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

  • 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, LCSW, 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, Froma Walsh, PhD, will illuminate 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, Molly Bobek, LCSW, Carrie Sanders, MPH, LCSW, and Frank Wells, LCSW, 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, PhD, 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. Rhea V. Almeida, PhD, 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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  • 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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  • 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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