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The Sanctuary Institute and the Ackerman Institute for the Family, New York

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The Sanctuary Institute and the Ackerman Institute for the Family, New York

Posted 09th August 2013

Family Therapy

I visited New York to meet with Sarah Yanosy of the Sanctuary Institute in Yonkers, north of Manhattan. About 8 years ago, the ANDRUS, a private philanthropic organisation providing support to young homeless children, developed a partnership with Sandra Bloom who developed the Sanctuary model of trauma informed care when working in an adult psychiatric inpatient hospital. ANDRUS, a residential program for disadvantaged children, enthusiastically took up the Sanctuary model and partnered with Sandra from the Sanctuary Institute, and has subsequently worked with over 250 organisations around the world to implement the Sanctuary model of trauma informed care. Introduced by Micaela Cronin, CEO of MacKillop Family Care and ex-Bouverian Robyn Miller, I met with Sarah to discuss the joint interests of The Bouverie Centre and the Sanctuary Institute. During our meeting I asked Sarah to describe the Sanctuary model, how many services the Sanctuary model had reached and what was exciting her about her current work.  

Sarah explains how the Sanctuary Model operates.
 
Sarah talks about the settings in which the Sanctuary Model has been successfully implemented.
 
Sarah speaks enthusiastically here about the Community of Practice that has developed around the Sanctuary Model.
 

Whilst in New York I simply had to visit The Ackerman Institute for the Family. President of the Ackerman, Lois Braverman, was kind enough to give me an hour of her time despite my visit landing on the day in which The Institute was due to move from its historic brown stone building (donated by grateful families who had been seen by Nathan Ackerman), to a newer building on Broadway. Lois and I discussed the status of family therapy in New York, Australia and the world. We agreed that conceptual ideas that brought family therapy to prominence have become somewhat institutionalised and whilst family therapy as a movement is past its zenith, systemic ideas upon which it is based are having more and more influence on the world of health and mental health care. I took photos of the building and mused that I would probably be the last international visitor to see the original Ackerman and/or see video of my reflection on the visit.

Jeff considers the Ackerman’s early influence on The Bouverie Centre and speaks more broadly about the Institute, including its postgraduate training program.
 

Peter Fraenkel, Director of the Work and Family Project at the Ackerman, who I also caught up with,  wrote a paper for the Networker on the status of family therapy in 2005.

Peter works part time at the Ackerman, is an Associate Professor of Psychology at The City College University of New York and runs a private practice from an office in 5th Avenue. He works with complex and conflictual couples, children, and with marginalised communities. We discussed the possibility of joining with the Dulwich Centre to bring him to Australia in the near future. Peter and Lois’ colleague Fiona True, who co-directs the Center for Children and Relational Traumas is due to visit Melbourne in 2014 for the Restoring Ruptured Bonds workshop organised by the Bouverie Centre. Click here for more information. 

The day before I met with the folk from Ackerman I received an urgent message from Sophie Holmes who invited me to write a brief comment for the AAFT newsletter on the essential differences between individual therapy and family therapy. Inspired by my impending visit to the New York home of family therapy, the Ackerman, I had to accept the invitation.

New York is, in my opinion, one of the true great large cities of the world. Whilst there are lots of difficulties faced by people in a large city, one of the advantages I always think of is the diversity of lives and cultures that a big city supports. Like family therapy, because of the need to explore multiple family members views which makes its practitioners more appreciative of different ways of understanding the world, big cities can never be mono-cultural. I was walking the streets of New York for about 10 minutes when I came across a site that reflected this tolerance and celebration of diversity of race, age, gender and behaviour.

Canal Street puts on a show for Jeff during his visit to New York.
 

Far be it for me to make comment on such a complex city but I would like to share one discovery, of the sort I wished I’d known about prior to my visit. I was walking aimlessly around Tribeca, Soho and Greenwich Village on the lower West side of Manhattan when I stumbled across an Irish pub established in 1817.  The sign on the front door says it all: food, grog, music, poetry, history.  New York provides some of the great urban landscapes and I am fortunate to have encountered them during the many miles walked.

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