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The Marschak Interaction Method

The Marschak Interaction Method (MIM) is a structured observation technique developed by Marianne Marschak to assess the quality and nature of child-caregiver relationship:  engagement, nurture, challenge, and structure. The MIM is a semi-structured videotaped caregiver-child observation which is designed to elicit different aspects of the relationship know to be important in terms of the child’s development. 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."


The MIM may also be used independently to assess caregiver-child dynamics and to formulate treatment recommendations. Clinicians at The Collective Healing Center may utilize  the MIM to pinpoint specific parent-child difficulties and strengths. Trained clinicians then develop treatment plans based on data obtained through the MIM and offer focused interventions on areas of caregiver-child attachment that need strengthening.


*While the MIM provides useful information about relational interactions, it is important to note that other sources such as case management data, interviews and other types of assessments are taken into account when major decisions such as change of placement or permanent placement are being considered. The MIM is not yet standardized and normed. Several groups have devised rating systems which are under study.

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