The Story Stem Assessment Profile (SSAP)

The SSAP asks children to respond to a set of 13 narrative story stems, presenting them with a beginning of a 'story' played out with doll figures and asking them to 'show and tell me what happens next?' The measure seeks to identify the "internal working models" of children through verbal and nonverbal narratives with figures of people and animals. This allows assessment of the child's expectations and perceptions of family roles, attachments and relationships, but avoids asking the child direct questions about their family which might cause them conflict or anxiety. The SSAP consists of a total of 13 stories, administered individually in a standard sequence. The stories are video-taped, transcribed and coded across 39 different codes/themes on a 3 point scale (6). These ratings can be examined individually and also used to form constructs (Security, Insecurity, Disorganisation, Defensive-Avoidance, and/or Positive and Negative Adult and Child Representations).

Key Reference: Hodges, J., Steele, M., Hillman, S. & Henderson, K. (2003). Mental Representations and Defences in Severely Maltreated Children: A Story Stem Battery and Rating System for Clinical Assessment and Research Applications. In R.N. Emde, D.P. Wolf & D.Oppenheim (Eds.), Revealing the Inner Worlds of Young Children. Oxford University Press.