Family Attachment Lab

The mission of the Family Attachment Lab (FAL) is to increase our understanding of interpersonal processes underlying psychological risk and resilience by (a) developing integrated theoretical models, (b) conducting basic science research to test theoretical postulates, and (c) providing essential training in family research skills to the next generation of counseling psychologists. A guiding objective of the lab is to advance the theoretical and empirical interchange between attachment and family systems theories. Dr. Shelley A. Riggs directs the UNT Family Attachment Lab, which consists of 5-8 graduate students and 2-5 undergraduate students at any one time.

Dr. Riggs earned her doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and currently is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Texas (UNT). In 2014, Dr. Riggs was appointed as a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) Society of Family. Her research interests primarily lie in the area of psychological risk and resilience in relation to attachment and family processes, as well as relational trauma and loss.

Dr. Riggs supervises clinical practicum in the UNT Psychology Clinic. In addition, she teaches the graduate Marriage & Family sequence, which was implemented in fall 2004 and complies with APA guidelines set forth by the Committee for Family Specialty. Importantly, in the third course of the sequence students have the opportunity to conduct family and couple therapy under live supervision.  This sequence is part of the Child and Family elective cluster, which entitles the graduate to claim an “Emphasis in Family Psychology” if they add one semester of external practicum focusing on children, couples, or families. 

Dr. Riggs also provides professional consulting services. For example, she has served as a consultant to grant investigators who utilize the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI). She is certified for reliability to code the AAI, trains individuals to administer the interview, and provides theoretical expertise regarding the interpretation of findings. In addition, Dr. Riggs has done forensic consulting regarding the family and attachment issues (e.g., psychosocial histories, child custody and visitation decisions).

Shelley A. Riggs, Ph.D.
Director & Associate Professor

Curriculum Vitae

APA Society of Family Fellow Address


Office: Terrill 337
Phone: (940) 565-2672

Department of Psychology
P.O. Box 311280
Denton, TX 76203-1280