Background: In the last twenty years interest in the clinical implications of attachment theory has greatly
grown. The perspective of attachment seems to be particularly relevant with regard to the study of adolescence, insofar as
the restructuring of the self that occurs during this developmental phase can lead to different outcomes in accordance with
the different attachment organizations. Also the psychotherapeutic process with the adolescent can be enhanced by the
understanding of the adolescent’s development with respect to attachment, and therapy can be adjusted according to the
attachment models of the adolescent’s relationships.
Method: In this paper I discuss the significance of this attachment- oriented approach to psychotherapy in adolescence,
starting from utilizing an “attachment-based” model for the assessment of the adolescent. The administration of the Adult
Attachment Interview (AAI) forms part of the assessment process.
Results: Such an assessment, focusing on the dimension related to the attachment patterns of the adolescent, highlights the
conversational and narrative features, the prevailing defenses and the availability of reflective functioning in order to
promote individuation. This methodology implies a focus also on the way attachment patterns operate in activating, from
the very beginning, specific types of unconscious responses in the therapist.
Conclusion: The AAI is useful in the evaluation phase of clinical cases, before initiating therapy. In many cases the interview
itself activates a process of reflection and reinterpretation of their past within the adolescent, which in turn that allows
the establishing of a preliminary working alliance.