During the later part of the 1950s, Ackerman held many positions within this growing field. In 1955, he organized and chaired the first session on family diagnosis at the American Orthopsychiatric Association. Two years later, he opened the Family Mental Health Clinic at Jewish Family Services in New York City and joined the faculty at Columbia University. In 1958, he published The Psychodynamics of Family Life, which was the first book on the diagnosis and treatment of family relationships (Broderick and Schrader, 1991).


In 1960, he founded the Family Institute, which was renamed the Ackerman Institute following his death in 1971. This institute continues to serve as a prominent center for training family therapists and promoting clinical innovation within the field. In 1960, he founded the first journal in the field, Family Process, with Don Jackson of Palo Alto. His legacy lives on: Family Process continues to be the most influential and unifying journal in the field. for the family therapy movement. Two important projects—a study on schizophrenia under the directorship of Gregory Bateson, and the Mental Research Institute headed by Don Jackson—dovetailed together to have an impact that still affects the field today.


It is difficult to document in a coherent manner all of the important people who emerged through these projects, especially since many of them went on to influence the field differently than their original work while in Palo Alto would have suggested. Still, besides Bateson and Jackson, this is where family therapy innovators such as Richard Fisch, Jay Haley, Virginia Satir, Carlos Sluzki, Paul Watzlawick, and John Weakland got their start.