Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Voices — May 2023
Christina “Tina” Cacho Sakai, LMFTPresident, LA-CAMFT
New and Returning
Allow me to introduce you to new members of the LA-CAMFT Board of Directors, Keonna Robinson, LMFT—Therapist of Color Mentorship Program Chair, Board Member At-Large AND Diversity Committee Member who fills in to co-facilitate the Black Therapist Support Group and Therapist of Color Support Group and returning member of the LA-CAMFT Board of Directors, Jill Landefeld, LMFT‑—Membership Chair AND White Therapist Anti-Racist Group Member.
I had the honor of getting to know Keonna Robinson, LMFT when she applied to be a Therapist of Color Mentor during the first round of the mentorship program last year. Not only was Keonna willing to be a mentor she was also willing to take on 5 mentees in a group. Keonna emailed us with thoughtful questions about the program and shared critical information she was incorporating in her mentorship group.
It was clear that Keonna had a passion for being a mentor. Keonna quickly became part of the TOC Mentorship Program Committee, then TOC Mentorship Co-Chair and now the TOC Mentorship Chair and LA-CAMFT Board Member At-Large. It is with high regard that I share Keonna’s “why” journey to becoming a new LA-CAMFT leader.
Keonna shares her “why” to becoming a Therapist of Color Mentor:
Keonna shares what she learned about leadership through the TOC Mentorship Program Committee:
Keonna shares what leadership role she brings as Board Member At-Large:
I had the honor to first get to know Jill Landefeld, LMFT back when we were both working for DMH contracted Community Mental Health Agencies and attending School Based Mental Health Collaborative Meetings for Service Area 3 & 7. Jill has 25 years of working in Community Mental Health Agencies (Starview, San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center, Hathaway and Aviva), 10 years working in Private Practice and currently works at Trauma and Beyond Psychological Center. For all of you that don’t know, Jill was a LA-CAMFT Board Member and Membership Chair back in the 1980’s where she doubled the Chapter’s Membership in 1 year! It is with high regard that I share Jill’s “why” to becoming a returning LA-CAMFT Leader:
Jill’s “why” to becoming a Returning LA-CAMFT Leader:
Jill’s hopes and dreams with her leadership on the LA-CAMFT Board of Directors:
Special thank you to Keonna and Jill for allowing me to interview you and share your greatness with the broader LA-CAMFT Community! If you would like to get in contact with either of them, you could find them here: https://lacamft.org/Board-of-Directors-2023. If you are interested in leadership opportunities, please email me directly at President@lacamft.org
Hope to connect soon!
Christina “Tina” Cacho Sakai, LMFT
Friday, June 2, 2023
10:00 am-11:00 am
Online Via Zoom
Branding goes beyond just a logo or a tagline. It encompasses how you present yourself to the world, your professional identity, and the values you uphold in your practice. By establishing a clear and compelling brand, you can differentiate yourself from other therapists, build trust with potential clients, and create a memorable impression in their minds. In this workshop, we will delve into the fundamental aspects of branding and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to identify and create your own unique brand as a therapist.
Event Details: Friday, June 2, 2023, 10:00 am-11:00 am (PT)
Where: Online Via Zoom
More information and register today by clicking the Register Here button below.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFTVoices Editor
Getting Paid: Key Differences in Marketing & Branding Approaches with Insurance-Based and Private-Pay Clients
Private-pay clients are seeking out an expert in the field. When you are in a private-pay practice, your marketing and branding must reflect that.
When it comes to seeking out therapy services, a client’s decision-making process can vary greatly depending on the type of practice, the therapist’s expertise, and the payment structure. Research reveals that insurance-based clients generally select a therapist based on who takes their insurance and the convenience of appointments. This usually leads insurance-based clients to choose a therapist based solely on price and insurance coverage, rather than on expertise or personal fit.
This is NOT the case with private-pay clients.
Private-pay clients who select therapists in private practice are seeking out an expert in the field and are usually looking for a more personalized, specialized approach. Because private-pay clients want a therapist who is knowledgeable, experienced, and an expert in the areas of their concerns, these clients are willing to prioritize the therapist's expertise over factors such as price, insurance coverage, and location—and are willing to pay out-of-pocket for the services of a highly skilled and experienced therapist.
For therapists in private-pay private practices, it is important to tailor marketing and branding efforts to attract and this type of client and referral. Since these clients are seeking out an expert in the field, your marketing and branding has to focus on and reflect that.
Ensuring that the overall client experience is positive, responsive, and supportive is another key factor in attracting, retaining, and continuously keeping your practice full with private-pay clients. Because these clients are often seeking a high level of personalized attention and care, the therapist's communication style, responsiveness, and attention to detail can all play a role in their decision-making process.
This may involve responding promptly enough to texts, DMs, emails, and voicemails, as well as having an engaging professional website with content that addresses their concerns, an interesting social media presence or platform with videos, images, and interesting content, and implementing effective communication strategies.
It also may involve highlighting your areas of expertise in your networking introductions as well as on your website, social media, email communications and other promotional materials. Including appropriate testimonials can also be effective in demonstrating a therapist's effectiveness and success in treating specific issues.
As you can see, insurance-based clients and private-pay private practice clients have different priorities when it comes to choosing a therapist. Private-pay clients prioritize finding an expert in the field who is responsive to them and can address their specific concerns and issues. As a therapist in private practice, it's important to understand this about your target audience and tailor your marketing and branding efforts accordingly.
Focus on your expertise and specialization, develop an engaging website that demonstrates that; utilize social media in interesting ways that your clientele appreciates; build relationships with other like-minded and allied professionals; and offer value-added services such as books, webinars, workshops, talks, and retreats to differentiate your practice and attract private-pay clients and referrals.
While insurance-based clients may prioritize convenience and insurance coverage in their decision-making process, private-pay clients are seeking out an expert in the field and are willing to pay for a personalized and specialized approach. Therapists in private-pay private practices must tailor their marketing efforts towards this type of client, highlighting their experience and expertise, and providing a high level of personalized attention and care. By doing so, they can attract and retain a clientele that values their skills and expertise, and is willing pay for their services.
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.
Monday, May 15, 2023
6:30 pm-7:30 pm
Private Practice, Agency, or Community Mental Health:
Which to Choose?
Aurora Kaye, AMFT
Anna Chen, AMFT, APCC
Maaliyah Harris, AMFT
What is the difference in working in private practice, an agency, or community mental health? Which would be the right fit for me? Many of us have asked these questions to ourselves, whether we're in school figuring out what job to get after graduation, an associate wanting to know what path we see ourselves going down, or licensed and thinking about a switch. In this three-person panel, a knowledgeable associate from each space will be present to share their experiences and answer your questions.
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.
Connie Zweig, Ph.D.
My Retirement from Clinical Practice:
A Late-Life Ritual
Throughout my career as a therapist, I shared intense intimacy with clients and guided them where others fear to tread—into the shadow. I felt privileged to mentor them and watch them alter deeply ingrained patterns and lead more fulfilling lives.
But during my sixty-eighth year, I noticed a restlessness, a stirring that I had felt several times before at the end of a cycle and the beginning of another—when I had stopped teaching meditation but had no vision of a new career and felt like I stepped off a cliff; when I had stopped working in journalism but didn’t hear a new call and stepped into the unknown; when I had left book publishing to go to psychology grad school, but without financial or emotional support. Each time my soul had whispered, and I left behind a former role and entered liminal space, not knowing what lay ahead. Each time, a path appeared, with allies and guides and, eventually, a fulfilling destination.
Then, I was aware of approaching a threshold again. I noticed that it no longer bothered me when clients disappeared without a formal closure. Previously, I felt that I was left holding the relationship when a client stopped communicating. Now, I could let it go. Previously, I looked forward to traveling from the mountains into town. Now, I didn’t want to do the drive. Previously, I enjoyed traveling into others’ inner worlds. Now, I wanted more time to explore my own.
My attention was moving away from the work, and my heart was opening in other ways. What was it moving toward? A new orientation to time—less structure, more flow. A new orientation to responsibility—less obligation, more choice. A new orientation to purpose—from role to soul.
Then, the most essential question arose: Who am I, if I’m not Dr. Connie, a therapist, the shadow expert? What would it mean to let go of my role and my brand? What have I sacrificed to maintain that role? Who am I if I am no longer the Doer? How do I overcome resistance to letting go in this transition?
First, I stopped accepting new clients. When they emailed, I took a breath, wished them well, and referred them out.
Next, I began discussing my departure with clients, exploring how to move toward completion.
A few months later, the opportunity came to give up my city office. I went for it—and let go into the unknown.
I suspected that, with the gain of freedom, there also would be loss. I would feel less needed and less important for a while. I would feel less secure and more uncertain for a time. It would change my partnership with my husband, who was still working. And I might feel less purposeful and a bit disoriented, with the path ahead still hidden.
Perhaps hardest of all, I would lose the precious vehicle, the clinical relationship, in which to transmit all that I’ve learned from my own inner work, intellectual development, and spiritual growth to others. As I’ve carried that positive projection over the years, I’ve become accustomed to wearing it like a gown and standing in the archetype for them, rather than disclosing my personal story. It will be a loss to give up the power and status of that projection—and a gain to cultivate more equal and reciprocal relationships. It will be a loss to give up the “brand” of shadow expert—and a gain to extend it into this whole new territory of late life.
So, for me, retirement from clinical practice was not simply stepping away from paid work at the office. It meant retiring a spiritual path to my own deepening and widening awareness. It meant retiring the need to help; it meant retiring the need for answers; it meant retiring the need to be appreciated. It meant retiring from a life that’s known and facing an unknown, liminal time. And it meant retiring a practice of love that connected me to the depths of the human soul and to the journey of the human species. It has been a privilege.
I decided to mark it with intention, with a rite of passage, because I knew I was letting go, stepping into liminal space, and would emerge with the renewed vitality of an Elder.
One night I gathered a circle of friends and colleagues to ritualize my retirement from clinical practice. I lit candles and lowered the lights. I read for a few minutes from the opening to this chapter so that my observers would share my framework. Then I lifted each of four white cards, one at a time, that had my careers written on them: meditation teacher, journalist, book editor, therapist. And I lifted the five books that have been my gifts to the world.
I spoke for a bit about who might have been influenced by my work, including the known influences, such as my meditation students and therapy clients, and the unknown influences, such as readers of the books I wrote or the hundred books I edited, whom I would never meet. And I acknowledged myself for these contributions and deeply felt the value of those years spent working.
I held up these symbols of my work, roles, and responsibilities and offered them to the world: “I bless and release you to find your way now.” And, letting go in my heart, I set them down.
Then I asked each member of the group to offer a blessing. I stood for a moment, then crossed a threshold of silver tape on the floor, empty-handed, into open space.
When I wake up now, I breathe deeply and look around in wonder. I’m retiring the past. I’m retiring the future. I’m practicing presence. Just here. Aging breath by breath. Intending to live as a soul.
Connie Zweig, Ph.D., Retired therapist and author, is a wife and grandmother, and an initiated Elder by Sage-ing International. After investing in all these roles and doing contemplative practices for 50 years, she is practicing the shift from role to soul—and authored her new book, The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul which extends her work on shadow and spirituality into midlife and beyond. Website: ConnieZweig.com
New LA-CAMFT Therapists of Color Grant Awardees & June Grant Award Registration Opens
On February 26, 2023, the most recent awardees of the LA-CAMFT TOC GRANT AWARD were randomly selected. They are Cindy Hernandez and Mercedes Williams-Brown.
Each will receive a check for $500, a free year of LA-CAMFT membership and free admission to 3 LA-CAMFT workshops or networking events.
The next cycle for the grant will begin on May 1, 2023. Registration for the next award cycle will open on May 1, 2023 and will close on June 24, 2023. The drawing will take place on June 25, 2023.
It is limited to members of LA-CAMFT, and the award is limited to once per calendar year.
To apply for the award if you are not an LA-CAMFT member, you must first join LA-CAMFT.
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
The $500 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, whom will also be contacted via email directly.
Registration for the next award cycle will open on May 1, 2023 and will close on June 24, 2023. The drawing will take place on June 25, 2023.
The LA-CAMFT TOC Grant Committee
Middle Eastern North African (MENA)
Therapists Community Group
Friday, May 5, 2023
9:30 am-10:30 am (PT)
The MENA Therapists Community Group is a safe place across the Middle Eastern and North African therapist diaspora to build community and a sense of belonging. We hold an inclusive space to process the impact of cultural biases experienced by people of MENA descent and the effect it may have on our work as mental health professionals. Within the process, we will strive to create healing, support, and empowerment. We will collaboratively exchange ideas, experiences and resources while acknowledging cultural differences and shared similarities. As the poet Khalil Gibran states — “The reality of the other person lies not in what he reveals to you, but what he cannot reveal to you.” — our community will create a place to be seen, heard, and understood.
Open to LA-CAMFT Members and Non-Members
Location: Zoom Meeting
For more information contact the Diversity Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For:Licensed Therapists, Associates, and Students
Event Details: Friday, April 3, 2023, 9:30 am-10:30 am (PT)Time of Check-In: 9:30 am
Where: Online Via Zoom
Upon registration for the presentation, you will receive a confirmation email that includes a link to our Zoom meeting.
Registration is open and available until the group begins.
Questions about Registration? Contact Tyana Tavakol, Perla Hollow, & Tania Osipof at DiversityCommittee@lacamft.org.
Do Writers Have A Personality Type?
Some themes that seem to run in writers’ lives are, in varying degrees: introversion, shyness, a tendency toward solitude, a studious nature, a strong goal and productivity orientation, ability to empathize, an intuitive thought process, perseverance, and traits of what psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron calls “highly sensitive people” (HSPs).
Ironically, most writers have to take bold steps to promote themselves and break out of their shells at times to do so. So, at times they may appear out-going, when networking and deal-making—but spend most of their time indoors, alone in front of the keyboard.
Introversion, shyness, and the “highly sensitive people” moniker involve three separate, distinctly different sets of attributes.
Shyness has more to do with anxiety around social situations. Shy people tend to feel more anxious when meeting strangers, when facing large groups, and have trouble getting out of their comfort zones to network, do interviews, and when involved in interpersonal activity.
The term “introvert” generally implies that someone is more involved in their inner world than other people who’d be considered extroverts. Extroverts are said to get their energy form interactions and in social situations. Introverts tap into an energy that emanates from within.
Introverts are therefore thought to be able to remain focused for long periods in solitary activities on a receptive level, like reading, studying and mastering—math, say, or language, taking in data and storing it.
On the expressive level, they are similarly thought to be able to focus longer and more efficiently when playing around with ideas while writing or otherwise expressing themselves through the creative process.
This doesn’t mean that extroverts aren’t creative; it means that introverts may thrive on the process of solitary creation, while extroverts tend to do so in meetings, or with others, and in social situations.
While people think of introverts as quiet, well-mannered people who keep their thoughts to—sometimes they can come alive, performing or speaking in front of crowds. Consider some actors, who are extremely shy, or writers like Mark Twain, who—once out of their comfort zones—could thrive on stage.
Highly sensitive people tend to process everything, especially sensory data more acutely. For example, HSPs are thought to be super-sensitive to physical and visual stimuli, noises, sirens, jackhammers, traffic, and crowded places.
They also tend to be overly sensitive to emotional experiences, catching subtleties and shades of meaning others might not. For example, they may be more sensitive to arguments, sarcasm, voice inflections, tone of speech, and even odd looks from strangers.
They may become more anxious, or reflective as a result, when confronted with over whelming emotionality. They might actually cry during moving scenes in a film or feel pain while watching a scene portraying some physical ordeal.
Highly sensitive people are thought to process experience at a deeper level. They’re thought to be generally more intuitive and drawn into the process of trying to figure things out.
They’re also thought to be more empathic and, therefore more likely to be more emotionally reactive when observing another person’s struggles, or when processing fictional accounts of people facing adversity.
Highly sensitive people are thought to expend more psychic energy in making decisions, considering every side of the situation before acting. You might think of a writer, anguished over which way the story should unfold, what would their characters do, and other similar questions.
This tendency to consider so many possibilities can result in writers finding more interesting, or more original approaches to storytelling. It can also explain why writers may experience occasional, or even recurring creative blocks.
When observing writers’ behaviors and traits, certain other tendencies come to mind. There are some writers who fit into a category that might be described as self-destructive.
The notion that creating art in any form can be frustrating and even agonizing has been around since the beginning of time. The Agony and The Ecstasy, for example, the story of Michelangelo’s tortuous experience painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling is a case in point.
We’ve all heard about writers like Hemmingway, Kafka, and Sylvia Plath, who famously “suffered” for their art. Part of being a writer involves being severely critical of one’s own work.
There are many stories of writers who’ve worked months or years only to find their work substandard, throw it out and start over from scratch. Additionally, writers might go through their entire careers without ever being discovered, or widely read.
The stress in the screenwriting world is extremely intense. Even the best screenwriters face constant judgment, and rejection, almost all throughout our careers. When studios read their scripts, writers get many, almost all “passes” (rejections) on their material.
As if that wasn’t enough, writers encounter all kinds of creative blocks. Self-doubt, waning motivation, lack of confidence, procrastination, contribute to these blocks. Some writers have to deal with a dangerous type of perfectionism that paralyzes one’s ability to write
Even when screenwriters find success, and scripts get produced, people are quick to judge and ridicule the films, or shows. And if they are successful, ok, critics will say, so they did it once, they wrote a film that got produced and made money; that's the Holy Grail of Hollywood. Then, there's the what’s next? In this town, it’s “What have you done lately?’
You’ve probably noticed that many famous writers have used drugs, as a crutch, and especially alcohol to get them through their stressed-out lives.
Some writers (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Hunter Thompson, Aaron Sorkin) drank or took hard drugs (Stephen King, Philip K. Dick) to get them through their scripts. They found substances like coke, or speed to keep them writing. They’ve self-medicated to endure the deluge of self-criticism they are constantly dealing with.
Writers, especially HSPs and introverts, have got to be strong, and avoid the short-cuts; they have to learn to live in moderation. Those drugs, those uppers, those downers, that booze; it can get you through short-term, but they cause damage long term, especially to sensitive people.
David Silverman, LMFT, treats creative and highly sensitive individuals in private practice in LA. Having experienced the rejection, stress, creative blocks, and career reversals over a long career as a writer in Film and TV, he’s uniquely suited to work with gifted, creative and sensitive clients experiencing anxiety, addiction or depression. For more information, visit www.DavidSilvermanMFT.com.
LA-CAMFT Diversity Committee
Therapists of Color Support Group
Second Sunday of Every Month
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, May 21, 2023, 11:00 am-1:00 pm (PT)
Time of Check-In: 10:50 am
Where: Online Via Zoom
Once you have registered for the presentation, we will email you a link to Zoom a few days before the presentation.
Online Registration CLOSES on the day of the event.
Questions about Registration? Contact Diversity Committee, email@example.com.
LA-CAMFT Therapists of Color Mentorship Program: Call for Therapist of Color (TOC) Mentors
During our “Anti-Racism as a Movement, Not a Moment” Roundtable in August 2020, we came together as a therapeutic community to discuss and address racism and discrimination. We collaborated on what LA-CAMFT can do to be an actively and overtly anti-racist community. We specifically identified needed supports that we as therapists of color and as a therapeutic community wanted to see provided. One of the many needed supports identified was a Therapists of Color (TOC) Mentorship Program.
In January 2021 a group of students, associates and licensed therapists of color formed the Therapists of Color (TOC) Mentorship Program Committee and met on a monthly basis to discuss and begin the creation of this program. The committee spent quality time on the purpose statement, guidelines, interest form, marketing, launch date, and more. The development of the program are the contributions of the following committee participants: Akiah Selwa, Destiny Campron, Jenni Villegas Wilson, Leanne Nettles, Lucy Sladek, Maisha Gainer, Matthew Fernandez, Nehemiah Campbell, Perla Hollow, Rachell Alger, Raven Barrow, Stara Shakti, and Tina Cacho Sakai.
The LA-CAMFT Therapists of Color (TOC) Mentorship Program exists to help address inequities experienced by professional mental health therapists of color and intersections with other historically marginalized groups. The first of its kind amongst CAMFT chapters, LA-CAMFT is committed to ensuring quality mentorship for therapists of color by therapists of color. The mentorship program is intended to help bridge the gap of identifying and creating opportunities for growth and advancement in the field, guide clinicians across various stages of professional development, increase accessibility and sustainability in the field, and assist therapists of color to confidently provide services from their culturally authentic self.
At this time, we are Calling for Therapists of Color (TOC) Mentors who are committed to this mission and more:
Interest Form Due Dates and Mentorship Start Dates:
Interest forms submitted before or after the listed dates above will not be considered during the matching process.
Here are some of the many rewards for being a Therapist of Color (TOC) Mentor:
If you are interested in becoming a Therapist of Color (TOC) Mentor, would like to receive more information and/or receive the Interest Form, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With Gratitude and Solidarity,
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California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
Los Angeles Chapter