Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Trevor Stokes

Daniel D. Holt

Bryan K. Saville


The purpose of this study was to use a specialized form of differential attention to increase the length of time a child is able to remain within close proximity of an adult during play. The therapist used two sets of skills in the context of play, one for when the child was within close proximity, and the other for when the child was not. The close proximity skills were adapted from Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, an evidence-based therapy designed to create and maintain positive interactions between parent and child. The second skill set consisted of positive play statements and descriptive play statements. The therapist used these skills to provide attention differentially during play, emphasizing the attention and anecdotal fun available within close proximity of the adult. The goal was for the therapist to establish stimulus control, acting as a symbolic “magnet” for the child’s return to the play area, without providing attention when the child was not in close proximity. Data collection was terminated before the study was concluded because of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.


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