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Workshop Description:

Attachment-based models of family therapy have shown increasing promise for treating psychological disorders common among adolescents. Researchers using Attachment Based Family Therapy (Diamond, Reis, Diamond, Siqueland, & Isaacs, L, 2002) have demonstrated effective outcomes in random clinical trials of adolescent depression and anxiety disorders. These approaches show promise for the use of attachment based interventions among youth and their families. Johnson, Maddeaux, and Blouin (1998) demonstrated an effective reduction of bulimic symptoms among adolescents in the initial pilot study of EFFT.

Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) is an attachment-based approach that combines both systemic and experiential interventions to mend broken bonds and heal fractured families. EFFT therapists focus on the emotional experience within a family and the problem patterns that block family members from accessing the resources they would otherwise share (Johnson, 2004). A primary goal of EFFT is to reduce problematic behavior by creating new patterns of emotional accessibility and responsiveness that offer a secure base for children to develop and families to thrive. EFFT provides a practical approach to engaging families at an emotional level. Accessing, processing, and connecting family members through the power of emotional experience promotes healing and fosters a family’s resilience to the everyday and unexpected challenges of life.

This workshop will provide participants an introduction to the use of attachment based interventions with families. Specific attention will be given to the practice of Emotionally Focused Family Therapy. Lecture instruction and experiential exercises will be used to provide participants with an understanding of the model and a practical introduction to the application of EFFT.

Learning Objectives:

Participants will…

  1. Conceptualize family distress using theories of emotion and attachment.
  2. Identify the stages and markers of change in the EFFT approach.
  3. Identify therapist practices that promote a working alliance with parents and children.
  4. Practice key interventions common to processing attachment related affect.
  5. Delineate key practices of EFFT from EFT work with couples.
  6. Practice enactments used to restructure new patterns of interaction promoting new levels of safety and security in the family.
  7. Explore the relationship of secure attachment to family patterns of resilience.

Workshop Format

This workshop will combine didactic instruction, experiential exercises, and case examples to demonstrate the practice of EFFT. Participants are encouraged to bring examples from their casework to explore the application of EFFT to their own work.

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