Marschak Interaction Method (MIM)

MIM Image for Web

Mental health professionals are often asked to conduct assessments with young children 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 Gil Institute’s primary starting point for conducting parent-child relationship assessments and will be described below.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. 

Starbright Training Institute is a proud host for The Theraplay Institute's comprehensive training program. Therefore, several of our clinician's have been trained in both the MIM and Theraplay (parent-child therapy). Clinicians at Gil Institute 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 parent-child attachment that need strengthening.

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."