Substance Use Disorders and the Family Project

Project Overview

Over the past several decades the Ackerman Institute has been pioneering the development and dissemination of a treatment model designed to help families address relationship problems associated with substance use disorders (SUDs). By identifying and addressing the impact of maladaptive substance use on family life as early as possible in the course of an SUD, the Ackerman approach is designed to interrupt and prevent major and potentially irreversible problems from arising within and beyond family life.

Our Systemic-Motivational Treatment approach (SMT) combines family systems, motivational interviewing and harm reduction components. The SMT approach creates a collaborative and non-judgmental environment that provides opportunities for families living with an SUD to have a therapeutic space to explore and address the condition as it emerges and throughout all phases of the disease, treatment, and recovery.

It is our belief that by mobilizing the inherent strengths within families, clinicians can collaborate with families in designing strategies to meet the challenges that are associated with SUDs. We bring this same collaborative spirit to our work with community-based organizations requesting training and/or program development consultation.

Clinical inquires should be directed to the Ackerman Intake Department phone line: (212) 879-4900, ext 122.


The Substance Use Disorders and the Family Project supports a wide range of educational activities, including:

  • Presentations and workshops at conferences;
  • Training for medical and mental health professionals in the NYC area;
  • All-day workshops at Ackerman and at other locations nationally and internationally, and as part of Ackerman’s workshop series;
  • Supervision of Ackerman family therapy trainees; and
  • Group supervision for clinicians interested working with families living with SUD.

Examples of recent presentations by project staff include:

  • Grand Rounds lectures to the faculty, staff and trainees of the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse at NYU/Bellevue’s Department of Psychiatry
  • Workshop sessions at the American Family Therapy Academy and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry Annual Meetings
  • International lectures and workshops on our Systemic-Motivational Model at family therapy training institutes in Argentina, Chile, the U.K. Brazil, and Mexico
  • Training sessions for the staffs of community-based mental health and social service agencies in NYC including JCCA, MHA, St. Dominic’s Family Services and Catholic Charities
  • Keynote Address at the NYS NASW Chapter’s 2018 Addictions Institute

Consultation Services

Through the Ackerman clinic, project staff provide consultation services where a substance use disorder is one of the issues with which the family is struggling.

For more information, call the Ackerman Intake Department: (212) 879-4900, ext 122

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