Trauma Specialist Program and, Forensic Psychological Assessments & Therapy

Marschak Interaction Method (MIM)

The Theraplay Institute provides the following information about the MIM on their website:

“The MIM is a structured technique for observing and assessing the overall quality and nature of relationships between caregivers and child. It consists of a series of simple tasks designed to elicit behaviors in four primary dimensions in order to evaluate the caregivers’ capacity to:

  • Set limits and provide an appropriately ordered environment (Structure)
  • Engage the child in interaction while being attuned to the child’s state (Engagement)
  • Meet the child’s needs for attention, soothing and care (Nurture)
  • Support and encourage the child’s efforts to achieve at a developmentally appropriate level (Challenge), and assess and facilitate the child’s ability to respond to the caregivers’ efforts."

Psychologists are often asked to conduct assessments with children and adolescents to determine a number of things, including: developmental functioning; current psychological, social and emotional status; presence of symptoms suggesting childhood disorders; and/or their current attachment style, relational health, and perception of important caretakers in their lives. In addition, young children may have alleged physical or sexual abuse, or child maltreatment by caretakers, family members, or others. Referring parties include school personnel, parents, caretakers, social service agencies, courts, or attorneys.

The MIM was developed by Anne Jernberg and is a salient and pivotal component in the work of Theraplay. Theraplay is a relationship-based, dyadic, experiential method of play therapy that seeks to develop secure attachments between parents and their children. The MIM is conducted prior to entering Theraplay therapy services as it identifies strengths and weaknesses in the parent-child relationship in four important domains: engagement, nurture, challenge, and structure.

The Marschak Interaction Method (MIM) is one of the ways the Psych Connect team conducts parent-child relationship assessments.The MIM may also be used independently to assess parent-child dynamics and to formulate treatment recommendations, whether or not the family has the option of participating in Theraplay services.

The MIM takes about 60 minutes and is usually videotaped. There are sets of tasks designed to be used in each of four age groups: infant, toddler, preschool/school age, and adolescent. Materials needed to perform the tasks are simple and readily available. problem areas in th In addition to allowing a close look at e relationship, the MIM provides a unique opportunity for observing the strengths of both adult and child and of their relationship. It is, therefore, a valuable tool in planning for treatment and in determining how to help families strengthen their relationships. The description of the relationship that results from this observation is a valuable aid in determining the appropriateness of custody arrangements, reunification, foster placement and/or adoption. While the MIM provides useful information about t he way two people interact, it is important that other sources such as case management data, interviews and other types of assessments be taken into account when major decisions such as change of placement or permanent placement are being considered. The M IM is not yet standardized and normed. Several groups have devised rating systems which are under study.”

Ms. Jia Hui is a psychologist at Psych Connect who formally trained to conduct testing and therapy using the MIM. Should you require more information or would like to speak to our clinician, please do not hestitate to contact us.