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Marschack Interaction Method (MIM)

The Marschak Interaction Method (MIM) is a structured technique for observing and assessing the relationship between two individuals, for example, biological parent and child, foster or adoptive parent and child, teacher and child. It consists of a series of simple tasks designed to elicit a range of behaviors in four dimensions.

The MIM evaluates the parent's capacity: to set limits and to provide an appropriately ordered environment (Structure), to engage the child in interaction while being attuned to the child's state and reactions (Engagement), to meet the child's needs for attention, soothing and care (Nurture), and to support and encourage the child's efforts to achieve at a developmentally appropriate level (Challenge). At the same time it allows assessment of the child's ability to respond to the parent's efforts.

In addition to allowing a close look at problem areas in the 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 the 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 MIM interaction takes from 30 to 60 minutes and is videotaped. Careful evaluation of the videotaped interaction precedes the preparation of the written report or feedback. Feedback includes showing parts of the videotape to demonstrate to the adult the most effective ways to engage and interact with the child. Individuals or agencies requesting this assessment may specify either a written report, personal feedback or both. MIM manuals and card sets are available through The Theraplay Institute.