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Plenary Session

Attachment-Based Family Therapy: Strengthening Family Connections

Lead by Dr. Suzanne Levy and Guy Diamond

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. Suzanne Levy

Dr. Suzanne Levy, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned licensed clinical psychologist. She is the co-owner of Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) International Training Institute, established in 2023. Prior to this, she was the  Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives and Training Program at Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professionals an training director at the Center for Family Intervention Science at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Levy is a co-developer of ABFT. ABFT is a manualized, empirically informed and supported, family therapy model specifically designed to target family and individual processes associated with adolescent suicide and/or depression.


Since 2007, Dr. Levy has been conducting ABFT training workshops and supervision for therapists nationally and internationally. She has presented regionally, nationally, and internationally on ABFT, emotion coaching, child and adolescent therapies, resilience, adolescent depression, adolescent development, and adolescent substance use.  Along with her colleagues, Drs. Guy and Gary Diamond, Dr. Levy has written the first book on ABFT, Attachment-Based Family Therapy for Depressed Adolescents published by the American Psychological Association.

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