Liz Sanders


Liz Sanders has a background in Social Work and Family Therapy and over thirty years’ experience in the human services sector. Liz specialises in working with vulnerable children and adults for whom the experience of early abuse, trauma and disrupted attachment impact negatively on family life.

Based in Australia, Liz is working in partnership with the Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies at UK’s Middlesex University to introduce an accessible evidence-based attachment assessment to Australia.


Using the Attachment Style Interview (ASI) to Promote Placement Stability and Reunification (Interactive Workshop)

Attachment theory is influential in both research and practice, providing explanations of individuals’ capacities to achieve good support, close partner relationships and effective parenting of their own and others’ offspring.

In Australia we have a paucity of evidence-based tools that offer out-of-home care and child protection practitioners the ability to measure attachment style. Based on 50 years of research, the Attachment Style Interview (ASI) is a standardised interview tool, which assesses support-based attachment styles in adults.

The ASI measures secure and insecure attachment styles. Insecure anxious styles are rated as enmeshed or fearful, and insecure avoidant styles as either angry-dismissive or withdrawn. A useful feature of this measure is that it further categorises the degree of insecurity of attachment style into mild, moderate or marked. Research shows that degree of insecurity has a significant impact on adults’ ability to form meaningful, supportive relationships. A mildly insecure style can actually increase protective factors, while moderate and marked insecure styles are associated with increased risk.

The introduction of the ASI across Australia provides case managers, social workers and psychologists the means to clearly identify a caregiver’s resilience or risk pathway, offering an opportunity to develop tailored strategies that mitigate the risk.

This workshop will introduce participants to the ASI measurements, using scenarios for discussion in pairs, small groups and the wider group. Participants will be encouraged to share their own examples in group discussions, to explore how the ASI can enhance assessment of parenting capacity for both foster carers and birth parents.

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