Using Parental Attachment in Family Court proceedings: An Empirical Study of the DMM-AAI

Susan Spieker, Patricia Crittenden, Andrea Landini, Ben Grey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two methods for classifying Adult Attachment Interviews (AAI, George, Kaplan and Main, 1984, 1996) for family court decision-making, Berkeley and DMM, differ in their usefulness for family court. Both expand Ainsworth’s three ABC infant categories. The Berkeley method (Main & Goldwyn, 1984, 1989) adds a 4th Disorganized/Unresolved category in adulthood, but has low specificity and validity for risk parents. The DMM method (Crittenden & Landini, 2011) identifies an expanding array of strategies across the lifespan, as neurological development makes more complex strategies possible. This study examined DMM-AAI classifications in a sample of 332 British AAIs and compared the results to published meta-analyses of the Berkeley AAI. Six a priori hypotheses addressed the central question raised by Crittenden and Spieker (2018) and Spieker and Crittenden (2018): which classificatory method for the AAI is more useful for child protection? DMM-AAI classifications differentiated (1) normative adults, (2) parents with mental health problems, (3) parents in family court proceedings, and (4) incarcerated violent criminals on attachment, psychological trauma, and pervasively high or low arousal. We assert that the DMM-AAI is sufficiently valid and discriminating for court use and that it can contribute to court decision- making when integrated with other assessments and clinical reports.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChild Abuse Review
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2021


  • Adult Attachment Interview
  • DMM
  • Forensic
  • Attachment
  • Clinical


Dive into the research topics of 'Using Parental Attachment in Family Court proceedings: An Empirical Study of the DMM-AAI'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this