An attachment-based intervention for parents of adolescents at risk: mechanisms of change

Attach Hum Dev. 2015;17(2):119-35. doi: 10.1080/14616734.2015.1006383. Epub 2015 Mar 18.


Mechanisms that account for treatment effects are poorly understood. The current study examined processes that may underlie treatment outcomes of an attachment-based intervention (Connect) for parents of pre-teens and teens with serious behavior problems. Parents (N = 540) in a non-randomized trial reported on their teen's functioning prior to and following treatment. Results confirmed significant decreases in parents' reports of teens' externalizing and internalizing symptoms, replicating prior evaluations of this program. Reductions in parents' reports of teen attachment avoidance were associated with decreases in externalizing symptoms, while reductions in parents' reports of teen attachment anxiety were associated with decreases in internalizing symptoms. Parents' reports of improved teen affect regulation were also associated with decreases in both internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Results were comparable across gender and for parents of teens with pre-treatment externalizing symptoms in the clinical versus sub-clinical range. A model of therapeutic change in attachment-based parenting programs is discussed.

Keywords: adolescence; attachment-based intervention; behavior problems; parenting programs; parent–teen relationship.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Education, Nonprofessional / methods*
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Object Attachment*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting*
  • Parents*
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Psychology, Adolescent / methods*