What We Do

Founded in 1960, the Ackerman Institute for the Family is one of the premier institutions for family therapy and one of the best-known and most highly regarded training facilities for family therapists in the United States. The Institute serves families from all walks of life at all stages of family life.


About Us

2015 Gala Recap Video


Upcoming Workshops & Short Courses

  • Therapeutic Choice Points in Complex Couple Therapy: How and When to Intervene

    In this workshop, I will demonstrate interviewing for expanded openings; redefining and amplifying a presenting problem; selecting a path and correcting it when it proves ineffective; marking a critical subject, leaving it and returning to it at a more optimal time; selecting from among multiple requirements that a couple may present; reflecting on your work while you are doing it in session; avoiding triangulation with the couple; creating effective metaphors that capture a couple’s imagination; reviewing your work between sessions; reading immediate non-verbal feedback and making use of it in the session; understanding and making use of responses to prior sessions, homework, and crucial changes that may occur between sessions; and challenging a one-size fits all model of therapy.

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  • Supporting Trans* and Gender Expansive Students from K-12

    This one-day workshop, facilitated by the Gender and Family Project’s Coordinator of Training and Education Benjamin Davis, ATR-BC, LCAT, and Clinical Associate Nicole Davis, LCSW, will offer participants advanced understanding and best practice guidelines for working with transgender and gender expansive students from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Participants will increase understanding and awareness with regards to the continua of sex, gender identity, and gender role, examining best practice guidelines for gender inclusivity in public and independent schools as well as other educational settings. Updated research on gender development, family acceptance and optimal environmental adjustments needed to maximize educational potential will be presented. Additional topics the workshop will cover include gender diversity (including gender expansive and gender nonconforming children), how to speak with children and families about gender, gender socialization and how to address gender-related bullying.

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  • Introduction to Family Therapy

    This workshop is for participants who are new to family therapy. It covers some of the foundational concepts and practice of psychotherapy from a family systems perspective and explores the clinical implications of shifting from an individual to a family-relational framework. Topics include: the evolution of family therapy; the “jump” from intrapsychic to systems thinking; the contextualization of the presenting problem (intergenerational; social, cultural, and political); the family lifecycle; tracking cycle of interactions; asking relational questions; forming systemic hypothesis; the use of decision dialogues; family premises, beliefs and meanings; and the collaborative stance of the family therapist. The workshop’s interactive format will provide opportunities for active participation. Content will be explored through case presentation with videos; small and large group discussions; and exercises to practice the application of family therapy concepts and techniques.

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  • An Intensive in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: Harnessing Attachment and Emotion to Effect Change

    Often therapists experience a divide between EFT and meaning based treatments, including Ackerman’s Relational Therapy. While each approach has different conceptual underpinnings, this course will explore and suggest ways to include EFT practices in your familiar ways of working. Making extensive use of videotapes and experiential exercises, participants will both see and practice the skills of EFT. Therapists will learn to regulate the reactive emotions that can hijack sessions and access the primary emotions that can repattern relationships in the here and now. In addition to the foundational work of Sue Johnson, we will also touch on work from Bruce Ecker, Mona Fishbane and Rick Hanson to better understand and access the emotional brain.

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  • An Introduction to Theraplay: Treating Trauma and Attachment Issues with Children and Parents

    Children who have lived in unsafe environments, with inconsistent/ impaired caregivers or who have endured multiple losses may not be able to overcome these traumatic experiences without some type of intervention. Theraplay is a psychotherapy that focuses on the parent-child relationship as a vehicle to heal problems of trust, hyperarousal and connection in both children and parents.

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  • Addressing the Challenges of Stepfamily Relationships: What Family, Couple and Individual Therapists Need to Know

    “Blended family” relationships are intense and they are complex. First-time family principles are unhelpful and even destructive. This workshop provides a roadmap for meeting the significant challenges stepfamilies create for forging intimate, satisfying relationships. Some of these include: Painfully stuck insider/outsider positions, “resistant” and unhappy children, confusion over the stepparent role, painful conflicts over parenting, threatened ex-spouses, and differing values on everything from the “appropriate” cost of a haircut, to whether Grape Nuts is a breakfast food or a form of cardboard. Whether you work with families, couples, individual adults, or children, you will learn key practices on 3 different levels (psychoeducational, interpersonal, and intrapsychic) for helping stepcouples to build and maintain vital connection, helping children navigate their losses and loyalty binds, managing discipline, navigating floods of differences, and dealing effectively with ex-spouses.

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  • Writing for Publication in Couple and Family Therapy

    This course will teach participants how to write for publication in Couple and Family Therapy. The aim over 7 months will be to have a fully realized manuscript for either a scholarly journal or the popular press. We will meet once a month for two hours , 9:30-11:30 in the Ackerman Institute conference room. Participants are expected to write in between class meetings and to share their work with class colleagues. The course methods will include lecture; experiential writing exercises; sharing writing samples with class colleagues; working in pairs on one another’s writing; being accountable with your writing and deadlines; class and instructor feedback. Participants are expected to write in between classes, even if this is a small amount, and to send writing to the instructor and to one another. We will not just talk about writing – we will write!

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  • Webinar - Padres Preparados: A Culturally Adapted, Evidence-Based Parenting Intervention for Latinos Using Technology as an Ally

    The webinar will focus on sharing (a) the rationale for the development of a culturally adapted parenting intervention for Latino Head Start parents, (b) the process of adaptation and refinement, (c) the findings of the randomized controlled trial, and (d) future directions for family interventions using technology as an ally. Melanie M. Domenech Rodríguez is a Professor of Psychology at Utah State University. Her research focuses on implementation of a culturally adapted evidence-based parenting intervention in various Latino communities.

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  • Integrating Family Systems & Sex Therapy For Assessment & Interventions in Couples Therapy

    Many couples and family therapists feel unprepared and untrained when addressing sexual issues in a couple. In this workshop Sari Cooper will cover the most common sexual issues with which couples struggle and how to assess them using a bio-psychosocial lens. She will review the Diagnoses in the recent DSM5 and the clinical reasons why some Diagnoses are no longer included, and those that are still being considered for future DSMs (such as compulsive, addictive or out of control sexual behaviors). She’ll concentrate on three parts of clinical practice: Assessment, Diagnosis/Hypothesis/Treatment Planning, Clinical Intervention.

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  • The Heart of Couple Therapy: Knowing What to Do and How to Do It

    This workshop will focus on the various methods therapists can use to help couples reconnect and break out of patterns that have lead to frustration and despair. Topics covered will include how to motivate couples not only to make the changes that will get them “unstuck” but which will also lead to truly gratifying relationships; how to use “choice points” to keep sessions focused and productive; how to build on whatever positives in their relationship might still exist; and how to address the individual “legacy” issues that each person brings to the relationship. The workshop will address in detail the most common and difficult challenges that therapists face in their day to day work with couples.

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  • Family Therapy with Troubled Adolescents: Moving past crisis, re-building relationships

    often preoccupy families. We will demonstrate how it is possible to keep the focus on issues of safety, while at the same time resolving conflicts, strengthening relationships, exploring family history and finding a more permanent solution to the problems that families struggle with. Special attention will be given to issues arising in work with immigrant families, families with substance abusing adolescents, self-harming adolescents and families with adopted adolescents. Attention will also be given to the challenges in engaging detached, reluctant and highly reactive parents.

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