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Obegi, J.H. (2011). Clinical Applications of the Adult Attachment Interview, by Howard Steele and Miriam Steele (Eds.), New York: Guilford Press, 2008, 501 pp., $55.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 28(1):162-163.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28(1):162-163

Clinical Applications of the Adult Attachment Interview, by Howard Steele and Miriam Steele (Eds.), New York: Guilford Press, 2008, 501 pp., $55.

Review by:
Joseph H. Obegi, PsyD

Although the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), created by Mary Main and her colleagues, is among the most important research instruments in developmental and clinical psychology, the details of its administration and scoring are known only to certified coders and examples of its clinical utility are, for the everyday clinician, difficult to find. This edited volume draws the curtain far enough to reveal the major inner-workings of the interview and throws light on the penetrating ways it can inform any psychotherapy. The editors, Howard and Miriam Steele, themselves clinically minded attachment researchers and well versed in the AAI and its sister interviews, have done a remarkable job of recruiting clinicians and clinician-researchers who more than make good on the promise of the volume's title.

The volume is divided into five sections and the first alone is arguably worth the volume's price. Contributions include (a) an overview of the many uses of the AAI—for example, setting the agenda of treatment, facilitating the therapeutic alliance—that go well beyond what the interview is perhaps most well known for (viz., revealing early experience), (b) the most detailed, published explanation of the AAI's coding system (given, no less, by two of the AAI's creators, Mary Main and Ruth Goldwyn), and (c) an informative meta-analysis of, among other things, how the AAI's classifications are related to DSM—IV disorders.

The remainder of the sections consist of engrossing clinically oriented chapters. These chapters are significant in two regards. First, rather than only cover the AAI's most familiar clinical territory of early intervention, chapters demonstrate how the AAI illuminates problems such as obsessive—compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, trauma, and foster-care placement. Each of these clinical chapters has as its centerpiece one or more in-depth case discussions of how the AAI informed treatment. The discussions are instructive, some are deeply moving, and, almost without exception, make sophisticated use of either classic or modern psychoanalytic thinking.

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