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

  • Friday, October 20, 2017

    Loving with the Brain in Mind: A Relational-Neurobiological Approach to Couple Therapy

    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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  • Wednesdays: October 18; November 15; December 20; January 17; February 17; March 21; and April 18, 2017

    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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  • Friday, October 27, 2017

    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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  • Friday, November 3, 2017

    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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  • Tuesday, November 7, 2017

    Increasing Family Engagement in Your School

    Competent Kids, Caring Communities (CKCC), a social-emotional learning program of Ackerman Institute for the Family, is delighted to offer a workshop that will focus on deepening participants’ understanding of what it means for families to be “engaged” with educators and what it means for educators to be “engaged” with families and their communities. Furthermore, this workshop, led by Arlean Wells, PhD, will provide practical tools for family engagement, which educators, parent coordinators, and school mental health professionals can bring back to their settings.

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  • Friday, November 10, 2017

    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.

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  • Tuesday, November 14, 2017

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

    Professionals working in close contact with parents and children have a unique role in helping parents manage their feelings and deciding what action to take when caring for their child. When the child behavior or the caregiver’s response is extreme or seemingly incomprehensible we often lose our freedom of response and resort to a rigid reaction and at the same time we lose our connection with self and other. Mindful parenting is a specific state of mind and set of activities that enables caregivers to respond, instead, from a thoughtful and intentional mind state, rather than a mind state of distress and reactivity.

    In this three and a half hour workshop led by Sabina Fila, LCSW, participants will explore how their own reactions as professionals are informed by their cultural and family beliefs, their early experiences, and their desires and fears for parents and children.

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  • Friday, November 16, 2017

    Facilitating Connection and Empowerment in Couple Therapy: Insights from Interpersonal Neurobiology

    Couples coming to therapy are often caught up in cycles of emotional reactivity. This webina, led by Mona Fishbane, Ph.D, 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 and co-create more satisfying, intimate 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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  • Friday, November 17, 2017

    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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  • Tuesday, November 21, 2017

    Understanding and Addressing Children’s Challenging Behaviors

    Some children demonstrate challenging behaviors that call for different types of approaches than those typically employed. This workshop, presented by Zina Rutkin, Ph.D, will explore ways to understand and address various types of challenging behaviors as they present in both home and school. Emphasis will be placed on understanding challenging behaviors in order to know how to address them in an intentional, constructive manner.
    We will explore how to assess the cause of particular challenging behaviors and the ways in which assessment and intervention are integrally related. Participants will increase their understanding of the children they support and will come away with a wider repertoire of options for addressing the challenging behaviors of these youngsters.

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  • 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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