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In 2019, The Family Institute celebrates our 50 year anniversary.

The Family Institute was the first family therapy training center in the Midwest. Since its founding, The Family Institute has been committed to research, education and providing therapy services.

Today, The Family Institute is one of the leading centers in the world for comprehensive and systemically oriented psychotherapy integration.


We invite you to read a special piece, written by Dr. Aaron Cooper, in celebration of The Family Institute’s 50th anniversary, about the connection between the health of individuals and the health of their families. Dr. Cooper also explores how notions of family have changed in the past 50 years and will transform in the next few decades.

Read “a Reflection on 50 Years of FamilieS”

1965

Drs. Charles (Chuck) and Jeannette (Jan) Kramer saw a need for discussion about the growing field of family therapy. They began a monthly study group in their home in Oak Park, IL to explore this new and innovative type of treatment with Chicago area psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.

study group for chicago area psychiatrists psychologists social workers
Study group in the Kramers' home

1968

Demand for training and consultation grows rapidly; in response, the group establishes The Family Institute of Chicago. The organization was unique in the Midwest because of its primary interest in the study, teaching and treatment of family problems using the newly discovered concept of the family as a system.

In the first year, clinicians at The Family Institute conduct nearly 2,000 therapy sessions. And, the part-time, post-graduate Two Year Training Program began with an inaugural class of 16 students.

family institute first building in oak park
Dr. Kramer's home in Oak Park, IL

1969

The Family Institute of Chicago is officially incorporated as a not-for-profit organization, with Charles H. Kramer, M.D. as its Founder and first Director.

dr chuck kramer at mic
Dr. Chuck Kramer

1974

Classes and programs spilled over from the Kramers' home in Oak Park to crowded basement offices, a synagogue, a seminary and various hotels and meeting places before The Family Institute of Chicago moved to a more permanent home in downtown Chicago at 10 E. Huron. 

10 e huron building
The turn-of-the-century brownstone had 16 offices, classrooms, observation rooms, closed circuit T.V., a library and 11 fireplaces

1975

Through the joint efforts of Harold M. Visotsky, M.D., Director of the Institute of Psychiatry, and Dr. Kramer, The Family Institute of Chicago merged with Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Institute of Psychiatry and forms the Center for Family Studies. 

Staff receive academic appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of the Northwestern University Medical School.

center for family studies
Dr. Charles Kramer and colleagues outside the building at 10 E. Huron

1979

The Family and Child Clinic started with seven student therapists treating 60 families in the first year.

Under the supervision of highly trained licensed therapists, therapists-in-training in the Clinic receive enhanced training opportunities and provide high quality therapy services on a sliding fee scale to children and families in need. We now provide therapy on a sliding-scale fee to more than 2,400 clients annually.

the family and child clinic family institute
Supervising therapists at The Family Institute of Chicago's Clinic

1983

The organization moved to a larger space located at 666 Lake Shore Drive. The space was specifically designed for The Family Institute and included classrooms, a library and audio-visual room, observation rooms and clinical offices.

666 lake shore drive building
The Family Institute's building at 666 Lake Shore Drive

1986

William (Bill) M. Pinsof, Ph.D., succeeds Dr. Kramer as the President of The Family Institute of Chicago and Director of the Center for Family Studies.

headshot of dr bill pinsof
Dr. Pinsof

1990

The Family Institute launches its Community Outreach Program to bring mental health services to low-income, at-risk families. Now situated within the Bette D. Harris Family & Child Clinic, the program partners with a variety of organizations and schools in order to best serve the particular needs of the community.

launch of community outreach program

1990

After separating legal and financial ties from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, The Family Institute of Chicago formally affiliates with Northwestern University (retaining its status as an independent not-for-profit organization) and begins doing business as The Family Institute at Northwestern University.

northwestern university arch

1991

In the fall of 1991, the first four students matriculated into a new training program an intensive two-year professional training program leading to a Master of Science degree in Marital & Family Therapy. Today, 28 graduate students matriculate into the Marriage & Family Therapy program annually.

This program was The Family Institute's first academic offering under its new affiliation with Northwestern University and Cheryl Rampage, Ph.D. was the program's inaugural Director.

dr cheryl rampage at podium
Dr. Rampage teaching a class

1994

Following a $4.7 million capital campaign, The Family Institute opens its new headquarters, the Bette D. Harris Center on Northwestern University's campus in Evanston, IL. The 26,000-square-foot building offers state-of-the-art facilities for clinical services, education and research.

groundbreaking ceremony bette d harris center
Mrs. Bette D. Harris breaks ground for The Family Institute's new home. Taking part are (from left) Dr. Bill Pinsof; Dan J. Epstein, past Institute board chair; Mrs. Harris; Arnold R. Weber, past president of Northwestern University; Dr. Charles H. Kramer; and E. Franklin Hirsch, chair of the capital campaign

1996

In order to accommodate our growing clinical practice and maintain a presence in downtown Chicago, The Family Institute opens offices at 8 S. Michigan Ave.

the family institute downtown chicago location
The Willoughby Tower at 8 S. Michigan Ave

2000

The affiliation with Northwestern University strengthens with the formation of the Center for Applied Psychological and Family Studies, a new umbrella for academic and research collaboration.

graduation ceremony northwestern university
The Family Institute's students at a graduation ceremony at Northwestern University

2001

The undergraduate course "Marriage 101: Building Lasting and Loving Relationships" is launched at Northwestern University by Arthur C. Nielsen, M.D., and William Pinsof, Ph.D. This innovative course represents The Family Institute's first foray into pre-marital education. It has since been one of the most popular courses at Northwestern and has been featured in various national and international media outlets.

alexandra solomon teaching marriage 101 course
Alexandra Solomon, Ph.D., teaching the "Marriage 101" course. Dr. Solomon succeeded Dr. Nielsen as the course leader in 2015 and published her own guidebook to marriage in 2017

2002

As part of the new Center for Applied Psychological and Family Studies, The Family Institute takes over Northwestern University's Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program, doubling the size of The Family Institute's graduate student body.

To accommodate additional students and faculty, The Family Institute expands its Evanston headquarters.

the family institute evanston headquarters
The Family Institute's headquarters at 618 Library Place in Evanston, IL

2014

Jana L. Jones was appointed President of The Family Institute in 2014 and succeeded Dr. Pinsof as President and CEO in 2016.

With a strong business background in health systems management, Ms. Jones created a new organizational structure to reflect the recent growth of The Family Institute and has increased the use of data and information technology to improve health outcomes.

jana jones headshot
Jana L. Jones

2015

Counseling@Northwestern, The Family Institute's online platform for its Master of Arts in Counseling program, launched with the first cohort in April 2015. The innovative learning environment made possible through technology greatly expands the reach of our Counseling program, educating a greater, more diverse number of students than would be possible through our on campus platform alone.

Since its inception, Counseling@Northwestern has grown to serve approximately 400 students annually.

counseling@northwestern program
A student accessing the tools of the Online Counseling platform

2018

The Family Institute launches teletherapy within the clinical practice.

woman holding mug and computer on couch

2019

Over the last half century, The Family Institute has grown into a nationally and internationally recognized incubator for systemic thinking as a key component of any therapy. Thousands of publications from The Family Institute over the last five decades have propelled the theory and practice of how relationships dramatically impact a person's quality of life. In 50 years, The Family Institute has grown from 2,000 therapy sessions in year one to more than 80,000 sessions of care annually. We have gone from sharing what we know with a handful of experimental therapists to preparing more than 500 graduate level students at a world class university for meaningful and impactful careers in behavioral health.  

The Family Institute's 50th anniversary logo