• slide01
  • slide03
  • slide02
  • slide04
  • slide05

WELCOME.The Institute for Family Services (IFS) is a team of family therapists committed to producing change that embraces safe, respectful, nurturing and empowering relationships for all individuals, communities and families.

The Institute is well known throughout New Jersey and the nation for its innovative programs. These programs support family members around issues of loss, chronic illness, substance abuse, marital conflict, divorce, post-divorce, single parenthood, youth, children and parenting in crises, and workplace challenges. The programs also encourage healing by embracing life-affirming choices, based on a strong foundation of empowerment and accountability. Mindful of the resilience embodied by those who struggle, our therapeutic process anchors the problems presented within a system of support, care, and action strategies.

Because junior and senior therapists work as a team, clients receive the same high-quality treatment, regardless of their ability to pay. In this regard, the Institute differs from most therapeutic centers where senior clinicians are privileged to serve higher-paying clients while junior clinicians are assigned to lower-paying clients. IFS participates with all private, non-managed care insurance companies and offers a sliding scale.

logo

Dr. Rhea Almeida, MS, Ph.D LCSW,
Founder of IFS

Read More

Cultural Context Model

Our view of healing and therapeutic practices


The Cultural Context Model is a combination of liberation-based practices of therapy, critical social learning, and family therapy interventions. This process of critical learning and dialogue around presenting issues is developed through innovative use of social media, culture circles, and community sponsors. Sponsors are men, women and adolescents who have had transformative experiences with this approach and ally with new clients in their efforts to heal.

The step-by-step building of social capital makes this therapeutic approach sustainable over time. This approach to healing departs from traditional practices of pathologizing clients, or focusing solely on symptom reduction. While being symptom-free is important, therapeutic focus is on building and strengthening foundations of resistance and resilience. Therapists at the Institute work towards creating and sustaining a community of helpers, clientele, friends, and professionals.

"It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams."
-Gabriel García Márquez

Our Services

logo

Family Therapy for Diverse Families

The structure of families today range from the traditional nuclear families, single parent families, extended families living together, same-sex couples with families, and in-laws living with couples and their children.

Read More

logo

Restoring Safety and Social Learning to Schools

In particular we provide ideas for salvaging the creativity and life affirming options for youth embedded in systems that privilege parts of their identities while subjugating others.

Read More

logo

Children’s Therapeutic Circles

Children usually enter therapy because a parent/s, schools, pediatricians or someone outside of the family is referring them.

Read More

logo

Tutorials for Navigating Institutions of White Privilege and Racism

Providing structural support for all families particularly non-English speaking families in navigating and interrupting institutional barriers in schools, workplaces and literacy-based resources.

Read More

logo

Professional training and student internships

The Institute offers professionals specific trainings and internships in the Cultural Context Model (CCM), of family therapy.

Read More

Our Staff

pilar

Dr. Pilar Hernandez, Ph.D.

Dr. Pilar Hernández-Wolfe is associate professor in the Marriage, Couple and Family Therapy program at Lewis and Clark College. She is faculty at the Institute for Family Services, where she directs research projects on liberation based healing and provides clinical consultations.

Read More

brown

Andraé L. Brown, PhD, LMFT

Andraé L. Brown, Ph.D., LMFT, professional career highlights include serving as professor at Hunter College, NY and Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. He has also served as the Co-director of Affinity Counseling Group in NJ, a Board member for the Council on Contemporary Families, and as member of several national boards.

Read More

diana

Diana Melendez

Diana Melendez was born in Mexico and raised there until she was 11 years old when her family moved to northeast NJ.  She graduated from the MSW program at NYU following her dual degree in Social Work and Psychology from Seton Hall University.

Read More

lisa

Lisa Dressner

Lisa Dressner founded Affinity Counseling Group, a private community-based mental health center, in March 2000, and replicated the Cultural Context Model to work with families impacted by incarceration.

Read More

denise

Denise Pflaumer Capici 

Denise has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Capella University and has completed a two-year postgraduate training program at IFS.

Read More

Testimonials

quote

Looking to improve her marriage, got more.


We are so great Rich and I and enjoying our new baby Nellie is just about six months old and we are enjoying her massively. We are very much a partnership around everything related to her and the other children and in a very good place in our marriage. There is not a week that goes by that I don't offer a prayer of gratitude that you guys were in our lives and made such a huge difference to us

-Angela

Read More

quote

Latest Article

Parenting Beyond the Baby Boomers to millenniums in the 22nd century..


We are so great Rich and I and enjoying our new baby Nellie is just about six months old and we are enjoying her massively. We are very much a partnership around everything related to her and the other children and in a very good place in our marriage. There is not a week that goes by that I don't offer a prayer of gratitude that you guys were in our lives and made such a huge difference to us

Read More

News & Events

Launching Progresando en Comunidad


news

Progresando en Comunidad is a recent addition to The Institute for Family Services (IFS.) This initiative intends to partner with Spanish speaking families, in various political categories of immigration including those with mixed-status within a single family, in their efforts to succeed in the 21st century.

Progresando en Comunidad is a space for Latino families, individuals and children, to experience the true sense of community, belonging and interconnectedness which may have been left behind in our countries of origin whether we are immigrants, first, second or third generation Americans.

Progresando en Comunidad is a safe place where transformative relationships will be established leading to ongoing support and liberatory healing.

Click below to enjoy some Latino artists and literary scholars


Conferences


news

The Liberation-Based Healing Conference


lbh

The Liberation-Based Healing conference was first envisioned by Dr. Rhea Almeida, director of the Institute for Family Services in NJ. She and her colleagues, Lisa Dressner, Judy Lockard, Pilar Hernandez-Wolfe, and Andrae Brown developed and expanded the conference over the years. Others collaborated with this initiative. They include, Mabel Quinones, Rebecca, Chaisson, Judy Lewis, Tereza McDowell, Nocona Peweewardy, Cornel Peweewady, Marilyn Armour, Gail Rice, Olaysha Gonzales Hicks, Diana Melendez, and José Cruz.

The conference grew out of a general disillusionment by scholars and those they were serving, with mainstream conferences in the mental health fields (psychology, family therapy, counseling). These conferences increasingly trended towards traditional offerings accessing dominant groups, with few presentations addressing issues critical to the well-being of those who face the complex and lived experiences of marginalization in their daily lives.

We, like many others, wanted to connect with a critical mass of liberation-based healing scholars and young minds to work towards building a scholarship that departed from the dominant discourse situating life affirming and transformative experiences within historical, present and future trajectories of life.

In the spirit of shared spaces and shared communities, we chose to travel the conference inviting various localities to co-host with us. This has provided multiple regions and communities around the country including Puerto Rico and Calgary, Canada with the opportunity to experience and participate with this exciting conference.

Read More

Books & Publications

Books


news

Transformative Family Therapy: Just Families in a Just Society " Rhea V. Almeida, Lynn Parker and Ken Dolan-Delvecchio

Book Review

"Transformative Family Therapy: Just Families in a Just Society is a triumph! Based on the innovations of the Cultural Context Model, the book offers therapists grounded theory; a practical, hands-on approach; and, crucially, a means to integrate the principles of practice into their own clinical contexts. Transformative Family Therapy tackles the hardest issues of our day – domestic violence, addiction, racism, among others –and demonstrates how clinicians can not only heal the individuals that consult them but generate social change in the institutions with which clients interact and in the communities where they live. Further, this brilliant, compassionate holistic book practices what it preaches on every page: it gives over the tools – conceptual and clinical – to enact a liberatory, socially just therapy. Therapists of every persuasion and at every stage of practice will benefit from this important book."
- Kaethe Weingarten, Ph.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; Director, the Witnessing Project (www.witnessingproject.org); Director, Program in Family, Trauma, and Resilience, The Family Institute of Cambridge



"This book offers an extraordinarily thoughtful method for helping people with their personal problems while enhancing awareness of pervasive social injustices. Previous attempts to incorporate clinical work with social concerns have floundered as soon as they began collapsing psychotherapy into social action, essentially advocating: “Don’t waste time analyzing yourself, join in social justice struggles.” Those seeking a deeper understanding of their personal lives had to give up on integrating therapy with social action, and turn instead to narrowly clinical texts for help with their personal quest. Now Transformative Family Therapy offers a rigorous approach to depth therapy that unabashedly incorporates the struggle to transform society. The message is clear and convincing: we need to change our community and our society if we are to live the better personal and family lives we talk about in therapy. Social injustices - including poverty, racism, sexism and homophobia - permeate personal lives. The authors describe in practical terms their integrated approach to individual, family and social problems, with poignant vignettes, so the reader can quickly become better able to make deep therapeutic interventions while fostering community and social justice."
- Terry Kupers M.D. M.S. P., Professor, The Wright Institute, San Francisco, CA



"In this book these authors address the broad issues of social justice as they relate to therapy in a fresh and exciting way. They consistently expose the contextual vacuum in most mainstream models by pointing to those experiences and influences beyond the family that damage relationships because they are unfair and often unjust. The analysis of latent power in the way therapists approach key issues around cultural difference, gender equity, socio-economic disadvantage and sexual orientation reveals a commitment to holistic and sustainable healing. As with the ‘Just Therapy’ approach, the critical factors of privilege on the one hand, and marginalisation on the other, are addressed openly in the context of good therapy. The innovative application of movies in the therapeutic process opens space for broader reflective discussion between therapists and clients and the descriptions of process are clear and helpful. This is an exciting book that challenges conventional assumptions and broadens the discussion of good therapy."
- Charles Waldegrave and Taimalieutu Kiwi Tamasese The Family Centre, Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand



"This brilliant book expands the field of family therapy to include a Cultural Context Model for social justice practice. It is a courageous work that challenges power, privilege and oppression in its many forms including patriarchy, sexism, racism, classism and homophobia. Through vivid case examples, therapists will learn techniques including the unique use of culture circles and sponsors to empower clients to claim their own voices. "
- Nancy Boyd-Franklin, Ph.D., Professor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Click here to Buy this Book



news

Transformations of Gender and Race: Family and Developmental Perspectives " Rhea V. Almeida

Book Review

"Rhea Almeida and her collaborators are to be commended for this insightful collection of papers. The authors bring us to a deeper level of understanding of the painful, intertwined experiences of racism, classism, sexism, and herterosexism to inform and, indeed, transform clinical practice. Their passionate voices rally us all to press for social justice in the larger society."
Froma Walsh, PhD, Co-Director, Chicago Center for Family Health and Author, Strengthening Family Resilience


Click here to Buy this Book



news

Expansions of Feminist Family Theory Through Diversity "
Rhea V. Almeida

Click here to Buy this Book



Publications


 

Critical Consciousness, Accountability, and Empowerment: Key Processes for Helping Families Heal. by Pilar Hernandez, Rhea Almeida & Ken Dolan-Delvecchio.

Transformative Family Therapy: Just Families in a Just Society. Rhea Almeida, Ph.D., LCSW., Dolan-Delvecchio & Parker.

Expansions of Feminist Family Theory Through Diversity. Rhea Almeida, Ph.D., LCSW., Editor

Read More

Copyright ©2014. The Institute for Family Services. All Right Reserved.

Designed, Developed and Maintained by: AnandPawar