: Combined parent-child cognitive-behavioral therapy for families at-risk for child physical abuse. In R.M. Reece, R. F. Hanson, & J. Sargent (Eds.), Child Abuse Treatment: Common Ground for Mental Health, Medical and Legal Professionals (pp. 67-75). Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Runyon, M. K., Deblinger, E., Ryan, E. E., & Thakkar-Kolar, R. (2004). An overview of child physical abuse: Developing an integrated parent-child cognitive-behavioral treatment approach. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, 5, 65-85.

Runyon, M. K., Deblinger, E., & Schroeder, C. M. (2009). Pilot evaluation of outcomes of combined parent-child cognitive-behavioral group therapy for families at-risk for child physical abuse. Cognitive Behavioral Practice, 16, 101-118.

Runyon, M. K., Deblinger, E., & Schroeder, C. M. (2010). Preliminary analyses of pre to posttreatment changes in families after their participation in Combined Parent-Child Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Unpublished manuscript.

Runyon, M. K., Deblinger, E., & Steer, R. (2010). Comparison of combined parent-child and parent- only cognitive-behavioral treatments for offending parents and children in cases of child physical abuse. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 32, 196-218.

Runyon MK, Urquiza A. 2011. Child physical abuse: Interventions for parents who engage in coercive parenting practices and their children. In J.E. B. Myers (Ed.), The APSAC handbook on child maltreatment (pp.195-212). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Santa, E. J. & Runyon, M. K. (2014). Addressing ethnocultural factors in treatment for child physical abuse, Journal of Child and Family Studies, DOI:10.1007/s10826-014-9969-5

Rated/Reviewed by Evidence Based Registries:

SAMHSA’s National Evidence Based Practice Resource Center 
California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare
The National Traumatic Stress Network Treatments and Practices, Trauma Interventions 

Training & Resources

Training Language:
  • Not Specified
Training Available:
  • Yes
Training Details:
Training manuals/protocols:

Runyon MK, Deblinger E. 2014. Combined Parent-Child Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CPC-CBT): An approach to empower families at-risk for child physical abuse (Programs that work). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Training Contact:

None specified

Program Contact

Melissa Runyon, PhD
(609) 247-5273