Family Therapy with Young Adults with Serious Mental Illness

The onset of a severe psychiatric illness such as major depression or bi-polar illness is a powerfully complex experience for young adults and their families. The young adult is faced with the daunting challenge of dealing with symptoms that interfere with an ability to function at school or work. Family members, especially parents, are unprepared to deal with the symptoms that impair the day-to-day functioning of a loved one. 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 to family members, leaving them 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 regain a sense of control, connection, and calm in the face of an emerging mental illness.

Learning Objectives:

  • The symptoms of emotional dysregulation and how they manifest in psychiatric illnesses
  • The impact of an emerging psychiatric illness on the relational functioning of the family
  • Techniques for addressing in session escalation when working with emotional dysregulation in families
  • How to help families create “Climates of Calm” in the home to reduce symptom exacerbation


Mary Kim Brewster PhD, is the Director of the Serious Mental Illness and the Family Project at the Ackerman for the Family. Her publications and national and international presentations include the topics of serious mental illness and the family, the impact of racial trauma on couple and family relationships, and therapeutic processes in systemic-relational therapy. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the City University of New York, an MBA from Columbia University, and has a private practice in Manhattan.

Lois Braverman, LCSW, is President Emeritus of the Ackerman Institute for the Family. Ms. Braverman is a highly regarded educator and clinician with over 40 years of experience in field of family therapy. Her publications and national and international presentations cover a range of topics including: family dynamics and serious mental illness, women’s friendships and marital relationships, motherhood and mothering, and issues of power in family therapy. She is founding editor of the “Journal of Feminist Family Therapy” and author of “Women, Feminism and Family Therapy” (The Haworth Press). She was the recipient of the American Family Therapy Academy’s “1994 Innovative Contribution to Family Therapy Award.” and the 2019 Life Achievement Award. She maintains a private practice seeing couples and families in New York City.

Date / Time:

Friday, January 17, 2020
10:00 am–4:00 pm

Continuing Education:

5 CE Contact Hours

Register Online:

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