Systemic family therapy integrated with attachment interventions for adoptive families. Development of a treatment manual

Angelo Barbato, Barbara D’Avanzo, Francesco Vadilonga, Matteo Cortinovis, Sara Lombardi, Francesca Pili, Gloriana Rangone, Anna Visconti

First published on Journal of Family Therapy: 03 July 2019

Manualisation, although to some extent controversial, is an essential requirement for outcome research in family therapy. No manuals are available for therapy of adoptive families. This paper presents the development of a manual of a therapy model with adoptive families, based on the integration of a systems approach and attachment theory. We describe the background and process of development of the manual conducted in collaboration by clinicians and a research team. Twenty‐nine core elements of the model were identified and operationally defined by a focus group of clinicians. All elements except one showed good interrater reliability. The manual provides a tool to address the treatment of adopted families. Since the support to adoptive parents using a family therapy approach remains an under‐researched area, a manual available to clinicians and researchers will promote outcome studies in this area and training of therapists working with adoptive families.

Practitioner points

  • Adoptive parents often need help to form secure attachment bonds with their adopted children
  • A manual for family therapy targeted at adoptive families has been developed
  • The manual presents a model integrating attachment based interventions within a systemic framework