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Family Walking

Attachment Based Family Therapy (ABFT) Certification Programme

Attachment-based family therapy (ABFT) is a manualized, empirically supported family therapy model specifically designed to target family and individual processes associated with adolescent suicide and depression. NPA is an approved training centre by ABFT International Training Institute and NPA offers ABFT Certification training programme that is accredited by ABFT International Training Institute and your certificate will also be awarded by ABFT International Training Institute.


What is Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT)?

Attachment-based family therapy (ABFT) is a manualized, empirically supported family therapy model specifically designed to target family and individual processes associated with adolescent suicide and depression. ABFT emerges from interpersonal theories that suggest adolescent and young adult internalizing disorders (e.g., depression, suicide, trauma, anxiety) can be precipitated, exacerbated or buffered against by the quality of interpersonal relationships in families. It has also been used where family conflict is a contributor to the presenting problem. It is a trust-based, emotion-focused psychotherapy model that aims to repair interpersonal ruptures and rebuild an emotionally protective, secure-based parent–child relationship.

Treatment is characterized by five treatment tasks:

  • Reframing the therapy to focus on interpersonal development

  • Building alliance with the adolescent

  • Building alliance with the parents

  • Facilitating conversations to resolve attachment ruptures

  • Promoting autonomy and competency in the adolescent


The ABFT model grows out of the Structural Family Therapy tradition (Minuchin, 1974) but is informed by more contemporary systemic approaches such as Multidimensional Family Therapy (Liddle, 1999) and Emotionally-focused therapy (Greenberg and Johnson, 1988). Attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969) provides the over-arching framework for understanding and intervening in the clinical process. Without ignoring biological factors, ABFT therapists presume that family conflict, detachment, harsh criticism or more insidious family traumas (e.g., abandonment, neglect abuse) can cause, maintain and/or exacerbate depression in adolescents. The impact of these family processes is compounded when parents fail to comfort, support and help their adolescent identify, discuss and work through these disturbing experiences. Conversely, when adolescents perceive their parents as caring, protective and autonomy-granting, the family provides a secure base helping the adolescent to withstand and grow from life’s stressors.

ABFT aims to repair ruptures in the attachment relationship, and establish or resuscitate the secure base so important for adolescent development. “Repairing attachment” occurs by first helping family members to access their longing for greater closeness and adopt the idea of rebuilding trust. Then adolescents, in individual sessions, are helped to identify and articulate their perceived experiences of attachment failures, and commit to a discussion of these experiences with their parents. Then parents, also in individual sessions, are encouraged to consider how their own intergenerational legacies affect their parenting style – which typically leads to their developing greater empathy for their adolescent’s experiences.


When adolescents and parents are ready, the therapist brings them back together to discuss the adolescent’s concerns. As adolescents get these thoughts, feelings and memories “off their chests” and receive acknowledgement and empathy from their parents, they become more willing to consider their own contributions to family conflict. Although not all issues are necessarily addressed or resolved, this mutually respectful and often emotionally-laden dialogue serves as a “corrective attachment experience” that can set in motion a renewed sense of trust and commitment. As tension and conflict diffuse at home, therapists encourage adolescents to pursue pro-social activities outside the home that will promote competency and autonomy. Parents serve as the secure base from which adolescents seek comfort, advice, support and encouragement in exploring these new opportunities.

ABFT is a flexible yet programmatic approach to facilitating these processes. Although not prescriptive, the treatment manual provides a clear ‘road map’ of how to accomplish this “shuttle diplomacy” thereby allowing these profound and reparative conversations to occur quickly in therapy. Therapists are taught to rapidly focus on core family conflicts, relational failure, vulnerable emotions and the instinctual desire for giving and receiving attachment security.

About the ABFT Certification Course

What you will learn

ABFT Theory and Empirical Support

  • Introduction to Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT)

  • Overview of the empirical evidence supporting ABFT's effectiveness

  • Key concepts of attachment theory and their relevance in therapy

Five Task of the ABFT Model Task I: Relational Frame

  • Understanding the Relational Frame, its significance, and its role in therapy

  • Case examples illustrating the Relational Frame in practice

Task II: Alliance Building with the Adolescent

  • Importance of the therapeutic alliance with adolescents

  • Strategies for building trust and rapport with teenage clients

  • Role-play and practical exercises to enhance alliance-building skills

Task III: Alliance Building with the Parent

  • The critical role of parents in ABFT

  • Techniques for establishing and maintaining a strong alliance with parents or caregivers

  • Addressing potential challenges in working with parents

Task IV: Attachment Task

  • Exploration of the Attachment Task in ABFT

  • How to facilitate discussions and interventions related to attachment issues

  • Real-life examples of the Attachment Task's impact on therapy

Task V: Autonomy Promoting Task

  • Autonomy-promoting tasks as a key component of ABFT

  • Strategies for encouraging adolescent autonomy while maintaining a secure attachment

Case studies demonstrating the Autonomy Promoting Task in action

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