Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 73 Issue 1 (March 2000), Pages 1-142

Attachment style in the context of clinical and health psychology: A proposal for the assessment of valence, incongruence, and accessibility of attachment representations in various working models (pages 15-34)

By combining the Adult Attachment Interview and the Autobiographical Memory Test, a structured interview was developed as a ‘quick and dirty’ measure for the assessment of attachment representations in clinical settings. The interview intends to assess valence, incongruence, and accessibility of the attachment representations that are organized in various mental models of relationships. In this study the mental models of relationships involving parents and current partner were addressed, as well as the more general model of self in relationships with significant others. Validity was examined in a sample of couples from the general community. Interrelationships between the different models of attachment relationships were strong enough to warrant the conclusion that each contributes to the same construct (style). Correlations with theoretically proposed consequences of insecure attachment style showed salience of specific working models: valence of self and partner (but not of parents) representations, and incongruence of parental representations related to depressive symptomatology, trait anxiety, relational quality, and communication efficiency. Results indicated that assessment of representations in the working models of different attachment relationships might prove useful in clinical settings, as it might enable localization of those representations that are related to the individual's experience of adversity in interpersonal relationships and affect regulation. Methodological shortcomings are discussed in this context.

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