Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Voices — April 2020
In March, we paid homage to Women’s History Month and the strong women of this country who have paved the way to a brighter future. From past leaders like Harriet Tubman, Marie Curie, Rosa Parks, Frances Perkins, Sally Ride, and Madeline Albright to current role models such as Nancy Pelosi, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton. Girls growing up today can see female leaders in the world of politics, sports, business, science, and math, which may inspire them to pursue their dreams.
While a month dedicated to women’s history is notable, there are many rights for women that call for continued action and advocacy throughout the entire year. For example, equal pay for women should be at the forefront of social issues. As said by Michelle Obama, “The difference between a broken community and a thriving one is the presence of women who are valued.” I truly believe as a white male I have a duty to model respectful behavior towards women and advocate for equality among all genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.
With April being a month-long observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I want to draw attention to the Me Too Movement, which has inspired so many women to take a stand against sexual harassment and abuse and to say as one voice that this kind of behavior will no longer be tolerated and be without consequences to the perpetrator. If someone you know has experienced sexual assault (ie. Friends, family, co-workers, or clients), resources and reporting information is available by reading the Sexual Assault Pamphlet on the LA County District Attorney’s website.
Together as a community we must stand for equality, justice, and respect for all.
Matthew Evans, LMFT
Matthew Evans, LMFT, utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in his work as a Primary Therapist in Resilience Treatment Center’s residential program for adults.
Matthew may be contacted at email@example.com.
Friday, April 17, 2020
9:00 am-11:00 am
90-Minute Featured Presentation with Q&A
Mindfulness Skills in Times of Crisis
Mark Levine, M.D., Psy.D
When we feel stressed we naturally focus on negative thoughts and feelings. Some negative emotions are useful. Fear protects us from danger. Anger is a useful response to a threat and sadness helps us heal from loss. But many negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, panic, frustration or despair impair our ability to see and solve problems. They often prevent us from taking positive action and tend to be self-fulfilling because they influence how we perceive and engage with the world. These negative emotions add to our stress and can even make us ill. And yet it is possible to train our attention in a different way that frees us from this struggle with negative thoughts and feelings.
Friday, April 17, 2020
Online Via Zoom
Register today by clicking the Register Here button below.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
Telehealth & Keeping Your License:Things to Remember from the BBS
Today, during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the majority of licensed and registered mental health professionals in California have shifted to providing psychotherapy services using telehealth. Most are new to telemedicine and what’s required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS). Questions abound . . .
What telehealth platforms can I use during the COVID-19 public health emergency? What communication technologies are still prohibited? What communication products or technologies can I use if I want a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform for my practice? What things am I required to do with each client when I begin telehealth services? What am I required to do with clients at the beginning of each telehealth session?
The answers to these questions and more are in the three following BBS telehealth documents presented here in full for easy use and reference—with links to the original documents.
Read them. Comply with them. Keep your license, and yourself, free from unprofessional conduct and disciplinary action.
1. BBS: Standards of Practice for Telehealth California Business and Professions Code
All persons engaging in the practice of marriage and family therapy, educational psychology, clinical social work, or professional clinical counseling via telehealth, as defined in Section 2290.5 of the Code, with a client who is physically located in this State must have a valid and current license or registration issued by the Board.
All psychotherapy services offered by board licensees and registrants via telehealth fall within the jurisdiction of the board just as traditional face-to-face services do. Therefore, all psychotherapy services offered via telehealth are subject to the board's statutes and regulations.
Upon initiation of telehealth services, a licensee or registrant shall do the following:
Each time a licensee or registrant provides services via telehealth, he or she shall do the following:
Failure to comply with these provisions shall be considered unprofessional conduct.
2. BBS statement on HHS Telehealth Announcement of Enforcement Discretion
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Announcement
of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications
The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that it will exercise its enforcement discretion and will waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers that serve patients through everyday communication technologies during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
During this time, covered health care providers subject to HIPAA may provide telehealth services, in good faith, through remote communications technologies that may not fully comply with HIPAA requirements. This applies to telehealth provided for any reason, whether related to health conditions related to COVID-19 or not.
What Telehealth Platforms Can I Use?
HHS states that covered health care providers can use any non-public facing remote communication product that is available to communicate with patients. This includes popular applications that allow for video chats, such as the following:
Providers are encouraged to notify patients that these third-party applications potentially introduce privacy risks. Providers should enable all available encryption and privacy modes when using these applications.
What Platforms Are Still Prohibited?
HHS still prohibits using communication products that are public-facing. Therefore, do not use these types of platforms. Examples of public-facing communication products include, but are not limited to, the following:
I Still Want to Use a HIPAA Compliant Telehealth Platform For My Practice. What Are Some Examples Of These?
HHS provides some examples of products that are HIPAA compliant and will enter into HIPAA business associate agreements (BAAs) in connection with the provision of their video communication products. (They stress that they have not reviewed the BAAs for the below entities, and that this is not an endorsement, certification, or recommendation):
HHS Notes That HIPAA Applies Only to Covered Entitles and Business Associates. How do I Know If It Applies To Me?
HHS provides the following bulletin HIPAA Privacy and Novel Coronavirus. This topic, HIPAA Applies Only to Covered Entities and Business Associates, is covered toward the end of Page 5.
Where Can I Find More Information?
You can use the following links for more information from HHS:
3. Telehealth: BBS General Information & Requirements for Licensees & Registrants
Comprehensive Requirements and Applicable Laws
Detailed explanations regarding telehealth requirements, for licensees and registrants, are contained in the following statutes and regulations:
Clients in California
This section applies to clients who are physically located in California.
Clients Outside of California
This section applies to clients who are physically located out-of-state.
Inform and Consent
Prior to the delivery of health care via telehealth, the provider initiating the use of telehealth shall:
Additional information regarding telehealth is contained in the following statutes and regulations:
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she works with Couples and Gifted, Talented, and Creative people across the lifespan. Lynne’s been doing business and clinical coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping develop successful careers and thriving practices. To learn more about her services, training or the monthly LA Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com and www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.
Andrew Susskind,LCSW, SEP, CGP
Member Spotlight — Andrew Susskind
A colleague once asked me when I first knew I wanted to be a therapist. I answered “in utero”—half joking, but actually quite serious. You see—I grew up in a good family with a lot of problems. We tried to love one another but had no clue how to really love one another. From a very young age I assumed the role of mediator and surrogate parent, and without fully understanding it at the time, my calling as a psychotherapist was given to me at birth.
Back in the 70s and 80s when I was a child growing up on the East Coast, I visited my Aunt Ruth who was a practicing psychologist in Encino, and I looked up to her not only as the sister of my father, but also as a friend and eventually a trusted colleague. Then in 1988 I decided to make the cross-country trek from South Jersey to Sherman Oaks to follow in her footsteps, and I never looked back.
In 1989 I entered the MSW program at UCLA and was challenged and enamored with a new cohort of like-minded people, some of whom I call my closest colleagues and friends thirty years later. In 1992 I was taken under the wings of two loving and talented clinical supervisors who mentored me into their private practice group, and there my clinical journey began to take shape. In addition to private practice, I worked part-time as a hospice social worker for six years and then six more years with Kaiser’s psychiatry and addiction programs. In 2003 I took a leap of faith and entered full-time private practice at last.
After all these years, what stands out for me the most is giving back what I’ve been given. Being mentored and mentoring others is truly a rare gift. In order to stay on my growing edge, I’ve also immersed myself in the clinical communities of Brainspotting, Somatic Experiencing and Advanced Group Therapy studies, which have all enriched my life in ways unimaginable thirty years ago.
Today I enjoy teaching others through writing and speaking opportunities. I’ve given numerous presentations and workshops both locally and nationally, and recently, I’ve chosen to focus more closely on addictions and trauma, based on my personal and professional experiences. Last June my second book It’s Not About the Sex: Moving from Isolation to Intimacy was published by Central Recovery Press. This has been a passion project that was held respectfully by my editor and publisher, and it has allowed me to spread the word about a topic very close to my heart.
I look back on this three-decade adventure with awe and wonder as I feel more grateful than ever to be a part of our healing community. As I enter my fourth decade of clinical work, I find myself more stimulated than ever as I continue to learn and grow beside my clients and colleagues. Because I’ve never seen myself as a lone ranger in private practice, I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie of being a part of an organization like CAMFT. Although I’m fairly new to the Los Angeles chapter, I hope to get to know many of you along the way.
Andrew Susskind is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Somatic Experiencing and Brainspotting Practitioner and Certified Group Psychotherapist based in West Los Angeles since 1992 specializing in trauma and addictions. He serves on the faculty for the Principles of Group Psychotherapy Course and has mentored associates in his private practice since 1997. Visit www.westsidetherapist.com for more information about Andrew’s practice, blog and podcast.
LMFT, NMP, CGP
Spring Cleaning for Your Marketing Sites
When was the last time you updated your Psychology Today profile? Or GoodGood Therapy? I recently reviewed all of my online profiles and did some spring cleaning, updating the content and eliminating the profiles I no longer need. LA-CAMFT offers member an online profile, I noticed I hadn’t updated mine in a while, and I needed to add my new co-ed group.
Once I finished my updates, I considered the cost and value of each of my memberships. Good Therapy currently costs $323 a year. It seems expensive but if it brings me one client a year it pays for itself; the problem is it’s not always clear which referrals come from this source. I’d like to know if my membership increases my odds of appearing in a Google search, so I contacted Good Therapy; unfortunately, I was unable to get a clear answer. I’m sticking with this membership for now, but I plan to reevaluate it next year.
Psychology Today costs $29.95 a month, and a good number of viable clients have found me on Psychology Today, along with many others who I need to refer elsewhere. It increases my search presence and it appears to be worth the cost. I have several other profiles related to my specialty areas like Brainspotting, EMDR and NARM, and I also use LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
One of my favorite networking groups is WAAT, the Women’s Association for Addiction Treatment. It’s a warm and welcoming group. I attended their meetings regularly for six years, but now the meetings conflict with my schedule and it’s time for me to end my membership. I’ll still attend their annual conference, but I don’t need to maintain an online presence.
I try to update my profiles regularly, but sometimes I fall behind. I’d love to hear about your practice and what sites you use for referrals. You can find me online or in person at an LA-CAMFT meeting.
Maria Gray, LMFT, NMP, CGP, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Century City, where she specializes in trauma and addictions and leads groups. Maria offers individual business consultation and workshops for therapists who want to thrive in private practice. To learn more, go to www.mariagray.net.
Can You Depression-Proof Your Life?
The Depression VaccineGregg Henriques, Ph.D., Director of The Combined Clinical and School Psychology Doctoral Program at James Madison University, posits that depression is “a state of behavioral shutdown,” rather than a “disease of the brain.”
Henriques tells us, “Depression can emerge as a state of shutdown when we perceive a lack of opportunities for positive investment in a world full of threats.” He calls this framework the Behavioral Shutdown Model (BSM).
How Does the BSM Work?Animals behave in a way that maximizes their benefit to cost ratio. This happens in 2 ways: 1. Maximizing benefit, and 2. Minimizing cost. Humans are no different.
Maximizing Benefits:When we are full of positive psychic energy, we work to maximize benefits. We work hard to get that promotion, find that partner, learn that skill or sport.
Minimizing Costs:When we are in a state of low psychic energy, we work instead to minimize cost. Animals do this also—they hibernate, they sleep, they rest from exhaustion. When we work to minimize psychic cost, the result can be depression.
We shut down in response to our perception of the world as a place that is dangerous, or where we can’t possibly succeed. This leads to a downshift in mood, and begins the cycle that leads us into the cave of depression.
The Healthy Response to Behavioral ShutdownBehavioral shutdown, rather than being automatically diagnosed as clinical depression, can simply be a signal to pay attention to the critical components that need to be addressed in order to feel safe enough to begin the cycle of behavioral engagement.
Why We Get Depressed:Henriques gives specific reasons why depression rates have been skyrocketing, especially among young people:
1. Modern LifestylesOur bodies and our minds are adapted to work best in closely-connected social groups, but society today is isolating and emphasizes the individual over the group.
2. Adverse Life EventsThings sometimes happen that seem overwhelmingly negative and we can’t see any way out. This makes us more likely to be depressed.
3. Individual DifferencesSome people simply have a lower set point for mood.
4. Poor Coping SkillsPeople who naturally cope by avoiding problems, or by forming negative opinions about themselves are more likely to become depressed.
How Do We Get Out of This Cycle?Two of the most important things that will get one out of this downward spiral into depression are
1. An attitude of hope, and 2. Willingness to expend effort. Unfortunately, as we therapists well know, these two things are extremely hard to do if you are already feeling depressed.
So How Can We Help?The best thing we can do is to help our clients address the above four areas prophylactically—or, at the very least, before they have spiraled too far into what Henriques refers to as “the cave of depression”.
It makes good sense for us to check that all of our clients are addressing the four areas that can lead to depression, and that we teach them to recognize when they start to slip so they can catch themselves and course-correct.
Here are the tools we can give our clients to address the four areas of vulnerability:
The BSM reminds us that teaching clients to “depression-proof” their lives is something we should keep in mind for all of our clients, since the environmental factors that can lead to depression affect all of us at some point in our lives. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to keep these skills in mind for ourselves, as well!
Lost After College: Where Do I Belong? What Do I Do?
You are standing in your cap and gown, that precious diploma clasped firmly in your hand. Or you just graduated from a trade school or career academy with a certificate which entitles you to practice in your chosen field. You had a great time learning new skills, being with friends in classes which ranged from fascinating to tediously boring. But, you knew you were working toward a goal: graduating with legitimate papers which would allow you access to a career or job in the real world.
You may have been the shining star in your Theatre Arts major, appearing in every play, usually in the lead role. Life was good. Your dreams were coming true and you were eager to join the ranks of the successful working actresses in Los Angeles. Your Dad was a very successful producer at one of the major studios, so he was able to get you signed with one of the top international talent agencies.
So why did she enter my office, depressed, discouraged and mentally and emotionally beaten up by the pursuit of success in the world of entertainment? It seems like the cards had been stacked in her favor. Why did her first marriage fail so miserably? Why was her “best friend” a manipulative hanger on who was with her only to benefit herself? What happened to that wonderful four years in college where her star had shone so brightly.
This lovely young lady had grown up in a highly dysfunctional family which had left her deeply scarred by the trauma. Acting was a great way to escape from the painful memories of what she had endured throughout her childhood. Another great escape was to hide in her “love” relationships. Her college boyfriend and later first husband cheated on her and would undress pretty coeds on campus with his leering eyes. She had grown so familiar and “comfortable” with unfeeling, insensitive and boorish men like her father, that she thought their behavior towards her was “true love.”
How could I help her? What did she need from therapy? She needed to find her true self, hidden beneath the childhood wounds suffered in her family of origin. She needed to find her place in the world as an individual with great sensitivity, tremendous talent and a kind heart. She needed to heal the trauma of her early years so that she could recognize that she had always been a wonderful spirit who had been badly misused in her family.
I work with many gifted and talented individuals who need guidance and healing so that their light will shine in all areas of their lives: career, love relationships and friendships. As I look back at my 30 years of practice as a psychotherapist, I smile and am thankful that I was able to help so many unhappy, discouraged, lost souls by teaching them to discover that beautiful person beneath their pain. They grew in confidence, listened to that voice of intuition and knew exactly how and where to use their gifts in successful careers.
I use Family Systems theory as the basis of the therapeutic journey. Children are like sponges, absorbing everything they see, feel and hear. I remember what Virginia Satir wrote in Conjoint Family Therapy: “The marital relationship is the axis around which all other family relationships are formed. The mates are the “architects” of the family. A pained marital relationship tends to produce dysfunctional parenting.”
One very important tool I use in my exploration into the family system is the Life Script Questionnaire. The Questionnaire has 72 questions about the parents as the child experienced them as a child and in the present as an adult. There are questions about the client’s reactions and responses to growing up in this family and the society at large. Who named you? How did your parents criticize/compliment you? What did you decide about life when you were little? Did you have a favorite movie, TV show or book? When you are feeling badly, what is the feeling you most often have?
My individual client will perhaps for the first time really look at the family in which he/she grew up and begin to understand how and why he/she made certain choices regarding education and careers. The client will begin to understand the difficulties encountered in entering adulthood and finding the perfect manner and area where his/her talents and light may shine. I encourage and teach my clients how to truly love themselves, identify their strengths, special gifts and talents and have confidence in their ideas.
Leila Aboohamad, LMFT, is a psychotherapist practicing in Brentwood, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles, California. She specializes in helping individuals and couples create successful, committed loving relationships. She has studied and practiced spirituality and mindfulness for over 35 years. Leila also works with gifted, talented and creative adults helping them to identify and share their special gifts and passions with the world. Website: www.leilalmft.com.
Jonathan Flier’s President’s Message
If you are wondering if you should renew or join the chapter for the first time, allow me to highlight a most excellent reason.
We Are A VillageWhat does that mean? Why would I desire or need a village in my life? What are my responsibilities and privileges if I belong to a village?
From the beginning of my tenure as President, I have promoted the idea that LA‐CAMFT should have the look and feel of a village. A village is a location, in both a "real" and a "virtual" world. It’s a real world gathering place where you experience with every event you attend this village, where you are welcomed and you feel connected, where you have come to learn and share a common experience, where you feel heard and responded to and hear and respond to others. Examples would be our Monthly Networking Events, Special Interest Group meetings (such as our Somatic, Expressive Arts, and Pre-Licensed 3000 Club), formal and informal sponsored social events, subgroup planning meetings, peer supervision groups and Board of Directors meetings.
There is also a virtual village, which may occur within a physical setting, an internalized setting or both simultaneously. The virtual village is one we carry with us throughout our daily lives. It embodies the sense of belongingness and the support and care received or longed for in our familial and social life. It's a neural, biological, emotional, sensory and intellectually holistic experience. It is a lifelong developmental necessity and a life without it creates a hunger, an unfulfilled longing. This longing is rampant throughout our communities and one of the primary causes of emotional and physical turmoil and distress in the world around us.
We promote ourselves as healers of this distress and we know that we must be in a process of healing ourselves to help heal others. So, you may ask, "why be a member of LA‐CAMFT, to others when members and nonmembers can partake in most of our organizational events?"
Jonathan Flier, LMFT, has served on the Board of Directors of statewide CAMFT. In 2008 he became President and restarted the Los Angeles Chapter of CAMFT. He has supervised associates for over 20 years at the Southern California Counseling Center and has a thriving practice that specializes in working with men treating trauma and anxiety with somatic based therapies including EMDR, high conflict couples and passionless couples and consultations with licensed MFTs and LCSWs.
Attention LA-CAMFT Members!
2020 LA-CAMFT Board Meeting Dates
Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at a LA-CAMFT Full Board Meeting? LA-CAMFT members are invited to attend monthly Full Board Meetings hosted at Factor’s Deli in West Los Angeles.
April 10, 2020
May 8, 2020
June 6, 2020 (Board Retreat)
July 10, 2020
August 14, 2020
September 4, 2020
October 9, 2020
November 13, 2020
9420 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Voices Publication Guidelines for 2020
Calling all community writers and contributors!
Are you searching for a unique platform to express your passions and showcase your expertise in the Marriage and Family Therapy field? Look no further, as we welcome your input!
Following are the due dates and publication guidelines for submitting articles and ads for the 2020 calendar year to Voices, LA-CAMFT's monthly newsletter:
LA-CAMFT Publishing Guidelines for Voices
Join Our Mailing List
California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
Los Angeles Chapter