Measuring Attachment and Reflective Functioning in Early Adolescence:An Introduction to the Friends and Family Interview

Submitted: July 9, 2012
Accepted: November 3, 2012
Published: February 17, 2013
Abstract Views: 2528
PDF: 1853
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Internal working models (IWMs; Bowlby, 1969/1982) develop before language and are, initially at least, pre-symbolic, nonverbal notions. With reflective functioning (RF; Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgitt, 1991) we have the possibility to refashion IWMs based on language, but linguistic skills only develop between 18-24 months, and then steadily over time. Reliable instruments are available to assess these constructs in infancy and adulthood: The Strange Situation observational measure (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978) reveals the infant’s IWMs of his caregivers, while the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; Main, Hesse, & Goldwyn, 2008; George, Kaplan, & Main, 1985) exposes the adult speaker’s capacity for RF. This paper addresses the middle ground of early adolescent children who are not yet mature enough to respond to a full AAI, but are too old to expect that an observational attachment measure would reveal much about their inner thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about attachment. We outline an interview protocol designed for 9 to 16-year old children, asking about self, friends, teachers, and family, with the aim of elucidating both IWMs, regarding earlier experience, and the extent of RF concerning past and present experiences. The protocol is the Friends and Family Interview (FFI; Steele & Steele, 2005), which has a mul-tidimensional scoring system to be elaborated with verbatim examples of response from both low-risk community samples, and higher-risk samples of youth.



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How to Cite

Kriss, A., Steele, H., & Steele, M. (2013). Measuring Attachment and Reflective Functioning in Early Adolescence:An Introduction to the Friends and Family Interview. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 15(2), 87–95.

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