Multi-Family Group Intervention: Affect Regulation to Improve Attachment for Adolescents Adjudicated of a Sex Offense and their Maternal Caregivers
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Human Development and Family Science
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Research suggests that insecure attachment and deficits in affect regulation are common characteristics in youth who have been adjudicated for a sexual offense. Family therapies are not a focus in adolescent treatment, but may be important for improving outcomes in both attachment and affect regulation. The current study uses data from adolescents who have been adjudicated of a sex offense and their maternal caregivers in a multi-family group intervention. The intervention aims to enhance attachment relationships by improving adolescent and caregiver ability to regulate affect. Using change scores from pre- to post-intervention, in our sample of adolescents (N = 115) and maternal caregivers (N = 80) we found evidence to support our hypothesis that changes affect regulation predict changes in attachment. Specifically, we identified how improvements in emotion awareness/expression and using less emotion-oriented regulation strategies predicted overall attachment and other aspects of attachment relationships such as trust, communication, alienation, and dependability. We call for future research to build on this evidence and the importance of family therapy in treating adolescents who have been adjudicated of sex offenses.