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

  • Friday, January 19, 2018

    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. Latino families often have to adjust to pre-established mainstream model attending to their unique situations. As the Latino population continues to grow, therapists need to work from a multicultural framework that embraces a deeper understanding of the Latino immigrant experience. It is fundamental for therapists to cultivate a compassionate understanding of the Latino youth experience in relation to their families, their sense of self and their socio-cultural contexts. Using cultural humility and a collaborative stance, Silvia B. Espinal, LCSW, and Genoveva Garcia, LCSW will clarify the concerns that bring families to therapy, unpack the meanings attached to the family’s migration narratives and help families discern the challenges of parenting and being parented in a bilingual/bicultural environment.

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  • Friday, January 26, 2018

    “Why is this Happening to My Child?” Family Therapy with Young Adults with Serious Mental Illnesses (SMI)

    The onset of a serious psychiatric illness such as major depression or bi-polar illness is a powerfully complex experience for young adults and their families. The young adult and members of the family are often unprepared to deal with the symptoms that impair day-to-day functioning. Managing the emotional reactions to the troubling behaviors that are consistent with a psychiatric disorder, while helping a young adult handle them, can be overwhelming, often leaving family members feeling confused, guilty, angry, and frightened. Using cases and research from evidence-based and systemic-relational therapies, this workshop led by Mary Brewster, Ph.D and Lois Braverman, LCSW, will demonstrate how therapists can help family members, and the young adult struggling with the emergence of a serious mental illness, regain a sense of control, competence, and connection.

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  • Friday, February 2, 2018

    Expanding Sexual Frames in Theory and Practice in Couples Therapy

    Sexuality issues are often the elephant in the room in couple 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. The presentation will use case material to illustrate the integration of systems, psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral thinking as well as the nuances of working with same-sex and gender variant couples.

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  • Friday, February 9, 2018

    Working with Asian American Families

    Asians are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States and are diverse, representing over 60 different nationalities. Using the basic tenets of critical race theory, this workshop led by Kiran Shahreen Kaur Arora, PhD, and Tazuko Shibusawa, MSW, PhD, will provide an overview of the experiences of East and South Asian immigrant families in the United States. Participants will learn how to recognize cultural dynamics that may be unique to Asian families. In addition, ways to work effectively with Asian clients and their families will be explored through case discussions.

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  • Friday, February 16, 2018

    DBT Principles and their Application to Treating Couples and Families

    Dialectical Behavior Therapy is known for its use of dialectics and its focus on emotion regulation, which makes it highly applicable in working with dysregulated, high conflict couples and families. Christine Foertsch, Ph.D, will demonstrate basics of DBT including the parent theories of behaviorism, zen and dialectics, targets, modes, and strategies of therapy and DBT skills. The application of this model to couples and families, especially relying on Fruzzetti’s model outlined in The High Conflict Couple, will be explained. Clinical demonstrations and role play will be emphasized throughout the day.

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  • Friday, February 23, 2018

    From Impasse to Intimacies: A Multicultural and Multifaceted Approach to Couple Therapy

    A major challenge for couple therapists is to know how to take couples from frustrating reactive cycles to a sense of connection and intimacy in their relationships. In this workshop, Michele Sheinkman, LCSW, will describe how to utilize the vulnerability cycle to deconstruct couples problematic dynamics and to explore and support the kind of intimacy they are so desperately wanting. A major focus will be on creating a “holding environment,” tracking interactional sequences, grasping the pattern, contextualizing the struggles of the couple, identifying triggers and bringing forward a subtext of vulnerabilities and yearnings that will allow for the creation of a more satisfying fit between the couple.

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  • Friday, March 2, 2018

    Therapy with Mixed-Race Children and Families: Clinical Issues and Interventions

    According to the 2010 U.S. Census, roughly nine million Americans identify themselves as mixed-race, and it is estimated that the mixed-race population in the U.S. will reach 21% by 2050. In spite of this, multiracial individuals and families remain marginalized and overlooked by mainstream U.S. society and the unique racially-based issues and struggles that they face are often poorly understood by mental health and social service professionals. This workshop, led by Tracey Laszloffy, LMFT, Ph.D, will explore how race organizes reality in the U.S., and the implications this has for how mixed-race people understand and negotiate their racial identities. The unique dilemmas and challenges facing mixed-race children and families will be identified. Participants will learn methods for assessing how race may be related to the issues that bring clients to therapy, and recommendations for clinical interventions will be provided.

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  • Friday, March 16, 2018

    A Sociocultural Approach for the Understanding and Treatment of Young Latinas Experiencing Self-Harming Behavior

    In the search for answers to the disproportionate rates of attempted suicide among young Latinas, research has identified family conflict, racial and ethnic discrimination, and immigration-related traumas as factors in the sociocultural environment that play a role in their decisions to attempt suicide. This workshop, led by Gloria Lopez-Henriquez, DSW, LCSW, will further and complicate the conversations about these research findings by bringing a diversity of perspectives including young Latinas’ voices found online. By bringing young Latinas’ digital presence to the discussion, the connection between the brutality of their environment and their self-inflicted violence becomes real and concrete.

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  • Friday, March 23, 2018

    Deepening Sexuality & Gender Expression:
    Couple Therapy in the 21st Century
    Ackerman’s Seventh Annual Spring Conference

    Please join us at the Ackerman Institute’s Seventh Annual Conference, “Deepening Sexuality & Gender Expression: Couple Therapy in the 21st Century.” This year’s innovative and bold conference will present a full day of learning to integrate fresh ideas of sexuality and gender expression into your Couple Therapy practice.
    The morning will feature a keynote by Shannon Sennett, AASECT certified sex therapist, educator, and LGBTQ Family Therapist. The afternoon will feature original workshops by the distinguished Ackerman faculty and valued colleagues. Conference participants will select from concurrent workshops designed to expand theory and practice in Couple and Sex Therapy.

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  • Friday, April 6, 2018

    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. While lingering grief from ambiguous loss is akin to that of complicated grief, it is a normal reaction to an abnormal type of loss. Traditional grief and PTSD therapies are thus insufficient.
    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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  • Parent Workshop: An Unexpected Journey Between Sorrow and Personal Transformation Read More

    Tuesday, February 13, 2018
    9:30-11:30 a.m.

    Parents of children with special needs take an unexpected journey that brings forth many emotions – confusion, uncertainty, grief, surprise, compassion and pride. Come join us and hear Dr. Judy Grossman, Director of Ackerman’s Special Needs Project, and a panel of parents discuss the joys and challenges of raising children with special needs.

  • Bright Beginnings Read More

    Director: Martha Edwards, PhD

    Bright Beginnings is a theoretically based intervention for families making the transition to parenthood, consisting of group discussions and parent-child activities. Developed by Dr. Martha Edwards, it is designed to help parents promote their children’s social and emotional development and school readiness through a curriculum that includes a prenatal component for expectant mothers, a group component for parents with their infant or toddler, a video review component, and a home visiting component.

  • The Gender & Family Project Read More

    Director: Jean Malpas, LMHC, LMFT

    The Gender & Family Project (GFP) empowers youth, families and communities by providing gender affirmative services, training and research. GFP promotes gender inclusivity as a form of social justice in all the systems involved in the life of the family. GFP is directed by Jean Malpas, LMHC, LMFT, who has trained and published nationally and internationally on issues of gender and sexuality.

  • Foster Care and Adoption Project Read More

    Directors: Catherine Lewis, LCSW & Andrea Blumenthal, LCSW

    The Foster Care and Adoption Project (FCAP) integrates ideas from family therapy, interpersonal neurobiology, and trauma studies to develop a model of working with families and agency workers who are impacted by or who interact with families involved with foster care and adoption.

  • The JUSTICE Project Read More

    Directors: Sarah Berland, LCSW & Courtney Zazzali, LCSW

    Nearly seven million Americans are under some form of correctional supervision (incarceration, parole, probation). The JUSTICE Project provides therapeutic support to families involved with or impacted by the criminal justice system.

  • The Latino Youth and Family Immigration Project: Dimelo en Español Read More

    Directors: Silvia B. Espinal & Genoveva Garcia

    The Latino Youth and Family Immigration Project (LYIP): Dímelo en Español provides a specialized framework of family therapy to First and Second generation Latino youth and their families. This project is led by family therapists Silvia B. Espinal, LCSW, and Genoveva Garcia, LCSW.

    El Proyecto Juventud y la Familia Latina Inmigrante: Dímelo en Español.

    La población hispanoparlante de los Estados Unidos está definida como la minoría de mayor crecimiento en el país (U.S. Census Bureau 2012).

    El Proyecto Juventud y la Familia Latina Inmigrante: Dímelo en Español ofrece servicios especializados de terapia familiar a familias con jóvenes provenientes de Primera y Segunda generación.

  • Competent Kids, Caring Communities Read More

    Director: Dr. Zina Rutkin

    Competent Kids, Caring Communities (CKCC) is an exciting program that helps schools build a strong social and emotional support system for student learning. The program provides schools with two essential ingredients for academic success: tools to teach social emotional competencies and strategies to involve parents directly in their children’s learning.

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