Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

Ellen Berman, MD

Ellen Berman, MD Founder and Director of Training 
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry

Ellen Berman, MD is a family psychiatrist who has dedicated her professional life to  connecting the worlds of psychiatry and family therapy. In 2009, she founded the Center for Couples and Adult Families in the Perelman School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry.  This followed a career of teaching family inclusion and family therapy to psychiatric residents.

Dr. Berman has been one of the few psychiatrists in the country who works with couples and adult families; she is also one of the rare family therapists who is also a psychiatrist.  This allows her a particularly broad range of skills which foster an ability to work with families where psychiatric illness impacts their life cycle.

Dr. Berman is well known as a teacher and educator; the curriculum she developed for the psychiatry residents at Penn was cited as a model curriculum by the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Training.

Her goal is to expand the ability of the Department of Psychiatry to support family inclusion, psychoeduation, and family therapy in all clinical services, and to bring research on adult families more fully into the purview of psychiatry.

Dr. Berman received her psychiatric training at the University of Pennsylvania and her training in couples and family therapy at Marriage Council of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Child Guidance clinic. She was the Director of Training at Marriage Council of Philadelphia (now Council for Relationships) from 1972 through 1984, and founded and consulted to the Women's Center at Belmont 1984 - 1996, and maintained a private practice in family psychiatry. She has lead the training program in couple and family care in the Penn Psychiatry residency since 1992.

Dr. Berman specializes in working with couples, sexuality, and relationships between adults and their parents. Her interests also include women's issues in therapy and adult development. She has been highly active in national organizations in both fields and has published in both psychiatric and family therapy journals. 

Currently, Dr. Berman is President of the Association of Family Psychiatrists; she is former Chair and current member of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry’s Committee on the Family, and has been on the editorial boards of Family Process, the Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, and Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. She was formerly on the Board of Directors of both The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), The American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA), and  The  Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry.  She is co-author of a textbook, Marital and Family Therapy 4th edition, and has published numerous articles and chapters on couples, sexuality, adult development, and training psychiatric residents.

Dr. Berman received the Practitioner of the Year Award from the Philadelphia Psychiatric Society in 2001, the Earl Bond Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2005 from the Department of Psychiatry, and the Lifetime Achievement award from the American Family Therapy Academy in 2010.

Selected recent publications include:

  • Glick, I.,Berman, E, et al.  Marital and Family Therapy 4th Edition. New York. APA Press,2000
Articles and Chapters
  • Berman, EM Gender, Sexuality and Romantic Love Genograms. DeMaria, R, Weeks, G and Hof, L. Focused Genograms, NY: Brunner Mazel 2000  
  • Berman, EM and Napier, G. The Midlife Family in Nichols, W et al, Handbook of Family Development and Intervention NY Wiley 2000
  • Ritvo, Eva, Glick, I., Berman, E.  Couples Therapy.  In Tasman, A, Kay, J, Lieberman, J. Psychiatry, 3rd  Ed, vol 2. NY:     Lippincott    2007
  • Summers, R, Berman, E. The Individual is Part of a Family.  In Psychodynamic  Therapy: A Guide to Evidence-Based Practice. Richard F. Summers MD and Jacques P. Barber PhD 2009
  • Berman, E and Wohlsifer, D.  Sexuality through the Life Cycle.  In McGoldrick, M and Garcia-Preto, N. The Expanded Family Life Cycle 3rd edition.  2010
  • Berman, E and Heru, A. Psychiatric Illness through the Life Cycle. In McGoldrick, M and Garcia-Preto, N. The Expanded Family Life Cycle 3rd edition.  2010
  • Berman, E and Heru, A. Family Systems Training in Psychiatric Residencies. Family Process Vol 44 #3   Sept 2005
  • GAP Committee on the Family, Berman E, Heru, A, Grunebaum, H, Rolland, J, Wood, B, Bruty, H. . Family Skills for General Psychiatry Residents: Meeting ACGME Core Competency Requirements. Academic Psychiatry, 2005
  • GAP Committee on the Family, Berman, E, Heru, A, Grunebaum, H, Rolland, J, Sargent, J, Wamboldt, M, McDaniel, S. Family Oriented Patient Care Through the Residency Training Cycle. Academic Psychiatry, vol 32 #2 March April 2008 p 111-118
  • Mannion, E Marin, R, Chapman, Real, L, Berman, E, Solomon, P, Dinich, D, Cantwell, K. (2012) Overcoming      Systemic Barriers to Family Inclusion in Community Psychiatry:  The Pennsylvania Experience. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation.  15 (1)

Back to Top