Strengths based assessment of vulnerable families in child protection and out-of-home care


What is the Attachment Style Interview (ASI)

The ASI is an audio-recorded, semi-structured interview that takes around 90 mins to administer. It uses standardised thresholds for what constitutes ‘good-enough’ support, and aids practitioners to avoid the biases and ‘halo effects’ from clients’ socially-desirable responses. Using investigator-based tools (where the assessor makes the final scoring and judgments are based on previously determined benchmarks), with semi-structured probing to determine evidence for a more in-depth picture of relationships, helps to counter-act such biases. The ASI is one of the few attachment style interviews that has an accessible method of questioning and scoring to assess both secure and insecure relating styles.

The ASI assessment aids understanding of parents’ & carers’ current supportive network including the quality of their partner and other close support relationships, and identifies barriers they have to such closeness from attitudes of Anxious style or Avoidant style. It measures their ability to make and maintain relationships and overall attachment style. The ASI should not be confused with the other measures, notably the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) which is not adapted for use by practitioners and is not support-focused.

For more information refer to the book Understanding Adult Attachment in Family Relationships, which discusses ASI, its research findings and practice use in depth.

Request a copy of the  ASI FACT sheet 

Why is it important? 

Children and young people who have experienced trauma and abuse require more than a loving home if they are to thrive and reach their full potential. Parents and carers need to have the capacity to maintain relationships and to provide a secure base even when triggered by specific responses and behaviours.

Widely applied in the UK and other European countries, the ASI is used to provide an objective assessment of the attachment style of current and prospective carers and adopters. The ASI can also be used with birth parents who are seeking the restoration of their children from care.

Once a caregiver’s attachment style has been assessed the family can be supported through tailored strategies that promote the development of healthy relationships.

Who is it for?

The ASI has particular relevance for practitioners  working with caregivers, be they birth parents, kin, foster carers, guardians or adoptive parents. The ASI highlights an individual’s areas of resilience, while also identifying vulnerabilities where additional support strategies may be required, particularly during times of stress. So, for instance, carrying out an ASI on a parent caught up in the child protection system or working towards the reunification of their child from care, will give the case manager insight into the most appropriate scaffolding for this family, while also highlighting how best to build a trusting client/worker relationship.

In out-of-home care, understanding a carer’s attachment style leads to improved practice in placement matching. When used in a carer review, the ASI can identify an individual/couple’s need for extra professional input or alternatively their readiness to take on additional children and/or change their registration category.

What is the ASI-AD? 

The ASI and ASI-AD are both evidence-based tools that inform decision-making in child protection and out-of-home care. 

The ASI assesses adult attachment style and provides a breakdown of insecure styles into mild, moderate or marked. This is significant  when considering risk or resilience pathways and will help determine both strategies for engagement and  individualised approaches to building parenting capacity.

The ASI-AD is the adolescent version of the ASI. Training for the ASI-AD is carried over an additional two days, once a practitioner has  embedded their knowledge of the ASI. The ASI-AD is particularly useful for practitioners working in residential care, Juvenile Justice and youth homelessness.  

Our consultants are available to administer the ASI and will be introducing the ASI-AD shortly.

How do I book an assessment for a client?

Contact us to book an assessment.

ASI versus the AAI

What are the differences between the ASI and AAI?

The AAI (Adult Attachment Interview) is a psychotherapeutic tool that assesses attachment style based on responses to an interview that focusses on early relationships and the resolution or lack of resolution of early loss. The requirements are for highly expert scoring and trainees need to have completed an initial three day course and also hold a relevant degree. Training takes place over a number of months, involves eighteen face to face training days and 6 to 8 hours course work per week. 

The ASI takes a social psychological approach to assessing attachment and is based on a person’s current attachment style. The interview concentrates on  present-day relationships and thus also picks up on ‘earned security’. The aim of the assessment is to recognise the impact on families of insecure attachment styles in the here and now and to  identify ways to build resilience and ameliorate risks. The training takes place over four days, three consecutive and one a month later with a pilot assessment in between. Trainees need to be competent practitioners with an ability for self reflection. The ASI is less expensive.

Training in the use of ASI

Practitioners can choose from a introductory 1 day workshop on Attachments Styles and/ or progress to the 4 day certification course in administering the ASI tool.

The one-day introductory workshop Attachment Styles in Practice takes a deeper dive into the attachments styles and their variants through the lens of the ASI. It is suitable for practitioner and other professionals wishing to understand how attachment disorders may be properly conceptualised, to inform more targeted planning, placement and interventions. 

The four-day Attachment Style Interview (ASI) is for those practitioners wishing to become accredited to administer the tool for use in: working therapeutically with families involved with or at risk of involvement in the child protection system; assessing prospective or current foster/kin carers, guardians or adoptive parents; assessing attachment based outcomes measures; research, family law.


Who should attend?

This workshop is suitable for a range of professionals including social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers, case managers, legal professionals and researchers, who work with vulnerable families in the child protection, out-of-home care, and permanency arenas. Participants are not required to have any particular qualification however, they need to have relevant experience within the field and the ability to reflect on their practice and work relationally with clients. The course is also suitable for PhD and masters level researchers and academics. 


I have a group of staff wishing to attend, can I get a discount?

Yes, depending on the size of your group we can offer a discount to a public event or send our trainers to you for in-house training. Contact us discuss your particular training needs.

Can I use the ASI interview in a family law court?

Yes, the ASI provides practitioners with an evidence based assessment that can form the basis of a non-biased report for relevant legal proceedings. In the UK the Children’s Courts often request an ASI, as this provides the magistrate/judge with an impartial overview of a caregiver’s capacity to meet the needs of the specific child.

How do I book an assessment for a client?

Contact us to book an assessment.

Can I pay in installments for the four-day ASI course?

Yes, please contact us to discuss your particular needs.