23 Feb 2018

Attachment therapy could help troubled Flemish youth

In Flanders, nearly half of young people in care facilities or foster families told researchers that they want to hurt themselves or felt suicidal. According to researchers, the way forward lies in specialized family therapy.

Marjan Justaert
Marjan Justaert De Standaard, Belgium
Source: De Standaard
Attachment therapy could help troubled Flemish youth - NewsMavens
Teenager. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

An astonishing 47% of surveyed teenagers confessed having considered hurting or killing themselves. They report feeling afraid, wanting to cry, having no one to trust.

Education experts are taken aback the by the range and magnituda of the issue. But they also know how to reverse these mental states.

A seminal but relatively unknown form of therapy is showing great promise in Flanders: attachment-based family therapy (ABFT).

ABFT's main purpose is to repair and rebuild the bonding structures between a child and a parent. Given its life-changing effects, ABFT practitioners are desperate to get more funding in order to popularize the treatment.

Today, instead of implementing promising treatment options, we are parking many children in the cells of adult psychiatric institutions because youth care facilities are overflowing. Considering the significant wealth of the Flanders region, this situation can be pretty easily remedied. By investing resources in the appropriate care of these children, we would be helping both individual families and the community as a whole.

youth,family,mental health

How to restore confidence between vulnerable children and their parents?

  • The Catholic University of Louvain surveyed 271 young people between 10 and 21 years old who were involved in the child welfare system, with most living in a state facility or with a foster family.
  • 47 percent said they recently thought of suicide or intentionally injured themselves.
  • 30 percent said they struggle with serious emotional problems and experience symptoms of depression
  • Those who have the feeling that they can't rely on their parents suffer more.
  • The study shows a correlation between teen's lack of confidence in their mothers and an increase in the risk of depressive feelings.
  • Likewise, the study suggests that a lack of trust in the father increases the risk of self-injury and suicidal thoughts.
  • Those who can express their problems show lower risk for depression.
  • The results were published in the scientific journal Child Abuse & Neglect.
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