Parent Effectiveness Training PET

Parent effectiveness training (PET; Gordon, 2006) is a method of parent training based on two principles stressed by the psychologist Carl Rogers: unconditional positive regard and empathy (McWhirter, 2013). A fundamental premise of the method is that everyone in the family can “win,” with power negotiated and shared by parents and children (McWhirter, 2013). Although the program was originally designed for parents of problem children, its contents are also valuable for parents of well-functioning children. The PET program teaches parents skills in confrontation, conflict resolution, active listening, and giving I-messages.

This strategy is considered to be effective in working with at-risk youth because it allows for brief presentations, group discussions, audiotapes, dyads for skill practice, role playing, workbook assignments, and textbook reading which opens communications and reinforcers for at-risk youth (McWhirter, 2013).

Legal and ethical issues that need to be considered when using this intervention is consent and obligations. It is important to keep in mind that to work with youth underage, they will need consent. I speak on obligation because no one will be obligated to go through this program or participate in any matter.

In accord with the PET model, parents are trained to identify whether the parent, the child, or the relationship (both parent and child) have ownership of the problem. Determining who owns the problem sets the stage for problem resolution (McWhirter, 2013). I am addicted to Shameless, in which these children aren’t being raised at all by the parents. Rather, their older sister has attempted to raise them her whole life. This was through a scene in which one of the children fought with her sister over a property that she had purchased, not knowing that the brother was also attempting to buy the property for a homeless shelter. Both siblings fought for a quite a while.

The school in this case is Mutual Problem Solving. Mutual problem solving is the PET strategy used when the problem is owned by both child and parent; that is, when the needs of both the child and the adult are being blocked by a problem (McWhirter, 2013). First off, they would have started by identifying and defining the conflict. It is important to determine whether the disagreement is over the issue at hand (McWhirter, 2013). They would then have generated possible solutions. Both parent and child need to indicate as many alternative solutions as possible (McWhirter, 2013). Next, they would evaluate the alternative solutions. The feasibility and potential effectiveness of each solution is critically evaluated (McWhirter, 2013). They would then decide on and get commitments for the most acceptable solution. Both must agree to commit themselves to the solution, including modifying their own behavior as needed (McWhirter, 2013). Then they would work out ways of implementing the solution. The adult and the child must agree upon who is going to do what and when it is to be done (McWhirter, 2013). Lastly, they would follow up and evaluate how the solution worked. After an agreed-upon time limit, parent and child review the solution to determine satisfaction with it (McWhirter, 2013).


McWhirter, J. J. (2013). At Risk Youth, 5th Edition. [Kaplan]. Retrieved from

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