Importance: Responsive communication is critical to ensuring family-centered care in early intervention (EI). The Intentional Relationship Model (IRM) offers a framework for examining therapist–parent communication and offers strategies for supporting therapist responsiveness.
Objective: To explore family-centered care and therapists’ communication in EI using the IRM.
Design: Prospective descriptive study.
Setting: Illinois EI program.
Participants: Convenience sample of 101 therapists and 19 parents enrolled in an EI program. Therapist disciplines included developmental (n = 24), occupational (n = 32), physical (n = 17), and speech (n = 28) therapy.
Outcomes and Measures: Demographic questionnaire, Early Interventionist Self-Efficacy Scale, Early Intervention Parenting Self-Efficacy Scale, Measure of Processes of Care (MPOC)–Short Form, MPOC–Service Provider, Clinical Assessment of Modes (CAM), and Clinical Assessment of Suboptimal Interaction–Short Form (CASI–SF).
Results: Therapists used family-centered practices specific to relationship building more frequently than information sharing (especially sharing of general information). Therapists used the empathizing, encouraging, and instructing modes most frequently in their interactions with families. Participants’ scores on the MPOC, CAM, and CASI–SF were significantly correlated.
Conclusions and Relevance: Therapist–parent interactions were aligned with family-centered care. Opportunities for practitioners were identified in (1) sharing specific and general information and (2) expanding the use of collaborating, problem-solving, and advocating modes.
What This Article Adds: In this study, we explored how the IRM can inform family-centered practices in EI through examination of therapists’ interpersonal competency and therapeutic mode use.