Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Kimberely J. Husenits, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Cora Lou Sherburne, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Donald U. Robertson, Ph.D.


Parent education programs have been found to be effective interventions for lower-socioeconomic families. (Baydar, Reid, & Webster-Stratton, 2002). Although research has reliably reported that any parent training is better than no parent training (Helm & Kozloff, 1986), the effectiveness of group parent education programs which emphasize relational improvement is largely unknown. The present study attempted to address this question by comparing archival data collected between the years 1999 and 2004 from two different parent training programs, the Community Parent Education Program (COPE) (Cunningham, Bremner, & Secord-Gilbert, 1994) and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) (Hembree-Kigin, & McNeil, 1995). One hundred eleven parents whose children were registered in a rural Pennsylvania Head Start program completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) (Achenbach, & Rescorla, 2000) and the Parent Practices Scale (PPS) (Strayhorn, & Weidman, 1988), the Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System (DPICS) (Robinson, & Eyberg, 1981) tracked play behaviors for parents in the PCIT group. Contrary to the study hypotheses, there were no statistically significant improvements in the PCIT and COPE participants reports of either their child’s internalizing or externalizing behaviors or their own parenting behaviors compared with the control group. An examination of differences in clinical vs. nonclinical children also did not reveal pre-or post-testing differences in these children. In addition, the validity of the PPS as a measure of parenting behaviors was unsuccessfully tested against the DPICS rating indicating that the two measures may not be measuring the same construct. Furthermore, a factor analysis of the PPS only accounted for 37% of the variance. The data did result in some interesting findings. A relationship between parents’ use of harsh punishment and their positive play behaviors was found such that parents engaging in less use of harsh punishment also engaged in fewer positive play behaviors. It was also found that single parents were more likely to drop out of parenting programs than dual parent families. Limitations to the study include the uneven composition of the groups, the lack of random assignment to the groups, and the self selection of those who chose to participate in the programs.