Family Therapy Training Institute of Miami
Training therapists to help 
at-risk children and their families
through the model evidence based program
Brief Strategic Family Therapy®(BSFT®)
Contact Information
1221 Brickell Avenue,
9th Floor, Miami, FL 33131
Toll Free: (888) 527 -3828

FAX: (786) 953-8404



Welcome Team # 3 From the left Top row:

LaNeisha Murphy now training as a BSFT Supervisor (BCS), Candace Trato, Shayna Irvine, our own Silvia Kaminsky, Vanessa Vodel

Bottom row: Nicole Nasierowski and Shanita Theil

Last Updated on:: 02 / 22 / 2017
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Olga E. Hervis, M.S.W, LCSW
Executive Director
Model Developer


Olga E. Hervis, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. is the co-author and co-developer of Brief Strategic Family Therapy® (BSFT®)  and Family Effectiveness Training (FET). BSFT is a nationally recognized-award winning, evidence-based, effective and practical approach for the treatment of children and adolescents exhibiting problem behaviors, substance abuse and associated risk factors, as well as for strengthening families. FET is the early prevention, psycho-educational offshoot of BSFT that targets a younger, pre-symptomatic yet at risk group of children and their families.

In the 1970's, Hervis spent years conducting research, developing the therapeutic models, and designing and conducting training programs. In 2003, she founded the Family Therapy Training Institute of Miami as a private effort to disseminate these models and the clinical findings of 35 years of education, research and practice in this field.

Hervis holds a Master's degree from Barry University and has completed post-graduate training in New York (Nathan Ackerman Family Institute), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic), Louisiana (Gestalt Institute of New Orleans), and Florida (Gestalt Therapy Institute of Florida and Southern Institute for NLP). Hervis is an original founding member of the American Academy of Family Therapy (AFTA) as well as a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and the International Family Therapy Association (IFTA).

Hervis has held academic positions at the University of Miami, Florida International University and Barry University. She has also been a collaborator in scientific work conducted by other institutions of higher learning, and has served in numerous national grant review committees for the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Justice.

Hervis has won numerous awards for BSFT, including the 2000 Exemplary Model in Substance Abuse Prevention Award presented to her and Szapocznik by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention in Washington, DC. Family Effectiveness Training, which was also developed by Szapocznik and Hervis was also selected a winner of the 2000 Exemplary Model in Substance Abuse Prevention Award by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.

She is extensively published in books and scientific journals and has been teaching family therapy and training other family therapy trainers both nationally and internationally for over 40 years.


Silvia M. Kaminsky, M.S.Ed., LMFT, CAP
Deputy Director
Master Trainer


Silvia M. Kaminsky, M.S.Ed., LMFT, CAP, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, as well as a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with the National Board of Certified Clinical Hypnotherapy, and a Certified Professional Coach. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and a M.S.Ed. In Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. She has 26 years of clinical experience, the past 23 years in private practice in South Miami, Florida. Ms. Kaminsky has worked as a clinical supervisor in both agency settings and her private practice for the past 23 years. She is a Qualified Supervisor in Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling in the State of Florida. Ms. Kaminsky has trained with Olga Hervis at the Center for Family Studies at the University of Miami's Department of Psychiatry since 1987, and is a Certified Brief Strategic Family Therapist (BSFT®) as well as a BSFT Certified Master Trainer and Supervisor.

In addition to Ms. Kaminsky's clinical and supervisory background, Ms. Kaminsky has held several leadership positions in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). She has served as President of the Miami-Dade Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, has been President of the Florida Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, has been on the AAMFT Board of Directors, and has been Treasurer of AAMFT.  As part of her involvement with AAMFT and FAMFT, Ms. Kaminsky has lobbied on a state and national level regarding issues and legislature which impacts the practice of marriage and family therapy and the mental health care of clients. Ms. Kaminsky has presented in conferences and workshops on a local, state and national level on topics in the areas of marriage and family therapy, HIV, addictions and legal/ethical issues, and of course, Brief Strategic Family Therapy.


Adriana von Simson, LCSW
BSFT® Trainer


Adriana von Simson holds an MSW in Clinical Social Work from Boston College and a BA in Educational Psychology from the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She also completed extensive post-graduate work in Family Therapy at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic where she trained in Minuchin’s Structural Family Therapy.

Her professional experience includes working at the Center for Family Studies of the University of Miami where she was a BSFT Facilitator in a research study for “Preventing Drug Use and HIV in Hispanic Adolescents”. Also, Adriana was a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Aging and Adult Development at the University of Miami providing BSFT to caregivers and families of Altzheimers patients. She co-authored the article “Innovative Family and Technological Interventions for Encouraging Leisure Activities in Caregivers of Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease”.

Adriana trained and worked under Olga Hervis at the Center for Family Studies at the University of Miami's Department of Psychiatry. In her work at the Family Therapy Training Institute of Miami, she supervises BSFT candidates for Certification throughout the United States as part of the dissemination and service implementation work of the FTTIM. She is also actively involved in the on-going process of refinement and testing of the BSFT training model.


Patsy Shaffer, MSW, LCSW-C
BSFT® Trainer


Patsy is a licensed family therapist practicing in Maryland. Patsy received her BA in social work from Western Maryland College and her MSW from the University of Maryland. Her professional experience includes: substance abuse treatment for adolescents and adults; mental health treatment for individuals and families; clinical supervision of licensed therapists and masters-level interns; and Social Work Practice instruction at McDaniel College. 

Patsy is currently on staff at the Carroll County Youth Service Bureau (CCYSB), where she serves as the program coordinator for the Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT) Program. She and her colleagues at CCYSB and the Local Management Board, elevated the BSFT program to a model for the “implementation of BSFT in an outpatient mental health setting”, and for these efforts were awarded the 2009 SAMHSA Science and Service Award.

Since 2004, Patsy has worked extensively with the Family Therapy Training Institute of Miami (FTTIM) to expand the parameters of the BSFT® program. Currently, in addition to providing therapy to local families, the BSFT program has earned the distinction of a statewide and national resource in the supervision, training, and implementation of the BSFT model. Patsy is currently a certified BSFT therapist, as well as a certified supervisor and BSFT trainer.

Debra Miller, MSW, LMSW, QMHP, CMHP
BSFT® Trainer

Deb Miller

Debra is a Master's Social Worker practicing in Michigan, with 21 years of clinical and supervisory experience working with families in health care and community-based agency settings. She received her degree at Michigan State University.

Deb is currently on staff at the Community Mental Health for Central Michigan (CMHCM), serving as the Trainer, Supervisor and program coordinator for the Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT) Program. CMHCM is a 6 county community mental health board that is in its 7th year of implementing a very successful BSFT program. She supervises a most competent staff of 18 Certified BSFT therapists, having recently trained Liz Davis as a BCS (BSFT Certified Supervisor).

Since 2009, Deb has worked extensively with the Family Therapy Training Institute of Miami (FTTIM). As a staunch BSFT supporter, she has been a presenter at the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards, and the State of Michigan's Substance Use Disorder Conference, speaking on BSFT implementation and coordination with other evidence based practices. Additionally, she has presented on topics related to early childhood programming and client management in mental health services. Speaking on topics related to grief, bereavement, and trauma, she has often presented at the Michigan Prevention Network for Substance Abuse.

Debra resides in Midland, MI. with her husband, children, and Golden Retriever.  She is an exercise enthusiast, enjoying running, yoga, and Pilates. 

Deb is an outstanding member of our training staff, invaluable to our Institute.

Kathleen A. Shea, Ph.D.
Advisory Board


Kathleen Shea, Ph.D.,  holds a doctorate from the University of Miami in Higher Education Administration, and a Master's in counseling from the University of Dayton (Ohio). Dr. Shea's experience includes university teaching, research, and administration; healthcare marketing; project management; and consulting.  Kathy was the original Administrator for FTTIM, serving our clients and Institute staff with the utmost level of excellence for over 7 years.
Kathy has consulted with educational and human service organizations on organization development, assessment, and evaluation projects. She has special interest in organization development from a structural-functional point of view. She is a former Vice President of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and served on the board of directors for National Small Business United (NSBU). She is a founder of the Women's Fund of Miami-Dade County, and the Community Coalition for Women’s History.

She served on the City of Miami Commission on the Status of Women, as well as on the boards of the Economic Opportunity Family Health Center, the South Florida Medical Foundation, and the AvMed Member Council.



Annette Perez. B.B.A.
Coordinator of Finance and Operations


Annette Perez joined FTTIM in 2007. She enjoys an extensive background in administrative management and bookkeeping. Annette most recently had a 17 year tenure as the Office Manager of a highly successful ophthalmology clinic in South Florida. Previously, she was administrator for an interior design firm, and the bookkeeper for a local restaurant. In her “free” time, Annette is also a nationally-certified personal fitness trainer, which the FTTIM staff appreciates!





Lisa Bokalders, B.S. Ed



Lisa Bokalders holds a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Miami, and certification in Management Training from the Xerox International Center for Training and Management Development. Lisa is fluent in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, which enhances our Institute’s ability to meet the needs of the multi-cultural environment.

During her 35-year tenure at Xerox Corporation, Lisa was a consistent award winner for her leadership and achievements in Training, Administration, and Sales. She was a consultant and co-developer for the Xerox National Education trainers’ programs and curricula. 


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