“Why is this Happening to My Child?” Family Therapy with Young Adults with Serious Mental Illnesses (SMI)

The onset of a serious psychiatric illness such as major depression or bi-polar illness is a powerfully complex experience for young adults and their families. The young adult and members of the family are often unprepared to deal with the symptoms that impair day-to-day functioning. Managing the emotional reactions to the troubling behaviors that are consistent with a psychiatric disorder, while helping a young adult handle them, can be overwhelming, often leaving family members feeling confused, guilty, angry, and frightened. Using cases and research from evidence-based and systemic-relational therapies, this workshop will demonstrate how therapists can help family members, and the young adult struggling with the emergence of a serious mental illness, regain a sense of control, competence, and connection.

In this workshop participants will learn:

  • How an emerging psychiatric illness impacts the relational functioning of the family
  • How to address in-session escalation when working with emotional dysregulation in families
  • How to incorporate psychoeducation and coaching into a family therapy that promotes understanding and compassion between and among family members to improve the day-to-day functioning of the young adult

Mary Kim Brewster, PhD, is a faculty member of the Ackerman Institute for the Family and Director of the Family Therapy with Young Adults with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Project. She has written and presented nationally and internationally on the topics of serious mental illness and the family and psychotherapy process.



Lois Braverman, LCSW, is the President of the Ackerman Institute for the Family and past President of the American Family Therapy Academy. She is the founding editor of the Journal of Feminist Family Therapy and the author of Women, Feminism and Family Therapy. She is a has been a member of the Family Therapy with Young Adults with Serious Mental Illness Project since its inception.


Date: Friday, January 26, 2018
Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tuition: $140
CE Contact Hours: 5

To register by phone or fax click here.

If you are an Ackerman alumni of the Externship or current Ackerman student, please contact the Training Department to register.

Damaly Ferreira
212 879-4900, ext 111