The Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) is a semi-structured interview, used in both clinical and research settings, to determine attachment styles in adulthood based on narratives about childhood experiences. The AAI can be used as a tool in couples’ therapy towards multiple ends: 1) to encourage partners to discuss events about their childhoods which may not have been disclosed before; 2) to assess attachment styles of each partner to better understand relationship issues; 3) to elicit deep emotions in the context of couples therapy and encouraging behaviors to establish each partner as the secure base for the other.
Directions: The goal of the assignment is to experience what it is like to conduct this interview, whether it is with your intimate partner, a close friend or relative, or even a classmate. You may also wish to do this in a “couples’ therapy” format with a couple in your life. The interview typically takes about an hour, but ranges between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. While administering the interview, think about how this could open the door for discussion about important topics in a therapeutic context with intimate partners. Take notes on your “client’s” responses to each question that you can paraphrase later. Once complete, use the scoring guidelines to determine what their attachment style is likely to be. In addition to this, you will construct a narrative discussing what your experience was like as the interviewer, responding to the following prompts:
What thoughts and feelings emerged for you as the interviewer listening to the interviewee discuss their family of origin and childhood experiences?
Did this help you to feel closer to the person that you interviewed? Why or why not?
Knowing what you do about attachment styles, the association between adult attachment and maintenance of intimate relationships, and the goals of couples’ therapy, describe how the AAI may help improve relationship dynamics.
List of questions with bullet-points summarizing your volunteers’ answers
3-5 page (12-pt font, double-spaced) narrative with (1) the attachment style you believe your participant has based on their answers and the scoring instructions of the AAI; (2) your reflections to the two questions above.