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Overview

Welcome to the ABFT Training Program. We offer a variety of workshops, webinars, and other training opportunities related to attachment-based family therapy (ABFT), attachment-informed milieu training, and youth suicide prevention. We also now offer a specialized university program for graduate students and their professors. You can find descriptions of all of our current programs below.

Brief Overview of 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.

ABFT is listed on several national and international recommended treatment lists.

  • United States
    • The (former) National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) determined that ABFT is a program with effective outcomes for suicidal thoughts and behaviors and depression symptoms
    • ABFT is classified as a “proven practice” on the Promising Practices Network (PPN) run by the Rand Corporation
    • Currently under review with the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse (CEBC) for Child Welfare
  • International
    • Listed in the Swedish Guidelines for treatment of depression
    • CYP IAPT recommended evidenced based treatment in England

In 2014, the official ABFT manual was published by APA under the title “Attachment-Based Family Therapy for Depressed Adolescents”. This is a great resource for learning about ABFT.

Attachment-Based Family Therapy Training

What does training in ABFT consist of?

There are three levels to ABFT training with the final level culminating in certification. Level I consists of a 1 day and 3-day Introductory workshop. Level II consists of 22 weeks of supervision and a 3-day advanced workshop. Level III consists of tape review leading to certification. The certification process can be completed in as little as approximately 1 year, but does not have to be. This is described in more detail in our Therapist Certification Process Document [PDF]. Participants can move through these levels and stop when they want or complete the full program. Each level is described below.

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

For an agency looking to implement ABFT, we find that just training therapists may not be enough. 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. There are several challenges and innovations for the agency to consider before training staff. These are described in our Dissemination and Implementation Starter Packet [PDF].

We now offer a special online program for graduate students. This program offers training to professors so that they can teach the class and curriculum to help structure the program

COMING SOON! An online self-paced ABFT Training Course for individual therapists to take day one of our training program.

Do the workshops fulfill State required training in Suicide Prevention?

Our Introductory workshops meet the Suicide Prevention licensure requirements for mental health professionals in the following states:

  • California: AB-89 Psychologists and AB-1436
  • Indiana: HB 1430 Suicide Awareness and Prevention
  • Kentucky: KRS 210.366 Training in suicide assessment, treatment and prevention for Psychologists and Social Workers
  • Nevada: AB:93 Suicide Prevention and intervention
  • New Hampshire: SB 33 CE requirements for mental health practitioners on suicide prevention
  • Pennsylvania: Act 74 – CE in assessment, treatment and management of suicide risk
  • Tennessee: SB 489 Suicide prevention, assessment and screening, treatment, management, and postvention

When can someone call themself an ABFT Therapist?

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.

How does someone get on the therapist list?

Once therapists begin participating (or have previously participated) in a supervision group, they can opt 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.

Training Opportunities in ABFT

Level I: 1-Day and 3-Day Introductory Workshops

1-Day Introductory Workshop or Webinar

Lecture and therapy tapes provide a brief overview of the entire model. This includes an overview of the theory, research and the clinical format/protocol of the therapy. 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.

Benefits of the 1-Day Workshop or Webinar

By attending the 1-day introductory workshop or webinar, attendees will have a basic understanding of how to use attachment theory to guide family intervention. Attendees will also gain a general introduction to the task structure of the model.

Target Audience

The target audience for the 1-day ABFT training is Case Workers, Counselors, Couple and Family Therapists, ER Physicians, Health Care Administrators, Frontline MH staff, Mental Health Professionals, Primary Care Physicians, Psychiatrists, Psychiatric Nurses, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, SAP Team members and Social Workers.

Training Format Options for Day 1 of the Introductory Workshop or Webinar

The 1-day introductory workshop is offered as a(n):

  • In-person workshop at Drexel University or off-site
  • Full-day (6-hour) webinar
  • 3-part, 2-hour webinar series (6-hours of content over three modules)
  • Self-paced online module (Coming soon!)
  • Brief course for graduate students proctored by a local professor

Accreditation

We offer APA and PA ONLY LPC/LMFT/LSW/LCSW CEs for the 1-day workshops and webinars. Please see here for a full description.

Course Registration at Drexel University

https://drexel.edu/cnhp/academics/continuing-education/Health-Professions-CE-Programs/ABFT_3_Day/

3-Day Introductory Workshop

Day 1

On Day One, lecture and therapy tapes are used to 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.

**This is the same as the 1-day Introductory Workshop. When therapists have completed the 1-day workshop previously, they do not have to repeat Day One of the three day introductory workshop.

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. Throughout Days 2 and 3, therapists are also taught how to use the ABFT adherence checklists.
Attendance is limited to 30 people (per trainer) so that everyone can experience hands on attention from the Trainer.

Benefits of the 3-Day Workshop or One-Day Webinar and Days 2 & 3 Workshop

Days 2 And 3 provide a more in depth exposure to the scaffold of each task. We review extended clips of therapy tapes, talk about challenges and then role play the core elements of each task. This gives therapist a more practical sense of how to apply the model with at least moderately cooperative families. The goal is to learn to apply the basic structure, not to modify the model to more difficult or different kinds of families. That comes in supervision and the advanced training.

Target Audience

The target audience for the entire 3-day workshop is Counselors, Couple and Family Therapists, Mental Health Professionals, Psychiatrists, Psychiatric Nurses, Psychologists, Psychotherapists and Social Workers. Day 1 of the 3-day Workshop is also appropriate for Case Workers, ER Physicians, Health Care Administrators, Frontline MH staff, Primary Care Physicians, and SAP Team members.

Training Format Options for the 3-Day Introductory Workshop

Day 1 is offered as a(n):

  • In-person workshop at Drexel University or off-site
  • Full-day (6-hour) webinar
  • 3-part, 2-hour webinar series (6-hours of content over three modules)
  • Self-paced online module (Coming soon!)
  • Brief course for graduate students proctored by a local professor

Days 2 and 3 are offered as a(n):

  • In-person workshop at Drexel University or off-site
  • Semester course for graduate students proctored by a local professor (Coming Soon!)

Accreditation

We offer APA and PA ONLY LPC/LMFT/LSW/LCSW CEs for the 3-day workshop and Day One webinars. Please see here for a full description.

Course Registration at Drexel University

https://drexel.edu/cnhp/academics/continuing-education/Health-Professions-CE-Programs/ABFT_3_Day/

Level II: Supervision and Advanced Workshop

Supervision

After the initial 3-day Level 1 workshop, training therapists are eligible to begin a series of 22 fortnightly, 60-90 minute (depending on group size) individual or 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. Therapists are required to send a short case write-up using the ABFT Case Write-up Outline when they present a case. In addition, they are expected to present 5-10 minute recordings of their therapy sessions. 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.

Individuals or agencies may participate in as many rounds of 11 supervision sessions as they desire.

Benefits of Supervision

Supervision sessions help therapists who have attended the 3-day introductory workshop implement ABFT more effectively with clients. During supervision, therapists learn how to conceptualize from an ABFT framework so that they can utilize ABFT with a variety of different clients, presenting problems, and difficult situations. Through presenting 5-10 minute videos of sessions, therapists receive detailed feedback on the moment-by-moment decisions that occur in therapy. Additionally, the brief videos help therapists hone their ABFT specific skills. ABFT Supervisors also help therapists identify and work through person-of-the-therapist issues that arise when doing this interpersonal, emotionally deep work.

Target Audience

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 and/or are graduate students, 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. ABFT Supervisors do not take on legal responsibility for cases.

Training Format Options for Supervision

  • In-person when supervisors and supervisees live in the same areae
  • Online via a HIPPA secure web-conferencing system

3-Day Advanced Workshop

The 3-day Advanced Workshop is a follow-up, intensive, supervision workshop with some didactic presentations. This workshop, helps advance 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 live supervision (when possible), and role-play. In preparation for the training, we ask therapists to think about their biggest challenges in utilizing ABFT with families in Tasks 1-5. As many live supervision sessions as possible are scheduled during the 3-day advanced training.

Attendance is limited to 30 people (per trainer) who have previously attended the 3-day Level 1 workshop. Ideally, attendees have also participate in the supervision program as well. This way all of the attendees come to the advanced workshops with a high level of knowledge and experience with the model.

Benefits of the 3-Day Advanced Workshop

The Advanced Workshop helps solidify ABFT skills. Participants gain an understanding of how their own attachment history creates barriers or can help facilitate their delivery of therapy. They learn how to utilize their own personal experiences in life to build empathy and understanding of their clients’ experiences. Additionally, with practicing emotional deepening skills in role plays and receiving feedback, participants leave with a new understanding of how to deepen their ABFT work with clients. In this workshop we also talk more about how to adapt and or modify ABFT with more challenging clients.

Target Audience

The target audience for the 3-day Advanced workshop is Counselors, Couple and Family Therapists, Mental Health Professionals, Psychiatrists, Psychiatric Nurses, Psychologists, Psychotherapists and Social Workers who have previously attended the 3-day Level 1 Introductory Workshop. Attendees do not have to participate in ABFT supervision to attend the Advanced Workshop but it is preferred.

Training Format Options for the 3-day Advanced Workshop

  • In-person workshop at Drexel University or off-site

Accreditation

We offer APA and PA ONLY LPC/LMFT/LSW/LCSW CEs for the 3-day Advanced workshop. Please see here for a full description.

Course Registration at Drexel University

https://drexel.edu/cnhp/academics/continuing-education/Health-Professions-CE-Programs/ABFT_Advanced/

Level III: Consultation Leading to Certification - Therapy Tape Review

After attending the Advanced Workshop and participating in Supervision (supervision does not need to be finished), trainees begin submitting video recordings of complete (i.e., 1 hour) ABFT sessions for review by certified supervisors. Trainees submit a minimum of 10 tapes at a rate of one to two videotapes a month. Tapes should be of recent sessions so that therapists can demonstrate their use of feedback from the group supervision sessions and recordings submitted for review. The ABFT supervisor informs the therapist which tasks or portions of a task to submit. When submitting tapes, therapists must provide a case write-up (template provided) and self-feedback on their tapes with suggestions for how to improve portions of their sessions that are not consistent with ABFT or could be improved in general. Therapists also rate their own tapes with the ABFT adherence measure. ABFT Certified Supervisors review the tapes and provide in-depth written feedback, adherence ratings and offer a 20-minute phone consultation (as needed) regarding the tape.

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.

Certification in ABFT does not expire.

Benefits of Therapy Tape Review

Participating in video review assures that therapists are using ABFT with fidelity. Therapists can feel confident that they are implementing the model the way it is intended. We are confident that certified ABFT therapists can represent the work as it is intended. Certification has become a standard clinical training procedure throughout the world of dissemination of empirically supported treatments.

Target Audience

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 and/or are graduate students, 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. ABFT Supervisors do not take on legal responsibility for cases. In addition, therapists must ensure they have sufficient clinical time to treat ABFT clients (at least 2-3 clients at a time).

Training Format for Therapy Tape Review

Therapists send all materials including therapy recordings to ABFT supervisors via LiquidFiles (http://www.liquidfiles.net/tour/compliance.html), which is a secure FTP site. Supervisors store therapy sessions on encrypted hard drives until they are reviewed. Once reviewed, therapy sessions are deleted. Supervisors send feedback (not containing PHI) via email. If consultation calls are requested, they are conducted over Zoom, a HIPPAA secure web-conferencing system (zoom.us).

ABFT Continuing Consultation

If therapists desire supervision beyond their 22 supervision sessions or becoming certified, they may pay for ongoing supervision.

ABFT Webinars

We offer a variety of live webinars on ABFT ranging from 45 minutes to 6.5 hours. We offer the 1-day Introductory Workshop and Day One of the 3-Day Introductory Workshop via Webinar format. The 1-day/Day One workshop can be offered as a live full day workshop or a 3-part, 2- hour webinar series.

ABFT Online University Graduate Student Training Program

General Information to Professors

Are you interested in incorporating some focused training on an empirically supported family therapy treatment model into your student curriculum or program?

Would you like to train your students in specific clinical skills?
The ABFT Training Program has created an Online University Graduate Student Training Program to allow you to facilitate teaching ABFT to your graduate students.

Summary of Course Options

  • A Brief Course (9-11 hours) that is equivalent to the 1-day/Day one Introductory workshop.
  • A Semester Long Course (40-hours) that is equivalent to the 3-day Introductory Workshop. 

This table represents the differences between the programs. See below for details.

   Brief Course  Semester Long Course
   9-11 Hours 10 Weeks 15 Weeks
Six pre-recorded lectures   X    
Live Q &A with ABFT Training Center
     
ABFT recorded therapy sessions and transcript for professor review
 X
 X
 X
Adherence Measure & Manual
   X  X
Alliance Coding Measure & Manual
   X  X
Instructor manual with role-play activity suggestions
   X  X
10 pre-recorded lectures on theory and empirical support for ABFT, 5 tasks, special topic of ABFT with LGBTQI adolescents
   X  
15 pre-recorded lectures on theory and empirical support for ABFT,  5 tasks, special topic of ABFT with LGBTQI adolescents.
     X
Proposed Course Syllabi from the Drexel program to be used and modified as needed. 
   X  X

Brief Course

The 9 to 11-hour version of this program is designed to be used as 7 weeks of a semester course or as a special topics course outside of the standard curriculum.

Details About the Course

  1. 1. Total time is approximately 9-11 hours.
  2. A professor proctors the course. This includes organizing students and location, verifying student attendance, running technology.
  3. The professor is invited for free to attend one of the three day introductory ABFT workshops either in Philadelphia or at some other location that is sponsoring a workshop.
  4. The professor facilitates the class sessions which entails showing the 6 pre-recorded lectures (40-60 minutes long).
  5. Professors facilitate a review of 7, 6-8 minute recorded ABFT therapy excerpts for each task (time to review excerpts is 20-40 minutes). A training manual is provided which highlights essential ABFT principles and strategies demonstrated in the therapy session recording excerpts.
  6. The ABFT Training Program provides one “live” Q & A session with an ABFT Trainer/Supervisor during the course. Students can prepare questions for this session throughout the course.
  7. Each student is required to read the ABFT book.
  8. A program evaluation process is included with the program. This consists of a simple pre and post evaluation tool to demonstrate increased knowledge. Local professors are free to add any additional evaluation tools.
  9. A certificate of completion of the 1-day ABFT Introductory Course is provided at the end of the course to students (if they pass the post test at 80%)

Professor Requirements

We recommend that professors attend our 3-day introductory workshop to become more familiar with the course content. Admission to the 3-day workshop at Drexel University is free for professors teaching the course (a $475 value).

Eligibility to Take the Course

  • Students must be enrolled in a graduate program pursuing a degree in the mental health field (art therapy, counseling, couples and family therapy, creative movement therapy, music therapy, psychology, psychiatry, psychiatric nursing, social work etc.).
  • A professor must be willing to facilitate the course with students.
  • A minimum of 7 students are required to initiate the course.

Cost

  • $99/person for the 6 lectures, plus supplementary recorded therapy excerpts, live Q&A, and professor training manual.
  • There is no training requirement or implementation cost to the professor.

Course Registration

Coming Soon! We anticipate this course will be available by October 2019. Each student and professor must register for the course. Fees are only for students.

Semester Long Course (Coming Soon!)

The 40-hour course material is designed for professors who want to teach the ABFT course as a formal class within their curriculum for program credits. For this, a syllabus is provided to assist in getting the course approved by the university.

The course is designed as both a 10 and 15-week course. A list of readings is recommended, but this can be modified by the local professor at their discretion based on the degree program (e.g. master’s vs Ph.D. course). What is required vs. what is optional to meet the criteria for the ABFT 3-day Introductory Workshop is indicated on the syllabus.

Details About the Course

  1. A course syllabus from Drexel is provided as a template. This can be modified as recommended by the professor and as needed by the academic institution.
  2. The first 45-60 minutes of each class are pre-recorded online lectures by the ABFT Training program. Ten or 15 lectures are provided.
  3. Professors facilitate a review of 7, 6-8 minute recorded ABFT therapy excerpts for each task (time to review excerpts is 20-40 minutes).
  4. A training manual is provided which describes role-play exercises and highlights essential ABFT principles and strategies demonstrated in the therapy session recording excerpts.
  5. An adherence measure and manual are provided that can be used as a training tool to sharpen the students’ sensitivity to the subtleties of the tasks. This measure allows the students to rate how “thoroughly” these session elements were delivered. Students can rate their own therapy as part of a homework or exam.
  6. An alliance coding measure and manual is provided to help students think about the therapist-client relationship quality (common factor).
  7. The ABFT training center provides two “live” Q & A sessions with an ABFT Trainer/Supervisor during the quarter/semester. Students can prepare ABFT-specific questions for these sessions throughout the quarter/semester.
  8. In addition to the evaluation tools developed by the professor, a program evaluation process is included with the program. This consists of a simple pre and post evaluation tool to demonstrate increased knowledge.
  9. A certificate of completion of the 3-day ABFT Introductory Course is provided at the end of the course (if the student passes the course).

Professor Requirements

Professors familiar with attachment based and emotion focused therapy models will be more prepared to teach this course. To maintain some level of fidelity, we recommend attending the three-day introductory workshop and consider further training. However, there are no formal training requirements for teaching this course. Admission to the 3-day workshop is free for professors teaching the course (a $475 value).

Eligibility to Take the Course

  • Students must be enrolled in a graduate program pursuing a degree in the mental health field (art therapy, counseling, couples and family therapy, creative movement therapy, music therapy, psychology, psychiatry, psychiatric nursing, social work etc.).
  • A professor must be willing to facilitate the course with students.
  • There is no limit to class size.

Cost

  • $200 per student for manual and certificate.

Course Registration

Coming Soon! We anticipate this course will be available by Spring 2020.

Each student and professor must register for the course. Fees are only for students.

ABFT Online Training Program for Individuals (Coming Soon!)

The ABFT Training Program is currently creating a new Online Introductory ABFT Course equivalent to the 1 day/Day 1 ABFT Introductory Workshop. This course will be self-paced and take approximately 9 to 11 hours.

Details About the Course

  1. Review of 6 interactive pre-recorded webinars where Drs. Guy Diamond and Suzanne Levy 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. They 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.
  2. Review of 7, ABFT therapy session recording excerpts for each task. Interactive technology is used to highlight essential ABFT principles and strategies demonstrated in the therapy recordings.
  3. A program evaluation process is included with the program. This consists of a simple pre and post evaluation tool to demonstrate increased knowledge as well as an evaluation of the course.
  4. A certificate of completion of the 1-day ABFT Introductory Course is provided at the end of the course to participants(if they pass the post test at 80%)
  5. CE’s are provided for this course at an additional cost.

Cost

  • $199/person - Plus $35 for APA CEs.
    • 10-15% discount for groups of 3 or more.

Course Registration

Coming Soon! We anticipate this course will be available Winter 2019.

Supervisor and Trainer Training for Organizations Implementing ABFT

When organizations choose to implement ABFT we understand the investment they are making. Thus, sustainability is of the upmost importance when investing in training staff in an empirically supported treatment. As a result, we encourage organizations to have some of their staff become trained as in-house ABFT Supervisors. Additionally, for larger organizations anticipating new staff needing to be trained in ABFT, we are able to train staff to become in-house ABFT Trainers.

Becoming a Certified ABFT Supervisor and Trainer does not mean being an independent teacher of ABFT. Certified ABFT Supervisors and Trainers work collaboratively with the Drexel ABFT Training Program, which remains involved in providing oversight of training activities, final certification of therapists, and determining future procedures for training and evaluating trainees. Although a supervisor is certified to supervise new therapists within their organization, they are not authorized to independently certify clinicians as ABFT therapists. Certification is accomplished through collaboration with the training center in Philadelphia. We are not looking to be over controlling of people committed to ABFT, but rather maintain a standard of quality across all training programs.

Certified ABFT Supervisor Training

Those interested in becoming a Certified ABFT Supervisor must first become a Certified ABFT Therapist in order to eligible for the training. The training includes course work in EFT (recommended), providing supervision under supervision, reviewing ABFT therapy tapes, and demonstrating competence in the ABFT Adherence Rating Scales. The training and evaluation of becoming a supervisor is a competency-based task. We select trainees with the anticipation of success and work closely with them to provide feedback throughout the training process so they are aware of their ability to successfully complete the training process.

Certified ABFT Trainer Training

To train to become a Certified ABFT Trainer, candidates must meet the following criteria: be a Certified ABFT Therapist and Certified ABFT Supervisor. The training includes a 4-day workshop and submitting a series of ABFT lectures for feedback and evaluation. The training and evaluation of becoming a trainer is a competency-based task. We select trainees with the anticipation of success and work closely with them to provide feedback throughout the training process so they are aware of their ability to successfully complete the training process.

Attachment-Based Care (ABC) Milieu Training

The Attachment Based Care Milieu Program is a multi-tier program which teaches organizations to use attachment theory as a unifying clinical framework for all members of the treatment team. This is usually being applied in inpatient or residential treatment facilities and focused on administrators, doctors, nurses, therapists, line staff and support staff. The goal is to encourage the milieu staff to take a more psychotherapeutic approach to milieu management, in contrast to the more typical behavioral management approach. While managing safety on the milieu is critical, an attachment based approach helps staff see how some behaviors are interpersonal needs that are poorly expressed. In this model, conflict, cooperation, and program resistance are viewed as therapeutic opportunities rather than barrier to treatment.

Critical to this approach is the application of attachment-based family therapy as the organizing clinical intervention model. Therapists view attachment ruptures (e.g., family conflicts, negative emotional climate, etc.) as a major contribution to the patients’ problems. Sometimes these conflicts can cause teens to have problems (e.g. divorce, parental alcoholics), and sometimes these conflicts can deny the teen the support they need to overcome their challenges. When the therapist in family sessions is working through attachment ruptures and the milieu staff can interpret milieu behavior as attachment needs, there is an intensive therapeutic experience for the patient. This approach has also been observed to reduce conflicts on the units, reduce episodes that require restraints/seclusion and improve treatment satisfaction.

The Attachment Based Milieu Program does not impede the use of any treatment or milieu component already being used such as CBT, MBT, NVR, Signs of Safety, etc. Programs can proceed with what already works for their team and the patients they treat. Attachment principles and working with primary attachment relationships will ground the work already being conducted. The program can be implemented, regardless of the diagnoses or age of patients.

Implementing the Attachment Based Care Milieu Program requires more than a three-day training program alone. Behavioral change of a system is never easy. Leadership and management must be engaged in the change process and staff need ongoing guidance and support.

The Attachment Based Care Milieu Program consists of two components.

Component One

Component One is comprised of three parts which build on one another. Organizations do not have to participate in all three parts, however we find that true change on the milieu is difficult without implementing the full program.

Part I: Attachment Based Milieu Team Training

For (interdisciplinary) teams, the program offers a three-day team training. The first day, on Attachment principles and practice, can be offered as a standalone workshop. The second day is a training day on conversation skills, focusing on unraveling attachment themes and ruptures from the patient’s story and on creating corrective attachment experiences with caretakers and peers in the treatment milieu. The third day is about shaping the treatment milieu into a safe attachment learning environment. Therapy program design, setting rules, prevention and handling of acting-out, are topics addressed in this tailor-made third day workshop.

In order for the milieu training to translate into change on the unit, a change agent/champion on the team needs to be identified that will lead this change process and support the team. The person best suited to act as the change agent is a family therapist on the team who will also be trained in ABFT. However, other change agents can be considered with the organization.

Workshop Scheduling

As noted above, the first day of the training can be a standalone workshop. The three days can be delivered in one training or the first day can be delivered alone and then days two and three can be delivered days/weeks/months after the first day. All milieu staff need to attend Days 1 and 3 together. Day 2 is intended to be conducted with smaller groups of staff (12-20 people) and can be conducted in two groups (i.e., have Day 2 twice) to respect the need to keep the unit running during the training.

Part II: Milieu Team Supervision

Supervision is provided on a monthly basis online to help multidisciplinary teams implement the milieu training and adapt existing systems (when necessary) to be consistent with the milieu model. Additionally, supervision serves as a place for team members to process challenges professionally and interpersonally in utilizing this new model.

Supervision by an accredited ABFT therapist-trainer, of teams implementing the Attachment Based Care Milieu Program, is provided online for 6 months and then the change agent will take over this process.

Requirements for Participation

Participants must have attended the three-day milieu training (or 3-hour booster session) to participate in supervision.

Part III: Milieu Change Agent Supervision

For ongoing utilization of the milieu model, a coach/change agent is needed to facilitate the implementation of the program into all levels of care on a unit or facility. The program provides assistance in selection and supervision of this facilitator’s role. We also train the change agent in a 3-hour booster training that the change agent can deliver to new staff that is hired to help them adapt and engage in the attachment-based care environment. We advise a minimum of two years, monthly facilitator’s supervision.

Component Two

ABFT Therapist Training

Including patients’ primary attachment relationships in the recovery and healing of the patient, means the implementation of attachment-based family therapy (ABFT) into treatment. At least one therapist needs to be trained in ABFT in order to provide clients with family therapy. This training is offered in Philadelphia or onsite on demand. For teams consisting of multiple therapists working with families in family therapy, we advise training at least one supervisor and 2 therapists at a minimum per team in order to create meaningful change and impact.

Client Feedback

This program has been implemented and is being evaluated in a young adult inpatient hospital program. Clients and staff have provided feedback on their experiences. Those who have engage in the Attachment Based Care Milieu Program have experienced:

Increased patient engagement

  • "I want to come continue treatment for the ABFT sessions. Things are really starting to change at home. My dad listens to me now. And I’m listening to him."

Increased parent satisfaction

  • "After so many hospitalizations for our adoptive son, we’ve now experienced psychiatry can be different, can make a difference."

Increased team member resilience

  • "Every time we discuss a case from the attachment perspective we’re trained in, we see new options for care and treatment. We find hope again in seemingly hopeless cases."

Augmented team efficiency

  • "Our treatments go deeper and target what really matters now. Since we’ve adopted the Attachment Based Treatment Program, we know what we are doing. We share moments of proudness of our work with vulnerable young people."

Youth Suicide Prevention Training

How often do adolescent patients unexpectedly reveal their suicidal thoughts or intentions in the middle of a session? How often do we get a call from schools saying they found a suicide note in your patient’s book bag? Learning some practical, state of the art, empirically supported clinical strategies to manage a youth suicide crisis can improve clinical decision making and ethical practice.

This workshop provides an introduction to state of the art; empirically supported clinical strategies to help mental health professionals and others who come in contact with suicidal youth manage crises related to suicidal ideation and attempts. We first discuss trauma informed care, adolescent development and adolescent suicide statistics. Then using a family-centered care approach the workshop focuses on the topics of risk assessment, safety planning, and family engagement. Lecture, discussion, experiential exercises, and patient videos (when applicable) are used throughout the workshop.

Course Components

Risk Assessment

The essential components of risk assessment with adolescents struggling with suicidal thoughts and behaviors are reviewed. Risk and protective factors including family factors, as well as warning signs of suicide risk for adolescents are reviewed. Participants are also guided through factors to consider during the assessment process and how to ask caregivers to step out of the room during an assessment. Additionally, the process of screening is discussed, both in terms of the clinician’s stance and standard assessment tools and assessment questions. Finally, the decision making process of what level of care is needed to address an adolescent’s level of risk is reviewed. Participants are given the opportunity to practice assessing suicide risk.

Safety Planning

Safety planning is discussed from a family perspective. Why caregivers need to be included in the safety planning process with adolescents is reviewed. Additionally, clinical strategies to move from the assessment process to preparing youth and their parents for safety planning is discussed. We also teach important aspects of conducting the family safety plan including a review of the essential components of safety planning. (Please note however, this is not a safety planning training. If participants are unfamiliar with the safety planning intervention, we provide recommendations to receive training.) Participants are given the opportunity to practice several different aspects of the safety planning process.

Family Engagement

Caregivers are typically the gatekeepers to adolescents receiving mental health care, but may experience barriers to pursuing or engaging in treatment. We begin by discussing the importance of engaging families when working with depressed and or suicidal adolescents. We also teach clinical engagement strategies based on the principles of attachment-based family therapy to help reduce barriers to help seeking and increase caregiver motivation to find appropriate care for their child or participate in family therapy. Audience members have opportunities to practice these techniques during the workshop.

Target Audience

This workshop directly relates to the clinical work of all mental health professionals, medical professionals working with adolescents, school counselors and SAP team members.

Training Options

The Youth Suicide Prevention workshop is offered as a full day in person workshop covering risk assessment, safety planning and family engagement. If you are interested in a half-day workshop covering these topics or a briefer talk focused on one of these topics please contact Suzanne Levy, Ph.D. at sal89@drexel.edu or 215-571-3415.

Accreditation

We have applied for APA and PA ONLY LPC/LMFT/LSW/LCSW CEs for the full day workshop.

Accreditation

Level I: 1-Day and 3-Day Introductory Workshops and 1-Day Webinar

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 II: 3-Day Advanced 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.

ABFT Online Training Program for Individuals

Coming soon!

Youth Suicide Prevention Workshop

Coming soon!

Contact Information

For additional information about:

  • any of the training opportunities listed above or
  • inquires about how ABFT or the ABC Milieu program can be effectively implemented in your agency or
  • if you are interested in a specialized training program for your organization

please contact Suzanne Levy, PhD, the ABFT Training Director, at 215.571.3415 or slevy@drexel.edu.