The Child Attachment Interview (CAI) was originally developed as a research tool rather than as a clinical, diagnostic tool for work with individual children The CAI is therefore just one of several methods available to assess the quality of children’s attachment experience. The CAI is a semi-structured interview for use with children aged 8 to 15. The procedure midly activates the child’s attachment in that the child meets a stranger in unfamiliar surroundings. The interview takes approximately 30–40 minutes and is filmed for later coding. There is a standard protocol and the interviewer asks direct questions.
This is not a therapeutic procedure. It seeks to establish the child’s experience of current or recent past caregivers.
Nine scales are used in coding the interview:
- Emotional openness
- Use of examples
- Pre-occupied anger / anxiety
- Dismissal / derogation
- Resolution of conflict
The value of the Child Attachment Interview lies less in the scoring mechanism and more in how it reveals the child’s experience of the selected carers.
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