Training parents to adolescents’ challenges: The CONNECT parent program

Lavinia Barone, Nicola Carone, Antonella Costantino, Jennifer Genschow, Sara Merelli, Annamaria Milone, Lisa Polidori, Laura Ruglioni, Marlene Moretti

Abstract

Adolescents’ challenges could be effectively addressed by treating their parents. Prior evaluations of CONNECT, an attachment-based program intervention for parents of adolescents at risk, indicated that improving parenting skills and the quality of parent-adolescent relationship may result in decrease of adolescents’ behavioural problems.
The present study is part of a longitudinal research involving three Italian centres (Pavia, Milan, Pisa) aimed at investigating whether helping parents reduce their reliance on coercive or unproductive parenting strategies and understand changes occurring during adolescence from an attachment-based perspective would reduce their adolescents’ externalizing and internalizing symptoms. One-hundred and eighteen parents of adolescents (Mage = 15.26 years, SD = 1.49; 64% boys), randomly assigned to the intervention group (n = 66) or to the wait-list control group (n = 52), reported on their perceptions of their adolescents’ externalizing and internalizing symptoms (using the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire-parent version; Goodman, 1997), as well as attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety (using the Adolescent Attachment Anxiety & Avoidance Inventory; Moretti and Obsuth, 2009) prior to
treatment (t0), within a two-week period following the final treatment session (t1) and at a four months follow-up (t2). Parents attending the CONNECT program reported significant reductions in their adolescents’ externalizing symptoms, and slightly significant reductions in their adolescents’ internalizing symptoms by a reduction of anxiety and avoidance attachment strategies.

The findings add evidence to the importance of investigating mechanisms of change underlying the effectiveness of CONNECT program, providing further indications on its application in therapeutic contexts.

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