Family Therapy

The Family Studies Program offers a comprehensive training experience in which components of family therapy and systems theory are interwoven throughout all phases of training. Courses and supervision in family therapy are included in the curriculum for the first three years and frequently are continued into the fourth year, the fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and in postgraduate training.

During the first year, residents are introduced to family therapy concepts and systems theory and begin to meet with families. Residents learn to view problems from multiple perspectives, to assess family dynamics and resources, to interview a family, and to conduct a brief intervention. The most extensive experience in working with families occurs during the second year within a four-month rotation at the Bronx Psychiatric Center

Residents receive intensive supervision in working with families, participate in a weekly seminar, and have the opportunity to go on home and community visits with their supervisors in order to understand the complexities of mental illness in a multicultural, economically diverse community.

Treatment of couples and families with children is the main focus of supervision in the third year at the outpatient clinic. At the completion of training, residents should understand the importance of family dynamics and context and be comfortable when intervening with couples, families and larger systems. They should have an appreciation for the complex interaction of the family and the identified problem, and should be able to negotiate with and refer to other systems of care as appropriate.

Organizational dynamics and leadership skills are taught to residents within the family therapy curriculum utilizing a group process model. Residents learning family therapy concepts begin to apply the concepts to themselves and their own families, then to the families of their patients, and finally to the larger system. By adapting components of family therapy and systems theory within a group at different phases in training, residents develop skills necessary to effectively engage the larger system in which they work, and to become a leader within an organizational structure. Thus, the residents learn to integrate the personal, clinical and systemic levels of understanding in order to become effective leaders.

Much supervision occurs in small groups and seminars in which the residents become a working group using videotape, film, experiential exercises, live supervision and case based learning. The process culminates in the PGY 4 year within a leadership seminar for chief residents that the Director of Family Studies co-leads with the Director of Residency Training.

Opportunities for electives and advanced supervision include:

  • Advanced work in a particular area of couples or family therapy
  • Mentoring in beginning to teach family therapy courses
  • Individual or small group work on a clinical or research project to be presented at a national or international conference
  • Publication of an article
  • Supervision in the area of working with complex systems
  • Other areas of interest to particular residents

Creativity and the pursuit of innovative projects are encouraged and supported.


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