adult attachment interview

Overview Course: Adult Attachment Interview (AAI)

Family Relations Institute

adult attachment

Adult attachment
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The Adult Attachment Interview is a procedure for assessing adults' strategies for identifying, preventing, and protecting the self from perceived dangers, particularly dangers tied to intimate relationships. The course offered by Dr. Crittenden is based on an expansion of the Bowlby-Ainsworth theory (Crittenden, 1995) and an extension of the Main and Goldwyn procedure (Main & Goldwyn, in press) as applied to the Adult Attachment Interview (George, Kaplan, & Main, 1986, 1996).

The dynamic-maturational approach to the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) is both a useful research tool and also a potential guide for psychotherapists. Therapists, in particular, learn not only new ways to conceptualize disturbed development, but also ways to identify in adults' distortions of the mental processing of information, particularly information relevant to disorders of feelings, thought, and behavior. The techniques for interpreting speech can be useful even if the therapist does not formally use the interview itself in practice. For those interested in research applications, the 18-day training is usually sufficient to establish reliability on the major classifications and subclassifications.

The Dynamic-Maturational method (Crittenden, 1999) for analyzing Adult Attachment Interviews differs from the Main and Goldwyn method (in preparation) in several ways:

1. Intent: The intent of the Dynamic-Maturational method is to describe the self-protective strategies and patterns of mental processing of speakers; the intent of the Main and Goldwyn method is to predict infants' patterns of attachment.

2. Outcome classifications: The set of outcome classifications is larger in the Dynamic-Maturational method and better suited to differentiating among individuals with psychological disorder than the set of classifications used by the Main and Goldwyn method.

3. Treatment of non-Ainsworth classifications: The Dynamic-Maturational method uses 6 compulsive Type A subpatterns (A3-8) and 6 obsessive Type C subpatterns (C3-8), plus a full array of combinations of these. In the Main and Goldwyn method, most non-normative individuals fall in three classifications (E3, U/E3, and "Cannot Classify").

4. Patterns vs ratings: The Dynamic-Maturational method depends upon patterns within and among memory systems, whereas the Main and Goldwyn system depends upon ratings of constructs.

5. Functions vs defined meanings: The Dynamic-Maturational method uses the function of discourse markers to define meaning, whereas the Main and Goldwyn method assigns meanings to discourse markers.

6. Memory systems: The Dynamic-Maturational method systematically assesses 5 memory systems (procedural, imaged, semantic, episodic, and working), whereas the Main and Goldwyn method considers 3 (semantic, episodic, and working).

7. Modifiers: In the Dynamic-Maturational method, there are four modifiers (depressed, disorganized, reorganizing, and unresolved with regard to trauma or loss), with 8 different forms of lack of resolution of trauma or loss (dismissed, displaced, vicarious, blocked, preoccupied, anticipated, imagined, and hinted); the Main and Goldwyn method has only preoccupied lack of resolution of loss or trauma.

8. Validity: Validity for the Main and Goldwyn method is primarily based on normative samples and prediction from mothers to infants, whereas the validity of the Dynamic-Maturational method is primarily based on clinical samples and differentiation among disorders.

Training courses

The basic training addresses the patterns found in normative and out-patient treatment populations. It involves 18 days of full-time effort coding transcripts; the days are usually spread over about six months' time. The first 6 days cover most of the Ainsworth-based patterns that form the basis for the Main and Goldwyn system. The second 6 days cover most of the patterns in the dynamic-maturational approach, i.e., A3-6 and C3-6. The third 6 days cover the A/C and AC combinations and some of the modifiers of patterns, e.g., preoccupied and dismissed lack of resolution of trauma and loss, depression, and reorganization. Course participants read, code, and classify two transcripts each day for discussion the following day.

The routine, therefore, is 4 hours of training per day followed by independent reading and classifying of the next day's transcripts. Each transcript takes 2-3 hours to prepare. Consequently, participants should be entirely free of other obligations during the training. Between each segment of training, a set of practice transcripts is made available to course participants. Following the training, a set of transcripts is given to each participant for classification; these transcripts constitute a reliability test.

Following the basic, course members may take a fourth 6-day unit that covers very complex patterning, e.g., A7-8, C7-8, other forms of lack of resolution, disorientation, intrusions of forbidden negative affect, and expressed somatic symptoms. These constructs are relevant to the eating and personality disorders, psychoses, serious (forensic) cases of child protection, some parents of children with psychiatric or psychological disorders, and criminal behavior.

Assessing Adult Attachment: A Dynamic-Maturational Approach to Discourse Analysis. Crittenden, P. M. & Landini, A. (2011). New York: Norton. Required reading for the course. Buy this book here.

As with all courses offered by Dr. Crittenden, participants are given a written and signed statement of their percent agreement with the standard. This reliability can be reported in research articles. Evidence of reliability should be requested if the participant will code data for another researcher.

To inquire about the course in general, interested parties can contact Dr. Crittenden directly. To register for courses, individuals should check the training section listed on these pages and contact the relevant organizer. Dr. Crittenden does not handle registration or fee payment. Requests to run a new course can be directed to Dr. Crittenden.

Studies using the DMM Method of Discourse Analysis with the AAI

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