Slide “My experience at Newport Academy
changed my life. I learned to trust
people, I learned how to get out of my
own self-will and trust in a power
greater than myself.”
-Dallas, Newport Academy alum

“My experience at Newport Academy
changed my life. I learned to trust
people, I learned how to get out of my
own self-will and trust in a power
greater than myself.”

-Dallas, Newport Academy alum

Attachment-Based Therapy

Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) is an evidence-based approach for treating depression and anxiety in adolescents. ABFT works by rebuilding trust within the parent-child relationship—providing a solid foundation that promotes authentic connection and enhances teen mental health.

Interpersonal relationships within the family system profoundly affect adolescent well-being. When those relationships are disconnected, teens and young adults suffer—as does the entire family. Attachment-based therapy provides a clear path to achieving what both parents and children want most—closer, more meaningful relationships with one another.

Our Family-Centered Approach

At Newport Academy, we recognize that sustainable healing for teens and young adults involves treating the entire family. Within the first week of admission, parents attend an Orientation, meet with their family therapist to share their story, learn what to expect throughout treatment, meet their child’s Treatment Team, and begin family therapy.

“When a teen receives empathy and validation from their parents, they feel safe and supported to be more open and honest overall.”

—Barbara Nosal, PhD, LMFT, LADC, Newport Academy Chief Clinical Officer

The family experience at Newport Academy includes the Parent Orientation, weekly individual family therapy, Family Day every other Saturday, and the bi-weekly Saturday Family Program. Family therapists at Newport Academy are trained in Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) with ABFT co-founders Guy S. Diamond, Gary M. Diamond, and Suzanne A. Levy—who work closely with our clinical staff to integrate ABFT into family therapy.

“When a teen receives empathy and validation from their parents, they feel safe and supported to be more open and honest overall.”

—Barbara Nosal, PhD, LMFT, LADC, Newport Academy Chief Clinical Officer

What is Attachment-Based Therapy?

Attachment-Based Family Therapy is an evidenced-based, empirically supported therapeutic modality developed to treat depressed and suicidal adolescents.

Attachment-Based Family Therapy techniques identify and repair early childhood attachment ruptures in the parent/primary caregiver and child relationship. Attachment ruptures are disconnections in the secure parent/child bond, which create disruptions in the child’s emotional functioning and sense of safety and acceptance. The five tasks of ABFT provide the framework to guide treatment planning and session goals.

Research validates the efficacy of ABFT in reducing adolescent depression and anxiety, decreasing feelings of hopelessness, reducing suicidal thoughts, and strengthening parent-child bonds.

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Attachment-Based Family Therapy’s Five Tasks

  1. Task One, Relational Reframe, shifts from the child as the problem to the family as the solution. Family strengths and relational ruptures are highlighted, while an agreement is established with each family member to work on developing a more meaningful relationship.
  2. Task 2, Adolescent Alliance, focuses on building the therapeutic alliance, identifying breaches of trust, accessing vulnerable emotions, and connecting mental health to underlying emotions and ruptures. Teens are supported to build emotional regulation skills to express to parent’s disappointment in a regulated and calm manner.
  3. Task 3, Parent Alliance, focuses on building the therapeutic alliance, understanding psychological, social, and generational forces that impact parenting, supporting parents to connect their early childhood ruptures to their emotions at the time, and relating those to their child’s experience. Parents are emotionally coached to listen and validate their child’s experience as they prepare for Task 4.
  4. In Task 4, Repairing Attachment Ruptures, the therapist facilitates the conversation, supporting the teen to express disappointments and vulnerable feelings, as well as coaching parents to validate with empathy and understanding. The teen practices emotional regulation skills, while parents practice emotionally focused parenting skills.
  5. Task 5, Promoting Autonomy, builds adolescent competencies as a buffer against identified stressors contributing to depression and suicidality. Cooperation emerges from the desire to maintain connection. At Newport Academy, this includes the creation of a mutually agreed-upon family agreement with age-appropriate expectations and consequences.