The Ackerman Institute for the Family celebrates Black History Month. This year’s theme is Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. We commit to keeping the beauty in the wide-ranging diversity of Black family life at the center of our work as well as helping trainees and professionals understand and address racial issues in therapy with Black families. The Institute strives on being a community of inclusion, one that celebrates diversity, actively challenges and responds to bias and discrimination. We honor the countless contributions Black people, including those in our Ackerman community, have made towards civil rights, social justice, and the well-being of Black families.
(NEW YORK, NEW YORK) – Marlene F. Watson, PhD, LMFT, has been hired as Director of Training of the Ackerman Institute for the Family, effective June 1st, 2021. Dr. Watson is a leading educator, therapist, and writer. She is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Counseling and Family Therapy at Drexel University, and former Chair of the Couple and Family Therapy Department.
“We are thrilled to welcome Marlene Watson as the next leader of Ackerman’s world-renowned training program,” stated Ackerman President & CEO, Martha Fling. “Marlene’s experience, vision, and commitment to the next generation of family therapists will move Ackerman forward in this exciting new chapter for the Institute. Her steadfast commitment to social justice signals the impact that family therapists make in the fight for racial equity.”
Dr. Watson is President of Family Process Institute’s Board of Directors, and serves on the Editorial Review Board for the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Journal of Family Psychotherapy, and Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships. She is the former Chair of the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, and the first-ever couple and family therapist to receive the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship, where she served as a senior health advisor to United States Senator John D. Rockefeller IV. She is a former columnist for Heart & Soul magazine and the recipient of the American Family Therapy Academy’s 2009 Distinguished Contribution to Social Justice Award.
“It is with great honor and humility that I join the Ackerman family,” says Watson. “Ackerman has long been recognized as one of the leading post-graduate training institutions in the field. I am purposefully committed to continuing and advancing Ackerman’s highly regarded reputation. I look forward to guiding the training program to meet current challenges, especially anti-racism, in education and family therapy practice.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute transitioned its clinic and training programs to a virtual model until its physical location in New York City’s Flatiron District can reopen. “We have learned from Covid that Ackerman’s future is in virtual learning,” stated President & CEO Martha Fling. “As we work together as a community for an innovative and sustainable future, Marlene will champion Ackerman as the industry leader in both virtual and in-person family therapy training.”
Since 1960, the Ackerman Institute for the Family has achieved national and international prominence for the development of innovative models of family therapy, professional training, and community programs for families facing major life challenges. One of the first training institutes in the United States committed to family mental health, Ackerman is dedicated to helping families at all stages of family life.
It is an honor to share our 2019 Annual Report — a reflection on what we have learned, accomplished, and aspire to as a community. As leaders in professional training of family therapists for 60 years, Ackerman Institute for the Family remains an innovator in the branch of psychotherapy in which families create new interactions, patterns, and creative ways of being together. Never has our work been more relevant than today.
The Ackerman Institute for the Family and the Gender & Family Project are mourning the loss of Henry van Ameringen, an incredible person, leader and ally. As Henry learned about GFP’s work with trans youth and families, he accepted an invitation to visit the Ackerman Institute in 2014. After a warm and informal meeting with a few GFP families, staff and allies, Henry was deeply moved by a program that was both trans youth affirming and family inclusive, emphasizing relationships and community. Henry immediately expressed his support with a three-year grant of $50,000 and became the Gender & Family Project’s first large foundation grant.
We were incredibly touched and grateful and continued to keep him updated with new hires, new groups and the many families and youth who were getting support because of his generosity. GFP’s yearly meeting with Henry’s husband at their West Village apartment turned into a creative brainstorming session on how to further our mission and reach out wider. He was a visionary and a real altruist. We will miss him dearly.
The Ackerman Institute’s Gender & Family Project (GFP), The NYC Unity Project, and the Administration for Children Services (ACS) have joined forces to increase NYC’s capacity for family engagement and acceptance for TGNC youth. GFP is recruiting up to 6 NYC-based clinicians for the Family Engagement and Acceptance Training; a FREE year-long didactic and clinical training in family engagement and family therapy with families of TGNC youth.
- Be a NYS licensed mental health professional.
- Practice (at least part time agency or CBO) in one of NYC’s five boroughs.
Clinicians who identify as a person of color, and/or as LGBTQI are strongly encouraged to apply.
This group is for people of color who have lost a loved one due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Guided by an Ackerman Institute therapist, the group will focus on cultural traditions for the healing of grief and pain. Online meetings begin Monday, September 14th.
This virtual group will provide a safe space for participants to (1) talk about and process their grief and loss, anger and resentment associated with the death of loved ones, (2) examine cultural implications of the loss of community support, (3) explore stages of grief and loss and the benefit of mourning, (4) address treatment disparities in the healthcare system, (5) understand the importance of self-care practices, (6) learn stress management relaxation techniques, (7) and engage in traditional rituals that promote healing.
This new offering from the Ackerman Institute founded by Aquilla Frederick, is specifically intended for families, couples, and individuals of color who lack access to mental health services due to limited financial resources.
Dear Ackerman Community,
As you know, Juneteenth is approaching us. This day is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Every year the celebration is heavy with complex emotions. This year the celebration is tinged with pain as we remember George Floyd and the countless others who have been murdered due to bigotry. Racism is still alive and breathing in our world. Alongside this outrage, our streets are filled with protesters who continue to demand justice and peace. We are reminded that our work continues and that we must all participate in rooting out Anti-Blackness and racism.
Starting this year, Juneteenth will be observed as an official holiday at the Institute on June 19th. Our offices and all business related to Ackerman will be closed. We understand that there is a workshop scheduled for that day and some projects or centers may have scheduled work. If possible, we encourage our community members to take time off. We understand that this one small gesture does not eradicate the inequities felt by our Black community members and by other members of color; their wounds run deep. We are committed to examining past racial injustices and will work with the community to address these.
We invite the entire Ackerman community to observe this day in reflection, celebration, or to participate in activism.
President & CEO
Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
The Ackerman Institute for the Family stands with people around the world in marking Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Non-Binary, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual Pride. We honor the trailblazers, many transgender women of color, who stood up for their rights and for the rights of generations of people to follow.
We continue to remain deeply concerned about the inequities LGBTQIA+ communities experience. We must commit to ending violence against the trans community, outlawing conversion therapy, and call out the excessive policing and force against the LGBTQIA+ community. As the nation continues to fight racial injustice and demand that Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter, we remember the origin of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement at Stonewall where a series of demonstrations were held after a police raid. Our lives, freedoms, and destinies are truly interconnected.