Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Voices — January 2024

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  • 12/31/2023 11:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Jennifer Stonefield, LMFT
    President, LA-CAMFT

    Welcome to LA-CAMFT 2024!

    For those of you who don’t know me yet, I came onto the LA-CAMFT Board of Directors as Secretary in 2020, just as the pandemic hit and everything was changing. As the rest of the world was shutting-down, my professional world was opening-up. Being on the LA-CAMFT Board of Directors gave me the opportunity to meet amazingly strong clinicians, who even in the toughest and most isolated of times became a pillar of strength for me that I never thought possible.

    As President, I want to build upon the already established foundations within LA-CAMFT, and further strengthen the connections between us, as we all get to know each other better—because as strong as we might be individually, we are even stronger working together as a community.

    With that, I’d love to take this opportunity to introduce you to the other members of your 2024 LA-CAMFT board:

    Past President:Christina “Tina” Cacho Sakai, LMFT

    President-Elect: Akiah “Kiah” Selwa, LMFT (also, Therapist of Color Grant Award Committee Chair)

    Chief Financial Officer: Di Wilson, LMFT

    Secretary:Kimberly Morgan, LMFT

    Diversity Committee Chair:Stara Shakti, LMFT

    Speaker Chair:Elizabeth Sterbenz, LMFT

    CE Network Events Chair:Jenni J.V. Wilson, LMFT

    Pre-licensed Representative:Javan Taherkhani, LMFT

    Special Events Chair:Suzy Herbert, LMFT

    Sponsorship and Community Relations Chair: Brian Hart, LMFT

    Communications and Marketing Chair:Lexi Berard, AMFT

    Special Interest Groups Chair:Sandi Bohle, AMFT

    Board Members-At-Large:

    Sahaja Douglass, LMFT
    Leanne Nettles, LMFT
    Keonna Robinson, LMFT (also, Therapist of Color Mentorship Committee Chair)

    I am honored to serve alongside each of our returning and newest LA-CAMFT leaders and board members. And while some well-known faces may be taking a break or moving on from their long-held board positions this year, I’m excited that they will continue to be a part of LA-CAMFT leadership in other ways.

    I look forward to seeing you at one of the upcoming online CE events—January will feature Angela Gee, LMFT, introducing us to pertinent issues that impact mental health in the Adoption Community—or one of the fun in-person networking activities we have planned this year. Please come up and introduce yourself, or find me at President@LACAMFT.org!.

    There is strength in numbers, and I hope some of you who may have hesitated in the past will reach out and join us in advancing the fortification of LA-CAMFT’s award-winning programming, resources, supports, and collective bonds. Let’s make 2024 another wonderful year! 


    Jennifer Stonefield, LMFT

    Jennifer Stonefield, LMFT, is Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She’s always had a passion for psychology and going on the therapeutic journey with her clients reminds her of this every day. She has a wide array of clinical experience ranging from working with children in an educational setting to those suffering from dementia to individual work in several group, private practices where age holds no boundaries. She has an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. Jennifer applies a person-centered approach when working with clients, as she believes that a “one size fits all” approach simply won’t cut it.

  • 12/31/2023 10:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT January 2024
    ONLINE CE Presentation
    including Q&A


    Mental Health and
    the Adoption Community:
    Serving the Needs of
    The Adoption Kinship Network

    Friday, January 19, 2024
    9:00 am-11:00 am

    2 CE Credits

    Online Via Zoom

    Mental Health and the Adoption Community:
    Serving the Needs of The Adoption Kinship Network

    Angela Gee, LMFT

    Adoption is a family building event that has a lifelong impact on each member of the Adoption Kinship Network (including but not limited to birth/first family, adoptive family and foster/adoptee). There are distinct developmental, neurobiological, psychological and social/cultural/
    environmental implications for this population that mental health clinicians may face. Child and adolescent adoptees, those in foster care or alumni are recipients of mental health services at a significantly higher percentage than the general population. The intention of this presentation is to contextualize clinical approaches through an adoption lens and to share appropriate therapeutic interventions to meet those needs from a strength-based, culturally competent framework

    Event Details: Friday, January 19, 2024, 9:00 am-11:00 am (PT)
    Where: Online Via Zoom

    After you register you will be emailed a Zoom link the Thursday before the presentation.

    More information and register today by clicking the Register Here button below.

    Register Here

  • 12/31/2023 9:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
    Voices Editor

    Getting Paid: Making It Easier for Those Who Need You to Find You: Practical Marketing Tips for Psychotherapists

    In the world of private psychotherapy practice, the journey to success is not just about honing therapeutic skills; it's also about reaching the individuals who can benefit from your expertise.

    Great marketing serves as the bridge that connects you with those who need your help, making it easier for them to find you and your services.

    In this article, we'll explore key strategies that can help you enhance your marketing efforts and ensure that your services are visible to the right audience.

    1. Crafting a Compelling Online Presence: Your website is often the first point of contact for potential clients. Ensure that it reflects your professional identity, is easy to navigate, and provides essential information about your services, approach, and expertise. Use language that resonates with your target audience, emphasizing the benefits they can gain from working with you. Include a professional bio, testimonials, and a clear call-to-action to encourage visitors to reach out.

    2. Utilize Social Media Effectively: Leverage the power of social media platforms to expand your reach and engage with your audience. Create a business profile on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn, and regularly share content that highlights your expertise, shares valuable insights, and humanizes your practice. Engaging content can spark interest and establish a connection with potential clients, making them more likely to reach out for your services.

    3. SEO Optimization for Visibility: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial for making your practice discoverable online. Optimize your website content with relevant keywords related to your specialty and location. This will improve your ranking on search engines, making it more likely that individuals searching for therapy in your area will find your practice. Local SEO is particularly important for attracting clients in your geographical vicinity.

    4. Content Marketing and Blogging: Position yourself as an expert in your field by creating insightful and informative content through blogging. Share your knowledge on mental health topics, therapy techniques, or self-help advice. These types of accessible and relatable short articles not only showcase your expertise but also provide valuable resources for potential clients. Regularly updating your blog can enhance your website's SEO and keep your audience engaged.

    5. Engage with Your Community: Establish a presence in your local community by participating in events, workshops, or collaborations with other professionals. Consider offering workshops or webinars on mental health topics to demonstrate your commitment to community well-being. Building relationships with local businesses, schools, or healthcare providers can also lead to referrals and enhance your visibility.

    6. Build a Strong Referral Network: Cultivate relationships with other therapists, healthcare professionals, and community leaders who may refer clients to your practice. Establishing a strong local referral network of well connected and influential members of the community can significantly boost your client base. Keep an open line of communication with these professionals, and reciprocate by referring clients when appropriate.

    7. Consistent Branding Across Platforms: Maintain a cohesive brand identity across all marketing channels. Consistent branding, including your logo, photo, colors, and messaging, help create a memorable and professional image and brand. This unity builds trust and recognition, making it easier for potential clients to remember and choose your services.

    As you can see, great marketing is an essential aspect of a successful psychotherapy private practice. By creating a compelling online presence, utilizing social media, optimizing for SEO, engaging with your community, building a referral network, and maintaining consistent branding, you can make it easier for the people who need your expertise to find you.

    Remember, marketing is an ongoing process, and adapting these strategies to your unique practice will contribute to its growth and success.

    Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she works with Couples and Gifted, Talented, and Creative Adults across the lifespan. Lynne’s been doing business and clinical coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping professionals develop even more successful careers and practices. To learn more about her in-person and online services, workshops or monthly no-cost Online Networking & Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com or www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.

  • 12/31/2023 8:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Marvin Whistler

    LA-CAMFT Therapists of Color Grant Award: Grant Award Registration Open

    The next cycle for the grant will begin on January 2, 2024. It is limited to members of LA-CAMFT, and the award is limited to once per calendar year.

    Description of Grant Stipend

    Every 4 months (3x per year), a grant award will be offered to two applicants who meet the following criteria: (1) must be a current LA-CAMFT member, (2) identify as a Therapist of Color, and (3) must be either an Associate, Trainee, or Student still in graduate school.

    Grant winners will receive

    • $530 to be spent at the winner’s discretion.
    • Free admission to 3 LA-CAMFT workshops or networking events of the winner’s choosing, with the exception of the Law & Ethics Workshop.

    The $530 award can be used at the recipient’s discretion based on their own individual needs (whether it be for BBS fees, testing materials, memberships, rent, groceries, etc.). Confirmation for the purpose that the money is used will not be required.

    Application and Selection Process

    Interested members can complete the application on the LA-CAMFT website. The selection process entails using a Randomized Generator of the applicants who met the full criteria and complete the application online to take out human bias and decrease activation of one's trauma history. The drawing will be recorded via Zoom and posted onto social media along with an announcement naming the grant winners, who will also be contacted via email directly. Registration for the next award cycle will open on January 2, 2024, and will close on February 24, 2024. The drawing will take place on February 25, 2024.

    Best regards,

    The LA-CAMFT TOC Grant Committee

  • 12/31/2023 7:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Stara Shakti,
    Committee Chair

    The Future of Diversity is . . .  Intersectional!

    Hi, I’m Stara Shakti, LA-CAMFT’s new Diversity Committee Chair for 2024! If you don’t already know me, I’ve been active in DC leadership roles, since being one of its Founding Members, including: Visionary, Co-Founder, and Co-Facilitator of the Therapists of Color (TOC) Support Group, AAPI Therapists Circle Co-Facilitator, Member of / Mentor in the TOC Mentorship Program, and Board Member-At-Large. 

    Since Diversity Committee (DC) was founded in 2017, it’s been focused on racial and ethnic diversity, which made sense at the time, with the murder of George Floyd, a summer of racial protests, etc. Many of us have felt it’s now time for LA-CAMFT to move into the future—a future that is intersectional, where young people are more queer, mixed-race, non-binary (NB), etc. than ever before. To continue to be relevant to younger generations, our organization needs to evolve with the times. 

    As the new Diversity Chair in 2024, I want to go beyond DEI awareness / integration work—to increase broader awareness in LA-CAMFT membership of the “diversity within diversity,” what we in the DC affectionately call “Race AND . . . 

    Together, we’ll do this by educating our community on intersectionality: what is it and how it impacts those with multiple marginalized identities, the increased minority stress that comes from belonging to two or more of identity groups, i.e.: LGBTQ+, POC / BIPOC, immigrants or 1st-generation Americans, Neurodivergents, and/or other over-colonialized, under-nourished populations. 

    My vision for LA-CAMFT: Let’s build upon the success of our Diversity Committee to redefine the future of the DC.—one that is more inclusive to therapists with multiple marginalizing identities. 

    Let’s create more spaces for those who are “more than one thing,” i.e., race AND…LGBTQ+, neurodivergents, etc. Let’s raise up more intersectional leaders, so the leadership in our thriving, diverse community reflects the fullness of who we are! 

    Wanna help the DC grow this focus on intersectionality? 

    Wanna be an active participant in the next level of de-colonializing ourselves?

    Then let us know! 

    We are looking for new leaders and helpers to step up into their power in 2024, especially: Co-Chair, Secretary, and other positions. 

    Never been in a leadership position? We’ll help guide and mentor you. What’s it like working on the DC? It can be intense and emotional, but also extremely validating and supportive. When doing this important work in the world, we share the load—but also encourage initiative, creativity and ownership in the group. 

    If you feel called to be part of this, please join us! 

    One Last Note

    If the idea of joining the Diversity Committee sounds exciting to you, but maybe you fear burnout . . . please, just come to one meeting and check it out! 

    All are welcome to say “hi” and explore whether this might be for you! 

    Also . . . I am passionate about finding ways to nurture our DC leaders to create more sustainable community, i.e., I’m pushing for a TOC support group Facilitator Retreat, and, who knows . . . ? Maybe monthly D.C. Socials / Happy Hours, where we can learn about each other in non-work ways
    and . . . have FUN! And REST! Because YES . . . we, especially we, need to give ourselves permission to live lives we truly love! Let’s take care of each other, y’all!

    Stara Shakti LMFT, is a Trauma Specialist, and Healer/Lightworker with a private therapy practice in Los Angeles. Stara helps young adults in their 20s and 30s who are queer (LGBTQ+), people of color (POC/BIPOC), first-gen Americans, and neurodivergents heal from past trauma so they can learn to love themselves, fully express all of who they are in the world, and have healthier adult relationships in a healthier world. Website: www.StaraShaktiLMFT.com.

  • 12/31/2023 6:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Chellie Campbell,
    Financial Stress
    Reduction Expert

    The Wealthy Spirit: Marge Morning

    "You must lose a fly to catch a trout.

                               George Herbert

    Marge Thompson is my bookkeeper. She is a smart businesswoman from Central America with one of those melodious honey voices that lulls you just listening to her. An ace bookkeeper, she efficiently crunches all my numbers one morning per month. I look forward to “Marge Morning.” I feel quite pampered when she comes, especially since I’m a bookkeeper myself. I could certainly do my own books and save money—right?

    Wrong. My goal, my mission is to help people make more money and have more time off for fun. Performing tasks like bookkeeping or house cleaning are off-purpose to that mission. They are subsidiary activities that cost me time and energy away from my purpose.

    I always tell people the workshop business is a simple one consisting of only three main tasks: 1) network to find people who are interested in the class, 2) call the people and enroll them in the class, and 3) teach the class. Everything else is of minor importance.

    I hired Marge when I saw I was dreading bookkeeping day—and that it was keeping me off of the telephone talking with people, which is my primary task. So, I decided to shell out the money to have it done for me. It seemed like a big luxury at the time, and I was a little nervous. My demon voice told me I was being ridiculous, that I could do this work so I should do it.

    The first day Marge came to do my bookkeeping, I took my phone into the bedroom and enrolled two people in my class during the four hours she was here. That’s one thousand dollars times two, which means I made two thousand dollars. I paid Marge two hundred dollars, so I figure I made a profit of eighteen hundred dollars from hiring a bookkeeper, a decision which at first glance looked like it would cost me two hundred dollars.

    The next time she came, I took a nap. The profit I made from that activity is less obvious, but a profit nonetheless. I had started to get into overwhelm and overwork, which leads to burnout. I had networked morning, noon, and night, given speeches, coached people, and made call after call on the golden phone.

    Money was great, but my number one piece of business equipment—my body—was shot. Burnout was approaching. It’s hard to look successful when you’re tired! So, I put my body in the body shop—my bed. I used my “Marge Morning” to nurture myself, relax and replenish my energy. That, too, is profitable for me.

    Marge is not a luxury. She is a necessity. And she always makes me money!

    You might want to look for a Marge yourself.

    Today’s Affirmation:
    “The more I delegate the more money I make!”

    Prosperity Is A Habit. You Have To Practice It Every Day.

    Chellie Campbell, Financial Stress Reduction Expertis the author of bestselling books The Wealthy Spirit, Zero to Zillionaire, and From Worry to Wealthy: A Woman’s Guide to Financial Success Without the Stress. She has been treating Money Disorders like Spending Bulimia and Income Anorexia in her Financial Stress Reduction® Workshops for over 25 years and is still speaking, writing, and teaching workshops—now as Zoom classes and The Wealthy Spirit Group on Facebookwith participants from all over the world. Website: www.chellie.com.

  • 12/31/2023 5:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT Diversity Committee

    Therapists of Color Support Group

    Sunday, January 14, 2024

    Second Sunday of Every Month

    11:00 am-1:00 pm

    Via Zoom

    Therapists of Color Support Group

    A safe place to receive peer support and process experiences of racism (systemic, social, and internalized), discrimination, implicit bias, racist injury, aggression, and micro-aggressions, along with additional experiences that therapists of color encounter in the field of mental health.

    Open to LA-CAMFT Members and Non-Members
    Second Sunday of Each Month
    Location: Zoom Meeting

    For more information, contact the LA-CAMFT Diversity Committee at DiversityCommittee@lacamft.org.

    Licensed Therapists, Associates, and Students

    Event Details: 
    Sunday, January 14, 2024, 11:00 am-1:00 pm (PT)
    Time of Check-In: 10:50 am

    Online Via Zoom
    Once you have registered for the presentation, we will email you a link to Zoom a few days before the presentation.

    No Charge

    Online Registration CLOSES on the day of the event.

    Questions about Registration? Contact Diversity Committee, diversitycommittee@lacamft.org.

    Register Here

  • 12/31/2023 4:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Steven Unruh,
    MDiv, LMFT

    Post-Divorce Custody Battles:
    The Trauma to Kids

    CUSTODY DISPUTES "post-divorce" can cause MORE HARM than the divorce itself. This is because the child does not have a sense of time. They are RE-TRAUMATIZED as the fighting continues. Research shows that many negative impacts, severe depression, and anxiety usually do occur in the child when the anger between the parents continues after the divorce. 

    WHY . . . do parents have custody disputes post-divorce? 

    Factors That Lead to Child Custody Battles 

    1. Similar Problems Still Exist Post-Divorce

    The problems that occurred during the marriage don’t just magically disappear with divorce. Things like communication issues, hostility, and resentment remain. These issues often come out in custody disputes. 

    The most common reason that conflict continues even after the divorce is related to what happened during the marriage itself. While married, one parent believes that the other parent is lacking in basic parental skills. Maybe they see the other parent as irresponsible for not getting help for an addiction issue. Whether the marriage was plagued by infidelity, addiction, or trust issues, these will remain after divorce unless both parents do some serious self-work. 

    John and Pam: When John picks up the kids from his ex-wife Pam’s house, he learns that she did not put the kids to bed on time, and they didn’t do their homework. Perhaps they had fast food for dinner. As a result, even after the divorce, John and Pam continue to argue just as they did before. Both continue to berate the other in front of the children, which is confusing and harmful to the emotional stability of the child. 

    2. War Over Money 

    Things can get ugly when money is involved. Unfortunately, this is especially true when it comes to divorce cases. One parent may believe that the other one cares more about money than their child. They may accuse the other parent of being selfish and not contributing to their children’s needs. 

    Perhaps one parent isn’t thinking about what is in the best interest of their teen/ kid. INSTEAD, they only want to spend less money on child support. They may be demanding 50/50 custody solely for the purpose of paying less money, even if this does not fit the scheduling, the school location, nor the development needs of each particular child. 

    Fights over child support can cause years of resentment and severe conflict, especially when the custody issues end up BACK in court. This is why MEDIATION post-divorce is so crucial. It keeps you out of court. 

    The mediator's goal is to understand each party's concerns and issues around custody. He/she works to create solutions that most appropriately fit the needs of your child. 

    3. Mental Health Issues Are Interfering 

    Sometimes when dealing with child custody issues, one of the problems may be that one or both parents have a mental health issue that is affecting their ability to parent. This can cause serious custody disputes.  

    Things like substance abuse, mood disorders, and personality disorders can make it hard for one or both parents to resolve issues. These issues can cause a lot of chaos and unpredictability, which can lead to problems.  

    If one of the parents has a personality disorder like narcissism or borderline personality disorder, they may be unable to see the pain that they are causing their children. They may lack empathy and scream at their kids calling them names, oblivious to the damage they are causing. This is seen in the FATHER/ MOTHER MALICIOUS SYNDROME. 

    The problem is that the parent with the MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE may see themselves as competent, when in fact, they are not. They may be totally unrealistic in their view of themselves as it relates to their parenting abilities. 

    THIS IS WHY your mediator should be a LICENSED CLINICIAN. They have the training and skill to work with difficult personalities and abusive behavior. 

    4. Punishing the Other Parent 

    Often, in many divorce cases, one of the spouses does not want the divorce. They’re enraged over the fact that they can’t stop it, that they can’t control the situation. As a result, they become bitter and angry. Often this is demonstrated in how they use the children to punish the other parent. This is sometimes called malicious parent syndrome or malicious mother/ father syndrome. 

    The parent who is bitter may not show up to take the child to a special event as they had promised. Or they may pick them up late. Possibly they keep them longer than they’re supposed to in order to intentionally frustrate the other parent. Out of bitterness, they are sabotaging the custody arrangements. They are using their kids as pawns to get back at the other parent or for the purpose of parental alienation—to turn their children against the other. As a result, the kids feel unimportant and unworthy. 

    The mediator is a guide, a negotiator and an EDUCATOR. They are compassionate but ‘direct and firm’ about the damage this type of negative and bitter behavior has on one's child. 

    What Can You Do? 

    As a parent, you play a significant role in your children’s adjustment to the divorce. Here are some strategies to help you avoid custody disputes.  

    1. Practice Competent Listening

    One of the keys to learning how to co-parent as divorced individuals, as it relates to creating an appropriate parenting plan, is developing your listening skills. I call this competent listening. 

    This means that you put your agenda aside when you have conversations about the kids. 

    Stop trying to convince the other of how bad their parenting is. Instead, state your concerns, and allow them to express themselves. 

    Stop arguing. 

    If they argue with you, ask questions to get a clear understanding of what they believe. This should slow things down. Then, state your reasons again and let them know that this is how you will respond in the future. 

    Arguing will only remove the chance of them ‘’thinking.’’ Demonstrating that you really want to understand them will dilute the hostility. But at the same time, reaffirm your boundaries, letting them know how you intend to act in future conflicts. 

    Take note of when you yourself are becoming hostile. You can practice mindfulness to learn how to notice and to stop it when you are becoming hostile or overreacting. Try to stay in the conversation. It may take professional help in learning this skill. 

    2. Seek Professional Help 

    One of the goals of getting counseling is to help both of you understand how children are affected by your arguing. It’s educating both of you in terms of the trauma that is caused by further custody battles. 

    Also, it’s important that you take note of when you are becoming hostile. You can practice mindfulness to learn how to notice and to stop it when you are becoming hostile or overreacting. Try to stay in the conversation. It may take professional help in learning this skill. 

    This information will hopefully subdue some of the arguments and bring more realistic solutions to the custody issues. A professional mediator will show you appropriate ways of answering and communicating without forcing your agenda. 

    Professional help will educate you about the developmental and emotional needs of your children. This is key for helping them as they move on in life and strive to develop healthy and meaningful relationships. 

    3. Minimize Interactions With The Other Parent 

    If need be, because of a mental health issue or in cases where the other parent is abusive, it’s best to just minimize contact with the other parent as much as possible. You may need to get the courts involved to do this, and that is okay. Never feel guilty about acting in the best interests of your child or children. 

    Final Thoughts 

    For the sake of your children, it’s important to try to co-parent in a respectful, compassionate, and cooperative manner. The ex will always be your child's other parent. Don’t use your children as pawns in a battle with your ex. They are the ones who suffer the most.

    Steven Unruh, MA, MDiv, is a Divorce Mediator and LMFT. He and his team at Unruh Mediation complete the entire divorce process, including all assets, pensions, properties, alimony and child supportalong with all required documentation. Unruh Mediation files in 13 different courthouses throughout Southern California. Website: stevenunruh.com.

  • 12/31/2023 3:30 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT Diversity Committee

    Asian American Pacific Islander+
    Therapists Circle

    Friday, January 19, 2024

    Third Friday of Every Month

    1:30 pm-3:00 pm

    Via Zoom

    Asian American Pacific Islander+ Therapists Circle

    A safe and empowering place for therapists of the Asian diaspora to experience healing, renewal, and belonging. We will collectively process experiences of racism and internalized oppression. We will also explore the coexistence of privilege and marginalization along with invisibility and hypervigilance. This space will help us appreciate and reclaim what we have in common while honoring our differences. Grace Lee Boggs notes, “The only way to survive is by taking care of one another.” May this circle embody her words.

    Open to LA-CAMFT Members and Non-Members

    Third Friday of this Month
    Location: Zoom Meeting

    For more information contact Rachell Alger,  rachellalgermft@gmail.com.

    Licensed Therapists, Associates, and Students

    Event Details: 
    Friday, January 19, 2024, 1:30 pm-3:00 pm (PT)
    Time of Check-In: 1:20 pm

    Online Via Zoom
    Once you have registered for the presentation, we will email you a link to Zoom a few days before the presentation.

    No Charge

    Online Registration CLOSES on the date of the event.
    (Registration closes 1.5 hours prior to the meeting.)

    Questions about Registration? Contact Akiah Robinson Selwa at diversitycommitee@lacamft.org.

    Register Here

  • 12/31/2023 3:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Joanna Poppink, LMFT

    Support Eating Disorder Recovery at Home after Hospitalization

    Home after eating disorder emergency rescue
    After her emergency six-week hospitalization for eating disorder recovery, Bethany asked me if bringing her home living space into order will help her stabilize. To me, it sounds as if her emergency escort to the hospital was a rescue mission, and that she is lucky she the medical team saved her life.

    Now it's time for her to take over and rescue her own life. That's true for everyone with an eating disorder. The big questions are when to start? what to do? how to start? 

    The time to start home self-care is now.

    How to start? This question relates uniquely to each person. However, the answer at home is usually right before your eyes. As old school 12-step says, "Do what is in front of you to do." Then follow it. If the window is dirty, wash it. If a paper clip on the floor, pick it up. Then see what's next. If it's a phone call to make or hair to wash and comb, or a diaper to change, or a bed to make, or dishes to wash, or an appointment to keep, do it. Then you'll see what comes next.

    If you can see what's in front of you to do and take healthy and practical action regardless of how you feel you are on a positive path. But maybe you can't see that path. Maybe you're flooded with so many tasks and feelings that you are immobilized. What then? That's when people ask, "What should I do?"

    Bethany asks, "Should I clear out and organize my home?"

    I say, "Yes!"

    Living with an eating disorder in control of your actions leads to chaos in your life and environment. Creating a healthy structure that will hold your life securely even when you feel insecure is the foundation that will keep your life and your relationships intact.

    What's above reflects what's below and vice versa. Inner chaos creates outer chaos in your home, your file system, your closets, your car, your purse, your kitchen cupboards, your work, your relationships. Everywhere you look you see the chaos theme reinforced. That view goes in your psyche, and you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

    You know where feeling overwhelmed leads: binge, purge and more.

    Great way to start maintaining eating disorder recovery.

    Yes, Bethany. 

    1. Clear the clutter out of your home. It will help you clear out what's unnecessary in your mind.
    2. Get rid of what doesn't work for you, especially if it's broken. That will help you get rid of your reliance on old ways of thinking that don't work for you.
    3. Put some beauty in your home. That will help you smile and be more comfortable in your own skin.
    4. If you have large things that are not relevant to your life but hold emotional memories you want to preserve (like furniture), take a photo of them. Keep the photo. Donate the item. Give yourself the gift of space while honoring your memories.

    Organization and streamlining is certainly not a substitute for the ongoing and deep psychotherapy that is necessary for eating disorder recovery. But, cleaning, organizing your home and bringing beauty to your environment is a strong move to reinforce your self-esteem and your eating disorder recovery.

    By supplying yourself with a healthy balance of what you need in your environment, your environment will support your health. It will help you follow through on your goals and bring more balance and health to your life.

    You can give yourself the firm and stable holding environment the hospital gave you to see your through your crisis. Now that you are home again you can recreate your home to be your own caring environment. 

    Your caring and thoughtful attention to your home as a supportive and serene environment transforms into wise and compassionate self-care. You stabilize your path to eating disorder recovery.

    Joanna Poppink, LMFT, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of Healing Your Hungry Heart: Recovering from Your Eating Disorder, is in private practice and specializes in Eating Disorder Recovery for adult women and with an emphasis on building a fulfilling life beyond recovery. She is licensed in California, Florida, Oregon, and Utah. All appointments are virtual. Website: EatingDisorderRecovery.net

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