The MIM Assessment
In addition to paper and pencil assessments, the Theraplay therapist will administer the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM) assessment to help plan treatment. 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 the child’s ability to respond to the caregivers’ efforts
The MIM takes from 30 to 60 minutes and is usually videotaped. There are sets of tasks designed to be used in each of four age groups: infant, toddler, pre-school/school age, and adolescent. Materials needed to perform the tasks are simple and readily available.
In addition to allowing a close look at problem areas in the relationship, the MIM provides a unique opportunity for observing the strengths of both adult and child and of their relationship. It is, therefore, a valuable tool in planning for treatment and in determining how to help families strengthen their relationships. The description of the relationship that results from this observation is a valuable aid in determining the appropriateness of custody arrangements, reunification, foster placement and/or adoption.
While the MIM provides useful information about the way two people interact, it is important that other sources such as case management data, interviews and other types of assessments be taken into account when major decisions such as change of placement or permanent placement are being considered. The MIM is not yet standardized and normed. Several groups have devised rating systems which are under study.