Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists


Voices — October 2020

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  • 09/30/2020 7:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Matthew Evans

    Matthew Evans
    President, LA-CAMFT

    Dear colleagues,

    In August, LA-CAMFT’s Diversity Committee facilitated a Roundtable Discussion called “Anti-Racism: A Movement Not a Moment.” From the Roundtable Discussion, the following areas of change were identified: Education and Training, Support Groups, Mentorship, Outreach and Accessibility, and Policy Change. Since having established short-term goals with immediate action steps and long-term goals for each area of change, progress has been made towards these goals, but it will take time to rectify the oppression, injustice, and implicit bias that has become so entrenched within our society.

    It is the aim of the Diversity Committee and LA-CAMFT’s Board of Directors to progress towards lasting change within LA-CAMFT and the local and state mental health community. If you are interested in being a part of this movement contact Christina Cacho Sakai, Diversity Committee Chair, at DiversityCommittee@lacamft.org or me at president@lacamft.org.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Evans, LMFT

    Matthew Evans, LMFT, utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in his work with adults struggling with anxiety and depression.

    Matthew may be contacted at president@lacamft.org.

  • 09/30/2020 6:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
    Voices Editor

    Getting Paid: Private Practice Success Secrets

    Therapists in private practice are always asking what they can do to have a full practice with clients they love working with. They want to know what the secrets are to making that happen without too much effort or expense. Now that we’re getting towards the end of the year it’s a good time to reveal some of those secrets, those best practices, that lead to a full, profitable, and rewarding practice.

    Here are a few to keep in mind . . . 


    1. Make it convenient for prospective clients to
    • Find you
    • Find out about who you work with and the type of services and help you provide
    • Contact you
    • Hear back from you
    • Get to your office or access your teletherapy portal
    • Pay for your services

    We live in an age of convenience so if prospective clients hit too many bumps or barriers when they’re ready to contact you to make an appointment, they may abandon that effort and seek help from another therapist who’s easier to contact, set up an appointment with, pay or use their insurance or worker’s comp coverage.

    2. Let people know you are accepting new clients—and that you welcome referrals.
    • Always let clients, friends, colleagues, referral sources, and other professionals know that you are accepting referrals
    • Why should you do this? So, they know they can specifically recommend you to their friends, families, patients, and business associates, based on their own experience with you—as a client or colleague.

    If you don’t routinely let people know you are accepting new clients and referrals, those who want to refer people to you may mistakenly assume that, because you are so good at what you do, you are too busy to take on new clients. When this happens, it’s a great loss, not only of clients but of a referral source, too.

    3. Set aside some time for networking and marketing in your community—online or in-person.
    • Doing this allows you get to know the people in your community
    • It also allows the people in your community to get to know you, too, as well as the type of practice you have, the professional services you provide and the type of clients and issues you work with, and, of course how to refer clients to you.

    Being known in your community does take a little time and effort but it results in genuinely feeling a part of the people and place you belong to—and, over time, it does bring you referrals.

    4. Only market in ways that feel authentic to you.
    • The best private practice marketing is about building trust through information, familiarity and experience with you as a professional, the clients you work best with, and the therapeutic services you provide.
    • Make the act of sharing information about the type of clients you work best with and the therapy services you provide energy producing instead of energy draining. Enjoy having people get to know you, your personality, and your work.

    Once you realize that promoting your therapy services is about honest and sincere communication about the professional help, skills, and solutions you provide, it gets easier. I always say that getting the word out about your practice is a community service because it helps people know how to contact you when they have need of your services.

    5. When times are tough the best way to keep your practice going is not to cut back on costs but to spend and invest in the right areas of your practice.

    Yes, this is a rather counter-intuitive approach, however, it does pay big dividends. While it can feel very scary or difficult to do, it’s one of the best ways to keep your practice full as well as make new connections.

    • Invest in areas that keep your practice visible, bring more clients or referral sources to you, make things easier for you, or free up your time for more client work, networking, or time off.
    • Areas to consider:

    Website Creation or Update
    Therapy Directories
    Professional Headshots
    Google Adwords
    Upgrade your smartphone, tablet, computer, headphones, computer desk chair
    Get Higher Internet speed
    Upgrade your Teletherapy portal
    Upgrade your Electronic Health Record (HER)
    Hire a Virtual Assistant, Accountant/Bookkeeper, Insurance Biller
    Pay for Business, Marketing or Financial Training
    Have a Professional Video made for your Website
    Logo Creation
    Sponsor an event

    What will you invest in instead of cutting back?

    That’s enough secret spilling for today. Pick one or two of these and try them out. See what happens.

    Our practices can always benefit from thoughtful attention and doing a little something new. Have some fun experimenting with these and check out what happens when you do. Private practice is always an adventure so enjoy yours! 

    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 them 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.

  • 09/30/2020 5:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT
    October ONLINE Presentation

    Friday, October 16, 2020

    11:00 am-1:00 pm

    Via Zoom

    2.0 CEUs

    Sexual Health Considerations with LGBTQIA+ Clients:
    Implications for Client Safety, Sexual Satisfaction,
    and Overall Well-Being

    Dr. Harpreet Malla

    Harpreet Malla is a registered psychologist who is currently collecting her post-doctoral hours for licensure at Shanti Orange County in Laguna Hills, CA. She identifies as a 1.5 generation Indian-American feminist and enjoys navigating the cultural nuances those experiences have brought her. Dr. Malla has a passion for working with identity development as it pertains to LGBTQ, bicultural, and adolescent/young adult populations and recently has seen a rise in couples navigating arranged or other nontraditional marital practices in her work. She is also the Diversity Chair for LACPA. 

    Event Details: 
    Friday, October 16, 2020, 11:00 am-1:00 pm

    Where: Online Via Zoom
    After you register you will be emailed a Zoom link the Wednesday before the presentation.

    Register today by clicking the Register Here button below.

    Register Here

  • 09/30/2020 4:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)






    Maria Gray,
    LMFT, NMP, CGP

    Navigating 12-Step Referrals

    I specialize in trauma and addictions and often recommend 12-Step meetings to my clients. These meetings offer free support for people trying to recover from alcoholism and many other process addictions. There are also programs like Al-Anon, Coda, and SLAA that help clients examine their self-destructive patterns in relationships. I keep a variety of 12-Step literature on hand for clients who may not be ready for meetings but are open to learning about them. Often, I plant the seed of a suggestion that they may be ready to receive in the future.

    Many of my clients are hesitant to attend 12-Step meetings. Below are some helpful facts in case you are faced with similar resistance.

    1.    It’s not for me because it’s a religious program. This is the most common response and many of my clients have experienced religious trauma which may make it impossible for them to consider 12-Step meetings.

    I explain that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) which was the first 12-Step Program, was highly influenced by The Oxford group in the 1930s, a Christian movement popular in the United States and Europe in the early 20th century. Members of the Oxford Group practiced a formula of self-improvement by performing self-inventory, admitting wrongs, making amends, using prayer and meditation, and carrying the message to others.

    AA is not a religious program and there is no requirement that members believe in God. AA encourages members to search for a god (higher power) of their own understanding and suggests using the AA group itself as a higher power if that feels more comfortable.

    2.    I don’t consider myself an alcoholic and I am not sure I want to stop drinking.

    AA’s third tradition states that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. I suggest that my clients attend meetings with an open mind and try not to drink right before the meeting. This is just a suggestion because people are welcome at meetings whether they are drinking or not.

    3.    I heard that you must have a sponsor to be in AA. I explain that sponsors are suggested but not required. Most of my clients find it hard to trust other people, based on their childhood. I explain that a sponsor is not required in the beginning and I’ll offer to support them in their recovery until they find the right person; this often provides fruitful clinical material for us and eventually they do find someone. If someone is already attending meetings, I’ll encourage them to find a temporary sponsor and give themselves time to get to know the person before committing to sponsorship.

    4.    I’ve tried meetings and there are no good meetings in Los Angeles. There are over 350 meetings a day in Los Angeles. I encourage people to try five or six different meetings before deciding whether the program is for them. I offer to go through the online meeting directory and help them find a meeting.

    If your client is not interested in going to the meetings, join with their resistance. I’m not referring to resistance in a punitive way. In Dr. Larry Heller’s NARM model, we view working with a client’s resistance to foster agency. We are not telling the client what to do, we are helping them explore the way their own choices may reflect their childhood survival styles. I’m interested in helping my clients explore the psychobiological implications of holding onto to these early fixed thoughts and behaviors.

    As a therapist specializing in addiction, I know that 12-Step is not the only way. Many of my clients prefer group therapy, but this is often not enough for clients who are in early recovery. There’s also SMART Recovery which has been around since 1994, this offers a more cognitive based approach and there is no spiritual component.

    Clients need support more than ever during these times and 12-Step meetings are happening online. Here are the links to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Los Angeles lacoaa.org and Al-Anon alanonla.org. I’m interested in supporting you as you navigate these tricky conversations, feel free to reach out to me via email if you need help.

    Maria Gray, LMFT, NMP, CGP, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Century City, she is a Brainspotting Specialist and specializes in trauma and addictions. Maria is a Certified Group Therapist and currently offers three online groups in her practice. She enjoys working with adults who grew up around mentally ill or addictive family members. To learn more, go to www.mariagray.net.

  • 09/30/2020 3:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Hannah Campbell,
    LMFT, Prelicensed
    Representative and
    3000 Club Co-Chair

    Becoming Licensed During COVID-19: 
    A Moment of Celebration and Excitement

    Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic I became licensed, experiencing the surreal nature of life when a moment of intense trauma and grief is accompanied by a moment of celebration and excitement. The grounding presence through it all has been this work, requiring me to maintain my wellness priorities so that I can show up professionally. As LA-CAMFT’s Pre-Licensed Representative and 3000 Club Co-Chair, being with fellow associates and newly licensed clinicians in supportive online forums reminds me that I am part of a greater community. I leave those gatherings feeling rejuvenated and inspired.

    The connection I receive through involvement with LA-CAMFT has and will continue to be a vital comfort in embarking on my life’s work. At a recent LA-CAMFT 3000 Club support group for pre-licensed and newly licensed members, someone provided the encouragement that we are “planting seeds” of change for people with whom we work. This is a phrase I’ve heard from various supervisors throughout training, and I began considering this image a step further:

    In my mind, therapy is guiding another to a shelf in the dusty shed where the seeds have been sitting. We are dusting off the shelf so that they can see, encouraging them to keep coming back to the shed as they choose the flower, herb, or plant to start their garden. And we are walking alongside them as they encounter mole holes, rain showers, hummingbirds, and newfound joy on the way to the garden. And LA-CAMFT’s community has been this guide for me on the journey to licensure.  

    I love the image of a garden because I celebrate life through plants. While volunteering for hospice and in my personal life, many loved ones have passed. And each time, I plant a new plant (now given to friends and neighbors as my apartment fills). I wonder, do we have enough planters to hold the grief of this moment? I think, yes; within this community, we will continue to hold space.

    My hope is that these snippets of thought remind you to hang in there, especially to those associates and students feeling overcome by difficulties in training during a pandemic; take care of yourself. Take breaks, go outside, put on an old favorite and dance around in your apartment, do what you need to do to get through this unprecedented time. Be patient with wherever you are and reach out to LA-CAMFT.

    I am enlivened in thinking about the collective power within the therapy community; an inimitable force for healing and connection that our grieving world so needs right now. You and your gifts are invaluable. Thank you to all who have welcomed me in as a member of this community and of the LA-CAMFT community.

    To contact Hannah as Pre-Licensed Rep and 3000 Club Co-Chair, email her at prelicensed@lacamft.org

    Hannah Campbell, LMFT, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she specializes in life transitions, developing identity and healthy relationships as a teen, rediscovering the self as an older adult, and building a thriving partnership and family. Hannah has an MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine along with two undergraduate degrees, Psychology and Cinematic Arts, from USC. She also provides early interventional substance counseling to teens and families at a local non-profit. Website: hannahcampbelltherapy.com.
  • 09/30/2020 2:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Leila Aboohamad,
    LMFT

    The Journey Through Chaos to New Hope

    When I first started my private practice, life was very different. Computers were few and far between, insurance payments were great, and most physicians had their own thriving practices—so having an independent practice was the favored path for most therapists. At that time interning was, and as it is today, really hard, but the prospect of bringing all this hard work to a conclusion which ended in a successful private practice encouraged all of us to struggle through the 3000 hours to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I was fortunate enough to find a fantastic internship in West Los Angeles where they helped me learn and create a successful and full practice before I was even licensed.

    Boy, those were the days.

    It is really fun, yet wistful, to reminisce with other therapists about that time. Then, if we were bright, knowledgeable and had found our niche, our specialty, and a few good referral sources, we were all pretty busy. But life never stays the same and neither does sustaining a private practice. I’ve found that once we get too comfortable with something, that very comfort can be a signal that there are new paths to explore, new challenges to face, and new lessons to learn about ourselves, our gifts and abilities as well as how we can express and share them with the world. When we don’t notice that signal, sometimes we get some help with a nudge in that direction. That’s true in private practice, too.

    Once, one of my fellow students in a spirituality class expressed that kind of help very well during a role play as a practitioner counseling a troubled client when she said, “God kicked you in the ass and you fell forward.” The class roared with laughter as the minister/teacher tried to show some decorum but ended up laughing with us, too, behind the hand he held over his mouth. I have never forgotten that description of change. It was very simple yet quite a profound explanation of how the Universe steps in when it is time to step out of our comfort zone and grow into the next, higher level of growth and self-expression.

    I’ve been kicked like that and have fallen forward several times when the Universe decided it was time for me to grow and expand in one or more areas in my life. This article is about how I fell forward in my private practice—my journey of self-exploration that gave me the courage to step out into the world and share my many years of experience as a therapist.

    So much changed for therapists in private practice around 2013.

    Because of the Affordable Care Act, most insurance companies changed the amounts of their reimbursements to psychotherapists and medical doctors. Client deductibles doubled and tripled while payment to providers was cut in half and often by as much as three quarters of the amount previously paid. By that time, although I had stopped taking insurance for new clients, I had many long-time clients who could no longer afford to come to therapy with the amount their insurance was paying or reimbursing.

    Also during this time, coaching became the new “thing,” so many of my referrals dried up as potential clients surfed the internet for information regarding diagnoses and read blogs promising fast relief for emotional healing, guidance in finding a new career, and even love coaches teaching clients how to find love and marriage. With all this happening in the world, private practice referrals changed and my practice wasn’t full so I needed to do something to fix that.

    How were potential clients going to find me? What services had I always offered and continued to offer clients? How would people in pain and confusion find me if I didn’t have a website or a blog? What is a blog? What is my niche or specialty? How do I make a podcast? I needed a website. I was told I had to network. How do I network?

    Over the years I had been encouraged by clients, colleagues and friends to write about the work I do. Who me? I wasn’t a writer. I am a therapist and that is all I want to do. So I didn’t write.

    Well, remember “God kicked . . . ?” I guess the Universe knew it was time for me to grow, so I made a decision. If I wanted to continue to do what I love, if I wanted to reach potential clients and share my gifts, I had to help them find me—and you know, it has really been a wonderful and fun experience doing that.

    I was fortunate to find a most brilliant and loving mentor/therapist who has guided me on my inner journey of exploration. I was really ready to look at my unspoken fears and insecurities regarding actually sitting down at my computer, staring at a blank sheet of paper and figuring out what to write.

    I have been a successful therapist for over 30 years, so why not tell people who I am, what I do, how I am able to help them heal their childhood trauma? How about writing an article explaining the 10 reasons why I believe therapy is so unique and healing an experience? With encouragement, I first wrote articles about what I believe are the 8 steps one needs to know in order to create loving and committed relationships.

    As I allowed my inner voice to be expressed with the written word, I realized how potent a force writing can be. I have always been a voracious reader and always wished that I had the talent to write . . . well, I do. Readers could access my thoughts and expertise on my website, on the blogs I put on LinkedIn and on various therapy newsletters. People in pain and confusion could read my articles, check out my website and determine whether I was the therapist they needed.

    I widened my world in other ways. I attended many seminars where I met fellow therapists as well as those in related fields who wanted to expand their networks and expertise. I went to luncheons and seminars featuring guest speakers who were experts in their particular therapeutic specialty. Hearing these speakers gave me the opportunity to learn new models for therapy and new skills. which I could integrate into my own therapeutic models.

    I met and connected with so many clinicians as well as professionals in related fields, like Mishele who helps clients who are hoarders simplify their spaces. We are great referral sources for one another as I can work on the causes for the hoarding and she can teach them practical ways to start living in an orderly environment. I really have fun connecting with others as I am truly a “people person.” I am so looking forward to the day when we can return to in person lunches, seminars and lectures.

    I am hoping this article will inspire those who read it it to leave their fear behind and step out into the world. Try something different, maybe expressing your gifts in a new manner, like my writing, and finding out how gifted and creative you truly are. Step out on the promise of this positive Universe. Know that Spirit always has your back. We all need one another for inspiration, laughter, learning and just plain practical advice. Don’t be afraid of change . . . it is a great catalyst for growth.

    Leila Aboohamad, LMFT, is a psychotherapist practicing in Brentwood, West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. She works with clients in person and through tele-therapy. She specializes in helping individuals and couples heal the trauma from their Family of Origin so that they may create successful, committed and loving relationships. Leila also works with gifted, talented and creative adults, helping them to identify and share their special gifts, talents and passions with the world. Website: www.leilalmft.com.

  • 09/30/2020 1:30 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT Diversity Committee
    Presents:

    Therapists of Color Support Group

    Sunday, October 11, 2020

    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 Niparpon Johansen, LMFT at niparpon@yahoo.com.

    Event Details: 

    For:
    Licensed Therapists, Associates, and Students

    Event Details: 
    Sunday, October 11, 2020, 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.

    Cost:
    No Charge

    Online Registration CLOSES Saturday, October 10th at 11 pm.

    Questions about Registration? Contact Christina Cacho Sakai, LMFT at DiversityCommittee@lacamft.org.

    Register Here


    In diversity there is beauty
    and there is strength.

    Maya Angelou

  • 09/30/2020 1:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Marvin Whistler,
    Mediator

    8 Reasons to Choose Mediation for Divorce

    Why Should I Choose Mediation for Divorce?

    1. Mediation for divorce lets address your feelings of betrayal.

    2. Mediation may help you to better understand your spouse, partner, or significant other.

    3. You create your own solution and save the cost, time, and stress of the legal system.  You find answers for your needs.

    4. Mediation is in your control.  You can stop when you wish.  You have the final say.

    5. There is no public record of what goes on in mediation.

    6. Mediation allows you to make your own decisions for a solution that works for everyone.

    7. Mediation helps couples to find common ground that can lead them to the answer that works.

    8. The court will accept your agreement. 

    Marvin Whistler, Mediator, guides couples through the unpredictable waters of divorce and helps them resolve their differences in dividing property and debt, planning for the care and parenting of their children, deciding on support and their future relationship as well as other issues that will be important for their future relationship. His mediation practice also covers various types of disputes including but not limited to family, real estate, landlord-tenant, and community. Marvin provides online mediation throughout Southern California, is Treasurer for Southern California Mediation Association and a member of Academy of Professional Mediators and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Website: MarvinWhistlerMediation.

    This article was originally published on the Marvin Whistler Mediation Blog.

  • 09/30/2020 12:30 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT
    Suicide Prevention Workshop

    Sunday, November 15, 2020

    9:00 am-3:30 pm

    Via Zoom

    6.0 CEUs

    LA-CAMFT Suicide Prevention:
    A BBS-Required, 6-Hour Training for Psychotherapists
    in Client Assessment, Intervention and Follow-Up

    Curt Widhalm, LMFT

    Curt Widhalm, LMFT practices in West LA & Encino working with adolescents and certified in EMDR. Curt is on the CAMFT Ethics Committee, an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University and lecturer at California State University Northridge, co-host of The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast, and co-founder of the Therapy Reimagined Conference. 

    Event Details: 
    Sunday, November 15, 2020, 9:00 am-3:30 pm

    Where: Online Via Zoom
    After you register you will be emailed a Zoom link the Wednesday before the presentation.

    Register today by clicking the Register Here button below.

    Register Here

  • 09/30/2020 12:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    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.

    October 9, 2020
    November 13, 2020

    Online Via Zoom

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