Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Sebastian Striefel


Child abuse has been shown to have a detrimental effect on the emotion development of the abused child. Due to a history with the parent that includes a high proportion of negative interactions and an impaired parent-child relationship, the child who has been subjected to physical abuse often manifests psychological symptoms. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect that treatment aimed at increasing the frequency of positive interaction in the parent-child relationship had on the emotional status of the abused child. Results showed that parent-child interaction play sessions were effective in increasing positive interaction and decreasing subsequent abusive behavior in the parent-child dyad. Self-reported parental attitudes toward the child became more positive. Treatment did not generalize totally and was not maintained totally during follow-up. The effect that treatment had on the emotional status of the abused child was less clear, although some improvement was noted. The results of this study have important clinical implications for therapists working with abusive parents in terms of providing an effective intervention for treatment of child abuse. Further investigation of the treatment is warranted. Suggestions for future research are offered.