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Plenary Session

Attachment-Based Family Therapy: Strengthening Family Connections

Lead by Dr. Guy Diamond and Suzanne Levy

Too often, hostile arguments about obedience and day-to-day problems dominate and derail our family therapy sessions. Therapists know that relational hurt, disappointment, shame, and trauma often underlie and fuel these deleterious conversations. Shifting these arguments to focus on the underlying attachment ruptures can be challenging. How can therapists change the conversation from behaviors to trust?  How do we shift the emotional tone from anger to longing and love?  How do we work through these relationships ruptures so trust can be re-established? Without trust, problem-solving fails. Attachment-based family therapy (ABFT; Diamond, Diamond & Levy, 2014) is an empirically supported treatment that aims to accomplish these goals. ABFT provides a roadmap to help guide this process-oriented, trauma-informed therapeutic process.


The model unfolds through five treatment tasks: relational reframing, alliance building with the adolescent, alliance building with the parent(s), attachment repairing, and promoting autonomy. Each task has a clinical map and goals, with clear outcomes. Even though ABFT provides structure and directionality, the success of the treatment rests on the therapist’s capacity for alliance building, emotional deepening, and tolerance for conflict. In this workshop, Drs. Diamond and Levy will use lectures, participant exercises, video and discussion to provide an overview of the theoretical principles and clinical strategies of ABFT.

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Dr. Guy Diamond

Guy Diamond Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Associate Professor at Drexel University in the College of Nursing and Health Professions. At Drexel, he is the Director of the Center for Family Intervention Science (CFIS). His primary work has been in the area of youth suicide prevention and treatment research. On the prevention side, he has created a program focused on training, screening, and triage to be implemented in non-behavioral health settings. On the treatment side, he has focused on the development and testing of attachment-based family therapy, especially for struggling with depression. Most of his work has focused on working with inner-city low-income families.

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