Yale Parenting Center

Making Families Stronger

What Makes Us Different

The Yale Parenting Center is not your typical counseling or parent coaching program.  There are unique features of our program in relation to how we help children and families. Over the past thirty years, we have developed our own unique methods for helping families and children as they struggle with behavioral difficulties. Our program is multi-faceted and has been proven to be effective in changing child and teen behavior at home, at school, and in other everyday settings. Here are some of the key characteristics that we know make our program special, and different from every other behavioral program out there:

  • Based on science:
    Our work draws on extensive experience with families but also on research on child-rearing, parenting, and behavior change.  Over the years, nationally-funded grants have continually supported our efforts to answer critical questions of parenting.
  • Simple strategies:
    We have translated our research findings into practical procedures that parents can easily and effectively use to change behavior at home, at school, and in everyday settings.  These strategies provide many options for exactly how to help your child.
  • Use of rewards:
    Yes, we use rewards (also called “positive reinforcement”) because, when done correctly, they work.  We know how to use them effectively, short term, and without a child becoming dependent on them. In our program, parents learn to actually change their interactions with their child – to catch their child “being good”.  It is those changes that make all the difference!
  • Not another reward program:
    While positive reinforcement is used, it is just one of many tools that we can provide parents to help change their child’s behavior. By combining rewards with other skills, we have found a way to achieve the most effective change. The key is setting up the behaviors you want so they occur and developing gradually toward the goals you wish. There are many special procedures designed to do that.
  • Minimizes the use of punishment:
    The staff at the Yale Parenting Center help parents to understand the most effective use for punishment—how to use it, when to use it, and the dangers of relying on punishment alone. There is an abundance of poor information available to parents regarding punishment; and once they learn not to rely on punishment, problems will often dramatically improve.
  • Short-term program:
    This is a short-term and goal oriented program.  We only need a handful of sessions to see robust changes in behavior.
  • Actions more than words:
    Speaking and reasoning with children (and others) is very important for developing their thinking, problem solving, and social skills.  Yet for changing concrete behaviors in the home, there are procedures that work much better and with more enduring effects. These are based on actions—parent actions and child actions, and we can help in promoting those.
  • Skill based:
    Our program provides parents with skills to create the changes they want.  Often children come into session and try to put their best foot forward; but it is at home where the problems unfold.  We can teach parents the best way to handle those problems, either by making them less likely to happen or even better, by turning those problems around. The parents are the real therapists – we empower them to make the changes and see growth.  .
  • Individualized:
    Although there is an extensive “toolkit” we provide to help develop the behaviors you wish in your child, the program is completely individualized to your situation, needs, and goals.


  • Addresses a wide range of difficulties:
    Our program is able to provide help for parents with special needs children and parents who would like help with the normal challenges of child rearing (e.g., toilet training, eating healthy foods, speaking respectfully, not throwing tantrums, doing homework, maintaining curfews, and many others).
  • Sessions are easy and convenient:
    We provide parent training throughout the United States and actually throughout the world. If you cannot come to New Haven, we come to you—live,
    on-line, face-to-face by computer in your home. We have worked individually this way with families in several countries including Australia, Canada, Luxembourg, Peru, Poland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.  The appointments are scheduled at convenient times while you work with us from your home.
  • Training for professionals:
    Are you a mental health professional or teacher? In addition to parents, we train mental health professionals, counselors, and educators throughout the
    world.  There is great interest in learning about evidence-based treatments that achieve practical gains that make a difference to children and families.