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Ben-Gurion University Psychotherapy Research Lab

Director/Primary Investigator of Lab: Gary M. Diamond, PhD

The BGU Psychotherapy Research Lab is housed in the Department of Psychology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel. Under the supervision of Professor Gary M. Diamond, lab members engage in clinical research on the process and outcome of: Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) for sexual minority young adults and their non-accepting parents; ABFT and emotion-focused therapy for individuals suffering from unresolved anger toward a parent; and ABFT for depressed and suicidal adolescents. Some of the processes we examine include: emotional processing, changes in parental acceptance, and changes in attachment. Our research has been supported by the generosity of the Israel Science Foundation, Bi-National Science Foundation, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel, Israel Anti-Drug Authority, and Israel Foundations Trustees. The Israel-U.S. Bi-national Science Foundation is funding all collaborative research projects with CFIS. See link below to our website to read more about the research projects we are conducting.

Other Lab Websites: Ben-Gurion University Psychotherapy Research Lab

Active Funded Projects in Collaboration with CFIS

The link between emotional processing, emotional arousal, changes in attachment and decreases in suicidal ideation in attachment-based family therapy for suicidal adolescents.

Authors: Gary M. Diamond, Guy S. Diamond, R. Rogers Kobak

This study will examine the role of emotional arousal and processing in transforming attachment schema and decreasing suicidal ideation among a sample of 60 suicidal adolescents receiving 16 weeks of attachment-based family therapy. Emotional arousal and processing will be measured via observational coding and objective analyses of voice quality during the first two reattachment sessions of each case. Attachment will be measured via AAI interviews and observational coding of interaction tasks pre and post-treatment. Suicidal ideation will be measured via self-report at baseline, 8, 16 (post treatment) 32 and 52 weeks. Based on the theoretical tenets of ABFT and prior research, we hypothesize that: 1) Frequency and level of productive emotional processing during the first two reattachment sessions will be associated with improvements in adolescents' attachment schema by the end of treatment; 2) frequency and level of productive emotional processing will be associated with decreases in suicidal ideation at post treatment and follow-up assessments, but that this association will be mediated by changes in attachment schema and; 3) the positive association between the frequency and level of productive emotional processing and improved attachment schema will be moderated by the peak and modal level of emotional arousal during productive emotional processing, and that this association will be non-linear (i.e., the association will be strongest in the context of moderately high levels of arousal). Findings promise to shed light on the relation between affective and cognitive changes in emotion focused therapies and inform therapists regarding optimal levels of emotional arousal during processing.

Sequence of affective states over the course of Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) for suicidal adolescents.

Authors: Chen Lifshitz (student), Guy S. Diamond, R. Rogers Kobak & Gary M. Diamond (academic supervisor)

Attachment episodes are a primary change mechanism in ABFT. Successful attachment episodes are characterized by adolescents expressing their previously avoided but adaptive assertive anger, hurt and unmet attachment needs directly to their parents. This process typically involves the adolescent first accessing and expressing their more dominant, easily accessible, but maladaptive rejecting anger and fear. This study examined the sequence of affective states leading to adolescents’ expression of vulnerable adaptive emotions and unmet attachment needs during conjoint sessions with their parents. We hypothesized that expression of vulnerable adaptive emotions and attachment needs would be preceded by expressions of rejecting anger or fear, and that higher levels of rejecting anger and fear in early individual sessions with the adolescent would predict less expression of adaptive emotions and attachment needs in subsequent conjoint sessions.

Amount of adolescent productive emotional processing in attachment-based family therapy versus non-specific supportive therapy.

Authors: Ofir Nir (student), R. Rogers Kobak, Guy S. Diamond & Gary M. Diamond (academic supervisor)

One purported element in the change process in ABFT is emotional processing. Emotional processing occurs when adolescents access, connect with and express unmet attachment needs (e.g., need for care) and their associated primary adaptive emotions, including fear, grief and assertive anger. According to ABFT, when adolescents are able to express their previously unspoken adaptive emotions and unmet needs to their parents; and their parents respond with empathy, validation and protection; adolescents feel safer and cared for, increasing their sense of security in the attachment relationship. The purpose of this study is to examine the degree to which ABFT indeed facilitates emotional processing among suicidal adolescents, and whether it does so at levels greater than an efficacious comparison treatment (family-enhanced non-directive supportive therapy).

Proposed Projects in Collaboration with CFIS