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Porter-Cason Institute for the Family

The Porter-Cason Institute was established in 1995 with funds from Dorothy Cason, a 1946 alumna of the Tulane School of Social Work, in honor of Elizabeth Porter, one of her professors. Dorothy credited Elizabeth Porter with teaching and emphasizing professionalism in social work.  Dorothy valued and emulated that professionalism throughout a very successful and rewarding practice. Dorothy passed away shortly after her endowment to the school and the Porter-Cason Institute is committed to making the best use of her legacy dedicated to the importance of the teaching and learning process.


Consistent with Ms. Cason’s expressed wishes that “the income from this fund shall be used for the teaching of family therapy at the advanced level", the mission of the institute is as follows:

To enhance the teaching/learning of mental health, addicition, and the family practices for TSSW students, faculty, field supervisors and alumni, as well as in the community (e.g., New Orleans Metro Area), region, nation, and world. This will be done through the development, evaluation, and dissemination of exciting, creative, and innovative teaching and learning activities.

Upcoming Events

Clinical & Ethical Practice with LGBTQIA+ Individuals & Families with Heidi Breaux

Saturday, March 16, 2019 from 10:00am to 2:00pm CST

Understand terminology specific to the LGBTQIA+ population, explore intersectionality of LGBTQIA+ identities, practice ethical conduct with transfender patients, review health disparities for the LGBTQIA+ population, identify the specialized needs and circumstances of LGBTQIA+ families.

Learn Definitions, Basic Terminology and Barriers to Care

Ethical Client Care and Social Determinants of Health

Transgendser and Gender Non-Conforming Patient Care

TGNC Practice Patient

Medical Health and LGBTQIA+ Families

Ticket Pricing is $60 per ticket. 4 CEU credits will be awarded. Please contact us for current Tulane University faculty, staff, adjunct, and DSW discount codes.



Heidi Breaux, LCSW-R

Heidi Breaux, LCSW-R received her BASW from   Rutgers University in 2004 and her MSW from New York University in 2005. Since then she’s worked in the field of substance abuse, for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, at APICHA CHC (an Asian and Pacific Islander health clinic in Chinatown NYC), and as Associate Director of Adult Services at the New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. Most recently Mrs. Breaux was an Adjunct Professor at New York University’s Silver Graduate School of Social Work and managed a team of clinical social workers in the Sexual Health Clinics for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Heidi is passionate about helping others provide services to the TGNC community, particularly undocumented immigrants and trans women of color. She enjoys spending time with her wife and family, and is a strong advocate for reproductive justice.



On the Eve of Destruction: Last Chance Couple Therapy

Saturday, April 13, 2019, 9:00am to 5:00pm CST

A badly broken marriage or other committed relationship -- in which both partners show high levels of mutual anger and disdain and low levels of patience, good will, or hope and one or both partners may not even really want things to get better, doesn't seem to hold promise for clinical salvation. It's possible, however, to turn even the most hopeless relationships around. In this workshop, we'll explore how to engage reluctant partners in therapy without making them feel trapped in an unhappy future. Though videotaped and audiotaped demonstrations, you'll learn how to:

  • restore hope when couples seem about to give up
  • carry out an engaging and nonthreatening first session
  • Introduce fresh perspectives on problems and engage clients in trying changes  that they’re absolutely unprepared for and that feel irrational to do
  • offer strategies for safeguarding communication and restarting passion and pleasure

Although we'll focus on four major types of Last Chance Couples, the approach applies to couples at any level of distress.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Attendees will be able to list the 4 types of Last Chance Couples
  2. Attendees be able to list the 11 foci of Last Chance Couple Therapy
  3. Attendees will be able to list the 8 steps in creating a non-binding “micro-contract” for therapy
  4. Attendees will be able to describe the practice of “de-emergencizing” and will be able to perform the mindful breathing & Qi Gong sequence recommended to couples for self and mutual soothing
  5. Attendees will be able to list and describe 4 “low risk/high yield activities designed to stimulate pleasure for couples

$150 per Ticket.  This seminar offers 3.25 clinical, 1.5 ethical, and 1.75 general continuing education hours.

Light Breakfast! One (1) hour break for lunch!

 If you are Tulane University faculty, staff, adjunct or DSW student, please contact for promo code.

Peter Fraenkel, Ph.D

Peter Fraenkel, PhD, is Director of the Ackerman Institute for the Family’s Center for Work and Family; Associate Professor of Psychology, Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, The City College of The City University of New York; and former Vice President of the American Family Therapy Academy. He co-authored with Marcia Sheinberg The Relational Trauma of Incest: A Family-Based Approach to Treatment, and he has published widely and presented workshops internationally on the topic of prevention approaches to couple relationships and the impact of time, work and technology on families. Dr. Fraenkel is also in private practice.



Externship in Emotionally Focused Therapy with EFT Trainer George Faller

Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 9:00 AM to Friday, May 3, 2019 at 5:00 PM 

In this four-day Externship, participants will learn through a combination of lectures, observation of live interviews and role-play excercises. Upon completion of this course, participants will:

  • Identify the basic stages and steps of Emotionally Focused Therapy
  • See marital distress from an attachment perspective
  • Help couples recognize and deescalate problematic patterns of interaction
  • Help couples understand the underlying attachment needs that drive these negative patterns
  • Help couples create and restore the emotional bond between them
  • Help couples repair attachment injuries, fostering healing within and between the couple.

EFT Externships and Core Skills trainings are designed for mental health professionals. This continuing education workshop provides 20 clinical hours.  The cost of 1 ticket is $600.Tulane University faculty and staff may contact us for discount codes

George Faller, MS, LMFT

George Faller is retired Lieutenant of the NYC Fire Department, A licensed Marriege and Family Therapist in New York and Connecticut and an Approved Supervisor for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. He is the founder and President of the New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). As an EFT Trainer, George teaches several classes at the Ackerman Institute for the Family (the oldest family institute in the United States) in NYC, is a board member of the Porter Cason Insitute for the Family at Tulane University in new Orleans and is the firector of training at the Center for Hope and Renewal in Greenwich, CT. Specializing in trauma, Family EFT and Self-of-the-Therapist issues, George is committed to bringing EFT to underprivileged populations and pushing the leading edge of effective therapy. George hopes his new book Sacred Stress contributes to the EFT movement of making our world a more secure place.


Rebuilding Shattered Attachments: Healing Trauma in Couples Thereapy with Michael Barnett, LPC, ICEEFT & Silvina Irwin, Ph.D

Friday, May 17 to May 18, 2019, 9:00am to 5:00pm CST

Program Description

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) has demystified the complex web that couples therapists commonly get entangled in and offers a map to navigate the therapeutic process.  The impact of trauma on a relationship, however, often intensely complicates the process and can leave even experienced EFT therapists feeling overwhelmed, helpless, lost, and/or burned out.  

EFT effectively addresses the core factors at play in both the heart of traumatic distress and in the process of healing.   This two-day advanced workshop will help participants tailor the EFT model to specifically work with the core distinguishing features that present with trauma and couples therapy.  

In addition, participants will identify their own blocks and challenges in working with these complex couples, and explore ways to address and overcome their personal impasses.  Lastly, the significant impact of working with trauma on the Self of the Therapist in a safe and supportive environment will be discussed.

Video review of therapy sessions, didactic presentation, small group work and role-play sessions to practice skills will be included. 

This course extends knowledge beyond a pre-doctoral level by:

  1. Conceptualizing theory and clinical interventions of trauma and healing within a relational/attachment lens
  2. Placing Trauma-related emotional distress and associated behavioral strategies within a systemic framework.
  3. Learning strategies to monitor and address symptoms of Vicarious Trauma and Therapist Burn Out

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explain the concept of trauma from a relational/attachment lens
  2. Describe the concept of healing within the EFT for couples model
  3. Explain how to place trauma-related emotional distress and associated behavioral strategies within a systemic framework
  4. Describe the fearful/avoidant attachment style
  5. Identify ways to implement EFT interventions so as to effectively target relational processes that are shaped by trauma
  6. Describe some ways that trauma impacts the ability to tolerate and regulate affect
  7. Identify some strategies to work with dysregulated emotion in trauma survivors
  8. Summarize some the ways that working with trauma impacts the therapist
  9. Describe ways to work through therapist blocks and barriers in the treatment of trauma

10. List at least two risk factors for therapists who work with trauma

11. List at least two ways to address symptoms of Vicarious Trauma/Secondary Traumatic Stress and burnout.

Ticket Pricing is $300 per ticket. 12 CEUcredits will be awarded. Please contact us for current Tulane University faculty, staff, adjunct, and DSW discount codes.

Michael Barnett, LPC, ICEEFT Certified EFT Trainer

Michael is the founder and director of the Atlanta Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT).  He is an ICEEFT certified EFT Supervisor and Trainer offering Marriage and Couple’s therapy trainings and workshops throughout North America. Michael has been practicing psychotherapy since 1986, and is currently a partner at Pine River Psychotherapy Associates in Atlanta Georgia, a practice that has been visionary in its promotion and dissemination of highly effective experiential therapy since the mid-1970’s.

Michael worked in addiction treatment centers, experiential outdoor training facilities focusing on the healing of addictive processes, and in outpatient intensive addiction programs for more than six years before beginning his private practice as an experiential psychotherapist in 1993. His integration of working with addictive and experiential processes led him to create a framework for tailoring EFT to successfully with couples who present on the addictive continuum through a humanistic lens. Michael has presented workshops and trainings on experiential psychotherapies since 1993. His

In addition to his psychotherapeutic work, he has consulted with dozens of organizations for executive training development and team building. Michael specializes in working with couples on the addictive continuum and offers specialized trainings for therapists in addiction, trauma, attachment injuries and couples therapy.  In addition, Michael co-created a research study of EFT with addicted populations, that was recently completed in early 2017.

Silvina Irwin, Ph.D.

Silvina Irwin, Ph.D. (PSY#19710)  is a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, and ICEEFT Certified Trainer and Supervisor in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples.  She is the director of the LA Center for EFT and co-founder of the EFT Resource Center in Pasadena, CA, which provides EFT psychotherapy services to the community and offers training and supervision to therapists in Emotionally Focused Therapy.   In her psychotherapy practice, Dr. Irwin specializes in working with survivors of trauma and relationship distress.  She is passionate about teaching and conducts the full ICEEFT approved training track in EFT for professionals, as well as offers master classes to therapists who work with survivors of trauma in couple therapy. Dr. Irwin also offers workshops on Vicarious Trauma of therapists, first responders, and the legal and medical community.    She regularly co-facilitates Hold Me Tight© Workshops for couples and workshops for couples on their sexual relationship.   Dr. Irwin received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a background in neuroscience, and trained at Harvard Medical School and the University of California San Francisco.  She is bilingual in Spanish and offers EFT training locally and abroad to the growing Spanish-speaking EFT community.   To learn more about Dr. Irwin, please visit or





CANCELLATION POLICY -- In the event you cannot come to our program, it is important for you to notify us 24 hours before the program begins, either by email (preferred) at or via phone at 504-247-1446.  We will refund the registration fee if notified 24 hours prior to the workshop. 

Parking Information
The Tulane School of Social Work is located at 127 Elk Place. Please see the location map.

There are various surface lots in close proximity to the school that you use if you would like. The Saratoga Parking Garage is the closest parking garage and is located at 111 S. Saratoga St. The daily rate for the garage is $8.

For more information, please contact Jessica St. Pierre @ 504-247-1446



Family Institutes and Resources

The goal of the Porter-Cason Institute is to not only advance mental health, addiction, and the family practice but also to inform social work practitioners about the latest and most effective mental health, addiction, and the family practices methods, techniques and research.

View Resources

Porter-Cason Accomplishments

Highlights of the 2014-2015 work of Porter Cason Institute for the Family

View Accomplishments

Board Members

The Porter-Cason board is made up of family therapists and mental health professionals from across the globe.

View Bios

Training that creates an active learning community

We have developed a model for training that creates an active learning community where those trained participate in future trainings of others and actively work in peer supervision and support groups. We subsidize training for not for profit agencies that otherwise could not afford to get staff trained in the best evidence based and effective models of treating families, children and couples. The model enables community building , networking, resource building , cross training and experience between the private and not for profit therapeutic communities in Louisiana and throughout the deep south.

Porter Cason  Board Meeting March 2-March 4 2016

The Porter Cason Board meeting this spring will be anchored  with a community workshop by board member Dr. Harry Aponte.  He will focus on his new book,  Aponte --

Porter Cason Emotionally Focused Therapy Training and Practice Community Development Project:

The Porter Cason Institute for the Family  brought Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), an evidence based practice to Louisiana.  We have supported the training of over 60 individuals, 8 are now certified and helping with training others. Certification  requires video presentations of an individual’s work  with couples and is rigorous.   Each training sequence requires 12 full days of training before eligibility to work toward certification. We have live sessions with couples during our trainings.  We have 4 peer supervision groups reviewing each others work and studying tapes.  We have an active Louisiana steering committee and are providing preliminary introductions to the method at state professional meetings this fall.We have a Louisiana Emotionally Focused website launched.

Our Emotionally Focused Therapy training schedule for 2016 can be viewed on the continuing education webpage.  The beginning training for the required series is in January .  The description follows in this link.  Externship --

Read a description of community impact by one of the agencies receiving training.

The Porter Cason Institute  is developing a work plan to approach our project parallel to Nola for Life (City program).   In addition , The Porter Cason Institute is part of the New Orleans City work group on the children aging out of Foster Care.  This group is tasked by the mayor to develop a legislative agenda for these children.  In addition we are tasked with understanding gaps in service.  The Annie Casey Foundation is staffing the project.    

For more information

Please contact Ms. Parker Sternbergh (Director) at (504) 862-3475, or Dr. Richard Ager at (504) 862-3470.