Ackerman, Nathan W.

Ackerman, Nathan W. (Ward)

(1909–71) psychiatrist, family therapist, educator; born in Russia. Brought as a four-year-old to the U.S.A. (he became a citizen in 1920), he took his B.A. (1929) and M.D. (1933) at Columbia University. After serving a residency and on the staff of the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kans. (1935–37), he returned to New York City to become chief psychiatrist of the Jewish Board of Guardians (1937–51). In addition to various other teaching and staff posts in the field of psychiatry, he was a professor of psychiatry at Columbia's medical school (1957–71). He was the recipient of many honors and authored numerous articles and books, but he was most widely known and honored for pioneering "family therapy"—namely, the approach that treated individuals with mental illness in the context of their families. To this end he founded the Family Institute in 1960, now known as the Ackerman Family Therapy Institute, in New York City, a major clinical center as well as training ground for therapy that focuses on the psychodynamics of troubled families.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.