Stephen A. Kurtz

The Institute was founded by psychoanalyst Stephen Kurtz

Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence, the nation’s first African-American woman psychoanalyst and founding 
trustees of Harlem Family Institute

Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence, the nation’s first African-American woman psychoanalyst and a founding trustee of Harlem Family Institute

Dr. Robert Coles a founding 
trustees of Harlem Family Institute

Dr. Robert Coles a founding trustee of Harlem Family Institute


Our History

The Harlem Family Institute was founded in 1991 to serve a struggling and neglected population – impoverished or low-income children in Harlem schools and their families.

Then, as now, it offered therapy free to the families served and provided affordable post-graduate psychoanalytic training to aspiring psychoanalysts, especially those from ethnic groups that had been under-represented in the field. However, the Institute currently is weighing introducing low nominal fees.

Children's Storefront in Harlem HFI grew from an school-based service at the Children's Storefront in Harlem. The Institute was founded by psychoanalyst Stephen Kurtz as a school-based service for children and parents at a Harlem independent, tuition-free school, the Children’s Storefront, founded and run by poet and educationist Ned O’Gorman.

The Institute, which grew out of a service that Mr. Kurtz had created at the school in the late 1980s, was originally incorporated as the Harlem Psycholanalytic Institute on February 21, 1991, when it was granted a provisional charter by the New York State Board of Regents.

The founding board included Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence, the nation’s first African-American woman psychoanalyst and first African-American woman pediatrician, and also Harvard child psychiatrist Dr. Robert Coles, who has researched and written extensively about the moral and spiritual life of children. Other founding trustees included Ned O’Gorman, Tamar Turin Opler, Constance W. Brown, George S. Getzel of the Hunter College School of Social Work, and Elisabeth Radow, the Institute's first president, after she had accomplished all the extensive, preparatory legal and organizational work pro bono.

Ned O'Gorman,  head-master of the Children's Storefront Ned O’Gorman, founder and first principal of Harlem's Children’s Storefront school Since the Institute’s inception, its altruistic mission has attracted experienced professional psychoanalysts from many institutes across New York to help train its student analysts. As the trainee base grew along with the need in Harlem communities and their schools, the Institute expanded into other school settings as well as community sites serving after-school programs and services. It has since worked with 12 schools in the Harlem community.

The Institute has graduated more than 60 psychoanalysts or psychoanalytic therapists from its programs, more than half of them African-Americans or Latinos/as, and has offered more than 65,000 therapy sessions to children and families, many of whom wouldn’t have had long-term therapy without the Institute’s programs.

Since 1991, it has given youngsters a safe space to voice their feelings, to learn to use their strengths to manage the challenges they face each day, and to discover new ways to relate to the world. It has provided free long-term therapy to many hundreds underserved children and their families – a respectable number given the work’s long-term nature.

The Institute’s charter now authorizes it to operate beyond Harlem in other underserved or economically disadvantaged communities and to offer additional services, including public-education programs and psychological-testing services.