Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Faculty News: Jean Malpas & Andrea Blumenthal Receive Family Process Institute Grant

Join us in congratulating Jean Malpas and Andrea Blumenthal, who recently received the Family Process Institute Early Career/Training Grant. They are the first to be awarded this grant which will support the development of innovative clinical activities in regards to the Gender and Family Project (GCP). Family Process, the granting institution, is an organization dedicated to developing and sharing new theory, research, practice, and policy related to families and systems.

Jean Malpas describes what the grant will be funding in the following:  

"We are honored that the Family Process Institute has chosen to recognize and support the work of the Gender and Family Project (GFP). The grant will be used to implement acutely needed services for families with a gender nonconforming youth. Groups for parents and gender nonconforming children will be provided.  It will help us reach out to more families and provide training to clinicians and agencies aiming to improve their competencies with these families. As an academic institute, we also seek a better understanding and documentation of the needs of families with a gender nonconforming member. Finally, the GFP looks forward to identifying and developing a network of providers who can support families in a similar situation."
Jean Malpas, LMFT, LMHC graduated from Brussels University's department of psychology with a master's degree in clinical psychology and a post-master's degree in psychotherapy. He completed his family therapy training at the Ackerman Institute for the Family. Mr. Malpas was initially trained in the Belgian school of social constructionism and since then, along with his relational training at the Ackerman Institute, has cultivated an integrative practice inspired by narrative and experiential relational frameworks. He believes in the impact of larger systems on the emotional, cognitive and relational resources of each family. Mr. Malpas is an "Early Career Member" of the American Family Therapy Academy and has presented nationally on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples and families and social justice. His work on transgender couples in therapy has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Family Studies. His relational work on crystal methamphetamine addiction and community-based approach has also been published.

Andrea Blumenthal, LCSW, is a member of the teaching faculty at the Ackerman Institute for the Family and a clinical member of Ackerman’s Center for Families and Health and the newly launched Gender and Family Project (GFP). She has extensive practice experience working with children of all ages and diverse families in a variety of mental health and child welfare agency contexts. As a clinician working in community-based settings, she has focused on working with individuals and families affected by physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other forms of trauma. She has completed a post-graduate training program in the Treatment of Interpersonal Trauma at Fordham University and is a graduate of the clinical Externship training program at Ackerman. Ms. Blumenthal maintains a private practice specializing in attachment traumas and relationship issues with couples and families.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Tribute to the Families" Gala 2011

It was an evening of generosity, laughter, elegance and pride.

On Tuesday night, October 25th, the Ackerman Institute for the Family reached out to its friends and supporters at its fundraising event of the year, the "Tribute to Families" gala. Guastavino’s, the beautiful hall tucked beneath the 59th St. Bridge, was sparkling.

During the cocktail hour, guests were treated to a fascinating silent auction, which included artwork, dinners, jewelry, professional consultations and fashions. And while people mingled, ran into old friends and got their picture taken, they were able to wander by the Ackerman book table and watch clips from Ackerman's exciting new video series "Short Conversations." And then it was upstairs to dinner.

The celebrity emcee for the evening was the fabulous Natalie Morales, one of the co-hosts of the Today Show. With grace and sparkle, she guided the audience through a series of videos and then set the stage for the new Board President, Alec Haverstick. After a thoughtful, challenging set of remarks on families and the American economy, Alec led into the first big emotional moment of the evening: the Ackerman Service Award to John O'Neill, long time board member and Treasurer. His response was both heartfelt and humble.

Then came the live auction hosted by comedienne Jane Condon. Jane pulled out every trick in her comic arsenal: jokes, insults, self-mockery, and while the audience was howling with laughter, they managed to bid up two fantastic beach house weekends, dinner at the legendary Rao's, and a backstage tour and taping of the Today Show. All of this before dinner!

After dinner, Lois Braverman, President and CEO of Ackerman Institute, took the audience on an intellectual tour de force. Using powerful scenes from two contemporary films, Lois deconstructed the emotional underpinnings of the characters and situations. Her analysis laid bare what the scenes revealed about families, about our culture, and how they relate to the work of the Institute. She tied it together with perfection . . . because both of the clips Lois showed were from the work of the renowned film producer Christine Vachon. Lois then introduced Ms. Vachon as the first ever recipient of the Ackerman Media Award. Ms. Vachon, producer of many films including Boys Don't Cry, Far From Heaven and Mildred Pierce, shared with the audience how honored she was, and how deeply connected she felt to Ackerman and its mission.

As the evening came to a close, the guests lingered on, somehow unwilling to let such an important event end.

More Gala: Honoring John O'Neill

For 10 years, John O'Neill has been a member of Ackerman's board, generously giving his time, expertise and money to further the work of the Institute. For the past 6 years, he has also served as its Treasurer. During the challenging economy of the last decade, John has called upon his brilliant background as a senior partner at the accounting firm of Ernst + Young to ensure that Ackerman stays on firm footing. For all of that work and more, the Institute used this year’s Gala as an opportunity to say thank you by honoring him with the Ackerman Distinguished Service Award.

To a standing ovation, he ascended to the dais to receive the award from Board Chairman Alec Haverstick. A heartfelt video from his friends and family played on a large screen, congratulating him, teasing him, and saluting him. With his signature humility, John O'Neill used the opportunity to once again, point the spotlight where he has always believed it belongs: on Ackerman and its work.

Remarks from John O'Neill at Gala

Thank you, Alec and thanks to everyone here tonight for helping make this a successful Gala. I'd also like to give a special thanks to my wife, Kathy, and my daughter, Shannon, for their help on the Gala Committee. Also, I know there are a number of my friends who have made contributions, some of whom have traveled far to be here tonight. I thank you all.

I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this award, especially knowing all the deserving honorees who have come before me. I would also like to congratulate Christine Vachon, tonight's other honoree.

I've always believed in the importance of giving back to the community and to organizations like Ackerman that have helped me and my family. We each have an obligation to lend our expertise where needed and to give back financially within our means. The chance to help strengthen Ackerman, to share my expertise and my time, is something I consider a privilege, and a welcome responsibility.

As I have said at many Ackerman board meetings, Ackerman Institute for the Family is still a well kept secret outside the family therapy community, where we are well known and revered around the world.

This Gala lets the world know that we are Moving Families Forward.

One of the many areas Ackerman excels in relates to family and business. Strong family relationships help employees build strong work related relationships and perform better at their jobs. I want each of you to think about how Ackerman's Center for Work and Family, led by Dr. Peter Fraenkel, could be helpful to your business.

That you are honoring me tonight is very generous; it's a great moment for me. But the fact that we are all here, doing whatever we can to ensure that the Ackerman Institute for the Family continues to move families forward...well, that's what makes this evening truly special for me. Thank you.

More Gala: Honoring Christine Vachon

One of the most mesmerizing segments of every Ackerman Gala is what President Lois Braverman refers to as "teachable moments." It is during this moment in the evening when the audience gets an insider’s view on the work, the thinking, and the intellectual capital of the Institute. This year was no exception, and perhaps it raised the bar for "teachable moments" for Galas to come.

Lois Braverman took the podium and showed the audience scenes from some contemporary films. She proceeded to breakdown the hidden meanings inside the scenes, and what they revealed about families and human relationships. It was fascinating, and it led directly to a brand new moment in the Gala agenda: the first ever Ackerman Institute Media Award. The award goes to someone in the media who has pioneered and advanced our thinking about families and family relationships.

The first honoree was Christine Vachon, the celebrated, independent film producer of such esteemed movies as Boys Don’t Cry, Far From Heaven, and Mildred Pierce. By design, it was from two of Ms. Vachon's films that Lois drew her scenes for the teachable moments. The Ackerman Institute Media Award is a powerful new step for the Institute, as it draws the connection between family issues and American culture. Ms. Vachon is the distinguished first recipient, and her work is consistent with the teaching and research that is done at the Institute.

The Remarks of Lois Braverman and Christine Vachon

Lois Braverman:

This evening you've heard the phrase, "Moving Families Forward." This is Ackerman: we move families forward...towards better communication, deeper understanding of one another, and stronger, healthier relationships.

Families are central to who we are. In the media, our best writers, artists and filmmakers help elucidate our understanding of relationships, secrets, rituals, connections and history. At its very best, the media provides us with "teachable moments," inspiring us to look more deeply, and more openly, at our lives and our families. For example, this clip from the film "Gigantic," the scene we've just watched resonates in so many ways, and it provokes one of the fundamental questions that we work with at Ackerman: "What is NORMAL?"

For so many people, "normal" is a goal and a value...and something that feels unattainable. What this scene does, so poignantly, is puncture the myth of "normal."

Here we have an elegant, poised older woman and an alienated, vulnerable younger woman who is on the verge of joining the family. The young woman's own mother doesn't even recognize her on the phone, doesn't even remember her birthday. So it's easy for her to idealize, and envy, the Jane Alexander character, the matriarch.

When we're struggling, it's easy to look at other families, other marriages, other people, and feel: "I wish I could be like them. They look...normal." And if you're about to join that family, as the young woman is, it's easy to wonder, “Do I fit? Because I don't feel normal."

But what things look like on the outside, and what is true, are always two different things.

Across the many centers and projects at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, we are helping people connect to something inside themselves more meaningful than "normal."

Being emotionally healthy will never be the same for any two people, or marriages, or families.

From the Children and Relational Trauma Center to The Gender and Family Project, at Ackerman, we recognize and cherish the fact that every family has its own contradictions, its own rituals, its own hurdles. This is the very first step in Moving Families Forward.

Because as Jane Alexander so succinctly observes, "Nothing's normal."

And there's nothing like a good movie to make you laugh, cry, squirm, and above all...THINK. Or RE-THINK...your position.

Which is something we know about: At Ackerman, we are charting the sea changes in the definition of family, every day. We are navigating waters that the generations before ours didn't even know existed. Science, the Law, and Cultural Mores, are changing how we think about "who is family."

We understand ourselves by understanding our family—our biological family as well as our emotional family. At Ackerman we help family members put those disparate pieces together into a coherent picture.

So, as we expand our notion of who our family is, we expand our understanding of ourselves: Where did I come from? From a sperm donor? An egg donor? A surrogate? Am I the product of those who raised me, and how I was brought up? Or am I the product of the genes I've inherited? Or a bit of both?

And on the adoption front, with the opening of the records, people are increasingly making the connection to their biological family members, and that goes in both directions: children seeking biological parents, biological parents seeking children who they gave up.

WHO IS FAMILY?...is an ongoing conversation at Ackerman; a challenging, nuanced conversation that is one of the reasons why our clients come to us.

But we are not alone in this conversation. Among other things, media is expanding the conversation along with us, as demonstrated in this next clip from the movie "And Then She Found Me."

Both of the clips you've just seen are from films produced by Christine Vachon, a VERY independent producer who has created some of the most meaningful films of our time, including "Boys Don't Cry," "Far From Heaven," and most recently "Mildred Pierce."

What is clearly evident in her films is Christine's vision of the infinite shades of gray that color our understanding of family. Her films are often brutally honest about the struggles that individuals face when their family connections are broken.

In her career, she has pioneered films that have given us a window into the lives of people who have been marginalized by a "dimension of difference": be it race, class, gender, sexual preference, or disability. At the same time, her films celebrate the potential for understanding and for change.

For her fierce compassion for our differences, and her daring sensitivity in stretching how families are portrayed in our culture, I am very pleased and proud to present the Ackerman Institute’s first-ever "Families in Media Award" to Christine Vachon.

Christine Vachon:

Thank you, Lois. I began my career making films for marginalized communities. Stories by, for, and of people who were misunderstood and outside the mainstream.

So much of that has changed. WE have changed, as an industry of artists, and as a society. And change is hard. The world resists change, so it takes the brave and the enlightened to lead the charge toward change.

The animated video that showed earlier tonight ends with the words "When people feel understood, they soar." And that is something that I have looked for in all the movies I've produced a sense of understanding. When we can understand, we can change. And change is the way of all things.

So the things I hear tonight make me proud to be your first media honoree. When you talk about expanding our ideas about what makes a family, and healing broken spirits without regard for some prehistoric notion of "normal," well, I know I am in the company of kindred spirits.

When I hear that Ackerman is deeply focused on serving the very people who might never have access to these world- class services, I know I am in the right place.

And to learn that all of you are here tonight, giving generously to continue Ackerman's mission of "moving families forward," this award takes on added meaning.

So thank you, for this honor, and much more, for all that you are doing to expansively embrace the complexity of the human experience. Thank you.

Academy of Counselors in Japan Visit Ackerman Institute

Japanese Counselors Visit Ackerman InstituteThe Ackerman Institute for the Family recently hosted visiting students from the Academy of Counselors in Japan. The visit occurred during the week of November 14, 2011, and is part of an on-going relationship between the Ackerman Institute and the Academy of Counselors, developed 10 years ago to provide training in the Ackerman Relational Approach. Thirteen trainees and three administrators took part in a four-day intensive training on family therapy. Faculty member David Kezur works extensively with the Academy, leading intensive training in Japan and at the Ackerman Institute.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A radio interview with faculty member Evan Imber-Black

Family therapist and author Evan Imber-Black was recently interviewed by Safe Space Radio on how to share secrets in the family. In contrast to televised and sensationalist secret telling in front of mass audiences, Dr. Imber-Black works with families to prepare carefully before revealing important secrets. She tells stories from her work about the impact of secrets on family members, creating ever widening circles of silence and distance in relationships. She describes the impact on children who may not know a secret, but whose behavior is nonetheless deeply effected by the silence. She advises an individual analysis of each family member who may be effected by revealing a secret and how to respect those who may not want it revealed.

Go to their website to listen to Evan Imber-Black's insights: http://safespaceradio.com/2011/10/telling-secrets-in-the-family/

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dr. Loebl Speaks at Fall Alumni Lecture

Dr. Adi LoeblOn October 21, 2011, the Ackerman Institute presented its fall alumni lecture hosted by the Alumni Association with a presentation by Adi Loebl, faculty at the Institute and the resident psychiatrist. The talk titled, "The Intersection Between Psychiatric Diagnosis, Pharmacological Treatment and Systemic Therapy," focused on how families can be used as a resource in refining diagnosis and treatment and the meaning of taking medicine.

Dr. Loebl mentioned new ways to move away from the classical model of separating individual, family, and psychotherapy into an integrated family process. Some of these ways included involving caregivers in family therapy and increasing accuracy of treatment through how members of the family reveal and describe others' behaviors. He emphasized how families have beliefs pre, during, and post treatment, especially around the idea of being a failure or getting addicted to medications.

"There is a lag between feeling better and acting and behaving better," he explained. "Oftentimes, the person on the medicine still feels depressed but others in the family notice a change." Dr. Loebl also made interesting points on how families often get organized around the "ill" person, and how the ill person in that situation feels an additional pressure to get better. He opened the talk up to discussion and questions on psychopharmacology and family therapy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ackerman’s 50 Years, One Historical Conference

The Ackerman Institute proudly hosted a conference marking its 50 years, with key note speakers in the morning framing the historical value of the Institute in the context of family therapy. The room was packed with nearly 200 participants from all ages and backgrounds, many of them with significant ties to the Institute, including former executive directors Don Bloch and Peter Steinglass, as well as the first Director of Training at the Ackerman Institute, Kitty La Perriere.

“Inceptive, non-derivative, pioneering, and vital – this is the Ackerman Institute for the Family,” said Evan Imber-Black in her speech which opened the conference. Senior faculty member, and Director of the Center for Health and the Family, Evan had the tall task of giving a social history of the last 50 years– contextualizing not only the growth of family therapy and development of the ideas at the Institute, but of the politics, history, and economics of the world at large. Through her engaging slides, people had a chance to really understand how history changed the course of family therapy and vice versa. She ended with an encouraging baton pass to the next generation of therapists: "in a place where passion and curiosity in the service of families is a primary value, I can hardly wait to see what will be next."

Mary-Kim Brewster showed a case demonstrating the strength of the Ackerman Relational Approach. Her case showed the role culture, language, and family of origin processes play in relationships, and as a Senior Faculty Member who is herself bi-cultural, she communicated the importance of understanding and respecting the families’ context when working with the Ackerman Relational Approach.

Jean Malpas’ talk on transgender relationships opened the audience to the new dynamics of gender and sexuality in the 21st century and how these changes are affecting the field of family therapy and more specifically the task at hand for the Ackerman Institute. His work, which has been shown and presented in Latin America and Europe as well, comes at a significant time as he launches the Gender and Family Project at the Ackerman Institute.

Marcia Sheinberg, Director of Training, put both these cases into context. Although each case appeared to be so different, she was able to show the audience how the Ackerman Relational Approach gives therapists a guide to working with families and yet let’s them attend to the distinctiveness of each family, no matter what their problem or context."Today Jean's and Mary's work demonstrate how Ackerman remains vital and relevant. In both instances, the therapists stimulate us to re-examine our own biases and assumptions, challenging us to think and re-think about our way of working. In so doing we expand our personal and professional lives. It is indeed what keeps the work exciting and continuously evolving."

During the afternoon, attendees split into smaller groups and were able to choose from a myriad of workshop topics. Workshop topics included treating children with relational trauma, working with children and families in foster care, talking with families in the context of chronic illness, engaging parents of troubled adolescents, applying a multi-cultural perspective on jealousy and infidelity, acknowledging social location in therapy, facilitating conversations on money with families, and promoting sensitive and effective parenting with young children. 

The day served to contextualize Ackerman's history, mark its contributions to the field of family therapy, and demonstrate its current direction and practice. Everyone left the conference with a new-found knowledge of the huge strides that were made in the last 50 years in the field and were inspired to help make the next 50 just as successful.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ackerman Institute Welcomes Susan Ciccarone to the Board

Susan Ciccarone
The Ackerman Institute is excited to have Susan Ciccarone, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, as its newest board member. "About a year ago I decided I wanted to get involved outside of my professional career in volunteer work and other purposes," Susan notes of her decision to join the Ackerman Institute Board. Susan was drawn to Ackerman’s three pronged commitment to clinical services, research, and training.

Originally from Philadephia, Susan has been living in New York for 15 years. She started in a number of different organizations, working at UBS Investment Bank for 8 years, and now working at Goldman Sachs. She went to Villanova University for her undergraduate degree where she studied accounting, and received her MBA from The Wharton School in 2002. Susan loves the fast paced and challenging nature of her work, which gives her a chance to work with a diverse group of clients and projects.

This is the first time Susan has been part of a board. "I work with boards frequently, I know what their responsibilities are and I advise management teams on board interactions. But I’ve never been on a board, so this is new and I think it makes it exciting. I want to see how I can be helpful and how I can help the Ackerman Board evolve," Susan mentions. Undoubtedly, her experience working with CEOs, setting up objectives and executing business plans to involve donors and investors, will be a huge asset to the Ackerman Institute.

The Ackerman Institute's value and focus on family is reflected deeply in Susan's own life. While she knows that there are times in her career that would benefit from living abroad (she has travelled to over 30 countries), one thing that has kept her here is being close to her family. Susan comes from a large close knit family who all live in the New York Philadelphia metro Area. "I have four siblings, very close in age, and I consider them my four best friends," she says. "My most fun day is hanging out with my four nephews. My parents just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. They are a huge part of why I could achieve my goals; I had the constant support of my family through the years."

Susan’s values about family are reflected in her following comments, "I always remember where I came from, and how fortunate I am to be able to give back in some way, to utilize my talents in some way, it's something I want to be more focused on. Ackerman is the first step in this part of my life and that development." We are very grateful to have Susan as part of the Ackerman family.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jean Malpas Receives Early Career Acheivement Award

Jean MalpasJean Malpas was the recipient of the first American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) Early Career Achievement Award which recognizes achievement in theory, research, or practice in the first 10 years after earning one’s degree. The award is based on the promise of contribution to the field. Ellen Berman, former Secretary and Board Member of AFTA and current Secretary of the Board of Directors of Family Process, introduced Jean as "the perfect example of this… Jean's s enormous appetite for work, widely ranging quest for knowledge and commitment to community, in addition to his warmth, kindness, elegance, have made him a visible and important member of the field and of AFTA and a wonderful recipient of this award."

Jean trained at Brussels University and NYU, and went to the Ackerman Institute for his postgraduate training from 2000-2005 while he was working as a counselor at the LGBT center in New York. Following his graduation from Ackerman's post graduate training program he joined the faculty where he taught in the clinical externship program. With the support of Ackerman’s senior faculty members, Jean joined AFTA in 2006 and became the first chair of the Early Career Member Committee. In 2010 he was elected to the AFTA Board of Directors.

Jean presented internationally on issues around gender fluidity in Canada, Israel, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Belgium. His publications include Between Pink & Blue: A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Gender Nonconforming Children and their Family to be published in Family Process, and Can Couples Change Gender: Couple Therapy with Transgender People and their Partners which will be published in the Handbook of Affirmative LGBT Couple and Family Therapy.

He has also recently focused on international training and humanitarian work, attending trainings in Uganda, Haiti, and India. Jean is currently working with Ackerman faculty Peggy Papp and Michele Scheinkman on a project on Couples and Impasses. His interests include Addictions Counseling, Couples Therapy, and Gender. Recently he has developed cutting edge work on helping couples deal with gender transitions in their partners and/or children.

As Jean so aptly remarked, "It takes a village to raise a decent family therapist." Jean thanked the Ackerman Institute and AFTA for encouraging him to take risks.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dr. Peter Fraenkel Releases New Book About Relationships

Peter FraenkelDr. Peter Fraenkel, head of the Center for Work and Family, released his new book for couples, entitled Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage: Four Steps to Getting Back on Track (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan), and it has been gaining attention from the couple therapy community and the media. The book has received highly favorable endorsements from a wide range of therapists, as well as prominent musicians, as the book examines how couple problems often center on differences in rhythms, and how to change time patterns to get in sync.

The Ackerman Institute hosted a book party for Dr. Fraenkel on Thursday, March 31 which was well attended. Audience included faculty members and center heads as well as Ackerman Institute board members. Students from both the Institute's training program as well as from other New York City institutions were present.

On the evening of April 28, Dr. Fraenkel had the honor of speaking at the Yale Club in an event organized by Ackerman board member Alec Haverstick. After a brief presentation by Fraenkel on the ideas in the book, the audience engaged in a lively discussion about the time challenges for couples and families today.

This summer, Dr. Fraenkel will work with some of his Center student-staff to create a workshop for couples on getting in sync. It will be launched at Ackerman in the late fall.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Trainees from Argentina and Chile at the Ackerman Institute


Trainees from Argentina and Chile
From April 25 to May 6, the Ackerman Institute proudly hosted its annual two-week intensive training program for a group of 18 therapists from the training programs Instituto Chileno El Terapia Familiar in Santiago, Chile, and AIGLE in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The intensive training program allowed for clinicians from the two institutes to be immersed in the Ackerman Relational Approach. The group of therapists spent the days in workshops presented by Ackerman faculty members, and the evenings observing families during the supervision groups.

Visiting therapists responded eagerly to this year’s series of workshops, which included a range of topics such as Working with Jealousy and Infidelity in Couples Therapy, The Use of Sculpting in Breaking through Impasses, and The Use of Rituals in Family Therapy. One topic which struck a chord in the group was the workshop Working with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Couples and Families, presented by Jean Malpas. The therapists described the topic as “taboo back home”. After the presentation, group members expressed having a new understanding of how traumatic it can be for family members who identify outside the heterosexual norm to feel unknown by their own family members and marginalized by society at large.

For over fifteen years, Ackerman Institute for the Family and the two South American agencies have collaborated, with Ackerman sharing its knowledge of family therapy through annual training intensives at Ackerman. Additionally, faculty members travel bi-annually to South America to present at both AIGLE and Instituto Chileno El Terapia on topics of interest. The international presentations provides an opportunity for the Ackerman way of working to be shared with the therapists in the international community.

The on-going collaboration with AIGLE and Instituto Chileno El Terapia Familiar is a highly valued component of the Ackerman’s Community and International Training Department. The collaboration allows for Ackerman’s Relational Approach for providing family therapy to reach families throughout the world. Additionally, Ackerman faculty members are provided the opportunity to learn about families and the practices of family therapists internationally, creating on-going opportunities for developing and refining our therapeutic knowledge base. The exchange of ideas around how to provide family therapy creates and environment of mutual exploration and respect that has helped to keep Ackerman Institute for the Family a vital resource in the international family therapy community.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spring Alumni Lecture by Dr. Tim Verduin

On May 6, Tim Verduin, PhD, Clinical Director of the Institute for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and Behavior Disorders, did a presentation to a full house of Ackerman faculty, students, alumni, and professionals on Cognitive Behavioral Practices for Young Children with Behavior Problems, for the quarterly alumni lecture series. Dr. Verduin's focus was on practical tools and principles for parents to apply when handling children with ADHD or disruptive, defiant discipline problems.

Tim talked at length about the benefits of giving a child no attention rather than negative attention, the idea being that children who seek attention through bad behaviors get what they want through parents who give them lots of negative attention. These same children, who are not given the attention they are looking for, often improve their behaviors.

Another interesting facet was studies on positive and negative feedback. People generally believe they give more positive feedback than they actually do, and as human beings it takes three compliments to equalize the effect of one critique. Through the use of tapes and case studies, he pointed out the impact of these simple practices.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ackerman Institute Diversity and Social Work 2011 Graduation

The Ackerman Institute's Diversity and Social Work Training Program celebrated the accomplishments of this year’s group of student interns at its annual presentation on May 4, 2011. The program’s mission, in existence since 1992, is to train a critical mass of professionals of color who can serve as leaders in bringing a family-centered approach to community-based social service agencies that is culturally and racially sensitive to the needs of families. Students spend two days at the Institute where their training includes live supervision of family sessions and a day off-site working at a community based organization.

The Program benefits from its long-term partnerships with Hunter, Columbia and New York University Schools of Social Work who help us recruit outstanding students of color, and this year’s cadre was no exception. Denise Munoz, Ria Brown, Daniela Caraballo, Mackenzie Charles, Beatrice Hyacinthe and Katherine Ambia gave outstanding presentations depicting both their clinical work with families by showing brief video edits as well as describing their personal and professional growth throughout the intensive training process at Ackerman.

Sippio Small added: "I would like to acknowledge the third founding member of the social work program, the late Ruth Mohr. She continues to be a guiding influence on how I supervise and interact with the students. One of the first assignments for the students is to view the documentary, Families Under the Influence that features the clinical brilliance of Ruth Mohr."

Students discussed issues as diverse as the complexity of working with a rare, untreatable disease in a young family member to their experience, as young professionals of color, working with their first white family. Students also highlighted the intense bond that they have created with one another; spending every weekend together observing each other's work behind a one-way mirror as well as the six hours of supervision they receive every Monday with the program co-directors, Laurie Kaplan and Sippio Small.

Not only were the presentations packed with information, the house was packed with people. Board member Arthur Maslow, as well as Lois Braverman, President of the Ackerman Institute, Marcia Sheinberg, Director of Training and faculty members of the Institute were there as well returning program graduates who served as supervisors to the interns in their off-site community placements. Additionally, professors from Hunter, Columbia and NYU and students families and friends were also in attendance.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Diversity and Social Work Alumni Reunion

Diversity and Social AlumniOn February 25th, current Diversity and Social Work students joined alumni from past years to share their thoughts on the potential of the alumni network at the Ackerman Institute. Diversity and Social Work Faculty Laurie Kaplan and Sippio Small articulated their desire to hand over the leadership of the alumni relations to the students themselves, so they could take ownership over the group.

Over 30 students met and discussed possible strategies for the group. A few ideas which came up included starting an online listserv for networking, developing a mentorship program for current students with the guidance of past graduates, and creating opportunities for more meetings in informal settings, both in and outside the New York city area.

Past Board Member Arthur Maslow and President and CEO, Lois Braverman, were also in attendance, and expressed their appreciation for the program. Arthur encouraged discourse and discussion about clinical practices amongst alumni.

Alumni enjoyed sharing their stories and updates with their classmates and meeting graduates from other years over dinner. More important, alumni now work in a range of programs and clinics since graduating from Ackerman, some even going on to academia. This inspired many to start bridging connections for the future.

"It is exciting to already have a number of alumni supervising current social work interns in their community placements. We look forward to creating more mentorship opportunities for the students of this program," Laurie Kaplan, LCSW, Co-director Diversity and Social Work Program.