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.

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Upcoming Workshops, Short Courses & Webinars

  • 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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  • A Multidimensional Framework for Culturally and Socially Responsive Therapeutic Practices

    Three decades ago, most clinicians believed that their family assessments and their therapeutic practices had universal application. As client populations became more multicultural, ideas about cultural specificity began to enter our field. Today, we search for strength-based frames that can help us respect cultural diversity and work towards social equity for immigrant and cultural minorities. This webinar by Celia J. Falicov, PhD, addresses this urgent need by offering a multidimensional comparative ecosystemic framework useful for working with a wide variety of cultural groups, rather than only one ethnic group at a time. 

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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? Janis Abrahms Spring, PhD, ABPP will use case examples and concrete exercises to bring these concepts to life.

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  • Talking Race and Racism

    Conversations about race and racism in this country end too often when there is a chance to begin such dialogue, especially in cross-racial settings. At the same time, the dynamics of race and racism impact us in every facet of our lives. Aquilla Frederick, MBA. LCSW, and Frank Wells, LCSW, will support participants  in developing stronger clinical skills in cross-racial dialogues with colleagues and clients alike.

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  • The Immigrant’s Odyssey

    The continuing public debate on immigration too often obscures the traumatic losses immigrants experience when they move here – loss of family, friends, professional status, language, culture, and sense of belonging. In this workshop, Priska Imberti, LCSW-R, BCC, will deepen participants’ understanding of the stresses and hardships inherent in the immigration journey, and discuss ways that participants can connect with immigrants, convey respect and encouragement, and coach them in self-empowerment.

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  • Clocks, Calendars, and Couples: Time as a Problem and Resource in Couple’s Lives and Couple Therapy

    Couples regularly struggle with pace differences; different habits and values about punctuality; the importance of “making every minute count” versus going with the flow; focusing on the past versus the present versus the future; and differences in goals represented in their respective projected life timelines. These differences are linked to family- and culture-of-origin, biologically-based temperaments, and belief systems. Differences around how partners “inhabit time” often underlie common conflicts about money, sex, leisure activities, housework and childcare, and the like. This webinar, presented by Peter Fraenkel, PhD, will present a comprehensive, integrative framework and set of practices for identifying and working with the many challenges couples face in their relationship to time.

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  • 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 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. Kiran Shahreen Kaur Arora, PhD, will explore ways to work effectively with Asian clients and their families through case discussions.

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  • Working with Young Adults

    Working with young adults in the 21st century is demanding, especially given the set of challenges young people face.  Societal expectations to get partnered, be financially stable, and make it on their own not only create pressures, they also generate experiences of anxiety and self-doubt. In this age of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, space exists for young people to not only “brand” themselves but to be in constant contact. Why then do they feel disconnected and at a loss for how to be? Victoria Dickerson, PhD, will present a narrative approach for working with young adults that focus on helping them identify the problem and to notice and challenge the expectations. 

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  • Working with Reactivity in Couples and Families: A Buddhist Psychological Approach to Strong Emotions

    Emotions are filters for how we experience the significant people in our lives. When in the grip of a strong emotion, there is a narrowing of attention, which inhibits our capacity to see things clearly. This is particularly true with the compelling nature of negative emotions. When we feel injured, threatened, or shamed, we are at risk of using our thoughts, language and action unskillfully. Drawing on a Buddhist influenced psychological perspective, this workshop presented by David Kezur, LCSW will focus on the nature of emotional experience and the way it can cause havoc and harm in relationships.

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  • Working with Muslim Individuals and Families: Culturally Competent Care

    The Muslim community within the United States. is one of the largest growing communities and is diverse in its immigration history, educational background, socioeconomic status, beliefs and values, and other cultural identities. This has prompted the need to develop culturally competent and effective assessment and intervention strategies while working with Muslim families. Rupa M. Khetarpal, MA, MSW, LCSW will provide an experiential overview of some of the characteristics that contribute towards the Muslim identity including geography, migration, historical roots, religious beliefs, ethnic and cultural identity issues, leading to the current experience of Muslim families as they live within a highly politicized environment, exposed to consistent and indiscriminate negative attitudes and emotions directed at themselves and to Islam.

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  • Teens Who Hurt: Strategies for Helping Troubled and Aggressive Adolescents

    Under the best of circumstances adolescence is a stressful and challenging stage of life, and when teens are exposed to conditions that are traumatic and wounding, the normative challenges of this life stage are greatly exacerbated. Tracey Laszloffy, LMFT, PhD, will present and discuss a model for understanding the aggravating factors that underpin the anger and aggression that leads some adolescents to harm others or themselves. Strategies will be presented that therapists, teachers, parents and other concerned adults can employ to engage troubled adolescents and to address and heal the aggravating factors that contribute to their distressed emotions and behaviors.

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  • Breathwork and Meditation for Therapists: Integrate Stress-Reduction Techniques into Your Practice

    Psychotherapists can benefit greatly from mind-body practices rooted in yoga, Qigong and Buddhist meditation. Coherent Breathing with gentle movements and Open Focus Attention Training are highly effective self-regulation techniques that help relieve anxiety and insomnia, improve mental focus, increase feelings of well-being, activate social engagement systems, and enhance capacities for bonding, closeness, and empathy. The neuroscience of breath practices and supporting research will be presented by Richard P. Brown, MD,  and Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD. The discussion of how to integrate these practices with psychotherapy will include case examples. Those interested in learning how to teach these practices to clients will obtain information on tools and opportunities for such training.

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  • Family-Centered Treatment Short Course: A Clinical Model for Working with Parents and Children with Special Needs

    Parents who have children with developmental, learning and behavioral challenges experience cumulative stress and the need to make meaning and cope with the impact of their child’s disability on family life and family relationships. Using a relational-systemic lens, the Resilient Families: Children with Special Needs project faculty will discuss family-centered interventions that can promote child, parent and family resilience. Teaching methods include videotape, live family therapy sessions and participant case consultation to illustrate the challenges, principles and practices working with families who have children with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorder and other developmental disabilities. 

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