Marschak Evaluations

Marschak Evaluations, more commonly known as Marschak Interaction Method or MIM, is a type of therapy where structured observations are carried out to record the interactions between children and their primary caregivers. This can include their parents or any other guardian who is primarily responsible for the child.

How These Evaluations are Done

During MIM sessions, caregivers are usually provided with a set of cards that have clear instructions regarding some simple activities they have to perform with the child. These structured activities are designed to measure the nature and quality of relationship between the participants so that weak and strong areas of that relationship can be highlighted for further treatment recommendations. A trained assessor is assigned to observe the entire interaction session through a one-way mirror so that their presence does not influence the interaction.

How MIM Helps

This interactive assessment method has been found effective, not just for clinically evaluating the relationship between birth-parent and child, but also for the assessment of appropriate placement of children with adoptive parents or in foster care. The assessment tool is also considered unique to theraplay, a kind of treatment or therapy that is helpful for children suffering from issues like Autism Spectrum, PTSD, ADHD, OCD, Developmental Delay, Attachment Insecurities, Behavioral Issues and other such psychological conditions.

What MIM Determines

The tasks for MIM are designed so that the interaction of children and caregivers can be tested in four primary dimensions. Based on their observations, the assessors draw conclusions on the capacity of caregivers to:

  • Instill structure by providing children with an orderly and appropriate environment and setting limits
  • Encourage engagement by creating interaction between themselves and the children while staying attuned to the children’s state
  • Push the children to face challenges by providing them support and encouragement to achieve considering an appropriate level of development
  • Nurture children by meeting their needs for care, soothing and attention

Process Details

Usually, a typical session of MIM takes 30 to 60 minutes and is videotaped so that it can be further viewed for observation later. The tasks are designed considering four different age groups: adolescent, pre-school/school age, toddler and infant. Simple and readily available materials are used in these sessions, ensuring their safety for children. The results are then derived so that recommendations can be made about how families can improve their relationship with their children.

Assessors used in this process are specially trained to observe such sessions closely and interpret the interactions in the best way possible. While the results of the observations are considered useful and authentic, it is sometimes important to pair them up with supporting interviews, management data and other assessment methods so that important decisions are made more carefully. The system, however, is not yet standardized and rating systems devised by several groups are still under study.