History – Vision – Mission

The Houston Galveston Institute (dba HGI Counseling, formerly the Galveston Family Institute), is internationally recognized for its innovative contributions to the advancements of theory, psychotherapy practice, and research, and to the development of creative contexts for learning, practice, and research. It has distinguished itself by its unique developments in brief therapy and has been acclaimed for Collaborative Therapy with its emphasis on the role of language, narrative and conversation in therapy, the not-knowing position, and the translation of these concepts into work with difficult life situations. Students and professionals world-wide come to study at the Institute.

The Institute, a private, non-profit organization, was founded in 1978 by Harold A. Goolishian, Harlene Anderson, George Pulliam and Paul Dell to meet the demand for mental health professionals seeking to increase their understanding of families and their skills in systems-oriented therapy with individuals, couples, families, and groups. Some of the early lectures and publications can be viewed here and here. The Institute has rich history of identifying services and populations that are in need and developing innovative and ground-breaking programs to meet those needs.

The Institute regards people as possessing the strengths and expertise to manage their personal and professional lives in a healthy productive manner. Everyone faces problems as they go through life. A problem, whether a major issue or a minor concern can make life difficult. We work with people in a respectful, cooperative partnership model to help them access their own natural resources and competencies and to develop unique ways to address their concerns and solve their problems.

The Institute tailors learning activities to students’ and professionals’ individual needs and work settings. Training programs are based on a collaborative, personalized model in which participation and curiosity are encouraged and in which the trainee’s expertise and ideas are respected. In this learning partnership, exchange among faculty and learner is highly encouraged.

HGI has accomplished much in over 40 years. Our most important accomplishment is reaching clients who are difficult to reach, who are disillusioned with therapy, who have given up hope for the future, or who have succumbed to the idea that they are mentally ill and will never function.  HGI has been known as a “last stop” for people who have been considered “treatment failure.  With success at creating new understandings with these clients, and we see hope and possibilities blossom every day.  Publications from HGI faculty number over 500, and we are highly regarded for our work on an international level.

With experience responding to disasters, HGI stepped forward in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Harvey.  In response to Hurricane Katrina, HGI designed and directed the mental health system at the George R. Brown Convention Center mega-shelter, which serves as a model for more recent disasters.  Several publications, by HGI faculty, describe this effort.  HGI received grants and donations and created a program to reach new Houstonians, displaced from New Orleans called the Rolling Conversations Project. A 32-foot recreational vehicle was designed as a moveable office taking therapists to apartment complexes around the city to meet with clients who otherwise would not access services.

HGI continues to support and respond to crises, including being called to support communities after school shootings and other violence, participating in long-term recovery committees, planning resiliency and recovery events and workshops, and being a founding partner of the Greater Houston Healing Collaborative.

In addition to our Disaster Mental Health Response, HGI has accomplished much doing clinical work in the community.  Our flexibility and collaborative approach has led to the creation of many innovative and successful programs. For more than twenty-five years we worked with people referred by Children’s Protective Services.  HGI has worked with children at-risk and their families through three decades of work with Community Youth Services and Communities in Schools.  Currently, HGI offers School-Based Mental Health Services to the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District, and has counselors who partner and support 40 of their schools.  Our Open Community Clinic provides services for self-payors, insured, under- and uninsured.  HGI provides a sliding scale for these clients, who are often underserved in the community. 

In 2020, a year in which online therapy became the delivery system, HGI provided over 7,100 hours of clinical services. COVID-19 forced clients and therapists to use teletherapy and despite some apprehension, found that this resource was effective and efficient.  Support from the government, funders and donors has made it possible to come through the pandemic successfully, however additional support is always needed to subsidize therapy, as almost all of the clients served through HGI are unable to cover the fee.  Donations are always welcome.

HGI is dedicated to life-long learning, and offers a variety of learning opportunities.  We provide internships for University of Houston – Clear Lake, Sam Houston State University and Our Lady of the Lake University, Houston, and national doctoral programs at universities such as Iowa State, Purdue, Texas Tech, Union, and Virginia Tech. We host a fellowship program with the Seminary of the Southwest, who provide bilingual fellows for two-year positions in our Fort Bend Office. The Edith and Robert Zinn Bilingual Fellowship has recently been funded with a generous donation that will provide positions for new graduates to be supervised and work at HGI starting in 2022.

Our International Certificate in Collaborative and Dialogical Program (ICCP) trains professionals through a 20-month intensive co-hosted by HGI and the Taos Institute.  Our learners in this program can choose our local, in-person program or our online international program.  We have high quality and cutting-edge continuing education programs and draw national and international participants to visitor study programs, conferences, symposia and seminars.


Transforming lives and communities with innovative and collaborative therapy, training and research.

Mission Strategies
To provide educational programs and continuing education for mental health professionals; to provide effective and efficient psychotherapy services; to provide program and management consultation services to businesses, organizations, and educational systems; and to provide research on the development of and approach to problems experienced by individuals, couples, families, and other human systems.


The Houston Galveston Institute will be a recognized leader in the dynamic evolution of innovative, effective and accessible psychotherapy approaches.

Value Statement

At HGI, we regard people as possessing the strengths and expertise to manage personal and professional lives in a healthy, productive manner. We work with people in respectful, cooperative partnerships to access natural resources and competencies and to develop ways to address their concerns and solve problems.  Training is based in collaborative learning in which participation and curiosity are encouraged and in which the trainee’s expertise and ideas are respected.

Our commitments are to serve people, not the categories that they are boxed into.  We recognize the importance of these categories to help professionals communicate with each other; however, they are not equivalent to a person’s identity. We work with, and learn from, people who are often considered chronic treatment failures, resistant, multi-problem and difficult.  These clients/families are often blamed for their lack of success in treatment; however we believe the responsibility for success is shared with the professionals.  We believe that one reason therapy fails is because clients are expected to fit into the providers’ treatment approach, rather than visa versa.  People are valued and so are their ideas and experiences of problems, pain, suffering, change, solutions, successes and failures as issues of human relationships, language and understanding.  At HGI, we are determined to learn from our clients:  what they think they need; what they would like to accomplish; and, how we can best be of help.

We are committed to the ongoing struggle to free ourselves from limits in thinking about how to be helpful; to create environments that support the creative process.

Current and Former Partners


Fort Bend Seniors

Lamar Consolidated Independent School District

Attack Poverty

Fort Bend County Long-Term Recovery Committee- Spiritual and Mental Health


Communities in Schools

            Alief ISD, Houston ISD, Lone Star College System

Domestic Relations Office

Covenant House

Harris County Mental Health Court- Judge Jan Crocker


Harris County Children’s Protective Services

Harris County Community Youth Services

Attorney General’s Office, Harris County

Harris County Long-Term Recovery Committee

ACAM- Alliance of Community Assistance Ministries- Humble, League City, Memorial

Harris County Adult Probation

Harris County Juvenile Probation

E.C.H.O.S.-  Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services