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Masters of Couples and Family Counseling 

Nathan Ackerman


In 1960, he founded the Family Institute, now the Ackerman Family Therapy Institute, in New York City, a major clinical center and training ground for family therapy. His best-known work is The Psychodynamics of the Family.

Alfred Adler

Founder and developer of individual psychology (now called Adlerian psychology and therapy). Adler was the first psychologist/therapist to conduct family counseling sessions, and he did them in public forums. We now call this approach to working with families in public open-forum family counseling.

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Tom Andersen


A Norwegian psychologist who developed the use of reflecting teams.

Harlene Anderson

A colleague of the late Harold Goolishian who developed a linguistic approach to family therapy that featured the adoption by therapists of a not-knowing position and a privileging of clients-as-expert.

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Harry Aponte

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A structural family therapist who developed the ecostructural model.

Gregory Bateson

Co-founder of the Mental Research Institute, and the architect of integrating general systems theory and family therapy. His life partner was the anthropologist, Margaret Mead, and their daughter is Mary Catherine Bateson, author of In A Daughter’s Eye and Constructing a Life.

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Aaron & Judith Beck


Aaron, is the founder and developer of cognitive therapy. His model focuses on the cognitive distortions and schema that people and systems use to manage life—and the resulting emotional experience of distorted reasoning. His daughter is Judith Beck. His model as applied to families has been developed by Frank Dattilio.


Judith, the daughter of Aaron Beck, and a leading contributor to cognitive therapy.

Insoo Kim Berg

The co-developer of solution-focused therapy. In 1978, Berg and her husband, Steve de Shazer, co-founded the Brief Family Therapy Center (BFTC) in Milwaukee where she served as director, clinician, and trainer.

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Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy

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A psychoanalytically trained therapist who developed contextual family therapy, a model that placed a heavy emphasis on ethical family processes and mutual responsibility of family members to each other.

Murray Bowen

The founder and developer of multigenerational family therapy. His model focused on rational management of emotional reactivity and the development of a differentiated self. His work with families involved coaching, de-triangulation, and family mapping. Genograms evolved from his work.

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Laura Brown

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A feminist therapist who specializes in work with a diverse range of women, families, and gender-based issues. Her first book, Subversive Dialogues, is considered a classic in the field of feminist therapy.

Jon Carlson

An Adlerian and author of numerous family therapy books and several video series featuring therapy with experts.

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Betty Carter


A feminist Bowen family therapist who, together with Monica McGoldrick, developed the family life cycle.

Oscar Christensen

An Adlerian family counselor and author of Adlerian Family Counseling; he is also a co-developer of Adlerian brief therapy.

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Frank Dattilio

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The foremost cognitive-behavioral couples & family counselor practicing today.

Steve de Shazer

The founder and co-developer of solution-focused therapy. In 1978, Steve de Shazer and his wife, Insoo Kim Berg, co-founded the Brief Family Therapy Center (BFTC) in Milwaukee. de Shazer focus more on theory than on clinical work and training. Together with Berg, he is credited with developing exceptions questions, the miracle question, and  scaling questions in brief couples and family counseling.

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Yvonne Dolan

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Solution-focused therapist and author whose work addresses sexual abuse; co-author with Steve de Shazer of More Than Miracles (2007).

Bunny Duhl

Co-founder of the Boston Family Therapy Institute and author of From the Inside Out and Other Metaphors, a book that includes one of the best chapters available on family sculpting.

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Rudolf Dreikurs

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A child psychologist and family counselor who developed a systematic approach to Adlerian therapy and Adlerian family counseling.

Albert Ellis

The founder and developer of rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Together with Aaron Beck, considered the father of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

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Carolyn Enns

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A feminist family scholar who has helped to define the continuum of feminist therapy.

David Epston

A founder and developer of narrative therapy. Living in New Zealand, he is a collaborator with Michael White from Australia.

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Milton H. Erickson


A psychiatrist specializing in medical hypnosis and family therapy, he was the founding president of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis and was a major influence on strategic family therapists, especially Jay Haley. His influence can also be found in the work of some solution-focused therapists and some Satir therapists too.

Charles Fishman

A structural family therapist who wrote Intensive Structural Therapy in 1993.


Michel Foucault


French philosopher and social scientist who gave us the concepts of dominant culture or dominant knowledge positions—and their deconstruction. A major influence on postmodern thinking and the narrative therapy of Michael White and David Epston.

Sigmund Freud

The father of modern psychology and psychotherapy. The originator of psychoanalysis. Although he never counseled a family, he did, once, coach a father on the handling of his son, known as Little Hans.

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Thelma Jean Goodrich

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A feminist family therapist and co-author with Louise Silverstein of Feminist Family Therapy: Empowerment in Social Context.

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