Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT

President's Message

04/30/2022 11:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

Leanne Nettles, LMFT
President, LA-CAMFT

Community x3: Pandemic Connection

For part 3 of my Community-focused President’s Message series, I’d like to focus on the community aspect of DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) that often goes ignored: belonging. See the March and April 2022 Voices Newsletters for my President’s Messages on Community Mental Health and rebuilding community in a time of social distancing during the pandemic. 

In many California MFT grad programs, students are required to become a member of state-wide CAMFT. Then comes learning about the smaller chapters throughout the state which one can also join. In all honesty, I remember initially enrolling in both my state and local chapter, sticking with it for a few years after graduation, and then eventually pausing to consider, “Is this right for me? Is investing my money into this organization worthwhile? Is this a space where I truly belong?” Over the years, I have heard many other therapists ponder those same questions. And for many, the conclusion they have come to is “No. I don’t belong here.

Why is that? As I’ve explored this question of belonging with others, common themes have arisen. Significantly, I have heard people share their perspectives that CAMFT and its chapters are heavily focused on one demographic of people, one style of therapeutic practice, and is not as inclusive as it should be. Thus, when therapists don’t see those like themselves and their work being represented within the organization, they feel they don’t belong. While it would be simple to dismiss this perspective as individual opinions and continue business-as-usual, LA-CAMFT believes it is important to truly listen to this important feedback, examine inward, and do something about it!

Authors Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy describe it this way: "Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice be heard." (https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/what-is-diversity-inclusion-and-belonging/).

Just having differently-colored faces in a room is NOT enough to truly embody Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. We are an organization that values ALL in the therapeutic community. And I want to shout out loud that YOU BELONG!! But I understand actions speak louder than words. So here is some of what we’ve been doing to make LA-CAMFT a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive space where people can truly feel they belong:

  • Pressing into our action plan that was created in collaboration with the Los Angeles therapeutic community to address areas of historic inequity in the field.
  • Remaining committed to continue our Anti-Racism Roundtable series this year.
  • Partnering with other CAMFT chapters to increase DEI development throughout California.
  • Improved membership applications to include more inclusive language. (https://lacamft.org/LA-CAMFT-Member-Application)
  • Rolled out an unprecedented mentorship program for therapists of color, by therapists of color. (https://lacamft.org/Therapist-of-Color-Mentorship-Program)
  • Offering ongoing Therapist of Color Support Group at no cost. (https://lacamft.org/event-4665698)
  • Offering ongoing Black Therapist Support Group at no cost. (https://lacamft.org/event-4665721)
  • Offering ongoing White Therapists Anti-racist Group. (https://lacamft.org/Voices-November-2021/11575660)
  • Developing Asian Therapist Support Group.
  • Planning Middle Eastern Therapist Support Group.
  • Revamping LGBTQ+ Special Interest Group.
  • Initiated and awarded 4 pre-licensed members through our ongoing Therapist of Color Grant program to increase equity and accessibility into the field. (https://lacamft.org/LA-CAMFT-Grant-Award-(June-2022))
  • Creating initiatives to increase access for therapists in Community Mental Health.
  • Ensuring topics and presenters for networking events are increasingly diverse.
  • Hosting fun gatherings in-person and online to increase community connection.
  • Emphasizing diversity in thought, experience, and representation in the LA-CAMFT Board and leadership.

On Friday, May 20th, we will also be hosting a CE event on the topic of Liberation Psychology from Dr. Edil Torres Rivera, Ph.D. Please consider joining! You can register at www.lacamft.org. 

As our guiding principle, we boldly stand behind LA-CAMFT’s Declaration of Inclusion, Diversity, and Anti-Racism (https://lacamft.org/page-1670057):

Psychotherapy can be transformative in a democratic society, and can open intellectual inquiry that, at its best, influences and results in lasting positive change. In recognition of our shared humanity and concern for our community and world, LA-CAMFT loudly and overtly disavows all racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, classism, ableism, ageism, and hate speech or actions that attempt to silence, threaten, and degrade others. We in LA-CAMFT leadership hereby affirm our solidarity with those individuals and groups most at risk and further declare that embracing diversity and fostering inclusivity are central to the mission of our organization.” 

As always, we can’t do any of this without all of our amazing volunteers! If you would like to learn more about how you can volunteer on a small or large scale to help foster true belonging for everyone in the therapeutic community, please reach out to me at president@lacamft.org. You can also contact our Diversity Committee at diversitycommittee@lacamft.org, and our Special Interest Groups at sigchair@lacamft.org.

Your voice matters! And you belong here. We welcome your culturally authentic self :)

Until next time, blessings, 

Leanne Nettles

Leanne Nettles, LMFT is a School-based Clinical Program Manager in a community-mental health agency and an Adjunct Professor at Pacific Oaks College. She specializes in child and adolescent therapy, while practicing and supervising from a systemic and structural therapy approach. Leanne works to advocate for cultural diversity and equity within the field, and is passionate about training quality mental health professionals to serve low income, historically disenfranchised communities using a team-based, collaborative approach.

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