Friday, April 25, 2014

Ackerman Hosts Annual Open House

On Wednesday evening, April 23rd, Ackerman Institute for the Family hosted its annual Open House for prospective students. A crowd of over fifty participants joined Ackerman faculty and students as they described the “Ackerman Experience.” 

The Open House began with a few words from faculty member, Fiona True, who welcomed guests and spoke about the myriad learning opportunities available through Ackerman. She was followed by Dean of Students, Connie Scharf, who introduced the Foundation classes, a 30-week course which provides the foundation of family systems theory and technique through presentations, reading, and videotapes of sessions.  The Live Clinical Supervision and the Clinical Externship , a two to three year program course, where students treat families from behind a one-way mirror under the supervision of a faculty member, were also highlighted.  
Faculty members Julia Chan (Foundations), Aquilla Frederick (Live Clinical Supervision), and Michael Davidovits (Externship) all spoke to their unique experiences training, teaching, and collaborating at Ackerman.

Julia Chan gave an enthusiastic account of her years spent as a student and now as a faculty member at Ackerman and highlighted the life altering nature of training at the Institute.

Students Sarah Berland (2nd Year Day Externship) and Dynesha Henderson (DUAL PROGRAM-Foundations and Live Clinical Supervision) discussed their experiences and how they bring their learning to bear in their daily work.

"To reflect on what you are doing and having the time, living in the moment, and then taking that back in the room with you is powerful,"said Ms. Berland.

Fiona True closed the evening with a short excerpt of a taped therapy session exemplifying the type of work done at Ackerman Institute. “As family therapists, we are interested in families over time, beliefs and how they come to bear,” she concluded, “and our frame affords us entry into some of the most complex presenting problems.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Victoria Dickerson Presents Therapy with Couples: Working with Power and Privilege at the Ackerman Institute for the Family

On March 7th, 2014, renowned therapist Victoria Dickerson presented “Therapy with Couples: Working with Power and Privilege” at the Ackerman Institute for the Family. The workshop offered therapists an understanding of Dr. Dickerson’s work using the cultural narratives of power, privilege, and patriarchy as a lens for understanding how cultural discourse shapes couples’ experiences.

Dr. Dickerson discussed the framework in which some people are historically privileged and others oppressed. “When we’re born into this world, if we are born male, we are historically privileged. It just comes with the territory. There are entitlements. There is access in ways that women and other historically oppressed people don’t have access. That’s the context in which we are thinking today.”

She highlighted Michael White’s “absent but implicit” approach, which guides therapists to pay attention to what is not emphasized or what is “left out” and talk about experiences not named.

Participants learned how to create a map for attending to the operations of power privilege in the couple’s relationship. They also analyzed the specific ways that power works on couples to invite conflict, how to closely follow a couple in the interview to bring forth ways of relating that lie alongside the influence of patriarchy, and questioning skills to help the couple relate in preferred ways..

*For anyone interested in learning more about Dr.Victoria Dickerson, her website is Her work was recently highlighted in “Patriarchy, Power, and Privilege: A Narrative/Poststructural View of Work with Couples” in Family Process in a special edition publication on couples.