Attachment based Family Therapy

Attachment Based Family Therapy (ABFT) is an evidenced based approach to target family and individual processes associated with adolescence. It aims to repair interpersonal ruptures and rebuild an emotionally protective, secure-based parent-child relationship.

 

The central premise of attachment theory is that children have a basic evolutionary instinct to seek out parents for care and protection. The challenge of preserving attachment during adolescence becomes compounded with their emerging desire for independence and autonomy.

However, parents continue to be a vital presence in young people's lives. A growing body of evidence indicates that family based therapies may be the most effective intervention for many of the typical problems that adolescents experience, such as running away, depression and attempted suicide, truancy and school refusal, substance abuse, adolescent violence and many delinquent behaviours.

Attachment based family therapy supports adolescents to learn invaluable skills of emotional regulation, communication and problem solving skills. With practice, parents can temporarily put their own emotional reactions on hold, allowing them to be mindful about their teens’ feelings, thoughts and attachment needs. As a result, parents are better positioned to respond to their teen with sensitivity, promoting a safe haven and secure base that supports adolescent autonomy. 

 

Attachment based treatment for parents produces significant reductions in adolescent’s attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance and affect dysregulation, and in turn these changes predict decreases in levels of problem behaviour. 

© 2020

Ayla Garlick 

Heart Matters