Attachment-Based Family Therapy for Suicidal Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adolescents: A Case Study

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The majority of sexual minority adolescents are well-adjusted and healthy, however, on average, 28% report suicidal ideation and between 15% and 40% make a suicide attempt each year. These rates are two to seven times higher than those found among heterosexual youths. Research has shown the protective function of parental support and acceptance, as well as the deleterious effects of parental criticism, invalidation, and rejection on the mental health of sexual minority adolescents. Given these risk and protective factors, these adolescents might benefit from an intervention that targets family relationships. Toward this goal, Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) specifically aims to improve the quality of adolescent–parent relationships. In prior treatment developmental work, ABFT was adapted and pilot tested for depressed and suicidal lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adolescents. By adopting an evidence-based case study format, this paper provides a case summary to illustrate how the therapy was conducted. The case study consists of a vignette, followed by therapy task descriptions and illustrative transcripts. Examples of key therapeutic moments in ABFT, for depressed and suicidal LGB adolescents, are discussed in the context of the case.