A Single-Subject Investigation of the Effectiveness of Transitional Objects in Reducing Self-Injurious Behavior

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services


This study examined the effectiveness of transitional objects, in reducing self- injurious behaviors (SIB) from a psychodynamic theoretical perspective through two single-ease designs with middle-aged women. Participants received treatment as usual (TAU) from their on-going individual psychologists during an 8-10 week baseline phase, received a transitional object, and then continued TAU during a 22-23 week treatment phase. Participants completed the Self-Injury Survey (SIS) at weekly administrations during the baseline and treatment phases. Participants completed the Adult Separation Anxiety Questionnaire (ASA-27). Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES-fl). Symptom Checklist 90, Revised (SCL-90-R), and Reciprocal Attachment Questionnaire (RAQ) periodically throughout the baseline and treatment phases, with a total of five administrations.

Three hypotheses were examined, with this author expecting that, each of the hypotheses would demonstrate that transitional objects are effective in reducing SIB. The results were inconclusive in that the transitional object appeared to have reduced SIB for both participants, but reductions were visually meaningful for only one participant and not statistically or clinically significant for either participant. Results are discussed through the examination of the idiosyncratic and diagnostic features of each participant as they relate the effect of the transitional object on SIB.

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