Emotional processing in attachment-based family therapy for suicidal adolescents

Chen Lifshitz, Noa Tsvieli, Eran Bar-Kalifa, Caroline Abbott, Guy S. Diamond, R. Roger Kobak, Gary M. Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study examined proposed sequential pathways through which suicidal adolescents are thought to shift from secondary global distress and rejecting anger to primary adaptive hurt, grief and assertive anger in the context of attachment-based family therapy (ABFT). Method: Participants were 39 suicidal adolescents who had received 16 weeks of ABFT as part of a randomized clinical trial, and who had been assigned to one of three outcome groups (i.e., good responders, slow responders and non-responders). Adolescents’ in-session emotions were observationally coded using the Classification of Affective-Meaning States. Results: Across outcome groups, adolescents evidenced shifts from global distress to maladaptive shame, from maladaptive rejecting anger to adaptive assertive anger, and from adaptive assertive anger to adaptive grief/hurt. Adolescents who did not respond to treatment evidenced higher rates of maladaptive global distress. Conclusions: Findings are discussed in the context of ABFT and sequential emotional processing theories.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)267-279
Number of pages13
JournalPsychotherapy Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • adolescents
  • depression
  • emotional processing
  • family therapy
  • suicide

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology


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