Attachment-based family therapy for depressed adolescents: Brogrammatic treatment development

Guy Diamond, Lynne Siqueland, Gary M. Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Few effective psychosocial treatment models for depressed adolescents have been developed, let alone ones that use the developmentally potent context of the family as the focus of intervention. Attachment-based family therapy (ABFT) is a brief, manualized treatment model tailored to the specific needs of depressed adolescents and their families. Attachment theory serves as the main theoretical framework to guide the process of repairing relational ruptures and rebuilding trustworthy relationships. Empirically supported risk factors for depression are the primary problem states that therapists target with specific treatment strategies or tasks. Parent problem states include criticism/hostility, personal distress, parenting skills, and disengagement. Adolescent problem states include motivation, negative self-concept, poor affect regulation, and disengagement. Intervention tasks include relational reframing, building alliances with the adolescent and with the parent, addressing attachment failures, and building competency. A small, randomized clinical trial provides initial support for the model. Several process research studies, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, have helped refine the clinical guidelines for each treatment task. ABFT is a promising new treatment for depressed adolescents and more research on it is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-127
Number of pages21
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2003


  • Adolescence
  • Attachment
  • Depression
  • Family therapy
  • Treatment manual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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