Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry (1969-2019): 50 years of a humanistic approach to mental health at JGH

Staff members of Psychiatry in front of the Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry building commemorating the ICFP's 50th anniversary, 2019.

Staff of Psychiatry in front of the Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry building commemorating the ICFP's 50th anniversary, 2019.

Year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the JGH Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry (ICFP). The Institute houses the Department of Psychiatry outpatient clinics with a strong tradition of community outreach. The Institute is a center for psycho-social research and has a world-renowned team of scholars and clinicians in transcultural psychiatry.  Additionally, it is a prominent teaching site for McGill psychiatry residents and interns from related specialties, as well as an important venue for conferences and workshops with local and international attendance.

The hospital’s psychiatric service began as a section of the Department of Neurology in 1946. In 1952, the Department of Psychiatry was established with Dr. Saul Albert as the Chief. In 1959 Dr. Albert was succeeded by Dr. Nathan Epstein. Dr. Epstein made his mark by pioneering a novel therapeutic approach to the psychiatric patient by including the family system, which created a base for more scientifically driven Couple and Family Therapy programs in Quebec and Canada. During his tenure, research was fundamental, as well as education in various therapies. To further enhance this academic base, Dr. Epstein helped to affiliate the Department to McGill University. 

In 1966, with a generous donation of $750,000 complemented by a grant from the Federal Health Resources Fund, Dr. Epstein’s vision of building an institute to house the external clinics, research and education became feasible. The design of the building, with elongated, vertical windows and other features somewhat reminiscent of Japanese architectural style, was inspired by a trip in the mid 1960s by Dr. Ronald Feldman, then a resident, to Urbana, Illinois, USA.  Dr. Feldman later became the founding director of the JGH Child Psychiatry Division. 

In 1967, Dr. Henry Kravitz took over as the Chief of Psychiatry at JGH. He fulfilled Dr. Epstein’s vision and opened the Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry (ICFP) in 1969. The name ICFP reflects precisely “Family” and “Community”, the two key components of the philosophy of care held in Psychiatry at the JGH which is: “To view the patient not just as an individual, but as someone with a complex network of connections to family and community, against a backdrop of neighborhood, religion, race, ethnicity and a host of other factors.1” 

The opening of the ICFP in 1969 was a milestone that anchored psychiatry at the JGH. Psychiatric services were available for every stage of the lifespan, from child to geriatric. Under the leadership of Dr. Kravitz, the department flourished, and ICFP specifically became a place of pioneering activities:  the Couple and Family Therapy clinic with its unique Certificate Program for practicing therapists in the community, cultural consultation service and transcultural psychiatry research units that took root at the institute in the 1990s under Dr. Laurence Kirmayer and colleagues, and the child psychiatry that expanded its services under Dr. Ronald Feldman.

With its large amphitheatre and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, the Institute has been an important venue for clinical rounds, workshops, and conferences with international participation.
Landmark events in the evolution of services at the ICFP: 

ca. 1966: A Family Therapy Training Program opens at JGH, based on research pioneered by Dr. Nathan Epstein.

1971: A Day Centre opens at ICFP for patients needing more intense treatments, whether after discharge from the ward or to prevent hospitalization. Occupational therapy and psychological services are focal areas.

1973: Opening of the Department’s Sexual Dysfunction Treatment Centre, Behavioral Psychotherapy Clinic, Adult External Services, and the Youth Service.

1977: AMI-Quebec, a non-profit organization that helps families manage the effects of mental illness, begins its multi-decade relationship with the ICFP by holding its first meeting in the ICFP amphitheatre.

1985: The Continuing Care Clinic opens to treat schizophrenia.

1988: Dr. Philip Beck is appointed Chief of Psychiatry. 

Early 1990s: Creation of the  Culture and Mental Health Research Unit at ICFP. 

1991: The Couple and Family Therapy Training Program is granted accreditation as a post-graduate training program by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

1995: Health psychology and behavioral medicine clinical services are introduced and collaborations are reinforced with Oncology and the Neonatology follow-up clinic. Research focusing on psychosocial aspects of mental health and medical illness continues to be successful and more members of the research team are promoted to the rank of full professor at McGill University.2

1999: Dr. Michael Bond becomes Chief of Psychiatry. 

Early 2000s: Creation of a Cultural Consultation Service (CCS) at ICFP.

2010: Opening of the Ruth and Saul Kaplan Pavilion on Côte Sainte-Catherine Road, unifying all child psychiatry services under the umbrella of the JGH Centre for Child Development and Mental Health.

2013: The first fellowship in Family Therapy is created at the McGill Department of Psychiatry, under the direction of Dr. Sharon Bond, Dr. Ronald Feldman and Dr. Jaswant Guzder. 

2014: Dr. Karl Looper is appointed Chief of Psychiatry. The Couple and Family Therapy program is integrated into a Master’s program in the School of Social Work at McGill University.

2015: Dr. Karl Looper launches a series fundraising activities through JGH Foundation Mindstrong events to benefit services at the JGH Psychiatry.

2018: Launch of the Resource and Information Centre -- “ the Kiosk” in the ICFP’s lobby. Staffed by volunteers, the information kiosk collaborates with the Donald Berman UpHouse community organization to connect mental health service users with resources.

2019: As of the ICFP 50th anniversary, the Adult Psychiatry Day Treatment Program is launched in a newly renovated space in Pavilion B.

50 years after its inception, according to the Chief Psychiatrist Dr. Looper, the Psychiatry Department and the ICFP still embrace “the broad-based approach to mental health. It’s very community-oriented and humanistic, in the sense of understanding the social and cultural aspects of a patient’s life.” Also, clinicians “pay close attention to the psychological and psychotherapeutic elements, rather than simply relying on medication.3” 

This online exhibition was created to honour this landmark year by the JGH Historical Archives in collaboration with the Dr. Henry Kravitz Psychiatry Library. It aims to preserve the cultural history of the ICFP, and to share its memory with past, current and future staff, benefactors and patients. The exhibition consists of photo galleries, manuscripts by the staff, and various JGH publications that feature the Institute, as well as videos of oral history interviews with former ICFP leaders and of the memorial service for Dr. Henry Kravitz. The exhibition was only possible with invaluable help from the Psychiatry Librarian Teodora Constantinescu, and from former and current staff: Dr. Ronald Feldman (former Chief of Child Psychiatry), Ms. Alice Dind (former ICFP and Department Chief Administrator), Dr. Michael Bond (former Chief Psychiatrist), Dr. Arthur Propst, Dr. Karl Looper, and Mr. Jorge Martinez, ICFP videographer. 

Special thanks to Dr. David Goldbloom for producing the interview with Dr. Nathan Epstein in 2018, and allowing us to link to its YouTube video, and to Ms. Susan Kravitz, daughter of the late Dr. Henry Kravitz, for the generous donation of  his retirement album which showcases the camaraderie of the Psychiatry staff and those who joined the team, both at work and leisure, predominantly between late 70s and early 80s. 

We hope you enjoy the exhibition and help us share the legacy.

We continue to accept donations of archival materials to keep a growing record of the history of ICFP. More digitized material from the collection will become available throughout 2020.

1. " Seeing the psychiatric patient as more than an isolated individual.JGH News, August 2019. 
2. JGH Departmental Report 1995-1996.
3. " Celebrating five decades – and more! – of pioneering psychiatric services at the JGH." JGH News, August 2019. 
4. Kirmayer, Laurence J, et al., editors. Cultural Consultation : Encountering the Other in Mental Health Care. Springer, 2014.

Other Related Materials:
1.  ICFP 50th anniversary poster, 2019.
2. " New centre offers support to users of Psychiatry services." JGH News, January 2019.
3. " ICFP’s 50th anniversary is a highlight of Psychiatry’s JGH timeline.JGH News, August 2019.
4.  The Institute of Community and Social Psychiatry of the Jewish General Hospital - St. Catherine, Montreal. 1968/06/17-1973/05/03. Library and Archives Canada. 
5.  Jewish General Hospital, Institute of Family and Social Psychiatry. 1968. Library and Archives Canada. 
6.  Jewish General Hospital/ construction - Institute of Community & Family Psychiatry. 1968-1969. Canadian Jewish Heritage Network.
7.  50th Anniversary of the Child Psychiatry Division at the JGH 

Videos: JGH Psychiatry Pioneers

Interviews with Dr. Ronald Feldman, Dr. Ed Levinson, Judy Labow Wugalter and Dr. Jaswant Guzder were conducted by Teodora Constantinescu (librarian) and filmed by Jorge Martinez (videographer).

ICFP Building

Early Family Therapy Research

For access to the full-text of these articles, please contact the JGH Archives.

Staff Educational Activities

Dr. Michael Bond's Album, including photos of befores & afters of 4E renovation by K. Scott

For the b/w photos in this album: The JGH Archives only owns a print. The ownership and the authorship of the initial negative, plate or photo remain unknown. However most of these photos may be still under the protection of copyright. It's the requester's responsibility for the clearance of copyright.The JGH Archives can provide certain level of assistance in locating the creator(s). 

ICFP In the News

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