Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Voices — August 2023

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  • 07/31/2023 11:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Christina “Tina” Cacho Sakai, LMFT
    President, LA-CAMFT

    2023 Leadership Retreat

    LA-CAMFT Board of Directors recently had their annual leadership retreat led by President-Elect Jennifer Stonefield, LMFT and the planning committee. It was so wonderful to mingle, eat together and brainstorm ideas in person with LA-CAMFT past, present and future leadership in the cozy home of one of our prominent leaders, Jenni June Villegas Wilson, LMFT. There were approximately 25 therapists in attendance and we had an opportunity to build community, have fun and learn more about one another. In addition to, strengthen and develop leadership teams, reflect on successes and challenges and set plans and strategies for the future of LA-CAMFT. 

    The team building activities began with Human Bingo where participants received a Bingo Sheet of therapist identifiers and prizes were awarded to the first, second and third place winners who were able to identify somebody to match each square in the bingo sheet; such as, Is an LPCC, Is adjunct faculty, Is a clinical supervisor, EMDR certified, Went to Pepperdine University, Has more than two jobs, etc. The second team building activity was pairing up with another participant to find out more specific information about each other and later sharing it in the larger group; such as, name, licensure status, role in LA-CAMFT, What is your favorite smell? Why do you volunteer your time with LA-CAMFT? Why are you here today? What do you hope to get out of the retreat today? The third team building activity was “Step Into the Circle” where a circle was formed with the entire group and each person stepped inside the circle if they could relate to an experience asked; such as, Went to Public School, Oldest in their family, Only child, Bilingual, etc. Each activity was a way to get to know each other in different ways and have fun doing so in the process. 

    Next we divided up into breakout groups to brainstorm ideas for the future of LA-CAMFT. Breakout groups were divided into 3000 Club & Membership/Outreach, Workshops/Trainings, Special Events & Sponsorship and Diversity, Intersectionality & Inclusion. We reconvened to the larger group and shared ideas; such as, on demand library to access pre-recorded presentations, general support group for licensed therapists in private practice, small networking in-person events, sustainability with affinity support groups, incorporating more intersectionality, increasing integration of DEI and much, much, more. LA-CAMFT Leadership Retreat Planning Committee is so grateful for those who participated and shared their ideas for the future of the organization. 

    If you are interested in helping us implement new ideas, we currently have the following positions open for 2024 LA-CAMFT Board of Directors and are always looking for co-chairs for our ongoing committees and folx interested in micro-volunteer opportunities. 

    Pre-Licensed Representative/3000 Club Chair
    Special Events Chair
    Sponsorship Chair

    If you would like to get in contact with any of the current board members, you could find them here: https://lacamft.org/Board-of-Directors-2023. For more information about the 2023 leadership retreat, board of director positions open, co-chairing and/or micro-volunteer opportunities, please email me directly at President@lacamft.org. 

    Hope to connect soon!

    Christina “Tina” Cacho Sakai, LMFT

    Christina "Tina" Cacho Sakai, LMFT (she/her) is a Latinx (Mexican-American) psychotherapist in private practice and a former community based therapist, clinical supervisor, associate director, and adjunct faculty at CSULA. She provides psychotherapy in a culturally responsive, LGBTQIA+ affirming and social justice-oriented atmosphere. Treatment specializations include healing from trauma, processing grief and loss, exploring creativity, and honoring full intersectional identities. She is currently in the BIPOC Somatic Experiencing Training Certificate Program.
  • 07/31/2023 10:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT 3000 Club


    Starting as Adjunct Faculty

    Thursday, August 24, 2023
    6:30 pm-7:30 pm

    FREE Registration

    Via Zoom

    Starting as Adjunct Faculty

    Jasmeet Bhullar, LMFT

    Working as Adjunct Faculty requires you to be patient but also ready to plan an entire class from scratch at a moment’s notice. This presentation will cover the pros and cons of this career to help you see if a career as adjunct faculty is right for you, job search strategies, and tips so you can master the interview.

    Event Details: Thursday, August 24, 2023, 6:30 pm-7:30 pm (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

  • 07/31/2023 9:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
    Voices Editor

    Getting Paid: Introducing & Talking About Sliding Scale — The Words You Use Make a Difference

    What’s your sliding scale? Do you have a sliding scale? How low is your sliding scale? What’s your discounted rate?

    These words are often the first thing a therapist encounters when a potential client calls, emails, texts, or DMs about therapy. It’s no surprise that mental health professionals find this a jarring and highly awkward beginning to an interaction about starting therapy—and that therapists, themselves, have many questions, about the best way to respond effectively, both clinically and professionally, to these potential clients during this important first contact.

    In fact, the most often asked question I encounter in Money Matters Workshops and at LA Practice Development Lunches is: “What’s the best way to respond when the first thing a caller—or a text, email or message—asks about is a discounted rate or sliding scale?”

    Responding to callers and clients who are asking, but don’t really need or qualify for a lower therapy rate, is a very different type of conversation than the one clinicians trained for and are familiar with—people who genuinely have, a financial need. 

    Just because clients are anxious about the price or cost of services doesn’t necessarily mean therapists should automatically give a price accommodation. The price a client can afford and the price a client wants to pay may not always be the same thing.

    It’s often hard for us as helping professionals to remember that helping a client doesn’t always have to mean giving everyone who asks a reduced rate or routinely offering the lowest possible price for therapy. It also can mean helping people find a lower priced type of treatment and referring them.

    While I wholeheartedly support the values that the term “sliding scale” represents, that professionals can help people in need by sometimes—at their discretion and when their schedules allow it—charging less or making other specialized arrangements, so that people can still get affordable help when they need it, I also firmly support mental health professionals charging and being paid a fair price for the professional services they provide to clients.

    As therapists, our task is to find the right balance of how, and how much, we can adjust session prices, for which clients, and how many—and not go out of business. In the current climate, navigating talking about prices with these clients takes more specialized skills and requires a totally different mindset, approach, and vocabulary.

    As in any clinical endeavor, the words you use to describe your services do make a difference. Yes, the meaning our words convey can either increase or decrease the amount of money we earn and are paid for our professional services. You’ll find that more people will pay in full and out of their own pocket for your services, when they believe you are the professional who can give them what they want—and the wording you use to describe your services conveys that.

    Money Talk: Words & Phrases to Consider
    Here are some examples of words that can make a difference in income when a clinician talks, writes, or communicates about therapy or money matters—and how and why these words can affect the perceived value, and subsequently, the amount a person is willing to pay for the therapy services provided as a clinician.

    This information applies equally to face-to-face conversations in real time or virtually, to emails, texts, social media postings, and what’s printed in marketing materials or is on your website. Each one of these words and phrases can have a direct effect on the amount a client pays you for your clinical services.

    As you read the following information, be sure to remember:

    • Only do and say things that fit for you, your clients, and your practice—and always within legal and ethical guidelines.
    • You can ignore everything written in this article and still be successful. Discover what works for you, your clients, and the practice setting you work in.

    Words & Phrases to Consider for Presenting Pricing & Adjusted Pricing
    These days the term “sliding scale” seems to come with a lot of baggage for clinicians, clients, and those seeking therapy. For many lay people, the word “sliding scale” means: the price can slide all the way down to zero; the rate will, of course, upon request, always be adjusted to the lowest possible price regardless of the financial need or available resources of the asker; and therapists will always give a lower price to anyone who asks because it’s their job to take care of people’s needs.

    An alternative to using “sliding scale” is to use more definite or declarative wording:

    For those with a lower income or who demonstrate a financial need—and are eligible, pricing based on lower income . . . special arrangements . . . specialized price/prices/pricing . . . price accommodation(s) can be discussed/made. The adjusted price for a 50-minute session of therapy is . . . The charge for your therapy session is . . . 

    Here are three examples of what can be said when callers or clients ask about or mention a sliding scale, discount or reduction. These are meant to be tailored to what works for you, your practice, and clientele.

    Example 1

    1. There are A/1/2/3/couple/few places/spaces/openings when my schedule allows it
    2. For clients who pay/receive/qualify for/ are in need of
    3. An adjusted fee/alternate price /special rate/economy rate, etc.


    4. Those are filled/there aren’t any openings/I can put you on the waiting list


      Those are reserved for low income and those who have a financial hardship when possible/when available/ when my schedule allows

    5. To qualify for those, you’ll need to submit proof of your household’s income—pay stubs/ tax return/bank statements etc.

    Example 2

    1. There are A/1/2/3/couple/few places/spaces/openings/slots when possible/when available/ when my schedule allows it
    2. For clients who pay/receive/qualify for/ are in need of
    3. An adjusted fee/alternate price / special rate/economy rate
    4. You don’t seem to qualify for those.
    5. We can talk about other options to be able to manage paying the session cost—less than weekly sessions/shorter length sessions/group therapy/family loan/ credit card payment/
    6. If you’re not able to work out paying the session price/If you don’t want to pay the session price
    7. I can refer you to a low-cost counseling center, free clinic, training center, or counseling practice specializing in low-income clients.

    Example 3

    1. If you’re not able to pay this session price
    2. I don’t offer a sliding scale or adjust the price for a session
    3. I can refer you to a low-cost counseling center, a training center, free clinic, or counseling practice specializing in low income clients.

    By using this type of wording, the therapist will be conveying the message that the stated cost of services is the actual price and not just a negotiation starting point when no fee adjustment is realistically needed—but that some pricing accommodations are available to those in need of them. As a result, of making this wording change the clinician’s money conversations are usually shorter and the amount decided upon is usually higher but still what the client can afford.

    Only Do What Fits You, Your Clients, and Your Therapy Services Best
    Confidently take charge of money conversations about prices by using any of aforementioned professional and clinical language recommendations that work with your client population and clinical practice. Focus on the value, cost, worth of the therapy service to the client and their life.

    Remember to keep the language, wording, and focus of the clinical and professional money matters conversations on the client responsibility for payment for services needed, received and provided— not on what or how much the therapist gets or charges or how much the number is. Allow the client to pay a fair price for the therapy benefits they receive from you, the highly skilled and trained professional that you are

    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.

  • 07/31/2023 8:30 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT August 2023
    ONLINE Business 

    Friday, August 18, 2023
    10:00 am-11:00 am

    Online Via Zoom

    Practicing Smart: Should I Form a Company for My Practice?

    Tom Henning, J.D., LL.M., M.A.

    This program addresses the legal and tax implications of how you conduct your private practice, including the use of a sole proprietorship or professional corporation. Whether you are new to private practice or have been doing it for years, these issues are complicated and can feel overwhelming. A clear understanding of what form of business is most suitable for you will help relieve stress and anxiety around this subject. This workshop addresses questions you have, as well as ones you may not have even considered:

    • Am I missing out on ways to save taxes? 
    • How do I reduce the likelihood of a tax audit?
    • How can I limit my personal liability? 
    • Can I create a company that enhances my brand? 
    • Can I have a distinctive trademark or tradename without incorporating? 

    Event Details: 
    Friday, August 18, 2023, 9:00 am-11:00 am (PT)

    Where: Online Via Zoom

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

    Register Here

  • 07/31/2023 8:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Joanna Poppink, LMFT

    Quality Friendship: How to Recognize a Friend Who Is Good For You, Part 1

    If you have suffered from an eating disorder, PTSD, anxiety or any hardship that has distorted your perceptions about the personality or character traits of other people, you may not recognize the qualities of a good friendship. Past emotional wounds can leave you doubting the motivations of others. You may be in an almost constant state of mistrust. You need a reliable criterion to evaluate your friendships or potential friendships.

    A good friendship can have a positive and uplifting impact on your life. It's important to recognize the signs of a healthy and supportive friendship. Moreover, being with a good friend can teach you how to be a good friend yourself.

    Signs of a Good Friendship, Part 1

    Trust and Reliability
    In a good friendship, there is a strong foundation of trust. You can rely on your friend to keep promises, be there for you in times of need, and maintain confidentiality. Trust is the foundation of a strong friendship. You and your friend have confidence in each other's honesty, loyalty, and dependability. You can trust them with your secrets, rely on them to keep their commitments, and feel assured that they have your best interests at heart.

    Example: Your friend keeps your confidential conversations private and follows through on their promises to meet up or help you with something.

    Mutual Respect
    There is a high level of respect between both friends. You appreciate each other's opinions, boundaries, and individuality. Respect is shown through kind and considerate behavior. You value each other's autonomy. Respect is shown through kind and considerate behavior, even when you may have differing viewpoints.

    Example: You engage in discussions without belittling or dismissing each other's ideas. You appreciate and acknowledge each other's perspectives.

    Open Communication: 
    Healthy friendships are built on open and honest communication. You feel comfortable expressing your thoughts, feelings, and concerns, and your friend listens to you without judgment. Both of you can communicate openly and resolve conflicts in a respectful manner. You feel comfortable expressing your thoughts, feelings, and concerns to your friend, knowing that they will listen attentively and respond with care. Both of you can discuss issues, resolve conflicts, and provide feedback without fear of judgment.

    Example: You can have a heart-to-heart conversation about a problem in your friendship, and both of you actively listen and work together to find a resolution.

    Support and Encouragement
    A good friend supports and encourages your personal growth and success. They celebrate your achievements, provide a shoulder to lean on during challenging times, and offer constructive advice when needed. They celebrate your achievements, offer encouragement during difficult times, and provide a safe space for you to share your aspirations and dreams. They believe in your abilities and motivate you to reach your potential.

    Example: Your friend attends your important events, cheers you on when you accomplish a goal, and offers words of encouragement and motivation when you face challenges.

    Shared Interests and Activities
    Good friends often have common interests and enjoy spending time together engaging in activities they both enjoy. Shared hobbies, outings, or experiences contribute to the bond and create lasting memories. Whether it's a shared passion, or simply hanging out and having fun, shared experiences strengthen the bond and create lasting memories.

    Example: You and your friend go hiking together, play a sport you both love, or enjoy watching movies and discussing them afterwards.

    Empathy and Understanding
    Your friend shows empathy and understanding towards your feelings and experiences. They try to put themselves in your shoes, offer a listening ear, and provide emotional support when you need it. They listen attentively, validate your emotions, and offer support and comfort when you're going through a tough time. They offer you a compassionate perspective.

    Example: When you're feeling down, your friend actively listens, offers a shoulder to lean on, and provides words of empathy and understanding, making you feel heard and supported.

    Non-Judgmental Attitude
    A good friend accepts you for who you are without judgment. They embrace your strengths and weaknesses and do not criticize or belittle you. You feel comfortable being yourself around them. They embrace your strengths and weaknesses, celebrate your uniqueness, and do not criticize or belittle you for your choices or imperfections. You feel safe and comfortable being yourself around them.

    Example: Your friend appreciates your quirks, understands your flaws, and loves you unconditionally, without trying to change you.

    Equality and Reciprocity
    There is a sense of equality and balance in your friendship. You both contribute to the relationship, take turns supporting each other, and invest time and effort into maintaining the connection.  The give-and-take dynamic is present, ensuring that both parties feel valued and appreciated.

    Example: You and your friend take turns initiating plans, offering help, and being there for each other. There is a balanced effort in nurturing your friendship.

    Healthy Boundaries
    Good friends respect each other's boundaries and understand that everyone needs personal space and time apart. They do not overstep boundaries or impose their opinions on one another. They allow each other to have individual preferences and needs.

    Example: Your friend respects your need for alone time and doesn't pressure you when you need space. They understand and honor your boundaries.

    Longevity and Consistency
    A good friendship stands the test of time. It is not based solely on convenience or situational factors. Good friends remain supportive and present through various stages of life, and the friendship remains consistent over time. Good friends remain supportive and present through various stages of life, adapting to changes and maintaining the connection.

    Example: Even if life circumstances change, such as marriages, child birth, moving to different cities or countries, pursuing different interests, vocations, or hobbies they stay in touch and maintain the friendship. You and your friend make the effort to honor the enduring nature of your friendship.

    Friendships can evolve and change over time, and it's important to nurture and communicate with your friend to maintain a healthy and fulfilling relationship. Friendships require ongoing effort and nurturing. By recognizing and appreciating these signs of a good friendship, you can cultivate and strengthen the bond, leading to a fulfilling and supportive relationship.

    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
  • 07/31/2023 7:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Marvin Whistler

    Awardees of the 2023 Grant Awards for Pre-Licensed Members Who Are Therapists of Color

    On June 25, 2023, the most recent awardees of the LA-CAMFT TOC GRANT AWARD were randomly selected. They are Beatriz Valencia and Tunde Esho.  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 September 5, 2023.  It is limited to members of LA-CAMFT and 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

    • $500 to be spent at the winner’s discretion
    • Free year of LA-CAMFT membership
    • Free admission to 3 LA-CAMFT workshops or networking events of the winner’s choosing with the exception of the Law & Ethics Workshop.

    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 of 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 qualifying criteria and completed 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 September 5, 2023, and will close on November 4, 2023. The drawing will take place on November 5, 2023.

    Best regards,

    The LA-CAMFT TOC Grant Committee
  • 07/31/2023 6:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Chellie Campbell,
    Financial Stress
    Reduction Expert

    Magic Money Wish List

    The two most beautiful words in the English language are: Check enclosed.

                               Dorothy Parker  

    Every so often, as I worked with my chosen monthly budget, I would think of something I wanted to have that wasn’t on my budget. It could be something I had forgotten to plan for by putting it on my “Irregular Expenses” list like new stationery, additional advertising specialty items like coffee mugs or pens, or a new piece of computer equipment. Or it could be something fun or extravagant that I wanted to create more money for, like new clothes, new office furniture, or a piece of jewelry.

    Whenever I thought of something, I wrote it down on a piece of paper at the back of my time management calendar on my desk. I labeled it my “Magic Money Wish List,” because I knew I had to create extra, magic money, above and beyond my budget, in order to have the things on this list…

    Without paying much attention to it, I started regularly receiving extra money. In fact, the amounts I received almost always totaled the amount of money I needed to buy the things on this list. I remember one day in particular, when I had gotten a surprise bill for $800 that I had not planned for. I wrote this amount on my list and started doing “magic money” affirmations, because I didn’t want to take $800 out of my savings. Three weeks later, I got a check in the mail from a real estate transaction that had closed three years before. Some accountant in the lender’s office had done an audit and discovered a discrepancy—I had not been paid the full amount I was due, so they were sending me a check to take care of the balance due me.

    The check enclosed was for $806.32. True story.

    When that happened, I suddenly became conscious of what I was doing. I was naming a goal, writing it down, and telling my subconscious and the Universe to create it for me. Whenever I bought one of the items, I crossed it off the list by highlighting it in green. After several years, I had several pages of nice things highlighted in green—this was working! Right then, I added the “Magic Money Wish List” instructions to my Financial Stress Reduction Workshop.

    What would you like to have “magic money” for? Write out your wish list today!

    Today’s Affirmation:
    “I create ‘Magic Money’ for all the wonderful things I desire!”

    This blog has resulted in some Magic Money for me, too. I’ve been writing it for many years now and it’s been really successful in stirring up attention. Yay!

    I also post the blog each day on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This is how terrifically well Social Media works—I received a note from a Facebook friend who said, “I always thought you were cool and loved hearing you speak at networking events and women’s conferences. But now I am simply in awe. I signed up for your daily affirmations. I can’t tell you how much I love them. I sent a copy to my boyfriend, and he said, ‘When can we take her workshop?’”

    Now as any of you who are in sales know, that question is a “buying signal.” This is someone I should definitely follow up with to explore the possibilities of them taking the next class. So, I wrote her back of course, and said we should talk. I didn’t hear back from her during the next week.

    And this is where a lot of people lose their sale. They don’t follow up again. Remember it takes 12 touches before someone is ready to buy from you, but even when they are leaning towards yes, you have to close the sale.

    So, I did a google search and found the woman’s web site with her phone number. I called her up, we had a lovely chat, and she enrolled in the course. I asked about her boyfriend, and she said she would talk with him. Then she wrote, “I just want you to know that I hung up the phone with you and immediately downloaded your books to my Nook. Yay.” A few hours after that, she said her boyfriend was in, too.

    You know what the best part was? At the end of the workshop, she told me she had the best, most profitable month ever in her entire career during my workshop! That’s what I really love—helping people have the rich life of their dreams. It’s magical!

    The lesson here for you is, the blog is working, driving traffic to my web site, selling books, and selling workshops. But all of that is marketing, not sales. Sales don’t magically happen by themselves. They need a little assistance from you. People are interested, but if you don’t call them, you leave them alone to figure out how to get past their obstacles to buying from you—like time and money and you’re not on my budget right now. You’re much better qualified to coach them on this than they are!

    The advertising is in the blog. The money is in the phone!

    Chellie Campbell, Financial Stress Reduction Expert, is 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.

  • 07/31/2023 5:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT Diversity Committee

    Therapists of Color Support Group

    Sunday, August 13, 2023

    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, August 13, 2023, 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

  • 07/31/2023 4:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    David Silverman,

    How To Create A Perfect Workspace For Writing

    Where do you like to write? Where do you feel the most comfortable, and the least distracted? Do you like it dark and womb-like, or open and bright? Do you decorate your office with family photos or movie posters? Where do you do your best work? 

    Clearly, your mood can vary depending on your surroundings. Generally, writers like a fairly quiet space to work where they won’t be too distracted. If you work best in a clean, organized, uncluttered environment, make sure your workspace reflects that. 

    I went online to check with members of the many screenwriting groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. They're all free in case you're interested in joining. One is called Zero Draft Thirty, one's called 1 Page a Day Screenwriters, another—Screenwriters Who Can Actually Write. 

    Many of the group members told me they try to limit distractions by leaving their cell phones in another room while writing. Some like to work in complete silence. A few have been known to soundproof their workspaces. Others use special software that keeps them from surfing the web when they're supposed to be working. 

    Some prefer to work in silence, others want a pot of coffee nearby, some may need to smoke. Some like to write on a laptop in their kitchen. A few said they like to work on their kitchen counters. Other just like the proximity to the refrigerator. Oddly, one mentioned that the gentle hum his refrigerator emitted had a soothing effect. 

    While one writer preferred his office uncluttered and quiet, another said he liked loud rock music playing. Many writers told me they liked having the TV on, and some preferred clutter—explaining it made them feel they were getting things done. 

    One screenwriter I talked to said she liked plenty of room in her office so she could act out a scene as she was writing it. A writer/director mentioned he occasionally videotaped himself acting out a scene so he could transcribe it later. Another liked to talk the story out with his cat. Similarly, one said he talked to the disembodied computer voice of his Amazon Alexa, asking her to play smooth jazz, or when he needed to work faster—to set a timer. 

    While it helps some writers to walk around or talk out their scenes, others find it helps to gaze at a beautiful view. Several writers mentioned that they liked to look out their windows at a body of water. It was a calming influence that helped them center, and focus. One writer liked the view of a lake. Another, the Atlantic Ocean. A man who worked as a swim coach in another incarnation liked to write with a view of his swimming pool. 

    Another writer said she had a special setup for writing horror films. She’d sit in the dark, burning graveyard incense, with only Christmas lights on—and dark music playing. Her favorite music for the task—Marilyn Manson or Dead Can Dance. 

    She liked to call this space her portable altar of death. She said it also completely freaked her out. It was so intense she’d have to undo the setup after she was done writing. The dark energy that came with it troubled her. She wanted it gone when she was finished writing. After she was done writing she said she burnt sage and prayed. 

    Some of the other members liked to brainstorm in one location, for example, in a rocker, a barber chair, a La-Z-Boy, on the floor, or in the car driving up the coast, stopping to admire the view. They’d text or email themselves the work. Then they’d do the actual writing on their computers back at the office. 

    I know I like to write in longhand first, generally on the bed in the other room, then type it up back at the desktop. I move around a lot during different stages of the writing process. I always print up the scene and take it somewhere else to pencil in changes—usually in a noisy place—sometimes with the TV on and music blaring. Then it’s back to the keyboard. 

    I’m not sure why I like to have that wall of sound while I write. At some level, I’m sure it has to do with the occupational hazard for all writers—not wanting to feel so alone. Come to think of it, the combination of the TV talking heads and the loud music feels like working in a bar. 

    Another thing about the office I like to work in—I like it dark and womb-like, with the fan on, and maybe a small window open. I like to be surrounded by cool stuff. I have some artwork, some photos of my family and friends, and of my dog. I have an Egyptian stone cat with marbles in her eyes that light up when the fireplace is crackling. 

    In the end, no matter how you’ve set up your workspace, no matter if you have the most beautiful antique desk, or just the right music, or the perfect view of the ocean, you still have to actually sit down and write. The environment you set up is like a stage, a container for creative thought. Hopefully, it will inspire you to do your best work.

    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.

  • 07/31/2023 3:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT Diversity Committee

    Black Therapist Support Group

    First Saturday of this Month

    Next Meeting:
    Saturday, August 5, 2023
    12:00 pm-1:30 pm (PT)

    Online Via Zoom

    Black Therapist Support Group

    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 aselwa@sunrisetherapycenter.org.

    Event Details: 

    Licensed Therapists, Associates, and Students

    Event Details: 
    Saturday, August 5, 2023
    12:00 pm-1:30 pm (PT)
    Time of Check-In: 11:50 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 date of the event.

    (Registration is open and available until the group ends.)

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

    Register Here

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