Over fifty years ago, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth’s research on the developmental psychology of children formed the basic tenets of attachment theory. And for years, following these tenets, the theory’s focus has been on how children develop vis-à-vis the attachments—whether secure or insecure—they form with their caregivers. In the therapy room, this has meant working with individuals one-on-one, with the therapist assuming the role of the attachment figure in order to provide a secure base for treating clients’ problems that arose from troubled interpersonal relationships in childhood.
Here, Daniel A. Hughes, an eminent clinician and attachment specialist, is the first to expand this traditional model, applying attachment theory to a family therapy setting. Drawing on more than 20 years of clinical experience, Hughes presents his comprehensive, effective, and accessible treatment model for working with all members of a family—not simply the individual in question—to recognize, resolve, and heal personal and family problems using principles from theories of attachment and intersubjectivity.
Beginning with an overview of attachment and intersubjectivity—the twin theories from which he forms his treatment plan—Hughes carefully outlines, chapter by chapter, the core principles and strategies of his family-based approach. He elaborates on the need to develop and maintain PACE (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy)—the central therapeutic stance of attachment-focused family therapy—and supplies tips and sample dialogues for implementing this position. The importance of fostering affective/reflective (a/r) dialogue is covered in detail, as well as helping families to manage shame, understand and embrace the break-and-repair cycle of their interactions, and explore and resolve childhood trauma. Also discussed are the more procedural issues of how to incorporate parents into therapeutic conversations, when and how to question them on their own attachment histories, and how to “be” with children.
Grounded in the fundamental principle of parents facilitating the healthy emotional development of their children, Attachment-focused Family Therapy is the first book of its kind to offer therapists a complete manual for using attachment therapy with families. Extensive case studies, vignettes, and sample dialogues throughout clearly demonstrate how Hughes’s model plays out in the therapy room. By showing therapists how to create a bond of psychological safety and intersubjective discovery with parents and caregivers, Hughes reveals how they, in turn, can bring about similar experiences of safety and discovery for their children.
--- from the publisher
"Dan Hughes has created a beautiful, clear, and eminently useful summary of his synthetic and powerful approach to family therapy. Combining the sensitivity of an empathic heart with the wisdom of a seasoned clinician, this book offers a solid theoretical overview of attachment theory and then brings us directly into the therapeutic session with a spectrum of illuminating, in-depth vignettes. The reader is not only offered the gift of practical tools, but is taken on an enjoyable and eye-opening journey into the very nature of our relationships, subjective experience, and the healing process. Dan Hughes makes attachment theory come vibrantly alive for both the student and experienced therapist who will each benefit from this wonderful addition to our therapeutic library. Thank you!"
—Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Co-Director, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and author of The Mindful Brain, Parenting from the Inside Out, and The Developing Mind
“Daniel Hughes has written a book that will change how family therapy is practiced. In a manner parallel to the approach he takes as a therapist, Daniel Hughes's accessible, warm, friendly, down-to-earth, plain-spoken conversational tone as an author makes what he says seem like it is what we have always thought—except that it isn't. Attachment-focused Family Therapy is a revolutionary approach to family therapy and to the treatment of children with attachment-related difficulties. Guided by what he calls the “double helix" of attachment and intersubjectivity, this way of working makes rapid contact with the core humanity of parents and children, no matter how extreme the difficulties that bring them to treatment. In the process of this empathy-driven model, not only are maladaptive patterns transformed and sufferings relieved, but the vitality of feeling joy and curiosity and love that comes from feeling connected, safe, and understood is restored. Whether you work with families, or individuals young or not-so-young, your work will not be quite the same after reading this book. I know mine won't. I recommend this book with all my heart and mind.”
—Diana Fosha, Ph.D., Director of the AEDP Institute in New York City, and author of The Transforming Power of Affect
About the Author:
Daniel A. Hughes, Ph.D., has specialized in dyadic developmental psychotherapy for 25 years. A consultant and trainer, he gives workshops both nationally and internationally on attachment therapy and childhood trauma. His practice is located in Portland, ME.