The Child Attachment Interview

  • Summary

    The Child Attachment Interview (CAI) was developed in an attempt to address the ‘measurement gap’ as a narrative based assessment designed to elicit children’s internal working models of attachment relationships. The CAI calls on children to describe and reflect on their current attachment relationships and experiences. Whilst the interview was intended for use with 8 to 12 year olds, it has been used extensively with adolescents too. The appeal of the CAI lies in its diverse application as both a research and clinical assessment tool and consequently it has been widely used in a variety of settings both in the UK and abroad (see for example, Scott, Briskman, Woolgar, Humayun, & O’Connor, 2011; Venta, Shmueli-Goetz, & Sharp, 2014). In keeping with its subject matter, the CAI is a project in continues development and refinement as more observations and data on different populations are gathered and more finely tuned questions become accessible for investigation.

  • Project team


    Yael Shmueli-Goetz

    Project team:  

    Jessica Borelli, Pasco Fearon, Danya Glaser, Carla Sharp and Amanda Venta


    Adrian Datta, Mary Target and Peter Fonagy

  • Publications

    Borelli, J. L., Somers, J. A., West, J., Coffey, J. K., De Los Reyes, A., & Shmueli-Goetz, Y. (2015). "Associations Between Attachment Narratives and Self-Report Measures of Attachment in Middle Childhood: Extending Evidence for the Validity of the Child Attachment Interview." Journal of child and family studies: 1-12.

    Borelli, J. L., Somers, J., A., West, J., Coffey, J. K., Shmueli-Goetz, Y. (2016). "Shedding light on the specificity of school-aged children’s attachment narratives." Attachment & Human Development: 1-24.

    Shmueli-Goetz, Y. (2014). "The Child Attachment Interview (CAI)." The Routledge Handbook of Attachment: Assessment: 119.

    Shmueli-Goetz, Y., Target, M., Fonagy, P., & Datta, A. (2008). "The Child Attachment Interview: a psychometric study of reliability and discriminant validity." Developmental psychology 44(4): 939.

    Target, M., Fonagy, P., & Shmueli-Goetz, Y. (2003). "Attachment representations in school-age children: the development of the child attachment interview (CAI)." Journal of child psychotherapy 29(2): 171-186.

    Venta, A., Shmueli-Goetz, Y., & Sharp, C. (2014). "Assessing attachment in adolescence: A psychometric study of the Child Attachment Interview." Psychological assessment 26(1): 238.

    Venta, A., Sharp, C., Shmueli-Goetz, Y., & Newlin, E. (2015). "An evaluation of the construct of earned security in adolescents: Evidence from an inpatient sample." Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 79(1): 41-69.

  • Related training

    As the CAI is often used in clinical settings with at risk and vulnerable children and because the analysis of the CAI is complex, professionals are required to complete the CAI training. The short course in the administration and coding of the CAI is run by the author annually at the Anna Freud Centre in London. Consultation for projects/services using the CAI is also offered.