Liberation-Based Healing

Our philosophy is to embrace the resilience that all families and individuals bring to therapy and create a landscape of liberation in resolving life’s struggles. We do not define our clients by the particular identity of their presenting problems but rather by their multiple and complex identities: their wholeness.

What makes the Institute's approach so visionary? The Cultural Context Model. Our focus is linking people across family boundaries to solve common problems. Personal and relational problems are situated in broader social issues to form a healing context.

The change we seek is not only adaptive change in personal life -- change that makes people more contented but ignores power hierarchies -- but rather change that is transformative and intergenerational. This is specifically relevant around issues of oppression and oppressor systems.

The change that we strive for is one of global humanity and social justice, embracing acts of kindness, compassion, and civic values of care by giving and receiving simultaneously.

Family Therapy

The Institute for Family Services offers an innovative and proven approach to a wide range of couples, family and child-centered problems and youth violence. Our family and community paradigm is garnering attention throughout the country and around the world.

This model of therapeutic intervention provides specific strategies for making pertinent changes in personal and family issues and resisting harmful forces of domination. In directly confronting broader social pressures, such as the loss of community, civic values, the fracturing of family life, gender norms, religious and community norms and the demands of the workplace, family members make a connection between their personal dilemmas and the negative impacts of societal patterns and cultural values.

Services include the expertise of IFS therapists as well as contributions from a diverse clientele composed of individuals (such as dentists, lawyers, corporate executives, sanitation workers, home-makers, physical therapists, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and teachers) whose social capital brings significant resources to the IFS community and helps to buffer families against isolation.

IFS is one of the few programs, on a state-wide and nation-wide level, that provides comprehensive, safe, and integrated services to entire families, when presented with complex problems of domestic violence, sexual abuse, addictions, adolescent struggles of resistance presented in the form of eating disorders, hair pulling, self-mutilation and other forms of trauma.

Progresando en Comunidad

We intend to address the scarcity of mental health services for Spanish-speaking families in New Jersey by providing quality family therapy, individual and couples therapy services for youth and families, regardless of immigration status.

At Progresando en Comunidad, families will benefit from services in Spanish and from the expertise garnered over 20 years of best practices established at the Institute for Family Services. A comprehensive plan for all members of the family will include informing them about matters that impact their lives, creating linkages among all participants towards the goal of building a sustainable community, and sharing essential resources.

This model is designed to bring about social justice and equality between the larger society and Latinx families from different countries and economic situations.

Crossing Language Borders

  • We draw the clinical practice from the growing research regarding the benefits of integrating native English speakers with English learning individuals, from the field of education. The clinical results benefit both English and Spanish speaking clients. 

    Translating the research from schools to clinical practice:

    • -A better sense of relatedness with others across cultures and national origins>
    • -Promotes critical thinking skills and the ability to understand complex patterns, essential in work around parenting, school related challenges, coupling and relationship issues, and domestic violence
    • -To have a greater capacity for listening and understanding
    • -To be part of a shared community where power and privilege are redefined based on interconnected healing and support
    • -To increase the equity and accessibility of social capital through an alternative clinical framework that does  not perpetuate the marginalization of Spanish speaking clients  link 1
    • Link2

Our Results

  • *Outcomes over the past 30 years reveal a high standard of health and mental health for families that remain in intermittent contact with therapeutic allies/sponsors and live their lives within embracing communities. The majority of our clients stays in contact through an email list serve even when they move out of state or across the globe.
  • *Consider this: Approximately 30% of IFS's clientele are families referred with problems of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and substance abuse. Even so, in over 30 years there have been no reports of victims in danger, or in fear for their lives while they are in this therapeutic space. Perpetrators at different learning paces respond to strategies of accountability while also embracing a centeredness for connections. 
  • *During the entire life of the Institute, only six clients have been hospitalized and less than five percent are on psychotropic medications. While loss and trauma destroys many families, our families are embraced at their most vulnerable points, propelling them into powerful, life-activating choices. 
  • *Other families and individuals who present with a range of issues, from job-related stress, to children with academic and/or peer difficulties, to teens in trouble, to couples with relationship and/or parenting issues, also utilize our services with successful outcomes.

Our Team

Dr. Andre L. Brown,

PhD, LMFT

Faculty...

Diana A. Melendez Romero

MSW, LCSW

Faculty, Director of Progresando en Comunidad...

Lisa Dressner

MSW, LCSW

Faculty, Director of Training...

Dr. Rhea Almeida

MS, Ph.D, LCSW

Founder and Executive Director of IFS ...

Dr. EunjungRyu

PhD, LMFT,LCSW

Faculty...

Dr. Carolyn Tubbs

PhD, LMFT-S

Faculty   ...

Stephanie Carpizio

MA, LPC

Junior Faculty...