Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Voices — April 2022
Leanne Nettles, LMFT
Community x3: Pandemic Connection
In my March 2022 President’s message, I shared about the key word I have chosen to guide my presidency: “Community.” I shared that there are 3 main aspects of community that I hope to emphasize this year: (1) Community Mental Health, (2) rebuilding community in a time of social distancing during the pandemic, and (3) the community aspect of DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) that often goes ignored: belonging. For this President’s Message, I’d like to focus on rebuilding community during the pandemic.
We’ve just passed the official 2-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am reminded of a popular meme I saw in Spring of 2020 that goes something like this:
*Time Traveler:“What year is it?”
*Me: “It’s 2020”
*Time Traveler: “Oh. The first year of quarantine”
*Me (with a look of disbelief): “The WHAT?!” (emphasis mine)
Check it out here.
When I saw that meme on social media, I chuckled along with others leaving comments, as we were sure the novel Coronavirus would be wiped out in a couple of weeks, right? RIGHT??
When the pandemic was declared in March of 2020, I was working in a school-based office. My agency told me on a Thursday to grab whatever I needed from my office to last me about 3 weeks and to begin working from home on Friday. We didn’t step back into that school for over a year.
I’m sure you all remember, the day we went from hugs, high-fives, and communal meals with one another to instant telehealth, masks, sanitizer galore, and the rare elbow-bump when trying to maintain social distancing. Just when we think we’re out of the woods, a new variant rears its ugly head, and we go back to isolation. The losses we’ve experienced are overwhelming. I applaud each and every one of you for displaying incredible resilience and determination to remain in this field during a global medical and mental health pandemic. However, there is no denying the toll it has taken on the very human need to connect; to be in community.
I have come to realize that so much of my day is shared with others through a screen, but in the majority of those interactions, it’s business-related or task oriented. I miss the simple, in-between work interactions; the ones where you’re walking to go fill up your water bottle, and you connect with a simple “Hey! It’s so good to see you. How was your weekend?”; the ones where you share your favorite recipe for this week’s dinner; where you see pictures of a dog’s birthday party on a friend’s phone; where you embrace in a hug. While there may never be a return to how it was before, we can press into intentional community within our new normal.
LA-CAMFT Board and leadership hopes that soon the pandemic will become safe and stable enough to begin venturing out and meeting together in person. We are planning some upcoming in-person events including our Spring Fling, and Summer Picnic, and our Holiday Party/Appreciation event in the Fall as long as it is safe to convene (keep an eye out for more info!). For continued safety and accessibility, we will be maintaining our networking CEU events and support groups online for 2022. And in an effort to be intentional about building community with the in-betweens, starting in April, we will begin a series of Mid-Month Meetups. These will be free virtual events and activities on the 15th of every month in 2022 where there will be no business, just a fun time to connect, check-in, and build community. You’ll see more details on our Social Media accounts, so be sure to follow Los Angeles CAMFT on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linked In!
As always, if you have ways you’d like to get more involved with rebuilding a new sense of community with LA-CAMFT during the pandemic, please reach out to me at President@lacamft.org.
Until next time, blessings
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.
Dr. Monica Blied, PhD, MACL
What image comes to mind when you picture a 17-year-old or a 32-year-old who is on the autism spectrum and/or has ADHD? Does that picture change with the gender of the person? This presentation goes beyond the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria to describe brain styles that may surface depending on individual characteristics, including common features of those who were assigned female at birth (AFABs), and among those who are both intellectually gifted and neurodivergent (i.e., twice-exceptional individuals). Dr. Blied will explain how to identify these individuals in your therapy practice, and how you can support them in seeking formal evaluation. You will also find general strategies your clients can utilize to break through some of the challenges of having a neurodiverse brain style in a neurotypical world, while pursuing the gifts that are inherent within them.
Event Details: Friday, April 22, 2022, 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.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
Getting Paid: Tips for Getting the Word Out About You, Your Practice & Your Expertise
Getting the word out about your therapy practice and the services you provide is important. To be successful in private practice, you need a steady stream of clients—QUALITY referrals that are a good match for both you and your practice.
Letting people know what you do therapeutically and how you can help them, not only helps fill your practice, it helps you help more people.
The more people who know about your therapy services and expertise, the easier it will be for those who need your services to find you when they need you and to get the help they need. Consider the ways you can let colleagues, prospective clients, and referral sources know about you and your 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.
Zen And the Stages of Screenwriting Growth: Professional Level, Stage 4
Anyone who takes a serious interest in writing for film ultimately wants to make it as a professional screenwriter. It’s the goal of hundreds of thousands of writers all over the world every year who feel their writing is good enough—or funny, or dramatic, or entertaining enough that they’ll be able to beat the incredible odds.
Let’s see if I can characterize what it means to be a professional writer in Hollywood.
At this stage, screenwriters are selling scripts—or at least options—and on a regular basis. This could mean selling a script a year, or every three—or five years, it depends.
During a typical week, professional writers are spending many, many hours writing, coming up with movie ideas, juggling projects—and possibly even shooting their own films. They're taking lots of meetings with producers, and studio execs. They’re constantly pitching movie ideas and hustling to sell scripts they’ve written on speculation.
Working writers count on the paychecks they get from writing to pay the bills. Writing is a business to them.
When hired, they go over their contracts, and –more importantly their agents or lawyers do as well. Someone is negotiating on their behalf to get them the best deal possible.
These screenwriters always handle themselves professionally when interacting with agents, producers, directors, and actors.
They treat other professionals in town with respect. They seriously consider the feedback they get on their scripts. Writers at this stage realize that if they don’t address notes, they can easily be replaced by another writer who will.
While they have their favorite genres, and preferences about what they'd like to write, or what they’d “never write”—they know they can't afford to be that selective. They learn to stretch and write different genres. On the other hand, if they know they can't write something well, they will be honest about it. Nobody wants to turn in a bad script and ruin their reputation.
When they get notes—notes they may not even agree with—they are often very gifted at presenting a logical argument as to why they won’t work. However, most of the time they try to figure out a way to address the notes—not just pay lip service to them—but to address them in strong dramatic terms.
Writers at this stage are thinking that they want to stay with the project as long as possible.
They understand there will be many rewrites—and that it’s to their advantage from a financial point of view—and to maintain a writing credit—to keep their producers happy.
Writers who learn this lesson go on to longer and more successful careers. They become friends with the studio execs (if that’s even possible). They get reputations for being civil. Writers who fight with their bosses get a reputation for being “trouble,” and will get fewer and fewer opportunities.
Early in a screenwriter’s career they are able to hole up in their offices and enjoy the process of creating “passion projects.” They have the luxury of time to spend countless hours perfecting their visions. However, they’re insulated from the realities of having to market their work.
Working screenwriters don’t have to give that up completely. They can still enjoy crafting screenplays on speculation from the “high castle’ where they do their best work. In general, however, their mindsets are closer to creating commercial screenplays that will sell.
With experience, working writers get used to producers who say they need the draft “next week.” They get used to rewriting whole sections of their screenplays. They learn to deal with the truly difficult studio notes which blow up their story, and require page one rewrites.
When success comes at this level—it’s the best.
You get the big paychecks, the office on the lot; you can go on set and schmooze with big stars and directors. Everyone you know who sees your film is excited for you. Your phone is always ringing. You get invited to the cool parties.
The smarter successful writers will continue to grow as artists—that part of the process never ends. They’ll always gain new insights, and continue learning from their colleagues. At this point they also pay close attention to what’s commercially viable. They pay attention to changing tastes and trends in Hollywood, and adapt accordingly.
The writing itself improves—they rely on fewer “familiar” plot twists, characters and character arcs—and favor more original approaches. Writers tend to write better when working with the best actors and directors. With luck and hard work, they’ll get a well-deserved reputation for being a “go-to” writer in town.
Some successful writers make lots of money and write some excellent scripts, but then stop growing, feeling they’ve “arrived.”
Be careful about adopting that attitude—stay hungry, and never stop learning. All it takes is one bump in the road career-wise, and you can get lost in the screenwriting treadmill. Some writers will become the "flavor of the month," only to be replaced by younger writers with more "heat."
And some professional’s screenplays will get produced, but fizzle at the box office.
The professional writer is resilient—they understand there will be times in their career they’ll need to reinvent themselves, or fall by the wayside. Some will be able to write themselves out of their holes, and some won't. Often, the deciding factor is luck.
David Silverman, LMFT, treats anxiety and depression, especially in highly sensitive individuals in his LA practice. Having experienced the rejection, stress, creative blocks, paralyzing perfectionism, and career reversals over a 25 year career as a Film/TV writer, he’s uniquely suited to work with gifted, creative, and sensitive clients experiencing anxiety, depression, and addiction. David received training at Stanford and Antioch, is fully EMDR certified, and works with programs treating Victims of Crime and Problem Gamblers. Visit www.DavidSilvermanLMFT.com.
Black Therapist Support Group
First Saturday of Every Month
Saturday, April 2, 2022
12:00 pm-1:30 pm (PT)
Online Via Zoom
A safe place for healing, connection, support and building community. In this group, licensed clinicians, associates and students can come together and process experiences of racism (systemic, social, and internalized), discrimination, implicit bias, and micro-aggressions, along with additional experiences that therapists of African descent encounter in the field of mental health. As the late great Maya Angelou once said, “As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal someone else.” May this space, be the support needed to facilitate that journey.
Open to LA-CAMFT Members and Non-Members
First Saturday of Each Month
Location: Zoom Meeting
For more information contact Akiah Robinson Selwa, LMFT at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Licensed Therapists, Associates, and Students
Event Details: Saturday, April 2, 2022, 12:00 pm-1:30 pm (PT)
Time of Check-In: 11:50 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 date of the event.
(Registration is open and available until the group ends.)
Questions about Registration? Contact Diversity Committee, email@example.com.
Our Brains Are Starving
The rate of depression increased every year of the last decade after showing a dramatic spike upward in the 1990s. According to the 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eleven percent of Americans are taking antidepressant medication, which includes the fact that more than one in five women ages 40-59 are on antidepressants, the highest of any age group.
Why all this unhappiness?
Certainly our brains are overfed with stimuli: visual images, facts and information, celebrity gossip, and the news. Never have people desired as much from life or expected to get it: perfect bodies, perfect health, perfect relationships, wealth and fame. We are constantly being sold superficial values which cannot bring fulfillment, leading to extremes of loneliness and despair.
In addition to the stress of unrealistic expectations, our brains are malnourished from our lousy diets. We’ve all heard about how badly we eat, our food loaded up on fat, sugar, and chemicals. The depleted soil leaves our food devoid of nutrition. Caffeine, alcohol, and sugar cause blood sugar drops that lead to mood swings, anxiety, and depression. We worry about the effects on our bodies but forget to consider what it does to our brains.
Our diet of processed foods is starving our brains of the neurotransmitters we need to be happy. People “develop emotional symptoms as a direct result of the unavailability of the brain and body chemicals needed for stable feelings, thoughts, and memory,” states Joan Matthews Larson, Ph.D., in Seven Weeks to Sobriety.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) findings show that the neurotransmitter serotonin is nearly depleted in the brains of people who have committed suicide examined during autopsies.
A whole class of antidepressants has been developed to regulate serotonin. These drugs are effective for many people and have brought much relief.
But stress and poor nutrition can nullify these effects. If you do not take in enough protein, vitamins, or minerals to build the neurotransmitters, an imbalance develops.
In addition to improving one’s diet, natural supplements have been found helpful. In my opinion, all people suffering from depression should be taking fish oil or Omega-3 fatty acids daily. There is also compelling research on the use of amino acids, Sam-E, St. John’s Wort, DHEA, and B vitamins.
The truth is, many unhappy people will not find relief from their symptoms until they control their diets with the stringency of the diabetic, learning to eat fresher and healthier foods and taking supplements. If you’re one of the many struggling with problematic moods, it’s certainly worth a try.
© 2022 Catherine Auman
Catherine Auman, LMFT is a licensed therapist with advanced training in both traditional and spiritual psychology with over thirty years of successful professional experience helping thousands of clients. She has headed nationally based psychiatric programs as well as worked through alternative methodologies based on ancient traditions and wisdom teachings. Visit her online at catherineauman.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.
Event Details: Sunday, April 10, 2022, 11:00 am-1:00 pm (PT)
Time of Check-In: 10:50 am
Online Registration CLOSES on the day of the event.
Questions about Registration? Contact Diversity Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In diversity there is beauty
and there is strength.
Andrew Susskind,LCSW, SEP, CGP
Sexual Health in the Age of Sex Addiction (Part 1)
As a member of the sex addiction fellowships for more than a quarter of a century, I’ve heard a lot of stories about suffering as well as celebration. Yet, the words sexual health are rarely spoken. Why is this the case? It seems that there is much more focus on overcoming problematic sexual behaviors rather than developing a fun, meaningful, deeply connected sex life. As a result, the sustainability of long-term sexual recovery is not always addressed and sexual health often becomes an afterthought.
The World Health Organization defines sexual health as follows:
“. . . a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.” (WHO, 2006a)
Although I’ve been familiar with this definition for many years, its significance only came to my attention recently as part of a workshop I attended at the national group therapy conference. My talented colleagues, Douglas Braun-Harvey and Michael Vigorito have developed a non-pathologizing, affirming and forward-thinking Sexual Health model. I believe this approach is a missing link toward creating more purposeful sexual expression in recovery.
In their book Treating Out-of-Control Sexual Behaviors: Rethinking Sex Addiction (2016), Braun-Harvey and Vigorito define OCSB as a “sexual problem of consensual urges, thoughts, or behaviors that feel out of control for the individual.” They go on to say that “sexual health conversations matter.” Their open-hearted approach is based on honest conversations that often go underground rather than openly explored.
They have developed a clinically-sound treatment approach allowing individuals to determine if they have a problem and their level of motivation to work on their behavior. Rather than labeling it or using typical “disease model” language with their clients, they look for ways to bring out the integrity of the individual while promoting a shift from secretive behaviors to transparency. This usually takes place within the context of individual sessions as well as a weekly sexual health men’s group.
They believe that ending your existing relationship with out-of-control sexual behaviors is not supposed to be about deprivation; instead, it’s about celebrating one’s birthright as a sexual being. What do you really want your sex life to look like? How do you choose to express yourself as a sexual being? In this article we will follow one young man’s journey with porn and some specific strategies to heal from it.
There is no cookie-cutter approach to healing from sexual compulsivity, but one thing I do know: there is still a lot of anguish both in the twelve step rooms and in my office, and sexual health conversations offer a refreshing, non-judgmental way to look at these problematic behaviors with curiosity. Rather than a one-size fits all method, we will begin to think about sexual health as an essential dimension of your well-being.
Charlie was the oldest of three children raised in a middle-class suburb of Boston by well-meaning, hard-working parents. Because his family lived paycheck to paycheck, Charlie was often left on his own after school before his parents arrived home by 6. He was a well-behaved, conscientious child left responsible to look after his younger siblings.
As a teenager, Charlie became tired of this adult-like responsibility and as puberty arrived, he became more interested in exploring internet porn rather than taking care of his little brother and sister. At first, his curiosity was peaked when a friend showed him the easy availability of porn images. Before long it became his afterschool secret--a daily habit that expanded into compulsive masturbation and eventually unintentional self-harm of his genitals.
His relationship with porn became more and more time-consuming resulting in less contact with friends and family. Charlie became more reclusive, grumpy and disconnected. By the time he left for college, he began to realize that he just didn’t feel like his old self anymore. The engaged, fun-loving Charlie had gotten lost in the seductive world of porn.
Where did you get your sex education? In the pre-HIV world of the 1970s, my public school “health teacher” arrived in my 6th-grade class and showed us colorful slides of body parts that were anatomically-correct but rather one-dimensional and confusing. There was little or no discussion about intercourse, contraception or STDs — and of course nothing related to same-gender sex. As I understand it, things really haven’t changed much in the past forty-five years, and the idea of sexual pleasure is not commonly discussed.
In the Netflix series Sex Education, the protagonist, Otto is a curious teenager whose mother is a sex therapist with a home office where she offers seminars focusing on the wonders of the vulva. Vicariously, Otto picks up on some of her sexual wisdom and expertise, and he is dubbed the “sex kid” at school. He opens an underground business to dispense advice to his naïve but sexually-active cohorts. Although Otto is a virgin himself, he tries to reassure others in the school and does so with moderate success.
If Charlie had spoken with Otto about his compulsive porn habits, maybe his fate would have been different. Yet, the lack of sex education from families and schools often leaves kids with misconceptions and profound isolation. How might this be different?
In Part Two of this article we will take a look at some strategies that most of us were not given as teenagers. As mentioned earlier, sexual health is one missing link of sex addiction recovery, and it’s never too late to begin your sex education.
Reprint June 5, 2020, Westside Post.
Andrew Susskind, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Somatic Experiencing and Brainspotting Practitioner and Certified Group Psychotherapist based in West Los Angeles since 1992, specializing in trauma and addictions, and he has mentored associates in his private practice since 1997. His recent book, It’s Not About the Sex: Moving from Isolation to Intimacy after Sexual Addiction (Central Recovery Press, June 2019) joins his workbook, From Now On: Seven Keys to Purposeful Recovery which was released in 2014.
Your Big, Fat Failures Are Fabulous!
If you have made mistakes—even serious ones—
there is always another chance for you.
For what we call failure is not the falling down,but the staying down.
The headline said, “Jordan Spieth’s collapse at the Master’s the most shocking in golf history.” After being in the lead through 5 days of this major golf tournament, he blew the lead in spectacular fashion, driving his ball into the water and sand traps and taking 7 shots to get the ball in the hole instead of the average 3.
Chellie Campbell, Financial Stress Reduction Expert, is the author of bestselling books The Wealthy Spirit, Zero to Zillionaire, and most recently From Worry to Wealthy: A Woman’s Guide to Financial Success Without the Stress. She is widely quoted in major media including Redbook, Good Housekeeping and more than 50 popular books. She has been treating Money Disorders like Spending Bulimia and Income Anorexia in her Financial Stress Reduction® Workshops for over 25 years. Her website is www.chellie.com.
LA-CAMFT 2022 Grant Awards for Pre-Licensed Members Who Are Therapists of Color
The LA-CAMFT Grant Committee is pleased to announce that LA-CAMFT will be offering two grant awards for LA-CAMFT Pre-Licensed Member Associates, Trainees, and Students who are Therapists of Color.
If you are not an LA-CAMFT member, in order to apply for the award, you must first join LA-CAMFT.
Registration for the LA-CAMFT 2022 Grant Award for Pre-Licensed Members who are Therapist of Color opens on May 4, 2022, and closes on June 25, 2022.
Please read the information below regarding the description of the grant award, criteria for applying, application process, and selection process.
Description of the LA-CAMFT Grant AwardEvery 4 months (3x per year), a grant award will be offered to two applicants who meet the following three criteria:
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, living expenses, etc.).
Confirmation for what the Grant Award money is used for will not be required.
Application and Selection ProcessInterested Pre-Licensed LA-CAMFT members who are Therapists of Color can complete the 2022 Grant Award 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 in order 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 2022 LA-CAMFT Grant Awards for Pre-Licensed Members who are Therapists of Color opens on May 4, 2022, and closes on June 25, 2022.
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