For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Drexel Helping Depressed and Suicidal Adolescents around the World:The ABFT Training Program

January 10, 2018

Suzanne Levy, PhD with Guy Diamond, PhDHigh rates of adolescent depression and suicide present as a major international public health problem. Developing effective treatments for this population has been slow. To this end, the Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) Training Program was launched in 2007 at the University of Pennsylvania by Guy Diamond, PhD and Suzanne Levy, PhD. 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. In 2013, Diamond moved the ABFT Training Program to Drexel University to be housed within the new Center for Family Intervention Science (CFIS) at the College of Nursing and Health Professions. During that same year, the American Psychological Association published the official ABFT manual, Attachment-Based Family Therapy for Depressed Adolescents. Additionally, the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices determined ABFT to be a program with effective outcomes for adolescent suicidal thoughts and behaviors as well as depression and depressive symptoms. With funding and infrastructure support from the College, the training program has expanded its reach around the globe.

<Attachment-based Family Therapy for Depressed Adolecents book coverThe program offers a variety of training options. We offer webinars of varying length, one- and three-day introductory workshops, a three-day advanced workshop, group supervision via HIPAA secure web-conferencing and full therapy tape review with in-depth feedback. Therapists may opt to participate in some training activities or the full certification program, which can be completed in a one-year period. Much of the proceeds from the ABFT Training Program go back into CFIS to support post-doctoral fellowships, graduate student research and travel, professional development funds for faculty in CFIS and general Center operational costs.

Since coming to Drexel, the ABFT Training Program has grown substantially both nationally and internationally. Nationally, we’ve trained over 1000 therapists across 19 states. We have partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and SAMHSA through the Garrett Lee Smith grant mechanism to provide additional youth suicide prevention training around the nation. Internationally, interests in ABFT has also grown. We have ongoing training in Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. Academic teams in five of these countries (Australia, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Israel) are engaged in various ABFT related research endeavors and three have established independent ABFT Training Centers with local faculty providing most of the training. In 2019, we will begin conducting training in Asia.

Our local efforts are strong as well. Each year, we host two, three-day introductory workshops and one advanced three-day workshop, with participants from all over the world coming to Drexel for training. We work closely with the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse services in Harrisburg to provide ABFT training across the state, with current training programs in four Pennsylvania counties. In July 2016, we opened a sliding scale adolescent depression clinic here at 3020 Market Street. We take referrals from hospitals, emergency rooms, pediatricians, schools and parents for treatment of depressed and suicidal youth. We also have a partnership with the Drexel counseling center to provide family therapy for first-year suicidal students who are having difficulty adjusting to college. Currently staffed by graduate and post-doctoral students, we are seeking funding for full time clinical staff to build a stronger infrastructure. In all local, national and international efforts, the Drexel name and dragon goes with us demonstrating our University’s effort in stemming the international public health crisis of suicide. If you are interested in learning more about the program or making a donation to support our efforts, visit our Drexel website or contact Guy Diamond at

Written by 

Guy Diamond, PhD, Director, Center for Family Intervention Science

Suzanne Levy, PhD, Clinical Director, ABFT Training Program

Cameron McConkey, Research Operations, Center for Family Intervention Science