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Overview

What is Attachment-Based Family Therapy?

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. ABFT emerges from interpersonal theories that suggest adolescent depression and suicide can be precipitated, exacerbated, or buffered against by the quality of interpersonal relationships in families. 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. The treatment initially focuses on repairing or strengthening attachment and then turns to promoting adolescent autonomy. The model is emotionally focused, but provides structure and goals, thereby increasing therapist’s intentionality and focus. There are five treatment tasks that comprise ABFT.

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

For more information on ABFT: http://drexel.edu/familyintervention/attachment-based-family-therapy/overview/

Training Program Overview

There are three levels to Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) training with each building from the first workshop. The ABFT Training Program has a defined process for certifying therapists in ABFT. Participants may choose to complete just Level 1 or 2 or our full certification program. The certification process can be completed in approximately 1 year, but does not have to be. Certification consists of didactic work, video consultation with individual feedback, and group consultation. Before completing the certification process, therapists in training may say they are conducting ABFT informed work. Therapists that have been certified may refer to themselves as ABFT certified therapists.

Therapists participating in a supervision group, can chose to have their contact information listed on the ABFT Training Program website as an ABFT Trained (not certified) Therapist. Once certified, their contact information will be moved to the ABFT Certified Therapist list.

The ABFT Training Program hosts Introductory Workshops one to two times a year and Advanced Workshops every one to two years at Drexel. The ABFT Training Program will also come to your organization/site to conduct workshops.

Continuing education credits are offered for the Level 1 and Level 2 workshops.

Target Audience: The target audience for ABFT trainings is Counselors, Couple and Family Therapists, Mental Health Professionals, Psychiatrists, Psychiatric Nurses, Psychologists, Psychotherapists and Social Workers. However, our 1-Day Introductory Workshop/Day 1 of the 3-day Workshop is appropriate for Case Workers, ER Physicians, Health Care Administrators, Frontline MH staff, Primary Care Physicians, and SAP Team members.

Therapist Requirements:
Therapists in the U.S. need to have at least a master’s degree in social work, mental health counseling, clinical or counseling psychology, or couple’s and family therapy. If therapists are not licensed, they need to be employed somewhere where they are receiving supervision. Internationally, therapists need to have local certification or licensure allowing them to practice therapy. In addition, therapists must ensure they have sufficient clinical time to treat ABFT clients (at least 2-3 clients at a time).

Level 1

1-Day Introductory Workshop

Lecture and video tape provide an overview of the model including theoretical foundation and clinical strategies of ABFT. Faculty review how attachment theory, emotional regulation and trauma resolution inform the delivery of this experiential treatment approach. We also review the goals and structure of the five treatment tasks that provide a road map for delivering this interpersonally focused psychotherapy effectively and rapidly. Day One can be offered in a full-day webinar format, workshop, or 3-part, 2 hour webinar series. Enrollment for Day One is unlimited (as permitted by space).

3-Day Introductory Workshop

Day 1

On Day One we offer an overview of the model including theoretical principles and clinical strategies. Faculty review how attachment theory, emotion regulation, and trauma resolution inform the delivery of this experiential treatment approach. We also review the goals and structure of the five treatment tasks that provide a road map for delivering this interpersonally focused psychotherapy effectively and rapidly. Enrollment for Day One is unlimited (as permitted by space).

Days 2 & 3

Days Two and Three build on Day one and provide a more in-depth look at the procedures and process involved in facilitating ABFT. Case discussion, tape review and role-play deepen the participants understanding of the approach. At this time, Days 2 and 3 are only offered in live workshops. Attendance is limited to 30 people who have attended the Day 1 workshop.

Level 2

Advanced 3-Day Workshop

The advanced workshop will help deepen therapist’s ABFT skills. Participants discuss person of the therapist issues as they relate to ABFT and learn about the use of emotion-deepening skills in the context of ABFT. During the advanced training, a certified ABFT trainer provides supervision via tape review, live supervision, and role-play. In preparation for the advanced training, therapists are required to provide a case write-up for at least one of the cases with which they are using ABFT as well as share videotape segments from this case during the training, receive live supervision, and/or participate in role-plays. Guidelines are provided regarding what should be included in the case write-ups. As many live supervision sessions as possible are scheduled during the 3-day advanced training. Some therapists are asked to show 10-20 minutes of tape to the group demonstrating at least one of the five different treatment tasks. We advise therapists that segments should be reflective of central phases of the different tasks.

Attendance is limited to 30 people who have attended the 3-day Level 1 Introductory Workshop.

Supervision

Starting after the initial 3-day Level 1 workshop, training therapists begin a series of 22 fortnightly, 60-90 minute (depending on group size) group case consultation phone calls with an ABFT certified consultant (~1 year). Trainees are expected to discuss their current cases in which they are applying ABFT and to present clips of their work via video recording. Supervision groups have a limit of 7 people per 60-minute groups and 12 people per 90-minute group. Individuals or agencies who do not want to commit to the certification process can contract for a minimum of 11 supervision sessions at a time.

Level 3

Consultation Leading to Certification

After attending the Advanced Workshop, trainees begin submitting videotaped complete ABFT sessions for review by certified supervisors. Trainees should submit one to two videotapes a month, for a minimum of 10 tapes. These tapes should be of recent sessions so that therapists can demonstrate their use of feedback from the group supervision sessions. The ABFT supervisor will inform the therapist of which tasks or portions of a task to submit. When submitting tapes, therapists must submit a case write-up (template provided). Therapists must also provide self-feedback on their tapes with suggestions for how to improve portions of their tape that are not consistent with ABFT or could be improved. ABFT Certified Supervisors review the tapes and provide in-depth written feedback, as well as 20 minutes of phone consultation (as needed) regarding the tape. In addition to the in-depth feedback, supervisors rate the tapes using our adherence measures. Therapists are also expected to rate their own tapes which they submit using the adherence measures. Completing all 10 tapes does not guarantee that someone is certified. A therapist may need to submit additional tapes (at additional cost) if they have yet to sufficiently develop certain skills. However, we have found that with the level of feedback we provide, most therapists are ready for certification review after 10 tapes. Attendance is one to one.

Certification in ABFT does not expire. 

Continued Consultation

If therapists desire supervision beyond their one year training contract, they may pay for ongoing supervision.

More Information

To download the Therapist Certification Process, click here [PDF].

Implementation and sustainability of a manualized, empirically-supported treatment requires a high level of commitment and systems change on the part of an agency or treatment program. Therefore, agency readiness is of critical concern. To read more about the dissemination and implementation of ABFT, please download our Dissemination and Implementation Starter Packet [PDF].

For additional information about how ABFT can be effectively implemented in your agency or if you would like to be trained in ABFT please contact Suzanne Levy, PhD, the ABFT Training Director, at 215.571.3415 or slevy@drexel.edu or Cameron McConkey , CFIS Research Operations, at 215.571.3417 or cm3526@drexel.edu

Accreditation Statement

Level 1: 1 or 3-Day Introductory Workshop:

ASWB – National Social Work

This organization, Drexel University College of Medicine/Behavioral Healthcare Education, provider #1065, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education ACE program. The Drexel University College of Medicine/Behavioral Healthcare Education maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period 7/27/2017 to 7/27/2020. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval. Social workers participating in this course will receive 6.5 (Day 1/1- day), 12.25 (Days 2 and 3), or 18.75 (Days 1, 2 & 3) hours for the workshop. The full day webinar is offered for 6.5 hours of continuing education. The 3-part, 2-hour webinar series is offered for 6 hours of continuing education.

APA (Psychology)

American Psychological Association logoDrexel University College of Medicine, Behavioral Healthcare Education is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Drexel University College of Medicine, Behavioral Healthcare Education maintains responsibility for the program and its content. This program is being offered for 6.5 (Day 1/1- day), 12.25 (Days 2 and 3), or 18.75 (Days 1, 2 & 3) hours of continuing education. The full day webinar is offered for 6.5 hours of continuing education. The 3-part, 2-hour webinar series is offered for 6 hours of continuing education.

LMFT/LCSW/LSW/LPC in Pennsylvania Only

Drexel University Couple and Family Therapy department is a Pre-approved Provider by the Pennsylvania State Board of Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Counselors of Continuing Education Credits.

For LMFT, LCSW, LSW, and LPCs: The workshop qualifies for the following continuing education credits: 7 CEU’s for Day One only, 12.5 CEU’s for Days two and three only, and 19.5 total CEU’s for all three days. The full day webinar is offered for 7 hours of continuing education. The 3-part, 2-hour webinar series is offered for 6 hours of continuing education.

A Certificate of Participation will be emailed to all who attend and follow protocol for registration and evaluation forms.

Drexel University Couple and Family Therapy department maintains responsibility for the program and content. Accreditation does not imply that Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions approves or endorses any product included in the educational activity.

Level 2: 3-Day Advanced Workshop

ASWB - National Social Work

This organization, Drexel University College of Medicine/Behavioral Healthcare Education, provider #1065, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education ACE program. The Drexel University College of Medicine/Behavioral Healthcare Education maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period 7/27/2017 to 7/27/2020. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval. Social workers participating in this course will receive 18.75 hours for the workshop.

APA (Psychology)

American Psychological Association logoDrexel University College of Medicine, Behavioral Healthcare Education is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Drexel University College of Medicine, Behavioral Healthcare Education maintains responsibility for the program and its content. This program is being offered for 18.75 hours of continuing education.

LMFT/LCSW/LSW/LPC in Pennsylvania Only

Drexel University’s Couple and Family Therapy Department is a Pre-approved Provider by the Pennsylvania State Board of Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Counselors of Continuing Education Credits. For LMFT, LCSW, LSW, and LPCs: The workshop qualifies for the following continuing education credits: 22.25 total CEU’s for all three days. A Certificate of Participation will be awarded at the end of the presentation to all who attend and follow protocol for registration and evaluation forms.

Drexel University Couple and Family Therapy Department maintains responsibility for the program and content. Accreditation does not imply that Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions approves or endorses any product included in the educational activity.