ABFT at Personal Psychology

Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT)

Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) is a therapeutic approach that focuses on strengthening family relationships and creating a secure emotional connection to improve the well-being of the family and young people.

If you’re looking for support for your mental health, you may come across different therapeutic approaches like Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT). ABFT is a unique therapy that places importance on family relationships and how they impact our emotional well-being.

If you have any questions about how therapy is structured or how to book a session, please check out our FAQ.

ABFT recognizes that our early relationships with caregivers shape our beliefs about ourselves and others. These beliefs can affect our mental health and how we relate to others. The goal of ABFT is to strengthen family bonds and create a secure emotional connection.

In ABFT, therapists work closely with both individuals and their families. The therapist helps family members understand and express their emotions, fostering a safe and supportive environment. By addressing past relational wounds and promoting healthy communication, ABFT aims to improve individual and family functioning.

What is the goal of attachment based family therapy?

ABFT acknowledges the significance of family dynamics in shaping our emotional well-being. It explores how family relationships impact our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. ABFT encourages open and honest communication within the family. It helps individuals and family members express their emotions in a safe and non-judgmental space.

A key point of ABFT to addresses past attachment ruptures, helping young people and their families work through unresolved emotional pain, resulting in improved mental health and functioning.

ABFT focuses on creating a secure emotional bond between family members. It promotes understanding, empathy, and trust within the family unit. ABFT involves the active participation of both the therapist and the family members. The therapist guides the process while also empowering the family to take an active role in their healing journey.

What are the 5 steps of Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) family therapy?

Relational Reframe

The Relational Reframe is the first step of Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT). In this step, the therapist guides the family members to change their way of thinking about the problem and the solution. The therapist helps them understand that the problem is not just one person’s fault, but it is connected to how they relate to each other. The therapist also gets them to agree to join the therapy with the goal of improving their relationship.

Adolescent Alliance

The Adolescent Alliance is the second phase of Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT). In this step, the therapist supports the adolescent to talk about their feelings, thoughts, and memories. The purpose of this step is to help the adolescent to have better communication and negotiation with their family. This step usually takes 2 to 4 sessions.

Parent Alliance

The Parent Alliance is the third stage of Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT). In this stage, the therapist helps the parents to see the adolescent’s point of view and to understand them better. The therapist also helps the parents to change their views and expectations of what is going on in the family. Parents also learn emotion coaching skills, such as validation, to understand how to deal with and respond to their child’s emotions in a helpful way. This stage usually lasts for 2 to 4 sessions.

Repairing Attachment

The Repairing Attachment is the fourth phase of Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT). In this phase, the therapist helps the family to heal the attachment wounds (ruptures) that are causing problems in their relationship. The family members at this point have learned how to have honest and respectful conversations about their most difficult memories. They share their feelings and needs, and listen to each other with compassion and empathy. Sharing these helps the family members to change their views of themselves and others, and to feel more connected and understood. This phase usually takes 1 to 3 sessions.

Promoting Autonomy

The Promoting Autonomy is the fifth and final stage of Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT). In this stage, the therapist helps the parents so they can help their adolescents with other, non-family-relational issues, such as depression, social and school problems, and self-identity questions. The therapist guides the parents on how to support their adolescents while letting them make their own choices. This stage also helps the family to talk about the adolescent’s normal relational changes in the family, and what they need from each other. This stage usually lasts for 8 to 9 sessions.

What is the typical duration of ABFT?

The total number of sessions in Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) can vary depending on the specific needs and progress of the family involved. The breakdown below can be adjusted based on the unique circumstances of the family.

  1. Relational Reframe: Usually 1 session.
  2. Adolescent Alliance: Typically, 2-4 sessions.
  3. Parent Alliance: Around 2-4 sessions.
  4. Repairing Attachment: Mostly 1-3 sessions.
  5. Promoting Autonomy: Approximately 8-9 sessions.

In total, these phases can comprise anywhere from around 14 to 20 sessions in a standard ABFT process.