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

2015 Gala Recap Video


Upcoming Workshops & Short Courses

  • The Heart of Couple Therapy: Knowing What to Do and How to Do It

    This workshop will focus on the various methods therapists can use to help couples reconnect and break out of patterns that have lead to frustration and despair. Topics covered will include how to motivate couples not only to make the changes that will get them “unstuck” but which will also lead to truly gratifying relationships; how to use “choice points” to keep sessions focused and productive; how to build on whatever positives in their relationship might still exist; and how to address the individual “legacy” issues that each person brings to the relationship. The workshop will address in detail the most common and difficult challenges that therapists face in their day to day work with couples.

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  • Family Therapy with Troubled Adolescents: Moving past crisis, re-building relationships

    often preoccupy families. We will demonstrate how it is possible to keep the focus on issues of safety, while at the same time resolving conflicts, strengthening relationships, exploring family history and finding a more permanent solution to the problems that families struggle with. Special attention will be given to issues arising in work with immigrant families, families with substance abusing adolescents, self-harming adolescents and families with adopted adolescents. Attention will also be given to the challenges in engaging detached, reluctant and highly reactive parents.

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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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