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

Short Conversations Series


Upcoming Workshops, Short Courses & Webinars

  • Loving with ADHD

    Stephanie Manes, LCSW, Esq, will help participants identify when and how ADHD may be causing disruption and disconnection in a couple and will offer a treatment modelgeared toward helping the couple, adopt effective behavioral strategies and (re)buildempathic connection. This workshop will address the common ways that ADHD driven behaviors can create chaos, frustration and emotional disconnection in a partnership and review some of the latest neurobiological findings about ADHD, to help participants better grasp how ADHD shapes behaviors and emotional processes inways that impact adult partnerships.

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  • The Money Factor and Couples Therapy

    Many of the issues we deal with as clinicians touch on the powerful issue of money. Despite the depth of our work with clients, as therapists we almost always shy away from pursuing the thread of financial matters with clarity and purpose. When revealed, this last taboo of therapy tells a compelling story that sheds light on ingrained patterns of interaction and operating premises of couples.

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  • Narrative Therapy’s Relational Understanding of Identity 

    In this webinar, Jill Freedman, MSW, and Gene Combs, MD, will show how a narrative worldview helps focus on the relational, co-evolving perspective that was the basis of their early attraction to family therapy. They will describe how they think of identity as relational, distributed, performed, and fluid. They will show how they use this way of thinking within a narrative worldview. Drawing on the work of Michael White, they will illustrate how this relational view of identity leads to therapeutic responses that focus on our interconnections across multiple contexts and that emphasize the process of becoming rather than the more static notion of “being.”

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  • Expanding Sexual Frames in Theory and Practice in Couples Therapy

    Some couples therapists feel unprepared to delve into sexual issues because they have not had sufficient training in human sexuality. Others feel challenged by the complexities and mysteries of common presenting problems such as the effects of trauma on sexuality or the influence of desire on couple sexuality. Suzanne Iasenza, PhD will provide expansive models of sexual response, how to conduct a therapeutic sexual history, and co-creating expansive therapeutic frames that include new approaches to standard sex therapy techniques.

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  • Treating Trauma in Adolescents: Development, Attachment, and the Therapeutic Relationship

    To work with troubled and traumatized adolescents, it is crucial for therapists to first foster their own capacity for self-awareness and self-regulation. It is not easy, especially when our young clients’ extreme reactions—ranging from angry arousal to frozen shutting down — can trigger one’s sense of helplessness, failure, dissociation, and rejection. In this workshop, Dr. Straus will describe Developmental-Relational Therapy (DRT), an attachment-based model of trauma treatment.

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  • From Reactivity to Intimacy: An Advanced Workshop for Couples Therapists

    In this workshop, Michele Scheinkman, LCSW will describe how she utilizes the vulnerability cycle as the gateway for promoting intimacy in couples relationships. A major focus will be on how to help couples move beyond their entrenched reactive dynamics to an increasing ability to be reflective and intentional about the self and to able to negotiate a more satisfying intimate fit between the couple.

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  • Rebuilding Bonds: A Relational Approach to Repairing Family Ruptures

    Relationship ruptures between children and their parents/caregivers can take many forms. While children long to feel safe and valued in their family, histories of complicated family dynamics and various forms of trauma often set the stage for on-going misunderstanding and misattunement between caregivers and their children. In this workshop, Andrea Blumenthal will draw on clinical work from the Foster Care and Adoption Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family and present an approach that integrates ideas from family therapy, interpersonal neurobiology, and trauma studies to help families rebuild bonds after significant or long-standing relational ruptures.

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  • Human-Animal Bonds: The Relational Significance and Therapeutic Applications 

    Since earliest human times and across cultures, our connections with animals have been profound. In the mental health field, deep attachments with companion animals — long underappreciated or even pathologized — are now finding important therapeutic applications. Drawing on research and practice advances, Dr. Walsh illuminates the ways that human-animal bonds benefit health, healing, and resilience.

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  • Families and Substance Abuse: Creating a Relational Frame in the Context of Addiction Treatment

    Substance abuse as a presenting problem generates a constant tension between systemic and individual treatment frameworks. Clinicians tend to approach this work from either a foundation of substance abuse intervention training and experience or relational theory and practice. Drawing from the synthesis of the presenters’ experiences working in an outpatient substance treatment program and their training and practice in the Ackerman Relational Approach, the presenters will guide participants in cultivating a greater range of skills to address substance abuse and support families in adapting to the pressures of addiction and treatment.

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  • The Complexity of the Alliance in Family Therapy Practice

    A major challenge in family therapy practice is the creation of a dialogical space in which all family members’ voices can be heard by the therapist. In this webinar Peter Rober will take up this challenge by outlining the complexity of the therapeutic alliance in family sessions. The therapeutic alliance will be conceptualised as a complex kind of attunement process in which the therapist uses his/her sensitivity to be responsive to what the different family members bring in the session.

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  • Liberatory Healing Practices

    Liberatory healing practices require decolonizing strategies. Decolonizing strategies call for changing the Paradigm, the lens, the language, and the journey. Liberatory healing practices necessitate debunking the myth of healing through diagnostic codes, individual structures and the rigid bifurcation of individuals, their families, their context and their healing spaces. It encompasses the multiplicity of personal and social, institutional locations that frame identities within historic, economic and political life. This workshop will lay the foundation for this framework and demonstrate how this perspective is widely applicable to families from multiple locations across class, race, and gender with a range of presenting issues. Videotaped case presentations as well as social media dialogues, and inquiry with the audience will be utilized.

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  • Living in a Pornified World 

    True or false: porn desensitizes people to genuine intimacy? Or wait, true or false: porn use is a normal, healthy expression of human sexuality? Porn is a confusing and polarizing topic that can easily trigger therapists’ negative counter-transference. But the fact is that people in the United States visit more porn sites each month than they do Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter combined. Ian Kerner, PhD will address effects of porn on self-regulation and relationships.

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  • Dímelo en Español: Collaborative Therapeutic Conversations with Latino Immigrant Families

    Despite the wish to maintain cultural awareness in therapy, Latino families are frequently faced with approaches that are incongruent to their cultural needs. In the experiences of Silvia B. Espinal, LCSW, and Genoveva Garcia, LCSW, Latino families often have to adjust to the pre-established mainstream model attending to their unique situations. As the Latino population in New York and in the entire country continues to grow, therapists need to work from a multicultural framework that embraces a deeper understanding of the Latino immigrant experience.

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  • Ambiguous Loss and the Myth of Closure

    Ambiguous loss is loss without closure, and thus its grief also has no closure. When loved ones cannot be found or healed from an illness, when families are uprooted and separated by forced migrations, or when loss makes no sense (suicide, homicide), the lens of ambiguous loss helps therapists as they work with families when there is no clear solution. Using case analysis and self-of-the-therapist reflection, Pauline Boss, PhD, will discuss relational and contextual assessments and interventions, as well as cultural differences regarding the need for closure.

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  • Love, Secrets, Cybersex, Infidelity, Addiction – and Forgiveness?

    What constitutes an affair – intercourse? Instant messaging? What makes cyber-relationships particularly seductive? Is there room for secrets in couples therapy and, if so, how can therapists create a safe place for each partner’s rigorous honesty and self-scrutiny? When is cybersex a sign of sexual addiction? How can therapists help hurt partners absorb the trauma of infidelity?

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Ackerman Institute

Winter/Spring 2017 workshops are here! Register now and earn CEUs with leaders in the field of family therapy: https://t.co/0IJZMZ700J

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