Attachment style interview

Attachment Style Interview (ASI) is an assessment tool that was developed by the Lifespan Research Group at the Royal Holloway, University of London. It has been adapted for use in the adoption and fostering assessment process. ASI for Adoption/Fostering (ASI-AF) is an approved DfES measure in adoption/fostering for the purposes of anticipating post-placement support needs. It is a particularly relevant tool in assessing the likely impact of stressful parenting on adoption and fostering placements, predicting carers' support needs post-placement, and tracking support needs over the course of crises that may arise with a child in their care.

ASI-AF is a tape-recorded, semi-structured interview, which assesses the characteristics of potential adopters and foster carers. It focuses on:

  • the quality of their relationships
  • their support networks
  • the security of their attachment styles
ASI-AF helps to identify:
  • resilience and vulnerability factors in carers
  • post-placement support needs
ASI belongs to the ‘social psychology' strand of investigation of attachment style. It measures the adult attachment style in relation to a person's ability to make and maintain close and supportive relationships, and to access and utilise social support.

The interview determines which of five categories of attachment style the interviewee best fits. The styles are:
  • Secure
  • Insecure enmeshed
  • Insecure fearful
  • Insecure angry-dismissive
  • Insecure withdrawn

In addition, the interviewer can determine the extent to which the four insecure styles are dysfunctional in terms of whether the person is markedly, moderately or mildly insecure. People with mildly insecure attachment styles have been proven to be less at risk of experiencing mental health problems and are less likely to have problems coping with the stress of caring for a child than those with moderate or markedly insecure attachment styles.

ASI-AF cannot assess parenting behaviour, however it has been shown to be an effective predictor of depression and problems in relationships with partners, both of which are strongly correlated with parenting problems. Insecure attachment styles are also known to relate to low self-esteem, conflicting or distant relationships and adverse childhood experience.

Parents for Children offers our ASI-AF service, conducted by a psychologist or trained social worker, to local authorities. Our ASI-AF service can form part of a Form F assessment or be provided as a separate, stand-alone service.

If you would like further information about our Attachment Style Interview service, or any of the expert services offered by Parents for Children, please contact Daniela Mandelli, Research Psychologist on [email protected] or call her on 020 7520 2880/1.