Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Resources for Family Systems Training

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Resources for Family Systems Training

Article excerpt

In the late 20th century, family therapy was a new therapeutic modality. It was an exciting time! Family therapy and the application of systems principles to families was considered "thinking outside the box." Different schools of family therapy were developed, usually based in an academic center and led by a charismatic leader, often a psychiatrist.

Today, with the rise in the popularity of psychopharmacology and the promise of biological interventions, fewer opportunities exist for family systems training within psychiatric residency programs. In order to receive family systems training, a psychiatrist may decide to enroll in an independent family training institute, such as the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York. However, some psychiatric residency programs still consider learning to work with families to be an essential psychotherapeutic skill.

Residency programs

Dr. Ellen Berman, president of the Association of Family Psychiatrists, recently asked family psychiatrists to indicate psychiatric residency programs offering family systems training. Nine programs were identified. Here is a description of each program and contact information:

* Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York

"We have a well-established and extensive Family Studies program that is part of the department of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and is well integrated into the residency training program. All residents in the 4 years of the training program at Montefiore Medical Center and Bronx (N.Y.) Psychiatric Center as well as child fellows receive supervision in couples and family therapy, courses, seminars, electives, and more. Faculty and residents have presented different innovative projects related to family and systems at national conferences and have written papers on their clinical work."

Contact:, Director of Family Studies, department of psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

* McGill University, Montreal

"We have a very active family therapy community in Montreal, with [Dr.] Herta Guttman as our pioneer. At the Jewish General [Hospital] department of psychiatry, we run an [American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy]-accredited postgraduate certificate couple and family therapy program. This program primarily trains community mental health practitioners (social workers, psychologists, etc.); however, we have had psychiatrists take this course. This year, we are training our first Couple and Family Fellow (child psychiatrist) through the department of psychiatry.

"In McGill Psychiatry, we have a new family skills teaching module in the McGill Resident Diploma Program. We will provide 3 hours of teaching in the R1 year (basic concepts). In the R2 and R3 years, residents receive training on a range of family therapy topics. The curriculum was inspired by the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry curriculum. Dr. Nick Casacalenda spearheaded this initiative. There are 3 hours of family teaching in the diploma course module: gender, social, and cultural aspects of psychiatry, and 6 hours in the child psychiatry module."

Contact: Sharon Bond, Ph.D.; School of Social Work; Director, Couple and Family Therapy Program.

* NYU School of Medicine

"I am the director of service at the Roberto Clemente Center in the Lower East Side (now East Village) in Manhattan. The center is part of the departments of mental health of both Gouverneur [Healthcare Services] and Bellevue. We have an academic affiliation with New York University School of Medicine. The center was started about 30 years ago by a psychologist, Jaime Inclan, Ph.D. He was initially trained by [Dr.] Salvador Minuchin. As a family clinic embedded in the community, we mostly serve minority underserved populations. We provide primary health and mental health services. We have been providing for decades training to medical students, psychology interns, and social work students. …

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