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

  • Level One Theraplay & Marschak Interaction Model (MIM)

    This course is co-sponsored with the Theraplay Institute 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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  • Social Location in Therapy: Opening the Door and Going In Webinar

    This webinar will focus on the process of location of self (LOS) in therapy, its foundational assumptions, the fears and hesitation about doing so, and the risks of not doing so. It will address how the therapist can make LOS a part of an overall approach to therapy, mindful of how oppression can show up in the room and engaging clients in a reflective process about this, allowing therapist and client to think about how they want to position themselves vis a vis their privilege or subjugation.

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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, presented by Patricia L. Papernow, EdD provides a roadmap for meeting the significant challenges stepfamilies create for forging intimate, satisfying relationships. Whether you work with families, couples, individual adults, or children, participants will learn key practices on 3 different levels (psychoeducational, interpersonal, and intrapsychic) for helping step couples 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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  • Two to Tango: Deepening Clinical Skills and Practice Working with Couples

    Why is it that the people closest to us are also the ones whom we have some of our greatest conflicts? Such is the power of a couple’s relationship. While many therapists have the tools for working with individual clients, they often encounter challenges when there is another person in the therapy room. This workshop will place an emphasis on how social locators such as race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and culture exert an influence on a couple’s relationship as well as the therapist-client relationship.

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

    In this webinar, I will discuss 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. An effective initial interview for couples therapy will be included.

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  • From Reactivity to Resilience in Couple Therapy: A Relational-Neurobiological Approach

    Couples coming to therapy are often caught up in cycles of emotional reactivity, each blaming the other. This workshop explores individual, interpersonal, intergenerational, cultural, and neurobiological factors fueling couple distress. Informed by research from relationship science and interpersonal neurobiology, Dr. Fishbane will explore the neuroscience of couple impasses, and will offer techniques to help clients bring prefrontal thoughtfulness to emotional reactivity, develop relational resilience, and co-create more satisfying relationships. Her approach is one of relational empowerment, helping partners to gain skills of emotion regulation and empathy, and to cultivate positivity, gratitude, and generosity in their relationship. The dynamics of habit and change will be explored, informed by research on neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change.

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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. Julia Chan, LCSW will instruct participants on the evolution of family therapy and the family lifecycle, the “jump” from intrapsychic to systems thinking the contextualization of the presenting problem (intergenerational, social, cultural, and political), and much more.

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  • Secrets in Families and Family Therapy

    Secrets have existed throughout time. In every culture, beliefs about secrecy, privacy and openness contribute to a crucial decision – should I keep a secret? Should I open a secret? As therapists, we are witnesses to the complexity of our clients’ secrets. Whether shaped in the interior of a family fifty years ago or yesterday, secrets carry powerful new meanings in today’s culture. In this workshop, led by Evan Imber-Black, PhD, participants will learn a multi-systemic model for working effectively with secrets.

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  • Playing For Keeps: Engaging the Power of Play in Couple Therapy

    Most couple relationships begin with a lot of play. In play, we engage the multiple ways to perform our identity and relationships. Often play is one of the first things to go when couples find themselves in a tough spot. What we need when situations get serious, paradoxically, is play. But what is play? How do couples play? How do you play as a couple’s therapist? How do we take play beyond technique and make it a way of being in our lives? Dr. Saliha Bava explore how to develop play as a presence and as a creative activity by focusing on the self of the therapist. Participants will exercise their risk-taking and creativity muscles in therapy by exploring their relationship to uncertainty and how to engage the emergent while being present to not-knowing and context. Learn exercises for assessment and pattern breaking in couple’s therapy. The interactive workshop will challenge you on how to be playfully serious and seriously playful at the same time. Join us and experience a difference in your practice with couples (and maybe in your own life!) Come let’s play!

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  • Systemic Sex Therapy For Assessment and 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, LCSW will cover the most common sexual issues with which couples struggle and how to assess them using a bio-psychosocial lens. Using clinical material, Sari will illustrate how sex therapy techniques are used in actual cases. Presenting problems reviewed will include erectile dysfunction, discrepant desire, premature ejaculation, avoidant sexuality, pelvic pain, and out of control sexual behavior. The focus will be on three parts of clinical practice: Assessment, Diagnosis/Hypothesis/Treatment Planning, and Clinical Intervention.

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  • Thinking and Doing Couples Therapy: The Ackerman Relational Model

    Very often clinicians want to see unedited interviews in an effort to track how a senior family/couples therapist got to the “aha” moments in therapy. Rarely is there the opportunity to “learn” the thinking that leads a therapist to pursue a line of questioning or to make one clinical choice over another, or to conduct the interview in a way that each member of the couple feels understood and safe enough to be challenged. Based on the Ackerman Relational Approach, Marcia Sheinberg, LCSW, and Fiona True, LCSW, will offer the opportunity to learn from and explore the treatment of a couple in depth.

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  • From Impasse to Intimacy: An Advanced Consultation Group for Couples Therapists

    In this intimate consultation group, participants will learn how to use the Vulnerability Cycle (VC) as a major anchor and tool in their clinical work with couples. Based on an integrative framework outlined by Michele Scheinkman, and cases presented by participants, the focus will be on how to use the VC to: •Diagram couples’ impasses and relational dynamics •Collect critical interactional, intra-psychic and multigenerational information •Define short and long term goals for the therapy Utilizing the Multi-level Approach as a road map participants will learn how to: •Track and interrupt reactive patterns •Transform frustration and anger into narratives of vulnerabilities and yearnings •Facilitate negotiations and help partners move towards a better intimate fit between them

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  • Writing for Publication in Couple and Family Therapy

    This course, led by Evan Imber-Black, PhD, will teach participants how to write for publication in couple and family therapy. The aim over seven months will be to have a fully realized manuscript for either a scholarly journal or the popular press. 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; and 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 only talk about writing – we will write!

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  • Helping Adolescents and Young Adults with ADHD

    Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is the most common reason for mental health referrals in young children and among the most prevalent childhood conditions. Studies have established that ADHD is a chronic, lifespan condition, and adult ADHD is now the fastest growing area of research and treatment development. Yet few evidence-based approaches exist for helping adolescents and young adults with ADHD and associated conditions. Join Tim Verduin as he discusses working with teens and young adults with ADHD and related conditions. Special attention will be paid to how ADHD complicates adolescent development, family functioning, emerging life skills, and the transition from home to college and the workplace. Also discussed will be strategies for parents of teens with ADHD, information on how clinicians can engage teens with ADHD, and suggestions for how to help families choose the right educational settings.

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Ackerman Institute

Tonight we recognize this year’s Ackerman graduates who join us as the next generation of family therapists. Congra… https://t.co/58PMmpj104

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