Integrated Attachment Family Therapy Training

Integrated Attachment Family Therapy Training

Integrated Attachment Family Therapy Training

An invitation from Dafna Lender

“Dafna Lender’s framework, Integrative Attachment Family Therapy (IAFT), uses the power of neuroplasticity to provide parents and children with new experiences of safety and connection that shift trauma-informed relationships. It offers a powerful mental health intervention that can help families to heal. If parents and therapists follow Dafna’s guidance, they can make significant progress in reducing attachment trauma in future generations.”

-Bessel van der Kolk, MD

Next Workshop

September 3rd, 10th, 17th & 24th, 2024

12:00PM ET - 1:30PM ET (US Eastern Standard Time)

Time Zone Converter

*Closed Captioning is now available during the live sessions.

Can't make it? All live lectures are recorded and made available within 48 hours after the live lecture.

Course Description

The Integrative Attachment Family Therapy (IAFT) Training Course, developed by family therapy expert and attachment specialist Dafna Lender, is a powerful intervention approach that addresses a wide array of issues that make their way to a therapist’s office: difficult behaviors on the part of the child, such as frequent arguments and tantrums, disobedience, and indifference; and reactive behaviors on the part of the parents, such as yelling, pleading, threatening, and giving up or giving in.

Instead of viewing the child as the problem, IAFT addresses the crux of the issue: a misalignment in the parent-child relationship. In this training course, Dafna walks students through the IAFT framework, providing therapeutic insight and concrete strategies to help families achieve meaningful and lasting change.

Whether you’re a clinician, child welfare worker, educator, or professional working with children in any capacity, this must-have resource will allow you to:

  • Create a strong alliance with parents―the crucial, and often missing, piece of therapeutic work with children
  • Overcome a host of complex, off-putting defenses and dysfunctions that come with working directly with parents
  • Uncover the reasons for the emotional misalignment between parent and child
  • Guide families in looking at the source of the problem rather than at superficial behaviors
  • Enhance children’s attachment security, resiliency, and sense of self
  • With this course, you can truly help families transform into happy and well-functioning environments where children can thrive.

Learn through clinical case analysis, role-playing, and practical exercises you can integrate into your practice and use on your own.

This program is offered at the introductory level. It is suitable for graduate-level learning and accessible to anyone interested in the subject.

In preparation for the training, participants are encouraged to purchase and read the book Integrative Attachment Family Therapy: A Clinical Guide to Heal and Strengthen the Parent-Child Relationship through Play, Co-regulation, and Meaning-Making.

$225 USD

1. Integrated Attachment Family Therapy Training 2024

$225.00 USD

Program Only

Included features:

  • Full Course
  • 90 day extended access to recording after last class

Module 1

Foundations of Attachment Family Therapy

In Module 1, we will practice exercises for maximizing your social engagement system and participate in experiential exercise for learning about your own polyvagal map. In this session, you will

  • Learn techniques for transmitting trust and safety through body language

  • Learn how to overcome your defensive reactions to clients who cause you discomfort by using guided imagery and self-regulation techniques

  • See video of real client where parent and child have difficulty due to being mismatched in their nervous systems and how social engagement activities helped them become more attached and regulated

  • Map out your own polyvagal map so you can become familiar with your own nervous system

  • Learn to apply this same map with your clients

Assignment 1

Watch lecture 1 to prepare for this week. This 90 minute lecture will cover:

I. Basic Tenets

  • Focus is on attunement, co-regulation and intersubjectivity between caregiver and child on non-verbal, physiologic level.

  • The dyadic relationship is the focus of the treatment, not the individual

  • Actively facilitating joy and connection in the dyad

  • Developing a coherent autobiographical narrative is key to healing

  • Working with parent’s own attachment history is key to facilitate healing

II. Using your Social Engagement System

  • Voice prosody

  • Melodic voice that express joy/pleasure in person’s company

  • Higher in the pitch range

  • Rhythmic voice

  • Matches the rhythm of the other person’s communications/vocalizations

  • Accompanied by open, curious face

  • Eye contact

  • Reassuring touch (pressing gently on hand, holding hand, hand on shoulder)

  • Gesture and posture

Module 2

Attachment-Based Activities for Attunement, Trust, and Regulation

In Module 2, we will learn how interpersonal play between parent and child builds trust, safety and connection. We will practice activities from the 4 Dimensions:

  • Balloon between two bodies

  • Weather report

  • Slippery slip

  • Cotton ball war

  • Mirroring Game

  • Blow Me Over

  • Imaginary Ball Toss

In this session, you will

  • Learn about the 4 dimensions of Theraplay

  • Learn which type of child behaviors need which of the Theraplay dimension

  • Learn activities to use in sessions with your child and parent clients

  • Practice activities in dyads

  • Learn about the impact of pervasive shame and child misbehavior

  • Learn how to repair shame

Assignment 2

Watch lecture 2 to prepare for this week. This 90 minute lecture will cover:

I. Theraplay Dimensions: Overview

  • Engaging, playful, relationship focused therapy that is interactive, physical and fun

  • Modeled on the natural patterns of healthy parent-child interaction

  • A “bottom-up” rather than a “top-down” model

  • Parents are actively involved in treatment and helped to become more sensitively attuned and emotionally available

  • Interactions lead to a sense of safety and comfort with closeness and create an ongoing healthy relationship

  • Repair of traumatic experiences and relational trauma

II. Theraplay Dimensions: Structure-Organization & Safety

  • Environmental regulation via organization, clear boundaries, and clear expectations

  • Relational regulation via pacing, choice of activity and level of arousal

  • Parent takes over this role as soon as possible

  • Balloon between two bodies

Messages to the Child
  • Your parents are trustworthy and can keep you safe

  • You don't have to manage on your own

III. Theraplay Dimensions: Engagement Connection, Joy, Co-Regulation of Emotions

  • Slippery slip

Messages to the Child

  • You are not alone with your intense feelings
  • Your parent sees, hears , and understands you
  • You are fun to be with; There is joy in relationships

IV. Theraplay Dimensions: Nurture-Calming, Emotional Nourishment, Secure Base

  • Creating moments where the child can feel taken care of, secure, nourished and calm

Messages to the Child

  • Your parent can calm and soothe you and help you feel better

  • Your parent provides what you need

  • Even if touch and physical closeness were frightening in the past, they can now feel safe and good

V. Theraplay Dimensions: Challenge Recognition, Pride, Celebration of Self

Messages to the Child

  • You are strong and competent

  • You are capable of making good things happen

  • You can accomplish something that is a bit difficult with your parent’s help

VI. The Value of Practicing Playful Activities with Parents

  • How to Deal with Children Who Experience Excessive Shame
    • Symptoms

    • How to respond to and heal chronic shame

  • Example of shame and repair

Module 3

Facilitating Parent-Child Dialogues that Create Connection and Understanding

In Module 3, we will learn how to help caregiver and child create safe dialogues. We will practice PACE for when a child is angry/defensive and when a child is passive/withdrawn/depressed.

In this session, you will

  • Discover the power of the PACE attitude

  • Learn to encourage and extend dialogue even if the child doesn’t talk

  • Tools for titrating the intensity of interaction between parent and child to maintain optimal arousal

  • Practice a position of radical acceptance of client’s strong feelings

  • Learn how to identify toxic shame as a reason for misbehavior

  • Learn how to repair the pattern of the toxic shame response

Assignment 3

Watch lecture 3 to prepare for this week. This 90 minute lecture will cover:

PACE Attitude for encouraging children to speak about their thoughts and feelings


Light, hopeful, open, spontaneous atmosphere, storytelling voice and tone


Unconditionally shown about all the thoughts, feelings, motives, urges under the behavior; Behavior still needs limits or consequences


Non-judgmental, non-evaluative, wondering, active interest in your child’s experience, can be tentative


Doing your best to make sense of and feel what is going on for child - actively showing it so they can see and feel how they have an impact on you

Tips for creating safe dialogues between child and caregiver

  • Take child’s non-verbal communications as responses (shoulder shrug, intense gaze, shift of head, looking down, etc.)

  • Support child in “not knowing”

  • Ask if you can guess and they can give you a thumbs up or down, or a toe up or down

  • Let them hide under blanket or pillow, give them something to clutch like a big teddy bear or pillow

  • Don’t ask them for verbal confirmation. Non-verbal is enough.

  • If they don’t answer you, talk to yourself or a stuffed animal in the room, wonder out loud

Module 4

What Lies Underneath Difficult Child Behaviors & Working with Parents

In Module 4, we will practice responding to defensive parents to help uncover non-conscious fears and facilitate mentalization skills. We will practice role play for parents who make statements such as

  • Are you blaming me?

  • How I was raised has nothing to do with this!

  • I grew up this way and I turned out ok

  • I had it much worse growing up than he does

In this session, you will

  • Assessing when it is time to parent individual work

  • Working with angry and uncooperative parents

  • Helping parents stay open and engaged

  • Learn gentle ways to intervene and redirect a misattuned or critical parent

  • Guiding parents in helpful responses within session

Assignment 4

Watch lecture 4 to prepare for this week. This 90 minute lecture will cover:

What lies underneath difficult child behavior

I. Possible non-conscious “core beliefs”

  • I am afraid I will explode eventually and ruin everything

  • If I say how I really feel, I will feel too foolish

  • I’m afraid that this behavior means that I am all bad

  • I’m afraid that if I keep doing this, you might not keep me, might not love me, might send me away

  • I’m so tired of trying to be “good” and I’m afraid I can’t do it, that I’m a failure, that it will always be this way?

II. Guide for working successfully with parents

III. Preparing parents for sessions to maximize emotional safety

  • You are going to ask them to email you about good and bad things during the week

  • YOU ARE GOING TO DECIDE WHAT/WHEN TO talk about the bad things in session

  • You’re going to deal with one subject/issue/event at a time so as not to overwhelm the situation

  • “Sometimes I’m going to have to interrupt you if there is too much information or bring up too many negative themes. How do you want me to do that?”

  • If you feel like I’ve insulted or slighted your authority, we can talk about that afterwards and I’ll adjust

  • Focus on inner life but I’m not taking what he says literally or believe it’s the whole story

  • When the child talks or when I talk for him, focus on PACE, like “I understand, thanks for telling me, that must be hard.”

  • Don’t give reasons, rationales, reassurance, etc. With handout about PACE

  • If you forget or don’t know what to say, I’ll help you

  • I’m going to coach you in session and that takes getting used to

IV. Case Study of working with punitive, unempathic parent

  • Dealing with defensive parents
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About Dafna Lender

Dafna is a child and family therapist with over 20 years of experience. She is a certified trainer, supervisor, and consultant in Theraplay® and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, and coauthor of Theraplay: The Practitioner’s Guide. Dafna has successfully treated children and their parents with a variety of backgrounds, including children raised in orphanages, with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, exposed to domestic violence and community violence and children of parents with chronic mental illness and attachment wounds. Dafna provides trainings and consultations for psychologists and psychotherapists around the world.


Target Audience

Counselors, Social Workers, Psychotherapists, Marriage & Family Therapists, Nurses, Psychologists, Addictions Counselors, Occupational Therapists, Case Managers, Mental Health Professionals, Parents, Teachers and Caregivers.

This program is offered at the introductory level. It is suitable for graduate level learning and accessible for anyone with an interest in the subject.

Cancellation Policy

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