Violet Background

Recognizing Exemplary Achievements within the Field.

Left: Evan Imber-Black
Right: Ellen Berman

Left: Guillermo Bernal
Right: Celia Falicov

Left: Judith Landau
Right: Martha Sullivan

Distinguished Contribution to Family Systems Research  

Andrew Cherlin, Ph.D.

Presenter: Froma Walsh

Andrew J. Cherlin, Ph.D. is Benjamin H. Griswold III Professor of Public Policy in the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University.  His most recent books are The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and Family in America Today (2009) and Labor’s Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in America (2014).  He has received a Merit Award from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to support his research on the effects of family structure on children; and has served on the National Advisory Child Health and Human Development Council at NIH.  He is a member of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences. 

I am honored to receive the Distinguished Contribution to Family Systems Research Award from AFTA.  To me, this award demonstrates that family therapists and family sociologists can learn from each other in ways that can enrich both groups.  I am pleased that my studies of issues such as marriage dissolution and repartnering, intergenerational caretaking, cohabiting relationships, nonmarital childbearing, poverty, and inequality have proven useful to family therapists.   I have certainly gained much from the work of family therapists over the decades that I have been doing research. 

Lifetime Achievement Award  

Paulette Hines, Ph.D.

Presenter: Monica McGoldrick

Paulette Hines, Ph.D. is Executive Director Emerita of the Center for Healthy Schools, Families & Communities, and former Director of the Office of Prevention Services & Research, Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. She was also a cofounder of the Multicultural Family Institute and Co-Director of the Cultural Competence Training Center of Central NJ. Paulette has served as the principal or co-investigator on more than $30 million dollars of competitive grants. Her work focuses on culturally responsive clinical and prevention interventions.  She has authored over 40 publications in large part on African American families, hope and related topics; and developed numerous prevention programs and curricula including SANKOFA, designated by SAMHSA as an evidence-based violence prevention program for African American youth and parents. 

Paulette received AFTA’s Distinguished Contributions to Cultural & Economic Diversity Award in 2001 and the American Psychological Association's Carolyn Attneave Award for Distinguished Services to Diverse Families in 2008.  She has served as President of AFTA  (2005-2007), Chair of the Membership, Nominations and Awards Committees, and Co-Chair of the Futures Committee. She is the current Chair of AFTA’s Strategic Task Force and serves on the Board of the Family Process Institute.

I entered my graduate training with a commitment to be a voice for those who are not seen, heard, embraced, judged worthy by many of the basic human rights to liberty, justice, and opportunity.  I was introduced to systemic theory, family therapy and community psychology early in my career and was immediately excited about the opportunities that a marriage of these approaches promised. My resolve has also been to honor and integrate the wisdom of those ancestors whose credentials as agents of hope and healing were accumulated in a context of unrelenting oppression. The effort to merge these seemingly disparate threads has sometimes left me feeling like I was walking into the wind.  I am sincerely humbled and encouraged by this acknowledgement from my AFTA colleagues that this work has value.  I want also to acknowledge that the extent to which these efforts have made a difference in our world is due to the collaboration and support of many colleagues.  

Innovative Contribution to Family Therapy

Michele Scheinkman, LCSW

Presenter: Froma Walsh

Michele Scheinkman, LCSW is a faculty member at The Ackerman Institute for the Family specializing in couples' therapy training. She also has a private practice in Manhattan. Former Director of Training at the Chicago Center for Family Health and Lecturer at the University of Chicago, she was a consultant at the multicultural Roberto Clemente Center in New York City for many years. Her workshops in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia are highly regarded for conceptual clarity, her integrative multicultural approach, and practical application with a wide range of couples and issues. Her articles, widely valued in couples' therapy training and practice for their integrative and multicultural focus include:  The Vulnerability Cycle: Working With Impasses in Couples Therapy. Family Process 43: 279-299, 2004; Beyond the Trauma of Betrayal: Reconsidering Affairs in Couples Therapy. Family Process 44: 227-244, 2005; The Multi-level Approach: A Road Map to Couples Therapy. Family Process 47: 197-213, 2008; Disarming Jealousy in Couples Therapy: A Multidimensional Approach. Family Process 49: 486-502, 2010. 

I have been fascinated by couples therapy ever since I was a student in the early 1970’s. The first case I saw in my first year placement during Social Work School was of a couple that had been married to each other twice, divorced from each other  twice, and they were coming to therapy hoping that I could help them marry each other again, but hopefully stay together to the end. This pull and push, back and forth of couples has intrigued me. It was with the encouragement from my very dear AFTA friends_ Froma Walsh and Mona Fishbane _ that I kept delving in to understand madness such as theirs. Later on, after I moved to New York, it was through my collaboration with  very special AFTA colleagues - Jaime Inclan, Peggy Papp, Jean Malpas and Lois Braverman - plus the amazing editorial leadership of Evan Imber Black- that I persisted in investigating and writing about couples dynamics. I am grateful to AFTA for surrounding me with such outstanding supportive colleagues, and I am deeply honored to be recognized by the AFTA community.

Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice  

Jaakko Seikkula, Ph.D. and Tom Erik Arnkil, Ph.D. 

Presenter: Evan Imber-Black

Jaakko Seikkula, Ph.D., professor of psychotherapy at the University of Jyväskylä. His main interest on clinical work has focused on developing dialogical and social network orientated approaches to most severe mental health problems, such as psychosis. In this development he has integrated systematic research since the end of 80’s. He has authored or co-authored 10 textbooks including those two mentioned below. In addition, he is the author or co-author of 160 scientific publications. 

Tom Erik Arnkil, Ph.D., research professor emeritus was in charge for research and development for network approaches and dialogical practices in psycho-social work at the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare until his retirement in 2014. With colleagues he has developed Anticipation Dialogues for resolving multi-helper muddles. His two latest books, co-authored with Jaakko Seikkula, “Dialogical Meetings in Social Networks” (Karnac) and “Open Dialogues and Anticipations. Respecting Otherness in the Present Moment” (THL), have so far been published in 13 languages. 

JaakkoReceiving the 2018 Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice Award is a touching moment in my life. Being working within mental health care during the entire career as a clinical psychologist and consequently as the one conducting research for developing new more human practice that includes families as active participants in the processes, I have noted a lot of hesitance among clinicians towards research.  Within this respect, the work of AFTA has been extremely important because of emphasizing the importance of the research on our clinical practices. Within systemic family therapy, the emphasize on research has varied on different occasions. All the way through AFTA*s message has been strong for seeing the importance of analyzing our practices. Within research AFTA also support integration of different methods seeing the importance of as well statistical follow-up studies as qualitative inquires. For me this has been my “politics”: integrating different methods of research for developing the practices. As seen, there are many reasons for me being very happy of the recognition of the most important community of family therapy research. In addition, I am happy because AFTA has recognized the work that we have done together with my near college Tom Erik Arnkil. 

Tom ErikThe AFTA award for Distinguished contribution to family therapy theory & practice came as a great surprise and made me feel grateful, humbled and honored. I am a sociologist, not a therapist like my colleague Jaakko Seikkula with whom I share the award but have gone hand in hand with family therapy for three decades, trying to develop collaborative and dialogical practices in “multi-helper situations” that, in the sectored system of services, tend to get stuck time after time. Family therapy theory has been a great source of inspiration for me, and the systemic, then more and more network oriented and gradually dialogical attempts in improving relational practices have provided territory for “experimental sociology”. I have admired the work of AFTA in connecting great innovators in dialogue for humane practices and development oriented practice, and now, suddenly, I find myself awarded by this great collective! I retired on pension from my post as a research professor some four years ago, but the award encourages me to go on in attempts to contribute. Thank you ever so much!  


Distinguished Contribution to Social Justice  

Jean Malpas, LMHC, LMFT and Ben Davis MA, ATR-BC, LCAT– Ackerman Institute for the Family Gender and Family Project 


Jean Malpas, LMHC, LMFTis the director of the Gender and Family Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, Director of International Training, and psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. He has presented on issues of gender, sexuality, addiction, couple and family therapy in the US, Israel, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Belgium and Canada. He has published several articles and chapters on his work with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender individuals, couples and families, including the Family Process article “Between Pink and Blue: A Multidimensional Approach to Gender Nonconforming Children and their Families.” Jean is on the editorial board of the Journal of LGBT Family Studies. Jean’s leadership has been recognized by the first Early Career Award of the American Family Therapy Academy. The Gender and Family Project was awarded the first Family Process Institute Early Career Training Grant. 

Benjamin Davis, MA, ATR-BC, LCAT is an art therapist and educator who has worked in the field of transgender health since 2005. Drawing from public health and social justice models, Benjamin anchors his work in strength-based community empowerment, working to engender resiliency and agency within transgender communities. 

Benjamin has presented in hospital, academic, and agency settings internationally. He has collaborated with The Center’s Gender Identity Project, the New York Department of Health, CUNY School of Public Health, the National LGBT Task Force, and the Ackerman Institute for the Family's Gender and Family Project, where he currently serves as the Coordinator of Training. Benjamin is also in private practice in NYC, and in contract with Oxford University Press writing Everything You Need to Know: Gender and is editing a volume on art therapy practices and youth resiliency with Routledge Publishing. 

Jean Malpas Coming Soon


Ben DavisIt is a true honor to be selected for the 2018 Distinguished Contribution to Social Justice Award.  AFTA's legacy of supporting vulnerable communities is particularly salient for transgender individuals. While trans people and their concerns are diverse and varied, the group at large historically has had difficulty accessing both affirming psychotherapy and healthy, sustainable family models. When I began this work in 2005, our efforts to engage trans people were structurally designed for the individual, in part because we assumed a lack of family and a lack of home community support. Early in my career I remember referencing "family" in a group psychotherapy session for trans people in the early stages of transition. Group members became irritable. Frustrated with me, one young woman said, "That word, family, only brings up pain. If you want me to come back, that's not something I'm willing to discuss. My family wants nothing to do with me, I'm dead to them. I'm here for my future and for hope, and I'm going to have to learn how to do that without them." Group members nodded in agreement as I quietly took it all in.  

Today, more and more trans people are seen as being a part of a greater whole, rather than being excluded and pathologized as other. We are brothers and sons, mothers, grandparents and partners, engaged in all aspects of community life. AFTA's recognition and continued effort towards inclusivity has yielded a significant shift in family therapy practice. Trans people today have growing access to holistic care and affirming psychotherapy; more often "family" comes up in session as a source of support and not one of pain. Social justice work may be forever exhausting as we adjust to moving targets and shifting tides. Our work, however, is revolutionary. Thank you AFTA for bringing awareness of gender diversity into your mission, supporting work towards just and equitable practice. I am humbled to accept this award, and deeply grateful to work alongside colleagues who prioritize diversity, access to care, the importance of personal agency and the freedom to self-define. 

Early Career Award

Laurel Salmon, LMFT

Presenter: Evan Imber-Black

Laurel Salmon, LMFT (Chair), is a licensed marriage and family therapist at Steinway Child and Family Services in New York City, where she runs a weekly oppression supervision group for interns. She received her master’s in marriage and family therapy from Mercy College and is an adjunct professor in their behavioral science department. Laurel is an experienced public speaker and trainer on topics of oppression. She is a facilitator in the New York Model Batterer Program. Laurel’s passion is teaching about oppression and specifically focusing on how it relates to the helping professions. She is committed to furthering the integration of oppression theory into mainstream clinical practice. Laurel currently serves as the Early Career Member Committee Chair and the Nominations Committee Chair. 

The moment that I walked into my first AFTA Conference, it has felt like home and I knew immediately that I have wanted to be a part of this organization. AFTA has helped me shape my career and share my work. I have had the pleasure and privilege of friendship and mentoring from so many people that I admire in my field through my time with AFTA. It is such an honor to receive the Early Career Award.