Programming Maintenance in Token Economies: Procedural Strategies and Ethical Implications

Sean Regnier
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BCBA CEUs: 1 Total CEU | 1 Ethics CEU

Token economies are widely used interventions that reward desired behaviors with tokens exchangeable for preferred items or privileges, with applications ranging from psychiatric facilities to classrooms. Gradual removal of token economies is crucial for fostering independence, with maintenance procedures including thinning, fading, transfer of control, and combinations of strategies, each with its ethical considerations and effectiveness. This presentation from the 2023 Michigan Autism Conference aims to educate learners on implementing these maintenance procedures, their benefits and drawbacks, and future research directions.

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Token economies are interventions that rely on the provision of token reinforcers contingent upon a target behavior and involve reinforcing desirable behavior with tokens that can be later exchanged for preferred items, privileges, and activities, called “backup reinforcers.” Token economies have a long history of clinical application, including modifying the behavior of individuals with mental illnesses in psychiatric facilities, increasing attendance and task completion with children in juvenile court, and promoting classroom participation. Token economies are easily disseminated and typically potent interventions. One critically important step in the implementation process is the gradual remove of a token economy, which is required for successful discharge of a patient, and to promote their independence. Four categories of maintenance procedures will be discussed in this presentation: (1) thinning; (2) fading; (3) transfer of control; and (4) combinations of maintenance strategies. By the end of this video, learners should understand the ethical implications of promoting maintenance, strategies for implementing these procedures, the benefits and drawbacks of each procedure, and future directions of research in this area.

About the Speaker

Dr. Sean Regnier is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He holds a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis from Western Michigan University, an MA in Applied Behavior Analysis from Westfield State University, and a BA in Psychology from Westfield State University. His skills and expertise include behavioral psychology, treatment, mental illness, behavioral pharmacology, and intellectual disabilities.

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1 review for Programming Maintenance in Token Economies: Procedural Strategies and Ethical Implications

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    Good review and new perspectives on token economies across various settings

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Sean Regnier
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