The Ackerman Institute for the Family is outraged and heartbroken at the increasing hate targeting Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander communities. We stand together with our friends in grief and in solidarity. Racially motivated hateful rhetoric and hate-based crimes of Asians and Asian American Pacific Islanders is a long-standing issue in the U.S. Incidents have been on the rise, given some political leaders’ roles in promoting xenophobic rants by referencing the origin of COVID-19. Six Asian women lost their lives yesterday due to a cycle of violence which is fueled by white supremacy, systemic racism, and misogyny. We hold them, their families, and their communities in our hearts. This should never have happened.
As therapists, we are ready to offer care and support to those in grief and distress over these tragedies.
Committed to social justice, we stand in solidarity with the Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander communities at the Institute and the world over. As family therapists, our ethics demand that we care about all people, all families, and act towards social justice. We must speak and act within our own spheres of influence, especially those of us who sit with white privilege. We simply cannot be silent.
March is Women’s History Month. This year we celebrate the first Black and South Asian woman to become Vice President of the United States. The election of Vice President Kamala Harris means that girls and women of all ages and races can see that they have the possibility to reach the upmost levels of leadership and that this country belongs to us all. Family therapy is committed to the recognition of all parts of a system, with special consideration to contextual influences, including the contributions that women make to couple and family life. Ackerman has had a historic and significant role in advancing women’s issues and feminism in family therapy. We honor the groundbreaking contributions women continue to make in the field.
Photo: Kamala Harris, back row at left, in an undated family photo. Next to her, from left, are her grandmother Rajam Gopalan, grandfather P.V. Gopalan and sister, Maya Harris. With them are Maya’s daughter, Meena, left, and Harris’ cousin Sharada Balachandran Orihuela. (Courtesy of Sharada Balachandran Orihuela)
It is with great sorrow that I share the peaceful passing of our distinguished member of the Board of Directors, Arthur Maslow, on February 13, 2021, at his home in New York City.
Arthur Maslow was a pillar the Ackerman Institute for the Family for more than 40 years. After completing the program as a student, Mr. Maslow joined the Institute as Director of Administrative Services and as a member of the faculty. Mr. Maslow met his late wife, Carol Maslow, at the Institute and they married in 1979.
Mr. Maslow served on the Institute’s Board of Directors as its Chairperson from 1999 to 2003. In 2007, he became Trustee Emeritus. Mr. Maslow spearheaded diversity in Ackerman’s administration, and it was his vision that created and funded the Social Work and Diversity Program in 1992. Mr. Maslow’s scholarship program continues to support diverse young therapists training at the Ackerman Institute. He was also a longstanding trustee of JCCA. He summed up his dedication and commitment to families, expressing “Family therapy works because it is reality. The greatest support a child can get is from the family”.
Arthur loved Ackerman, and we are all better for his generosity of support and time. I always jumped at the invitations for lunch with him at his home. The menu never varied (scrambled eggs, bacon, and tomatoes), nor did his willingness to provide sharp and humorous counsel. He will be missed deeply.
Our hearts and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time.
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.