Friday, December 6, 2013

Ackerman Institute's Gender and Family Project hosts a “Night of A Thousand Genders”!

On Monday, December 2, 2013, the Ackerman Institute's Gender and Family Project hosted an incredible call for action and support of gender variant and gender non-conforming youth in its first ever “Night of A Thousand Genders” celebration at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater!

The Ackerman Institute's Gender and Family Project took part in a very special evening to honor and celebrate the beauty and resilience of gender variant and gender non-conforming kids and their families. “Acceptance is protection” became the tagline of the evening with over 200+ guests roaring in applause at Jean Malpas’s inspiring speech.  The night was an astounding success with an electric energy felt by one and all.
 Jean Malpas, the Director of the Gender and Family Project, did not mince words when he spoke about the struggle that LGBT kids face in their lives. “Half of LGBT kids still experience negative reactions when they come out at home. 25-40% of homeless youth in NYC are LGBT identified and a quarter of these homeless youth are on the street because they have been kicked out of their homes. We know that family acceptance is a key protective factor. It dramatically decreases chances of mental health issues, school drop-out, substance abuse and suicide. It’s just the best prevention we know of.”

Jean and his production team (which included Manhattan Theater Club producer, Lisa McNulty, Tralen Doler, Ackerman Institute’s Adriana Londono, Topos Graphic’s Roy Rub, video producer Reda Cheraffadine, and committee chair Jane Rennert-Miller) worked tirelessly for the past year to create not only an evening to remember but to give every family with gender non-conforming children a chance to accessible care, love, and opportunities.

Sponsored by Logo TV and Delta Airlines, the event garnered the support of a host of celebrities and became a veritable who's who of the LGBT community. Grammy Award winning composer Stephen Schwartz (of Godspell, Pippin, and Wicked) acted as Honorary Chair for the Night while acclaimed composer-lyricist Lance Horne served as Musical Director.

Jean Malpas, Jane Rennert-Miller, and Roy Rub
Tralen Doler, Jean Malpas, Lisa McNulty

Jean Malpas and Stephen Schwartz
Lance Horne and Jean Malpas

The legendary Olympia Dukakis emceed the evening and talked about her various LGBT roles. “I have played LGBT characters, and have come to understand the power and importance of giving unheard voices and underserved communities the public support they need.”

Olympia Dukakis

The evening’s performers were all LGBT identified and allies committed to the cause.  The powerhouse cast of performers included transgender legends like Our Lady J and Justin Vivian Bond. Telly Leung, of Glee, and Nicholas Ashe gave powerhouse performances. The talented actor Alan Cumming was in attendance and guests were thrilled when the comedienne Joan Rivers made a surprise appearance.

Joan Rivers and Jean Malpas

Telly Leung
Alan Cumming

Our Lady J
Nicholas Ashe

Justin Vivian Bond

Nicho Lowry

Several members of the press and major media outlets took an outstanding interest in “Night of a Thousand Genders”:  Good Morning America, Huffington Post, Playbill, Edge on the Net, Broadway World, Logo TV, New Now Next, Page Six, NY Times, Metro, Getty Images, and NY Social Status all highlighted the night.

Attendees left donning Gender and Family Project buttons wanting to know when they could buy tickets to next year’s event energized to continue the tradition.



Ackerman hosts an exciting workshop on treating and detecting sleep disturbances next week!

Ackerman hosts an exciting workshop on treating and detecting sleep disturbances next week, December 13th, with acclaimed sleep expert and clinical psychologist Ross Levin, Ph.D.!

Sleep issues are rampant in today's culture and detecting and treating sleep disturbances in patients can be life changing to patients. On any given night, 20% of Americans use sleep aides and Americans spend $100 billion on sleep related products each year. Disturbed sleep is a common response to stress and our frenetic 24/7 wired culture with up to 50% of all adults reporting periodic sleep difficulties. The societal costs of disturbed sleep are staggering. Sleep issues are also often at the heart of marital discord. This workshop is designed for mental health workers with little formal training in sleep but who wish to learn how attending to sleep problems can greatly improve their clients' mental and physical health and reduce discord in couples and families. In this course, we'll explore the basics of behavioral sleep medicine including an overview of adequate sleep hygiene practices. Evidence-based treatments for common sleep disorders such as insomnia, hypersomnia (daytime sleepiness) and disturbed dreams will be presented with a particular focus on CBT-I, imagery tools, relaxation-based techniques and mindfulness meditation.

Sleep Therapy in the News:

About Ross Levin
Dr. Ross Levin earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology and is a sleep specialist in private practice in New York City. His work on sleep has been featured in The New York Times, ABC Nightline, NPR, New Yorker Magazine, and CBS News.

Date: Friday, December 13, 2013          
Time:10AM - 4PM       
CE Credits:5
Online Registration

Monday, November 11, 2013

Press Room VIP covers The Ackerman "Moving Families Forward" Gala

This year's Ackerman "Moving Families Forward" Gala was a brilliant success and the press continues to highlight the incredible work of the Ackerman Institute. Take a peak at Press Room VIP's coverage of the gala, the good work of the Institute, Colin Farrell, Natalie Morales and much more....

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ackerman Hosts AIGLE & Instituto Chileno Trainees for First-Ever Advanced Couples Training
From October 21st through October 25th, The Ackerman Institute for the Family opened its doors and its hearts to welcome ten trainees visiting from The Fundación AIGLÉ and the Instituto Chileno de Terapia Familiar for an exciting, educative week of advanced intensive training in the latest techniques in couple therapy. 

All of the students from Latin America had been here before, but I think trainees keep coming back because Ackerman is a really exciting place to learn….and welcoming. This past year, we had another request from AIGLÉ and Instituto Chileno to add an additional advanced intensive training program. So, we created an advanced training for the first time at the Institute for our Latin American partners…,” said Catherine Lewis, Director of Community and International Training at Ackerman.

Students had glowing reviews of their experience, “Watching Peggy Papp do sculpting is one of the greatest opportunities we could have had,” said Gabriel Genise of Argentina.

Yes,” said Josefina Esnal, “Jean Malpas (@jeanmalpas), too…very interesting work. The techniques are great, the new building is fabulous, and we are having a good time.”
The one-week Advanced Intensive in Family Therapy included workshops taught by Ackerman faculty: Jean Malpas, Virginia Goldner, Marcia Sheinberg, Peggy Papp and Michele Scheinkman.  The trainees had the opportunity to observe compelling live couple sessions and were able to evaluate appropriate responses and actions in therapy sessions.  They observed various cases and talked about the different choice points they might make at given intervals.  In addition to the lectures and observations, senior faculty members Fiona True, Evan Imber-Black, and Mary Kim Brewster brought trainees into the classrooms.  Along with Ackerman students, the trainees participated in vigorous discussions and presentations relating to the Ackerman Relational Approach.   

One special evening, our visitors attended the Ackerman “Moving Families Forward” Annual Gala held at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.  The premiere event promotes the important work of The Ackerman Institute for the Family.  Through leaders of the organization, public figures and media presentations, the Gala highlighted the incredible work being done on behalf of families.  
By the end of the week, Delfina De Achaval, a clinical psychologist from Uruguay, had this to say about her experience,“ I love the variety of professionals, but even just the human part…..we really felt Ackerman as our family. I got even more than I ever expected.”

Beatriz Cadena, a psychotherapist from Guatemala, reflected on her week of training, “This is my second time at the Ackerman Institute. It’s a great experience. You get the theory, live clinical interviews, and you get to learn and work with top therapists.”

The Ackerman Institute for the Family, the Fundación AIGLÉ and the Instituto Chileno de Terapia Familiar have been working together on training initiatives for over fifteen years. The collaboration between the organizations promotes the global influence of the Ackerman Relational Approach and the sharing of ideas and techniques to develop broader clinical thinking.   This ensures the sustainability and growth of the Institute’s Community and International Training Department around the globe. For more information, visit the Community and International Training Department’s page on the Ackerman Institute’s site.

Ackerman Celebrates 7th Annual Moving Families Forward Gala
On October 21st, The Ackerman Institute for the Family celebrated its rich history, life’s most important lessons, and a stunning new space in the Flatiron District at its Annual Moving Families Forward Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.  

l-r, Martha Fling, Joseph Williams, Jeannie Ackerman Curhan,
Colin Farrell, Natalie Morales, Lois Braverman, Chris Spano, Valerie Spano
“We have much to celebrate tonight!” declared Lois Braverman, President and CEO
of the Ackerman Institute, ebulliently, “Our new, state-of-the-art facility in the
Flatiron District…it is a wonderful new home for Ackerman where we will continue
our mission to provide outstanding treatment to families, develop cutting edge
clinical research, and train the next generation of family therapists. We
celebrate our extraordinary faculty – who have been on the cutting edge of
treatment for our most troubling mental health and family issues for more than 50

With almost 300 guests, the evening was an astounding success.  Among our guests were members of our board of directors, our colleagues, their families and their friends. The brilliant night was hosted by Natalie Morales, news anchor of NBC News’ TODAY for the third year in a row. C. Hugh Hildesley, Executive Vice President of Sotheby’s, presided over our live auction, while the John Pizzarelli Quartet set the mood with its creative, hip signature jazz sound.
C. Hugh Hildesley

Each year, we dedicate an evening to benefit, celebrate and highlight the vital services and ongoing programs the Ackerman Institute offers to countless children and families. This year marked a very important milestone for us—a move from our traditional brownstone home on the Upper East Side to a modern, state-of-the-art facility in the Flatiron District designed by exceptional architect and board member, Arnold Syrop.

Alice Netter and Martha Fling served as the evening’s co-chairs for the second year and stamped the evening with their special imprint.
Alice Netter & Martha Fling, co-chairs
Several members of the press, celebrities, and major media outlets took an outstanding interest in our event this year: Above, l-r, Tamsen Fadal, Emmy-winning News Anchor for WPIX 11, photojournalist, Javier Gomez, and Project Runway model, entrepreneur, and activist Camilla Barungi.  Others included, Lori Sokol of the Huffington Post, Lois Zenkel (photographer), CBS News, NY Social Diary, GQ, Getty Images, and NY Social Status.  
Tamsen Fadal, Javier Gomez, Camilla Barungi

Board Chair, John R. O’Neill, presented the Ackerman Distinguished Service Award to Jeannie Ackerman Curhan, longtime board member and daughter of founder, Dr. Nathan W. Ackerman, for her steadfast, tireless and distinguished support of the Institute.  Read more about the Ackerman Distinguished Service Award….
Jeannie Ackerman Curhan & John O'Neill

Alice Netter, a committed board member for the past 27 years and honorary co-chair,
presented the Ackerman Corporate Partners Award  to Christopher J. Spano. As the President of CJS Builders, Chris played a pivotal role in the development of the state-of-the-art Ackerman space.  Read more about the Ackerman Corporate Partners Award….

Alice Netter & Chris Spano

Martha Fling presented The inaugural Moving Families Forward Award to actor Colin Farrell, for his efforts shining a light on what it means to be the parent of a child with special needs. The Ackerman Institute also named a one-year scholarship for family therapy to a family with a special needs child in Colin’s name. Read more about the inaugural Moving Families Forward Award...

Martha Fling & Colin Farrell
We are so grateful to our family of friends and supporters for coming together to celebrate the work of the Ackerman Institute for the Family. Our 2013 Moving Families Forward Gala was an enormous amount of fun and an outstanding success! We look forward to seeing everyone next year! 


Gala (continued) Honoree: Colin Farrell

Martha Fling & Colin Farrell
Board member Martha Fling presented the inaugural Moving Families Forward Award to actor Colin Farrell for his efforts shining a light on what it means to be the parent of a child with special needs. The Ackerman Institute also named a one-year scholarship for family therapy to a family with a special needs child in Colin’s name.

In Colin’s words:  "I understand how helpful it is to have all kinds of resources available – for your child and for your family – the kind of resources Ackerman is making available to so many families in need each year.  I am thrilled to be here tonight and honored that through my involvement, a family with a special needs child will get the support they need."

Gala (continued) Honoree: Chris Spano

Alice Netter, a committed board member for the past 27 years and honorary co-chair, presented the Ackerman Corporate Partners Award to Christopher J. Spano.

Alice Netter & Chris Spano
                                          -----   “Ackerman is blessed with a fabulous board – among them is Arnold Syrop, the talented architect who designed our new space," said Alice Netter as she introduced Mr. Spano.  "Chris and his company took Arnold’s beautiful design and vision and made it our new reality.”

As the President of CJS Builders, Chris played a pivotal role in the development of the state-of-the-art Ackerman space hand in hand with Arnold Syrop.  
This project became personal once I realized the impact that my company would have in helping countless families to heal," said Chris Spano. "I am inspired by the work of Ackerman because I believe in the power of the family unit.”

Gala (continued), Honoree: Jeannie Ackerman Curhan

Jeannie Ackerman Curhan
John O'Neill
Board Chair, John R. O’Neill, presented the Ackerman Distinguished Service Award to fellow board member, Jeannie Ackerman Curhan. Ms. Ackerman Curhan, the daughter of founder Dr. Nathan W. Ackerman, was honored for her steadfast, tireless and distinguished support of the Institute. 

"As Nathan Ackerman’s daughter, I am a link with the past and the founding of the Institute.  As a Board member, I am part of the future of the Ackerman Institute.  And, with our recent move to a larger state-of-the-art facility, Ackerman’s future has never looked brighter, more exciting or more innovative. My Father’s dreams and vision have been able to grow and become today’s Ackerman Institute for the Family. I know my Father would be so grateful and so terribly proud.”

Monday, September 23, 2013

Opening Celebration at 936 Broadway

On Tuesday, September 17th, the Ackerman Institute welcomed many supporters, faculty and friends into its new home at 936 Broadway. Visitors toured the state-of-the-art facility and in the process got in-depth information about its work healing and strengthening families, and its post-graduate training program in family therapy for allied professionals.  The Ackerman Institute’s expanded facility is designed to provide a safe and comfortable space for the countless of families that come through its doors seeking help.

The celebration was hosted by board member Jeannie Ackerman Curhan and her husband, Joe C. Williams. As the daughter of the Institute’s founder, Nathan Ackerman, Jeannie is the strongest link to its rich history of excellence in family therapy, and she is committed to carrying this legacy forward into the next 50 years.  Longtime board member Arnold Syrop was recognized for his work as architect on the project.  He understood the needs of Ackerman Institute’s clients, trainees, faculty, and staff, and created a space uniquely suited to all its constituencies.

Watch the transformation of the space in the video below, beginning with a letter from Mayor Bloomberg congratulating the Ackerman Institute on its new space:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tour of 936 Broadway

It’s official! Ackerman Institute is now open for business at its new location at 936 Broadway, between 22nd and 21st Streets. Therapy offices are located on the 2nd floor of the building. Check out a few shots of the new space below!

Upon entering the new space, visitors are immediately struck by
 the difference between the new and old location. The lobby is
bright and spacious, with a seating area to accommodate waiting clients.
The therapy offices are full of natural light,
with a view facing either 22nd Street or Broadway.
The Institute now has 4 studios, which can be used for
class observations and discussions. Above is the observation side.
Above is a studio space where the family is treated. 

There is one large conference room located on the 3rd floor,
which can be divided into 2 smaller meeting rooms.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gender and Family Project Collaborates on Performance

On Wednesday, May 8, 2013, the Gender and Family Project took part in a very special artistic event called Summer’s Different. Jean Malpas, the Director of the Gender and Family Project, worked closely with director and choreographer Tamar Rogoff on the hour-long dance piece Summer’s Different, which played for several weeks at the LaMama Theater in the East Village.

Summer’s Different is about a nuclear family where the father begins to question his gender identity and to express gender nonconformity. The piece is not only about gender, but also about how every family is different, with each member struggling to find his or her own place in the family.

Q & A with Tamar Rogoff,
Jean Malpas and cast
After the performance, there was a Q & A with Ackerman faculty Jean Malpas, the choreographer Tamar Rogoff, and the cast. The public dialogue addressed the subject of gender identity and its impact on family.

The Gender and Family Project provides outpatient clinical services to families with gender nonconforming and transgender children and adolescents. The therapists involved in the Project provide family therapy, multi-family groups, and support in the community and the environment where the child interacts.

 Learn more about the Gender and Family Project…

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spotlight on 936 Broadway

A few more weeks, then it’s farewell to East 78th Street and hello to Broadway! In celebration of Ackerman’s big move, here are a few insider tips on the new building, plus some perks of the downtown location.

About the Building
936 Broadway
The new building at 936 Broadway contains five floors, and Ackerman Institute will occupy the 2nd floor and part of the 3rd floor of the building. Both floors were gutted and rebuilt to specifically meet the needs of the Institute. This project was led by architect and board member, Arnold Syrop, whose knowledge of the Institute allowed him to design a space customized to Ackerman. The 2nd floor will be devoted to therapy offices and studios, while the 3rd floor will contain classrooms and more offices.

New Kind of Therapy Space
Space under construction
In addition to having more therapy offices, the new space will also have new furniture and technology. The interior has been designed with the aim of creating a warm and therapeutic environment. Every office will have a window overlooking either Broadway or 22nd street. The walls are built with extra soundproofing material to prevent audio leaking into nearby offices or hallways.

State of the Art Studios
The 2nd floor contains four studio spaces outfitted with advanced recording technology for capturing sessions and classroom discussions. There are two cameras in the therapy room, and one in the observation room for classes to record their conversations. Each room will contain top-quality microphones to record audio. In the observation room, there will be a wall-mounted TV for students to watch their sessions with supervisory groups. All sessions will be digitally recorded onto external hard drives. In addition, the lighting, wall color, and camera placements were carefully chosen in order to create the most professional recordings. 

Classrooms for the Future
The 3rd floor contains two classrooms separated by a dividing wall that can be opened to create a larger space accommodating up to 100 people. This will allow for larger and less cramped workshops. Each classroom is equipped with cutting edge presentation technology, including two large projectors and screens for participants to easily watch videos and view presentations, along with overhead speakers throughout the room to improve sound quality.

Location, Location, Location
Parking and Public Transportation
6 train running slow? Don’t worry, there are plenty of other options to travel to 936 Broadway. The new building is conveniently located near several subway lines, including the 6, N, R, F, and M. It is also one block from the historic Flatiron building. Madison Square Park is nearby, where one can enjoy lunch at the popular Shake Shack. Other tempting eateries close by include Le Pain Quotidian, Eric Kayser, Gramercy Tavern, Craft, Almond, Greensquare Tavern, ABC Kitchen, and Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop, to name a few.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Celebration to Say Goodbye to 149 E 78th Street

Board members, faculty, staff, and friends of the Ackerman Institute gathered on Tuesday, June 18, 2013, to celebrate and say goodbye to the historic Ackerman building at 149 East 78th Street. The building that currently houses Ackerman Institute for the Family was bought in 1960. The purchase of the building was made possible through the contributions of former clients of Dr. Nathan Ackerman, a pioneer in family therapy. Since then, thousands of families and couples have received help in the building, and many trainees have spent years studying therapy under its roof.

The event celebrated the innovation and success that we have achieved over the years, making Ackerman one of the few stand alone institutions specializing in family therapy. Ackerman Board members, faculty, friends and donors, mingled and shared stories and said goodbye to the site. Arthur and Carol Maslow generously hosted this wonderful event.

Arthur and Carol have a long relationship with the Ackerman Institute, as they both entered as trainees in the early 70’s. Arthur joined the faculty, and then eventually he joined the board of directors, where he continues his dedicated service to the work of the Institute. He addressed the crowd and shared wonderful anecdotes about the Institute, from its humble beginnings to its current respected reputation and flourishing practice. 

Many faculty members shared their own memories of the building and its idiosyncrasies, such as the spiral staircase and library. Many more recalled those that had passed, innovators in family therapy such as Olga Silverstein, Peggy Penn, Ruth Mohr and Marcia Stern, whose spirit they hope to carry with them into the new building.

Ackerman Institute for the Family will be closed from August 2-4, and will reopen on Monday, August 5th, at its new location on 936 Broadway. The new building will have an increased number of offices and studios, along with larger training spaces and state of the art technology.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Ackerman at the 2013 AFTA Meeting

Every year, Ackerman Institute faculty and alumni are involved in the American Family Therapy Academy Meeting. This year’s meeting Program Chair was faculty Jean Malpas, and many Ackerman faculty were presenting.

The following is a list of the presentations by Ackerman faculty from the AFTA meeting:

Wednesday, June 5 
  • Pre-conference workshop with Marcia Sheinberg and Fiona True - Restoring Ruptured Bonds: Strengthening Parent/ Child Relationships and Increasing Parental Attunement and Support
  • Pre-conference workshop with Peggy Papp and Michele ScheinkmanTechniques for Breaking Through Impasses in Couples Therapy 
  • Welcome from Hinda Winawer and Jean Malpas 
Thursday, June 6 
  •  Plenary I, Advances in Couples Therapy and Research, discussant Virginia Goldner, Faculty emeriti 
  •  Interest group chaired by Martha Edwards, which includes a presentation by Elana Katz on Emotionally Focused Therapy 
  • Interest group with presentations from Evan Imber-Black on Family Therapy and the film “The Invisible War” 
  • Brief presentation by Peter Fraenkel on Relational Justice of Affairs: A Clinical Model 
  • Brief presentations on Parenting as Relationship moderated by Martha Edwards 
  • Keynote II on The Revolution in Intimate Relations discussed by Lois Braverman 
Friday, June 7 
  • Plenary II, Advances in Parenting Interventions presented by Martha Edwards 
  • Brief presentation from Laurie Kaplan and Aquilla Frederick on Utilizing Reflection, a Collaborative Dialogical Process for the Training of Multicultural Family Therapy 
  • Brief presentation from Ackerman 2012 alumni Heather Dickinson on Balancing the I and We in a Couple Plagued by Mistrust 
  • Brief presentation from Keren Ludwig on Putting Children First: Restoring Safe Bonds Following the Disclosure of Incest 
  • Brief Presentation from Mary Kim Brewster on An Integrative Model for Assessing Couples: The Four Session Evaluation 
  • Evan Imber-Black moderates brief presentations on New Perspectives in Family Therapy 
  • Dialogue on Foster Care with presentation by Catherine Lewis 
  • Dialogue on International Approaches to Couple and Family Therapy moderated by Fiona True 
  • Presentation on Demystifying Writing for Publication by Evan Imber-Blank 
Saturday, June 8 
  • Plenary III with presenter Esther Perel on The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity 
  • Interest Group on Senior Couples chaired by Adi Loebl 
  • Interest Group on Systemic Response to Natural or Manmade Disasters with Elana Katz 
  • Interest Group on Community Based Interventions chaired by Peter Fraenkel 
  • Brief presentation by Judith Stern Peck and Markie Sallick on Challenging Issues in Couples Therapy

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Students from South America Visit Ackerman Institute

South American Students with President & CEO Lois Braverman
From May 6 - 17, 2013, 17 trainees from the Fundación AIGLÉ of Buenos Aires, visited New York to attend a two-week intensive training at Ackerman Institute. Fundación AIGLÉ is a non-profit mental health training facility located in Argentina, who have partnered with Ackerman Institute for many years. This year’s group of students came from several countries in South and Central America including Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, and Mexico.

The two-week program immersed trainees in the Ackerman Relational Approach to family therapy, and included 19 different workshops taught by Ackerman faculty. Peggy Papp presented on her world famous sculpting technique, Jean Malpas presented his cutting edge work on gender and sexuality, David Kezur talked about the value of meditation in therapy, Evan Imber-Black presented on illness and family, and Fiona True and Marcia Sheinberg presented their work on relational trauma. There were many more presentations from a range of Ackerman faculty.

The trainees spent each day participating in workshops, followed by an evening where they observed family therapy sessions with externship groups at Ackerman. Speaking of her experience, one student said, “This was a great experience for me. I’m glad to have had the opportunity of learning new ways of managing, dealing with, and looking at different situations, especially with families and couples. I will return to my country with lots of expectations and eager to improve my private practice.”

For more than fifteen years, Ackerman Institute and AIGLÉ have collaborated on training initiatives. AIGLÉ hosts Ackerman faculty in Argentina, where they present on their areas of expertise while expanding the global influence of the Ackerman Relational Approach. The partnership is part of Ackerman Institute’s Community and International Training Department, which provides expert training in family therapy theory and practice to a number of partners in various countries. Learn more about International Training on Ackerman's website.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Diversity and Social Work Training Program 2013 Clinical Presentations

This year’s Diversity and Social Work students described their clinical cases in an enlightening series of multimedia presentations on May 1, 2013, to an audience of Ackerman faculty, students, and alumni. This annual presentation from students is not an only an opportunity for them to summarize the family therapy work done at Ackerman, but also a celebration of the completion of their year-long internship. 

(Left to right): Tiyanna McFarlene, Ashley Larkin, Faculty
Laurie Kaplan, Luis Ramirez, Faculty Sippio Small,
Amber Belle, Rebekah Adens
The goal of the Diversity and Social Work program is to increase the number of professionals of color in the family therapy profession who will be able to provide culturally relevant services to the increasingly diverse communities of New York. Despite the growing number of minority families in the United States, only 4% of family therapists are from minority backgrounds.

The interns in the program are second year graduate students from the social work schools at Hunter College, Columbia University, and New York University. During their one-year at Ackerman, students take part in live supervision and family treatment, foundation classes in family therapy, and community outreach, where they integrate their training into an outside organization. 

The five students in this year’s class included: Rebekah Adens, Amber Belle, Ashley Larken, Tiyanna McFarlane, and Luis Ramirez. Rebekah talked about her experience counseling dynamic African-American sisters, and Amber spoke about working with an alienated mother and her adolescent daughter. Amber described her time at Ackerman saying, “My experience at the DSW program this year has been one of academic, professional, and personal growth.”

Tiyanna talked about male role models with a mother and her sons, Luis described his experience of working with several families and determining what to share with each of them about himself, and Ashley discussed her therapy experience with an aggressive couple. At the end of her presentation, Ashley talked about her journey, saying, “I’m finding my voice, in hopes to help others find theirs.”

The Diversity and Social Work Program is made possible by private support from individuals and family foundations.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Special Performance to Benefit Ackerman Institute

Q&A with producers Sarah Nedwek
Phillip Chavira, cast, and Ackerman
President/CEO Lois Braverman
On May 14, 2013, Ackerman Institute’s friends, alumni, faculty, and staff attended a special performance of Tigers Be Still, a play addressing the profound impact of depression and grief on a family. A conversation with the producers, Sarah Nedwek, Phillip Chavira, the cast, and Ackerman President & CEO, Lois Braverman followed the performance at the Drilling Company on the Upper West Side. 

Tigers Be Still is produced by Partly Cloudy People, a theatre company creating performances to raise awareness and support for non-profit organizations. We are delighted that the producers chose the Ackerman Institute as the first organization to benefit from this production. Learn more about Partly Cloudy People.

On the set of Tigers Be Still
The New York Times describes the subject matter of the play, "A big cat is actually on the prowl in Tigers Be Still, an endearing new play by Kim Rosenstock, but nobody's paying much attention to this alarming problem. A fiercer foe is the grief clawing at the hearts of all the characters, whose afflictions come in many stripes, from debilitating illness to a mother's death to a father's abandonment. The possibility of being eaten by a wild animal might be greeted with indifference, if not actually welcomed, by the benumbed, bewildered and bedridden characters in this quirk-addicted but heartfelt comedy."

In a review by Nicholas Linnehan on the website, he says, “The production finds the perfect balance of humor, vulnerability, and honesty. The nuances found in this production are superb, making this off-off Broadway show feel like it should be deserving of the accolades given to Broadway and off Broadway productions. At its current ticket price of $18, it’s an absolute must-see.”

Visiting Ackerman Students from
South America at the performance
Tigers Be Still is playing at the Drilling Company through May 25th.

To learn more about the play or buy tickets, go to the website:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Our Thoughts are with the Boston Community

Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones, to the many who were injured, and to those who were there to help during the senseless bombings in Boston yesterday during the Marathon. We try to make sense of violence but the truth is that it is incomprehensible.

We do know and do understand from our work with families that we are strong of spirit and resilient by nature. We will pray for our neighbors in Boston to heal and to move forward with confidence and strength. The words of Rabbi David Thomas from Boston below moved me, and I’d like to share them with you.

With warmest regards,
Lois Braverman
President and CEO, Ackerman Institute for the Family
The Boston Marathon - April 15, 2013

"More than 20,000 people ran. Everyone hoped to finish. Most ran for the personal challenge. Thousands ran for charity - to beat cancer, or Parkinson's or Autism. Very few ran hoping they would actually win the race.

More than 500,000 people watched and cheered. They were witnesses to strength, perseverance, grace, rhythm, sweat and tears and triumph. They came to celebrate the power of the human body, mind and spirit. They came to honor human kindness and generosity. They came to support friends, family members and strangers who were doing something extraordinary.

We will mourn the dead. We will cry with those who lost loved ones or limbs. We will help them heal. And as we do, we will rededicate ourselves to everything the Marathon stands for - strength and power and courage, generosity and kindness and mutual support."
--Rabbi David Thomas

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Ackerman Institute is Moving!

Ackerman Institute for the Family is excited to announce that in August of 2013, we will be moving to a new location at 936 Broadway, in the Flatiron District. This is an exciting area of town, filled with many attractions and also easily accessible via public transit. It is within 1-3 blocks of N, R, 6, 1, F, and M subway stations.

Exterior of new location at 936 Broadway
The Architect for the project is board member Arnold Syrop, who has worked tirelessly with faculty and staff to design a space that is both inviting and practical. The result will be a workplace uniquely suited to needs of Ackerman Institute’s clients, trainees, faculty, and staff.

Construction is currently underway inside the new building. The Institute will occupy the entire second and one third of the third floor of the building. The second floor will house the majority of the therapy offices, 4 studios, a waiting room, several administration offices, and a staff room. The third floor will contain two conference rooms and a few more offices.

Exterior of current location
President and CEO, Lois Braverman, says, “While I think everyone is sad to say goodbye to our current building, my hope is that the new location will offer a lot of wonderful amenities. Arnold has designed a space that will not only be impressive to our clients and comfortable for our staff, but also incorporates the latest technologies to aid us as we continue to grow and evolve.”

One of the highlights of the space will be the state-of the art classrooms, with a seating capacity of up to 100 people. In addition, the studios and offices will contain updated technology for recording sessions and projects.

The Institute’s current home was established in 1960, when a group of families treated by Dr. Ackerman established a non-profit institute to allow him to expand his training activities. The building retains the charm of bygone days, creating a sense of nostalgia and a reluctance to say farewell. The site will be missed, but everyone is very excited to be part of the expansion of the Ackerman Institute.

Spotlight on Gender and Family Project

The Gender and Family Project began a couple of years ago, and it has already been met with a lot of interest and enthusiasm because of the unique assistance and perspective it offers. The Project provides outpatient clinical services to families with gender nonconforming and transgender children and adolescents. The therapists involved in the Project provide family therapy, multi-family groups, and support in the community and the environment where the child interacts. Faculty member Jean Malpas is the director, and in the following interview, he discusses the meaning and impact of the Gender and Family Project.

Gender nonconformity has received a lot of attention in the media lately. Can you talk a little about what gender nonconformity and transgender means?

Gender and Family Project
Indeed, the issues faced by gender nonconforming children, transgendered youth and their families have been more widely discussed in mainstream media and in our profession. It is important to distinguish 2 groups of children.

The first group is the gender nonconforming group who might or might not be transgender. They might be people like you and me, who don’t fit neatly in the pink or blue box. Their gender expression doesn’t conform with the social stereotypes of masculinity and femininity.

The second group refers to transgender children or youth. These children experience a strong gender dysphoria, a discomfort with the gender they were assigned at birth. For instance, we work with biological boys who not only like girls’ toys, clothing, and hairstyles, but also identify as girls, and vice versa. For these children, it is not a phase, and they may express a desire to socially transition from boy to girl, which means changing the name and pronoun by which they are referred to, the way they are perceived by the world, and the way they are treated by their family.

 Can you talk about the Gender and Family Project here at the Ackerman Institute? 

The Gender and Family Project has been up and running for just under two years. It consists of outpatient clinical services and community groups for children, youth, and families with gender nonconforming and transgender children. Once a month we have two group meetings, one is a support group for parents and the other is a playgroup for pre-teens up to the age of 13.

Gender and Family Project Team, Jean Malpas, LMHC, LMFT
and Andrea Blumenthal, LCSW
I had several families consulting around the issues presented by their children, and I wanted them to meet one another. I believed they had a lot to learn and share with each other. Initially, only a couple of families met, but today the group has expanded to 14 families, so we now have more than 20 parents in the family group and 12 children in the play group.

When parents first attend the group, they are often distressed and uncertain about what to do for their child and how to handle the issues. The group really normalizes the situation. It shows them that other people have gone through similar challenges and found ways to raise their children in a safe and empowered way. Families exchange resources and experiences, like how to talk to schools, how to talk to other children, teachers, and grandparents. So, it is really an enormous source of relief and support.

The gender nonconforming children have often felt ostracized and socially anxious in other contexts. However, within a couple of meetings, they relax and literally blossom. Children who previously were shy or did not socialize, are eager to return to the group because they feel like they are not the odd one out, instead they can be with other children like themselves. Then it very quickly becomes just a playgroup, a space for kids to get comfortable, know each other, and have fun. It is not particularly about gender, but the group is affirmative of whatever gender expression the child might have. The impact on the children and their families is very positive.

What’s on the horizon for the GFP Project? 

Because of clinical demand, we are taking steps to open another playgroup geared towards younger children. The second group will be for pre-teens, and ultimately, we’d like to open a third group for teens. We want to be able to offer services to children at all ages and continue through teenage years.

"Summer's Different," an upcoming
dance piece on gender
Here at Ackerman, we think about the entire family system, so when there is a family with a child who is gender nonconforming or transitioning, we think about how to support everyone in the family. We would like to create a group for siblings, so they too can feel supported, can have their questions answered, and can move forward as their parents learn to be more accepting and creative in their solutions.

The Gender and Family Project team is also preparing to start doing school trainings in the next academic year. We are receiving training from a nationally recognized organization in the field of gender education. Soon, we’ll be able to not only support the family, but also the family in its environment. Through school trainings, we’ll support teachers and staff and provide them with guidance on how to think about gender in flexible ways.

We’re also very excited to be collaborating on our first artistic event on May 8th. We’re working closely with choreographer Tamar Rogoff on an hour-long dance piece called “Summer’s Different.” It’s about a family where the father starts to express his own gender nonconformity, a certain femininity and perhaps a desire to transition. The piece is not just about gender, but also about how every family is different, how roles change over time, and how families struggle to make room for everyone.

 Before the show, we will have a meet and greet with wine and cheese, and then after the dance, there will be a Q&A with the director and choreographer Tamar Rogoff, myself, and also the cast. It is meant to be open to the community, so I hope all professional and interested family members will come and enjoy this evening together. Buy tickets to “Summer’s Different” now.

So far, we’ve been able to operate the Project on a volunteer basis through the gracious donations of families that can afford it. As we are getting ready to expand our services, we would be grateful for any support for the Project. Thank you!

Learn more about Gender Variance in the video series, “Short Conversations with Jean Malpas.”