Pictured are core staff of the Child Trauma Research Program in 2017.

Historical Roots

Selma Fraiberg

CPP originated in infant–parent psychotherapy (IPP), a psychoanalytic treatment developed by Selma Fraiberg. IPP involves parents and young children and uses the metaphor of "ghosts in the nursery" to understand and prevent the intergenerational transmission of negative relationship patterns during the first three years of life.

Development of Child-Parent Psychotherapy

Bldg 20, SFGH, where CPP was developed

Child-Parent Psychotherapy was developed at the Child Trauma Research Program at University of California San Francisco's San Francisco General Hospital (now known as Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital). CTRP was founded in 1996 with the mission of developing an evidence-based, culturally-informed approach to treating traumatic stress in young children and extending the basic principles of infant-parent psychotherapy to children aged 3 to 5.

In 1998, the team received federal funding from the National Institute of Mental Health to develop the manual for Child-Parent Psychotherapy and conduct a randomized trial study. The study involved preschool-aged children and their mothers, all of whom had experienced domestic violence. Results from the study were published through three articles released in 2005, 2006, and 2011. They showed that CPP helped reduce child and maternal symptoms even in children who had experienced multiple risks and that results endured over time.

The first edition of the manual was published in 2005 and the 2nd edition, containing additional examples and new sections on the phases of treatment and CPP fidelity to support CPP implementation, was published in 2015.

Independent Evaluation of CPP

Mt. Hope Family Center

An independent team at University of Rochester's Mt. Hope Family Center conducted three separate randomized control trials of CPP. Together their studies provide support for the use of CPP with infants and preschoolers who experienced maltreatment and toddlers whose mothers were depressed.

CPP in the San Francisco Bay Area

CTRP has a long history of partnering with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the SF Human Services Agency, the SF Safe Start Initiative, and Jewish Family and Children’s Services Child Training Institute to disseminate CPP and develop trauma-informed services in the SF Bay Area.

In 2007, CTRP and the Tipping Point Community partnered to form the CTRP Tipping Point Mental Health Initiative to increase access to mental health services to families living in poverty in the Bay Area. Tipping Point Mental Health Initiative faculty, staff and fellows in training were placed in local community-based agencies such as the Homeless Prenatal Program, Center for Youth Wellness, Canal Alliance, and KIPP Charter School to provide CPP and other on-site direct services and to support agency staff through trauma-informed consultation. 

Beginning in 2014, CTRP conducted five SF Bay Area CPP Learning Collaboratives in collaboration with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, First Five Alameda, First Five San Francisco, First Five Santa Clara, and Trauma Transformed. Since that time CTRP has conducted an SF Bay Area CPP Learning Collaborative each year to support CPP sustainability in the region.

National Dissemination of CPP

In 2001, the Child Trauma Research Program joined the National Child Traumatic Stress Network as the lead site of the Early Trauma Treatment Network (ETTN). CPP was first disseminated within ETTN sites in Boston and New Orleans.

National dissemination of CPP began in 2007 through CPP Learning Collaboratives jointly conducted with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. The NCTSN Learning Collaborative model has become the primary method for providing training in CPP. Beginning in 2008, National CPP Trainers were trained to conduct implementation-level CPP trainings. More information about CPP dissemination and implementation efforts since then can be found on our CPP Dissemination webpage.

International Dissemination of CPP

In 2010, the first international CPP training was conducted in Israel in collaboration with Haruv Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This training involved multiple cohorts, with the third cohort including the training of National Israeli CPP trainers. Ongoing CPP training is conducted by Haruv Institute in Israel.

CPP spread to Sweden in 2013 thanks to the efforts of researchers at Karlstads University, who conducted a CPP feasibility study commissioned by the Swedish government. Given the study's positive findings, two additional cohorts were trained, with the third cohort involving the training of two National Swedish CPP trainers. Since this time, CPP has been implemented in Norway, Hong Kong, Australia, and England. More information can be found on our CPP Dissemination webpage.