60th Anniversary Conference: Play & Creativity in Family Therapy

Overview

Professional Symposium

April 9, 2021 | 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM (ET)
4.5 CE Contact Hours

In this full-day professional symposium, we will celebrate themes of play and creative imagination in family therapy. Join us for innovative workshops highlighting relational approaches that enhance parent-child connections and bring forth family stories of pride and resilience.

This year’s conference begins with a special 60th anniversary retrospective of the Ackerman Institute by Dr. Evan Imber-Black, followed by a keynote presentation by leading family play therapist, lecturer, innovator, and writer, Dr. Eliana Gil. In the afternoon, participants will attend a workshop of their choice led by Ackerman faculty researchers.

As part of our 60th anniversary, the celebration features a free pre-conference companion event for parents hosted by keynote speaker, Dr. Eliana Gil. This special evening event on April 8th will introduce play as a tool for parents to communicate with their children during times of stress and joy. The program is open to parents and mental health professionals alike.

The first 50 registrants to the conference professional symposium on April 9th will receive a limited edition Ackerman 60th Anniversary tote bag, created to celebrate this landmark year.

Register + Select a Workshop:

Select your afternoon workshop. All tickets include admission for the full-day professional symposium. Read our FAQ page for more information.

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Schedule

Ackerman Institute for the Family 60th Anniversary Conference Schedule:

Free Pre-Conference Event for Parents (Optional)

Parenting Stress During COVID: Keeping You and Your Children Hopeful
April 8, 2021 | 7:00 – 8:00 pm (ET)
Free to attend

Professional Symposium:

April 9, 2021 | 9:30 am – 3:00 pm (ET)

TimeEvent
9:30 am – 10:00 pm (ET)60th Anniversary Retrospective
10:00 am – 12:00 pm (ET)Keynote Presentation
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm (ET)Lunch Break
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (ET)Afternoon Workshops

4.5 CE Contact Hours
Fee: $115.00

Keynote

Keynote Presentation & Retrospective:

April 9, 2021 | 9:30 am – 12:00 pm (ET)
2.25 CE Contact Hours

Lighting the Match and Fanning the Flames: Inviting Spontaneity, Creative Imagination, Metaphor, and Play in Family Therapy   

Dr. Eliana Gil, PhD, RPT-S, ATS,

Families arrive to therapy with high or low expectations for positive outcomes. Their frustration and helplessness may be on full display as they describe specific concerns such as lack of communication, resentments, anger or worry, and frustration. They may not remember when things were better and they may not know how they got to this current unhappy place. They may articulate difficulties with general parenting, unique child behaviors, or a general sense that things are not working as smoothly as they could. Both couples and families may have built bad habits that need to be addressed, or they may have attachment issues that will need strengthening. Verbal therapy may feel limiting and un-inviting. This workshop will discuss how family and couple therapists can invite family members into an unexpected, novel set of interactions designed to elicit metaphors, engage playfully, and ignite their creativity and imagination. The outcome may be that they have novel interactions with each other that change their perceptions of possibilities. This work can elicit motivation for clients to make small and positive relational changes that increase their connection and sense of systemic health. A number of activities will be demonstrated and clinical material will be discussed. 

60th Anniversary Retrospective with Dr. Evan Imber-Black

Evan Imber-Black

As part of the Ackerman Institute’s 60th anniversary celebration, Dr. Evan Imber Black will present a special retrospective address on the history of the Institute. Founded in 1960, the Ackerman Institute for the Family is a pioneer in family therapy treatment, training and research. We invite you to celebrate with us as we reflect on six-decades of history, and look forward to the years ahead.

Evan Imber-Black, PhD, is a senior faculty member at the Ackerman Institute and the Director of Ackerman’s Center for Families and Health. Evan is currently Professor and Program Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Masters Program at Mercy College, and is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. Dr. Imber-Black was the editor of Family Process, the major scholarly journal in family systems research and family therapy from 2004-2011.

Workshops

Afternoon Workshops:

April 9, 2021 | 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (ET)
2.25 CE Contact Hours

Workshops are held concurrently during the professional symposium afternoon program. Select your workshop of choice when purchasing your conference ticket.

Using Play to Explore and Repair Relational Ruptures Within Families
Fiona True LCSW, Co-Director, The Center for Children and Relational Trauma

Children with Special Needs:  Guidelines & Examples of Family Activities
Judy Grossman, DrPH, OTR, Associate Director of the Center for the Developing Child and Family

Standing with and for Family Joy in the Midst of Systemic Oppression and Trauma:  A Therapeutic Approach to Working with Families Involved with the Child Welfare System
Hana Ahary LMSW, Kacy Ames LCSW, Andrea Blumenthal LCSW, Catherine Lewis LCSW Helen Park LCSW, Melba Nicholson Sullivan, PhD

Gender Creative Kids: Using Play for Gender Exploration
Derrick T. Jordan, M.Div, LMSW Alexis Diaz, LMSW
Ackerman Institute’s Gender & Family Project

Family Therapy with Adolescents: Understanding and Interrupting Problematic Cycles of Interaction
Michael Davidovits, PhD, LCSW


Workshop Descriptions:

Using Play to Explore and Repair Relational Ruptures Within Families

Fiona True LCSW, Co-Director, The Center for Children and Relational Trauma

This workshop will draw upon the past work of the Ackerman Institute’s Center for Children and Relational Trauma to illustrate the use of play in understanding, expanding and repairing relational ruptures within families. The presenter will highlight, through case examples,  how play can bring forth the complex experiences of young children that words alone might not be able to convey. Our approach draws on play techniques to understand a young child’s inner life and relational needs, utilizing drawing, storytelling, puppetry and other metaphorical means of expression.

Using the multimodal frame developed by the Center, children can be seen individually within the context of a family treatment, affording them privacy to explore their experience. With the use of the “decision dialogue” relevant content can be returned to a family session. In this way relational constraints that may appear through play can be addressed and resolved within the family itself. Individual opportunities for exploration through play being returned to the family affords both privacy and connection and importantly the ability to address ruptures in relationships that have occurred.

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Children with Special Needs: Guidelines & Examples of Family Activities

Judy Grossman, DrPH, OTR, Associate Director of the Center for the Developing Child and Family

This presentation will use the case method to illustrate the value of activities with parents and children with ADHD, autism or other developmental disabilities. There are multiple reasons to use activities; for example: (1) keeping young children engaged and attentive, (2) observing child functioning, parent-child interaction, and parent attunement to the child’s needs and challenges, and (3) doing activities to assess and work towards therapeutic goals and objectives. Even with older children, parent-child, sibling, or whole family activities are ways to promote healthy relationships and to witness behavioral change. An important goal is for family members to relate and have fun together, since that is often an exception to the daily struggles and negative cycles of interactions.

Using video of a child with ADHD and autism, the presenter will describe therapeutic interventions to promote self-regulation, social-emotional and executive function skills. Decisions about the choice of activity should consider the following: physical, cognitive and feeling games; structured and unstructured activities; and child-directed, parent-directed, or therapist-directed play.

By the end of the workshop, the participants will be able to:

  • Discuss guidelines for selecting activities to promote parent-child-therapist engagement, communication, social-emotional development, and problem solving skills.
  • Describe how to use activities to manage the child’s arousal level and promote self-regulation.
  • Discuss how you can promote parent-child interaction to meet treatment goals and objectives.

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Standing with and for Family Joy in the Midst of Systemic Oppression and Trauma:  A Therapeutic Approach to Working with Families Involved with the Child Welfare System

Hana Ahary LMSW, Kacy Ames LCSW, Andrea Blumenthal LCSW, Catherine Lewis LCSW Helen Park LCSW, Melba Nicholson Sullivan, PhD

In this workshop, members of Ackerman’s Foster Care and Adoption Project will present a framework for working with families where family members’ competencies, strengths, and resources are centered, and contextual factors contributing to the presenting problems are acknowledged. In this framework, attention to the social location of the families and the therapists will be explored, as legacies of oppression, intergenerational trauma, internalized supremacy and inferiority show up and impact the therapeutic relationship and the types of interventions chosen. Interventions and activities will be shared that focus on moments of connection between family members, as well as how the therapist’s use of self can help create a space for authentic therapeutic relationship that centers the family’s agency and subjective experiences. Attention will be paid to the legacy of trauma on the nervous system of every person present in the room with a focus on creating space where attunement, connection and joy can be felt and experienced by all.

Families who have involvement with the child welfare system, either through preventive services or the foster care system, often have experienced long histories of systemic oppression.  Involvement with the child welfare system is generally experienced as an additional act of surveillance rather than a resource for the family. A referral for family therapy, in this context, provides an opportunity for the therapist and family members to reassert the family’s sense of agency. 

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Gender Creative Kids: Using Play for Gender Exploration

Derrick T. Jordan, M.Div, LMSW Alexis Diaz, LMSW
Ackerman Institute’s Gender & Family Project

Shifting the focus of treatment from the trans person in the family to the family itself is a radical change that allows glimpses of a culture in which gender diversity is the norm. This workshop presented by members of The Ackerman Institute’s Gender and Family Project (GFP) will include examples from both group work and family therapy to show activities that invite playfulness and creativity to the process of gender exploration. These activities when done with peers as well as cisgender family members can promote positive self-concept, community building and wellness for TGNC youth.

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Family Therapy with Adolescents: Understanding and Interrupting Problematic Cycles of Interaction

Michael Davidovits, PhD, LCSW

In this workshop we will analyze the cycle of interaction that develops between adolescents and their caregivers, and we will study specific techniques for interrupting it. Topics covered will include, substance mis-use, school failure, depression and other emotional struggles. Special attention will also be given to the challenges and contribution of parents in the conflict with their children.

Although problematic behaviors on the part of adolescents do not necessarily begin with difficulties in the family, persistent and unresolved crises precipitate worry, anger and ultimately rifts within the family system. The conflict and relational drift that ensues then engenders more provocative behavior on the part of the teen and in turn, more conflict.

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FAQ

How do I attend?

Register for the professional symposium and indicate your afternoon workshop choice. Zoom links will be provided via email two days in advance of the conference. You must register separately if you would like to attend the free pre-conference event for parents.

Can I attend part of the full-day symposium?

Participants my attend any section of the symposium. Ticket fees are for admission to the full-day program. We do not offer discounts for partial admission. CE Contact Hours are subject to full attendance to the morning and/or afternoon program(s).

Who is eligible to attend?

The Ackerman Institute professional symposium is for qualified mental health professionals only. Eligible attendees must be trained in mental health, and currently employed in the field of social work, marriage and family therapy, counseling, psychology, or another mental health profession. If you have questions about your eligibility, contact: Helen Park: hpark@ackerman.org

How will I receive continuing education (CE) contact hours?

Participants must attend the full duration of the morning and/or afternoon program(s) to be eligible for CE Contact Hours. Attendance will be taken at the start and end of each program segment. As proof of attendance, you will complete and sign an evaluation form at the conclusion of each training. Each program is valued at 2.25 CE Contact Hours, or 4.5 CE Contact Hours for the full-day symposium.

Eligible participants will receive CE Contact Hours via email within 5-10 business days. Certificates of completion are distributed via email only. To ensure prompt delivery, please add training@ackerman.org to your email contact list.

About Ackerman 60th Anniversary Tote Bags:

As part of our 60th anniversary celebration, we are sending limited-edition Ackerman tote bags to the first 50 registrants of the professional symposium. If you are the lucky recipient of a tote, it will arrive in the mail to the shipping address provided at checkout. Totes are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are not a guarantee of ticket purchase.

Technical Support:

For technical support for this online program, please refer to the Zoom customer support center. Ackerman staff are not able to respond to technical inquiries.

Privacy Policy:

Only qualified mental health professionals are authorized to attend this program. Participants agree not to record any part of this training in any format (audio, video, or other) under federal HIPPA law, and understand that anyone recording the training will be asked to leave immediately without refund.

Refund Policy:

Full refunds are issued only if the conference is canceled by the Ackerman Institute. For partial refund of this program, registrants must withdraw at least 20 business days in advance of the conference start date. To cancel your attendance and receive a partial refund, contact Vrinda Sheth, Training Program Coordinator: vsheth@ackerman.org.

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