A Study of Attachment Representations in Middle Childhood Using the Bird's Nest Drawing

Jared Spencer, Pace University


This study is a qualitative investigation into the clinical utility of the Bird's Nest Drawing (BND) and accompanying narrative story. The BND is a projective drawing tool that was developed by Donna Kaiser (1996) to assess attachment security in both children and adults. Due to the themes of security and parental relationships symbolically inherent in a bird's nest, it is hypothesized that individuals will project their own internal representations of attachment and sense of relational security when asked to draw their own nest. Interpretations based on these drawings are rooted in attachment theory and seek to provide insight into the ways in which individuals experience their primary attachment relationships. Since the BND is symbolic in nature, it also allows children and adolescents to explore relational themes in a way that may feel safer than being asked to speak about it more directly. The aim of this study was to qualitatively explore the clinical utility of the BND in a sample of children. Children were asked to complete both a BND and an accompanying narrative story and their parents were asked to complete a brief interview. The interview contained questions related to their child's attachment and relational behavior. After measures were completed, materials were analyzed utilizing a multi-case study design, looking at themes and content present within measures for each participant. It was hypothesized that there will be thematic relationships between the BND, narrative story and parent interview. Additionally, it was hypothesized that reflective functioning and narrative coherence observed during the parent interview will be associated with attachment security represented with their child's BND and narrative. This research serves as a pilot study to demonstrate how the BND can be used to better understand a client's own attachment prior to beginning psychotherapy. The BND has limited research and there have been no studies that look at the BND in conjunction with the accompanying narrative and an interview with a parent. Furthermore, understanding components of attachment in children during the middle childhood period of development is particularly important in observing how children begin to apply internal representations of attachment to relationships outside their home environment.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Spencer, Jared, "A Study of Attachment Representations in Middle Childhood Using the Bird's Nest Drawing" (2018). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI10991932.



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