Dr. Dan said…
Great workshop today! Dr. Suzanne Levy from the Center for Family Intervention Science at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia talked about Attachment Based Family Therapy (ABFT). Although her workshops are usually one or two days, she managed to squeeze into three hours, enough information to intrigue me to obtain more education about this topic. Dr. Levy’s presentation was dynamic and she was very knowledgeable. I especially enjoyed her brief explanation of the research and the theory behind this approach to family therapy. As I looked around the room, I noticed several folks whose training began in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, much as mine did. As she spoke, I recalled those early days with Dr. Sal Minuchin at the Child Guidance Clinic and the introduction of “Structured Family Therapy”, with nostalgia. Dr. Levy’s discussion of the research reminded us that family therapy techniques, enhanced with attachment theory etc, have evolved into an “empirically based” treatment approach.
I thought that Dr. Levy did a nice job of presenting the ABFT overview, with both benefits and risks of the family described as factors in the treatment. Although not intending to make the audience experts in ABFT, her presentation of the “Five Tasks” hit the mark to help us appreciate the “guidance” provided by the model, without the “cook-book” approach of other empirically based psychotherapy techniques (Honestly, do you always follow the rules of your “theory” of choice?). Dr. Levy’s emphasis on intentionality at each session to stay focused on the goals, allows use of clinical judgment (and the many years of training) to choose the appropriate strategies to reach the goals. I don’t know about you, but this point helps me feel more like a professional and less like a technician.
Dr. Levy was not trying to “sell” this technique to all. She acknowledged that the research supports success with this approach to a selected, but very large population of families (including single parent, alternate caregivers and other nontraditional families) with adolescents. Research is being conducted with families of younger children. Dr. Levy was quick to acknowledge that this technique is not for everyone. My understanding of her comments excluded adolescents or parents with intellectual disability or other developmental problems, serious mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, and families where physical abuse is prevalent. In short, this treatment approach appears most effective when both the adolescent and the caregiver are capable of insight. Also, limited to therapists with a tolerance of raw emotions.
I can always tell when the audience is satisfied with a workshop by the quiet attending to the speaker and the appropriateness of questions. The audience was quiet throughout her talk. Questions were relevant and did not detract from her presentation. She responded to all questions thoroughly and checked back with each person to make sure. The audience appeared satisfied with Dr. Levy’s Presentation presentation.
March 2, 2011 2:55 PM