Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Voices — December 2019

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  • 11/30/2019 11:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Christina Castorena

    Christina Castorena
    President, LA-CAMFT

    Dear Friends and Colleagues,

    It’s December, and winter is finally here! Holiday decor is on display, shopping is in full swing and whether you like it or not, festive music is being played on loop. For me, it is bittersweet because it is the last month of my presidency at LA-CAMFT, and I will transition to my role as “Past President.” 

    It's been an honor serving as President. I was given the opportunity to work alongside LA-CAMFT’s Board of Directors and committee members. This group of highly dedicated and skilled professionals, who are passionate about providing our community, worked tirelessly to bring quality events to our therapeutic community.  

    It was an exciting year for our chapter. In 2019, LA-CAMFT held numerous activities which included both time-honored gatherings and new events. Can you believe we held eight networking events this year? These networking events are the cornerstone of our chapter and provide the community with a dynamic speaker’s series, fun networking opportunities, affordable CEUs, and of course delicious food. If you haven’t been able to make it out to one of our networking events, I highly recommend attending in January of 2020, since already have some dynamic speakers already lined up! 

    We've also held four special events that included an expansive Law and Ethics Workshop, a memorable Summer Picnic, a celebratory Appreciation Event, and our festive Holiday Party celebration. These events helped to provide our community with opportunities to connect, learn and celebrate in a more casual setting.  

    Our 3000 Club provided our pre-licensed membership with multiple fun and supportive social opportunities. These events helped provide a supportive community during the demanding process of reaching licensure.  

    The Diversity Committee held monthly “Therapist of Color” support groups on both the East and West sides of Los Angeles. They also provided the chapter with several firsts this year. At the beginning of the year, the Diversity Committee was asked to lead the first ever facilitated Discussion on Diversity at the Annual CAMFT Leadership Conference that was held in Anaheim, California. This was a remarkable accomplishment for both the chapter and the state organization. The Diversity Committee also held its first workshop and this was the first event LA-CAMFT has held on the Eastside of Los Angeles. I am so proud of our leaders who worked very hard to make all of this come to fruition.  

    We released twelve editions of our Voices electronic newsletter. Each newsletter has been filled with interesting articles from our membership that covered pertinent issues that impact mental health therapists. I was so happy to see so many new members contributing articles and sharing their voices with us.  

    It’s important that I recognize and thank all our community sponsors who connected with LA-CAMFT this year to help us provide our members with affordable and quality events. It is equally important that I thank all our members for continuing to support the LA Chapter of CAMFT. 

    As I close out my last message as President, I’d like to welcome our incoming President, Matthew Evans, LMFT and President Elect, Jenni J.V. Wilson, LMFT. I’m excited about our presidential team because Matt possesses a strong drive for Associate Advocacy and cares deeply about our community and Jenni is grounded in her passion for diversity, inclusion and expansion of LA-CAMFT’s resources and mission to support therapists.  

    I will continue to support Matt and Jenni in my role as “Past President” just as former “Past President,” Shelley Pearce, LMFT, helped support my growth this past year. In collaboration with LA-CAMFT’s Board of Directors, the continued community partnerships, strong member support and the steady leadership that grows within LA-CAMFT, I am confident that our chapter will continue to thrive and evolve. I wish you and those you care about a most joyous holiday season and hope to see you in the new year. 

    Best Regards,
    Christina Castorena, LMFT

    Christina Castorena, MS, LMFT, worked in community mental health before starting her private practice, Castorena Therapeutic Services, in 2016. She passionately serves adults, couples, and members of the LGBTQ+ community who are dealing with life transitions, parenting, relational conflicts, and anxiety. She employs family systems and mindfulness-based CBT. As president of LA-CAMFT, Christina strongly advocates for her professional community and celebrates the hard-working clinicians that facilitate healing. Her website is castorenatherapeutic.com. Christina may be contacted at president@lacamft.org.

  • 11/30/2019 10:30 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT 2019 Annual Holiday Party and Potluck

    It’s time to kick back and celebrate with friends and colleagues at LA-CAMFT’s traditional Holiday Party. All are invited to come gather together in celebrating another terrific year for our community. Please join us for a delicious potluck, annual LA-CAMFT rituals and musical merriment with your LA-CAMFT friends and colleagues.

    Our bi-annual ceremony will celebrate the passing of the baton to our newly elected LA-CAMFT Board of Directors.

    December 8, 2019
    1 - 4 pm

    Clearview Treatment Programs
    911 Coeur D'Alene Avenue, Venice, CA 90291

  • 11/30/2019 10:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
    Voices Editor

    Getting Paid: Talking About Sliding Scale Pricing The Words You Use Do Make a Difference

    How much do you charge? What’s your sliding scale? Is that the lowest you charge?

    How much can you slide? How low can you go?

    If you dread hearing these questions you are not alone.

    While questions about a lower price or a sliding scale used to be asked from time to time, therapists are reporting that now they are asked these questions all the time—from just about everyone who calls.

    What’s problematic about this?

    Well, before this recent phenomenon started, sliding scale requests came from just a few—usually those with a low income or reduced ability to pay, a financial hardship or significant unexpected expense. Now a majority of those asking for lower or sliding scale pricing more often have adequate resources, income, and an ability to pay. What’s a therapist to do?

    Offering lower pricing to clients truly in financial need who require mental health services, is a time-honored tradition in the practice of therapy. Sliding scale and other types of price adjustments were instituted to make therapy services available to those whose economic circumstances didn’t allow payment for the full cost of services. Having these accommodations available allows therapists, at their own discretion, to adjust the amount a client pays and can manage on a regular basis

    Like most therapists in the mental health profession, I believe in, and support, making affordable therapy available to people who don’t have much money and those experiencing a financial hardship. Clinicians, who are committed to this, routinely offer those in need a variety of options that allow them to afford and pay for needed mental health treatment. Many therapists also work with certain clients on a case-by-case basis to offer specialized arrangements based on their particular needs and circumstances.

    Some of the options private practitioners use to make therapy affordable to clients in financial need are: pricing based on income; lower pricing; a percentage or number of lower priced client spaces; an allotted length of time or number of sessions of lowered pricing for a certain number of clients; flexible scheduling (three sessions per month, every other week, etc.); charging less for shorter sessions; payment plans; pro bono sessions for a client or two; charging less for sessions during slow periods of the day; special arrangements based on special circumstances; a limited number of reduced-price scholarships; sliding scale; etc.

    With so many callers asking about the lowest prices they have, now therapists feel even more to reduce prices because

    • They want to help people get the care they need
    • They’re sensitive to the underlying assumption that clients expect the therapist to take care of them by lowering the therapy session price upon request
    • They don’t want to come across greedy, in it for the money or with a “the meter’s always running” mentality
    • They fear that if they don’t accept low prices they won’t have any clients or be able to fill their practices

    While clinicians believe it’s important to offer sliding scale pricing only when a client is genuinely in financial need, unfortunately, when repeatedly asked about sliding scale or lower pricing, many end up undercharging, letting clients determine the fee, maxing out the number of low-cost clients their practices can accommodate, cutting prices below the minimum amount needed to keep their practice open, and feeling resentful or taken advantage of by clients they gave a lower price to and then discovered were spending large amounts on luxuries (new, high priced cars, jewelry, vacations, designer clothing; dining at pricey restaurants, etc.) after they’d claimed they couldn’t afford to pay for therapy and needed a lower session price.

    Sliding scale, special arrangements, and lower prices upon request were never meant to be offered as options to those who had resources, could afford to pay the full price, and who, for other reasons, don’t want to or think they should. It’s also not financially feasible for any private practitioner who wants to remain in business, to give a discount to every single client who wants to pay the lowest possible price for therapy—after all we need to keep our practices up and running, be able to cover practice and professional expenses, and support ourselves and our household.

    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. 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.

    So, what’s the best way to respond to a caller or current client who wants a price accommodation but doesn’t need one?

    Money Talk: Words & Phrases to Consider

    Let’s look at some of the words that can make a difference when a clinician talks, writes, or communicates about money matters involving sliding scale and adjusted pricing for those with limited income—and how and why these words can affect the amount a person is willing to consider or pay for therapy services.

    This information applies equally to phone calls, face-to-face conversations in real time or virtually, emails, texts, social media postings, and what’s printed in marketing materials or written on a website. Yes, each of these words and phrases can have a direct effect on the perceived value of the services a therapist provides and the amount clients are willing to pay for the clinical services you provide.

    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.
    • These suggestions are meant for use with clients who aren’t low income and don’t have a financial need since most therapists are aren’t having much difficulty with fee conversations with clients who can’t pay for therapy without an adjusted price.

    Now about that vocabulary . . .

    As noted in Getting Paid: Talking Fees, Pricing, Prices The Words You Use to Talk to Clients About Money Matters in Therapy Do Make a Difference, using fee, full fee, my, my fee, etc., currently seem to signal to those seeking therapy that any stated rate for clinical services is just a starting point. It’s automatically assumed therapists are open to requests and negotiating lower prices. You’ll notice that the words listed aren’t used in this article—that’s why. To review alternate wording, click the link. Using some of these suggested words may eliminate a client who doesn’t need a sliding scale asking you about one.

    1.     Low, lowest, lower . . . Reduce, reduced . . . Discount, discounted . . .

    Lowest price/prices/rates/amounts . . . reduced price/prices/pricing/rates/amounts . . . discounted price/prices/pricing/rates/amounts

    Are the people who call us about our services seeking therapy or shopping for therapy?

    In today’s world using any of the words listed seems to put people on the “I’m shopping” channel. Not exactly the best channel to be on to seek professional help for mental health issues or work, family and relationship problems, self-regulation skills, healing past traumas, addiction, recovery, anger management, parenting skills, growth, etc. It’s sometimes very easy for people to get mixed up about what type of professional help they need and what that costs.

    Are people looking for a professional who’s trained and skilled in helping clients like them with their presenting issues? Or are they looking for the lowest possible price for counseling? How much is it necessary to pay? What difference does the price make? These are all important questions for therapists to address when clients call about therapy and cost is discussed.

    As mental health professionals who are highly skilled and experienced, we don’t want to add to any confusion, so it’s important we’re aware of the words we use when we talk or write about the price for therapy services so we don’t inadvertently encourage clients to shift into a shopping for the lowest price mindset or turn into a “therapy price shopper.”

    Clinical services are valuable and worth paying for since stopping unhealthy behaviors, learning new skills, and how to take better care of yourself can save both money and time as well as help you take advantage of opportunities that make your life better. How much does therapy save when you don’t get divorced, lose your job, get a DUI or???? When you compare the cost and benefit from what you receive then the price may seem worth paying—even if you must rearrange your budget, put it on a credit card, arrange a family loan or payment plan, etc.

    Unless therapists are specializing in clients who only want to pay low, reduced or discounted prices for therapy services, in general, it’s best for those in private practice to use other words and not any variation of “low, reduce, discount” when referring to or stating pricing for therapy services.

    2.     Sliding Scale

    When in conversation or writing, substituting one of the following words in place of “sliding scale,” price . . . rate . . . amount . . . pricing . . . cost . . . charge . . . along with adjust, adjusted, alternate, alternative, affordable, special, economy, helps clients understand, and cognitively register, that this isn’t the type of pricing range where a therapist will, upon request, “slide” all the way to zero, or some other very low price.

    Adjusted price . . . economy rate . . . special pricing . . . cost adjustment . . . more affordable amount

    Using this wording usually results in fewer requests and conversations from those not truly in financial need. With these words people, usually don’t just automatically try to negotiate to make a stated price lower.

    Let’s look at this from another perspective . . . When you go to a doctor, attorney, dentist or other professional, do they use the term, sliding scale? Most likely these professionals use words like adjustment, introductory, limited time or another pricing term. Clients are familiar with this wording. and when it’s used, don’t automatically assume that the price stated is open for negotiation to a lower one. Nor do they experience these definitive words as an invitation to ask for a discount or adjustment to a much lower number.

    Now’s a good time to take a moment to think about and consider the words you are using with the people who call or clients who want to change the amount they pay, what you’ve read about this, and what your colleagues are saying about handling these things and if, and how, it’s working for them, and for you.

    That’s enough for today on talking sliding scale pricing and getting paid. I hope you’ve found it useful to understand how the wording you use to talk about sliding scale pricing can increase or decrease the money you earn in your practice. See for yourself how the words you use can make a difference.

    The next article, the fifth in the Getting Paid Series, covers sliding scale, part 2—specific suggestions about how to introduce and talk about your sliding scale, adjusted pricing and specialized alternatives.

    Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she works with Couples, and Gifted, Talented, and Creative people across the lifespan. Lynne’s been doing business and clinical practice coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping develop successful careers and practices. For more about services, training or the monthly LA Practice Development Lunch, visit www.Gifted-Adults.com or www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.

    Getting Paid: Talking About Sliding Scale Pricing—The Words You Use Do Make a Difference is the fourth article of the Getting Paid: Talking with Clients About Money Matters Series:

    1. Talking with Clients About the Price & Value of Therapy 

    2.   Talking Fees, Pricing, Prices—The Words You Use to Talk to Clients About Money Matters Do Make a Difference

    3.    Talking Pricing, Services, Rates—The Words You Use to Talk with Clients About Your Services and Rates Make a Difference 
  • 11/30/2019 9:45 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)
    Billie Klayman

    Valerie "Billie"
    Klayman, LMFT
    Chief Financial Officer

    December’s Featured Member:
    Pamela Payton, M.A., LMFT

    This month I would like to feature another member of our LA-CAMFT chapter. Each month I will continue to feature our members and their connection to our chapter. While I can write all day about being involved in our chapter, I feel that hearing from other members is more authentic and genuine.

    For each month’s Member Spotlight, I’ll be reaching out to our members to write about their experiences in our chapter. If you would like to be featured in this column and write about you and why you’re a member of our chapter, please email me at CFO@lacamft.org.

    This month I am going to highlight Pamela Payton, M.A., LMFT. I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Pamela at many of our events. Pamela has always been a member who will ask, “How can I help?” Her commitment to our compassionate community continues to be the reason our chapter is so vibrant.

    Pamela has been a licensed therapist for over thirty years. She is a brief/solution-focused therapist, with a primary focus on couples and relationship counseling. Clients receive support and guidance via cognitive/behavioral techniques to increase coping and communication skills, reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms, and manage grief and loss.

    Pamela was a Board member of LA-CAMFT for four years and ended her position in December 2015. Pamela states, “I enjoy the structure, events, fun, people, speakers, networking, etc. I've derived a great deal of benefit and satisfaction from all the years that I've been a participant.”

    Thank you Pamela for being such a devoted member of CAMFT and the LA-CAMFT.

    This Member Spotlight  previously appeared in the April 2019 edition of Voices, and has been updated for this issue.

    Valerie "Billie" Klayman, M.A., LMFT, an integrative Meaning Centered Therapist, became a supervisor at Antioch University Counseling Center in 2014. Billie initiated a partnership between AUCC and the Culver City Senior Center offering pro-bono therapy and group therapy to members of CCSC. December 2016, Culver City hired Billie to help residents of the community at the Culver City Senior Center. She’s presented on Substance Abuse and Addiction. Billie can be reached at cfo@lacamft.org.

  • 11/30/2019 9:30 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Maria Gray,

    Year End ReportingA Checkup for Your Practice

    December has arrived and the holiday season is upon us. My practice sometimes slows down during this time of year due to the holiday season. I like to use this time to review the way my business has performed throughout the year. There are two reports I use; one is a simple count of the number of clients I see each month that I’ve created in Excel. I like to maintain annual data so I can analyze trends and compare my numbers to the previous years. I print this report out so I can review it with my Profit and Loss report.

    A Profit and Loss report (also called a Profit and Loss statement) is an accounting of the profit you have earned minus your business expenses. I use QuickBooks accounting software to generate my report. You don’t need to purchase accounting software to create a Profit and Loss Statement, you can develop your own report by downloading your credit card data and banking transactions into a spreadsheet and classifying them by expense type.

    A Profit and Loss report contains the data you need to analyze your business expenses and adjust your spending. It’s a useful report to have on hand while you are preparing your taxes. Sample categories include: Income, Gross Income, Expenses, Total Expenses, and Net Income (The total of Income minus Expenses). This year I took a close look at my training expenses to be sure I’m attending high quality trainings without exceeding my budget.

    After I’m done reviewing my Profit and Loss report I compare my monthly earnings to my hours worked, using my first report. I use this data to inform my goals for next year. For example-I assisted at several Brainspotting trainings this year which caused me to miss some client hours on Thursdays. I calculated my earnings for those months and then I reviewed the referrals I received through the trainings and found it was a profitable use of my time.

    Once I’m done with my reports, I review my current business goals and set new goals for the upcoming year. You may have guessed by now that I am a data crunching geek. All these calculations can be done by hand if you prefer. If you need help getting started, I recommend you ask your accountant for some assistance, this will make things easier at tax time.

    Happy holidays to you and your friends and family.

    Maria Gray, LMFT, NMP, CGP, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Century City, where she specializes in trauma and addictions. Maria offers individual business consultation and private practice workshops for therapists who want to thrive. To learn more, go to www.mariagray.net.
  • 11/30/2019 9:20 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Leila Aboohamad,

    Do You or Your Clients Love Too Much? The Secrets to Creating a Loving “I-Thou” Relationship: The Seventh Step

    In working with the clients in my practice who are either in unfulfilling relationships or alone, I have discovered the steps they need to take and what they need to know and to find that perfect mate for them. This is the fifth in a series of articles on The Steps to Creating a Loving “I-Thou” Relationship.

    The Seventh Step in learning how to create a loving, committed relationship is to know with every fiber of our being our own unique qualities and character—who we really are in so many different areas. Why is it so important to really know ourselves? How does knowing ourselves help us to create loving, fulfilling, and committed relationships?      

    Before we go on to more about the Seventh Step of the secrets to creating a loving “I-Thou” relationship, here are the first six steps:

    • The First Step to creating a loving “I-Thou” relationship is to recognize that we are complete and whole unto ourselves.
    • The Second Step to finding your soul mate and a happy, fulfilling, committed relationship is to understand your Family of Origin.
    • The Third Step to creating a loving “I-Thou” relationship is to become acutely aware of how we feel.
    • The Fourth Step to finding a happy, fulfilling, committed relationship is to understand that it is a wounded inner child which has never healed that goes out into the world looking for love, acceptance and companionship.
    • The Fifth Step in learning how to create a loving, committed relationship is to understand the importance of setting boundaries.
    • The Sixth Step to creating a loving, committed relationship is to understand the importance of communication. 

    In knowing ourselves in the Seventh Step, we need to know our philosophy of life. Why are we here on planet Earth? How do we define our moral and ethical beliefs? Are we religious or spiritual or an agnostic or atheist, and do we require the same beliefs in our mate? Do we believe in marriage or believe that living together without the formality and legality of marriage better fits us? Do we want children? What are our thoughts on money and financial security? Are we city, suburban or country people? Are we open minded enough to embrace the inevitability of change which will lead to personal growth if allowed to unfold? 

    Wow, so many questions that need to be answered to help us in making one of the most important decisions of our life. 

    When I was young, I never thought about any of this—and my choices in mates were horrendous. I just wanted “love,” not even knowing what “love” really meant because I didn’t really love myself. I hadn’t as yet explored the wonderful being that I was and am. 

    It took a lot of exploration in therapy and with my spiritual practice to gain the self-awareness which freed me from the confines of my Family of Origin System. I learned how to know and express the truly unique and wise individual who had been hidden under layers of confusion for far too long. All that work brought me to where I am today: an expert in the relationship field. Relationships are with one’s self as well as with a mate. 

    Do you spend time every day learning about yourself? Do you look at your past relationships, both personal and professional, really trying to understand what they meant and how they shaped the person you are today?  Do you know what your bottom line is: exactly what you will accept for yourself in relationship with a mate? 

    You need to be painstaking in your questioning and answering so that you will attract into your life that perfect mate who fits you like a glove. It is well worth the effort to know yourself so completely that you shine in your confidence and warmth, sending out signals to those who resonate with your uplifting yet well-grounded energy.

    Leila Aboohamad, LMFT, is a psychotherapist practicing in Brentwood, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles, California. She specializes in helping individuals and couples create successful, committed loving relationships. She has studied and practiced spirituality and mindfulness for over 35 years. Leila also works with gifted, talented and creative adults helping them to identify and share their special gifts and passions with the world. Website: www.leilalmft.com.

  • 11/30/2019 9:17 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)
    Amy McManus

    Amy McManus,

    A New Way to Use The Five Love Languages

    Do Your Clients Ask You About The Five Love Languages?

    Mine certainly do! The problem is, they usually get it wrong. They expect their partner to change so that they can be loved in the way they prefer.

    Sure, it’s a good idea for your clients to tell their partner that they like to be hugged or told “I love you”, but this is not actually the thrust of the popular theory proposed by Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages.

    What Does the Book Tell Us to Do?

    Chapman posits that people show and receive love in these five different ways:

    • Quality time
    • Physical touch
    • Acts of service
    • Giving and receiving gifts
    • Words of affirmation

    As a recent article, in The Atlantic points out, Chapman wrote the book in order to help people identify their partner’s love languages, so that they could make their partner feel loved.

    Here’s what I tell my clients:

    “If you have been trying and trying to show your partner how much you love them, but they have not been responding to your efforts, it can be extremely helpful to take a minute to ask them about their love language.

    If your partner’s love language is physical touch—which perhaps you yourself couldn’t care less about—and you’ve been knocking yourself out giving them acts of service, then nobody is happy. Your partner doesn’t feel particularly loved, and you are not getting any credit for all the effort you’ve been putting in!

    If you know their love language you can tailor your actions to their needs, so that you will get credit for all you do—That’s a win-win!!”

    Your clients will love to have all their efforts finally be appreciated!

    But I would take this idea a step further.

    A New Way to Use The 5 Love Languages

    Many of my clients come to me because they feel unloved in their relationship. It helps considerably to identify how their partner is already showing that they care.

    For instance, your client’s partner shows up on their birthday without flowers, (which of course they were expecting!) and it bums them out.

    Their disappointment keeps them from noticing that their partner got all dressed up for them, because they know your client hates their normal “uniform” of jeans and a T-shirt. They even made reservations at a special restaurant, but your client is already too upset to notice or care.

    What you want your clients to understand is that:

    Knowing your partner’s love language means you have a much better chance of feeling loved!

    Often we tell our partner our love language, but because it’s not their love language, they struggle to show us love in that way. They try, but fall short. They’re human; they forget. Their efforts are sporadic, and it can leave us feeling like we aren’t important enough. That sucks. We all want to feel like we are important to our partner!

    But . . . If you know your partner’s love language, you can notice when they “speak” it to you!

    Once your client learns to identify the ways that their partner has already been showing they care, their anxiety will be considerably reduced, and they will begin to feel loved and valued.

    The Bonus:

    When your client’s partner starts to get credit for all that they are already doing to show their love, they care a whole lot more about learning the love language of your client! It starts a cycle of increasing willingness and ability on both sides of the equation to give and receive love in many different ways!

    Resistant Clients

    When my clients insist that it is their partner who should change, I remind them,

    “The purpose of noticing what your partner does to show you they love you, is not to give them credit for every little thing they do, so that they don’t have to try to meet you in your love language.

    Rather—The purpose of noticing what your partner does, is to give YOU that warm fuzzy feeling of being loved—you deserve it!”

    As much as my clients want their partners to learn to speak their love language, they are always much happier when they learn to translate their partner’s actions as loving and caring.

    Some of my clients swear they don’t do this—that their partner simply doesn’t ever show them how much they care.

    When they are certain their latest love interest does not return their feelings, I say:

    “Have you ever obsessed about why they didn’t text you right back? Or right before bed? Or as soon as they landed at LAX?”

    Translating the absence of text responses is probably the most common miscommunication I see in my practice. If your clients spend time worrying about that next text, it can ruin their day, their evening, and their peace of mind. Eventually it can ruin their relationship.

    The texting app on an iPhone is actually engineered to drive you crazy, because those three little dots that show you someone is composing a response make texting all the more addicting. You can read all about those 3 dots of doom right here . . .

    In Conclusion

    Although most of my clients are successful but anxious young women who are learning to build healthy relationships, I have also seen this dynamic in gay and lesbian relationships, and in anxious young men who are worried about the woman they care for. Anxiety in relationships is equal opportunity!

    At the end of the day there are a million wrong ways for your clients to translate their partner’s words and actions, but only one right way—the way they were meant by their partner! When your clients can learn to translate their partner’s love language, they will feel happier, less anxious, and more loved—without having to change their partner at all!

    Amy McManus, LMFT, helps anxious young adults build healthy new relationships with themselves and others after a breakup. Amy’s blog, “Life Hacks,” offers practical tips for thriving in today’s crazy plugged-in world. Learn more about Amy from her website www.thrivetherapyla.com.
  • 11/30/2019 9:15 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    David Silverman,

    The Seven Archetypal Stories

    The British columnist Christopher Booker is known for writing about the history of storytelling, and specifically for his 700-page book, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories (2004).

    Booker’s ideas were strongly influenced by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theories about archetypal storytelling. According to Jung archetypal stories revealed universal symbolic scenarios that were passed from one generation to the next through the collective unconscious.

    As such, these stories were thought to be buried beneath the conscious level where they resonated with people all over the world and across time. These stories hold deep meaning for all of us in that they reflect journeys everyone can relate to.

    Jung felt universal symbols were all around us in the form of archetypal characters (The Seeker, The Magician, The Warrior, etc.), and that these characters could be seen again and again throughout storytelling history.

    The Seeker generally looked to improve his lot in life and gained personal insights in the process.

    The Warrior confronted any obstacle that stood in his way, and in the process generally brought meaning to their struggle.

    The Magician’s drive was to transform or change someone or something in a significant way. This character’s ultimate goal was to transform himself, thereby achieving a higher plane of existence.

    Booker discovered in his exhaustive 34 years of research that there were archetypal stories as well as characters.

    The seven stories he found to be universal involved different types of heroes. One was an "everyman” type, another was downtrodden and poor, and yet another was tragically flawed.

    What he proposed was that we all relate to these seven stories on a deeper level because they have always rested in our collective unconscious. So when we read or watch these story lines unfold they involve us at a primal level.

    According to Booker, these are the classic seven story lines that appear throughout the history of storytelling.

    Number 1) Overcoming the Monster.

    Simply stated, the protagonist in these stories goes up against a powerful or dangerous monster in the form of a creature, an alien, or a human villain who threatens his world in some way.

    Examples include Jaws, Braveheart, Dracula, The Hunger Games, Alien, Godzilla, Seven Samurai, Schindler’s List (including pretty much every Nazi movie) and the entire James Bond franchise.

    Number 2) The Quest.

    In these stories the protagonist travels in search of a treasure (for example, The Golden Fleece, The Ark of the Covenant) and must fight against the formidable force of evil. The hero generally ends up with the treasure and gets the girl.

    Examples include The Lord of the Rings, Stand by Me, Indiana Jones, and Monty Python's Holy Grail.

    Number 3) Rags to Riches.

    The hero in these scenarios is generally a poor and humble soul who overcomes obstacles to acquire wealth and love. In the process his hidden talents are revealed and/or put to use. These protagonists may get the treasure and the girl only to lose it all and regain it while showing growth in character.

    Examples include Great Expectations, Cinderella, Harry Potter and Aladdin.

    Number 4) Voyage and Return.

    These are tales of average protagonists who find themselves following paths or being pushed out into strange new world where they must find their way back. Along the way they discover something about themselves.

    Examples include Apollo 13, Gone with The Wind, Back to the Future, Alice In Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, Labyrinth and The Wizard of Oz.

    Number 5) Comedy.

    Booker described comedies as stories that had a light tone with a happy ending. The hero in these stories had to resolve a confusing series of events before he could win over his mate. (By confusing he mean characters who wear disguises and pose as someone they’re not.)

    Examples include Twelfth Night, Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire, Music and Lyrics, When Harry Met Sally, Bridget Jones Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

    Number 6) Tragedy.

    In tragedies the protagonist is a basically good character who unfortunately has a major character flaw. As the word “tragedy” implies, as his story unfolds he makes errors which turn out to ruin his life or the lives of others around him.

    Examples include Macbeth, Bonnie and Clyde, Hamlet, Breaking Bad, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Dillinger and Citizen Kane.

    Number 7) Rebirth.

    The protagonist in these stories heads down a near-tragic path and is almost overcome by his darker self when a series of fortunate events lead him to change, experience character growth and eventually redemption.

    Examples include Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Secret Garden, and The Snow Queen.

    Booker is not the only researcher to come up with a list of the (fill in the number here) basic plot lines. Arthur-Quiller Couch came up with another list of seven stories that’s completely different.

    His list includes Human vs. Human, Human vs. Nature, Human Against God, Human vs. Society, Human in the Middle, Woman and Man and Human vs. Himself.

    Wiliam Foster-Harris decided in his book, The Basic Patterns of Plot, that there were only three plots.

    Ronald Tobias theorized there were twenty stories in his book, Twenty Master Plots.

    Georges Polti came up with thirty-six plots in his book, The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations.

    Will any of this information help screenwriters write great scripts? Anything’s possible. Maybe reading this post will give some writers a new idea for a movie or spark a new approach to a story they’re currently writing.

    You could make a case that stories based on these basic plots are generic or clichéd. That could happen, but it doesn’t have to. Just because you follow one of these templates doesn’t mean you can’t think about original approaches to each one.

    David Silverman, LMFT, treats creative and highly sensitive individuals in his 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.

    Image credit: Frodo 2015 by Decio "desmodex" is licensed under CC By 2.0.

    This article was originally published on Psych Central.
  • 11/30/2019 8:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Karen Wulfson,

    Are you a Volunteer? Or . . . ? 

    The very word “volunteer” makes me cringe! Probably sounds like an odd statement coming from one who is always trying to convince my colleagues to get just a bit more involved in a professional organization, to participate on a project team, join a committee, or seek additional networking opportunities by offering to pitch in for one or more events!

    But notice that I haven’t suggested you volunteer. In years past, when I was active in LA-CAMFT and AAMFT, you might have seen an email from me, talked with me a bit, heard an announcement I made at one of our events . . . and, if you were paying attention (my hope!), you might have noticed that not once did the word “volunteer” pass my lips (or appear in my emails!). Nor did I ever ask anyone to “help” or “work” with us. (Two other cringe words!) What I did do was invite you to do more than just attend. I invited you to get involved.

    What’s so bad, so very wrong about encouraging volunteerism? About asking people to work with an organization or to help out? Not a thing—if what leadership is asking of you is to freely and generously offer services to help the group—with no expectation of anything except perhaps psychic rewards! Helping, volunteering, working to offer services to those in need, for a good cause, are all worthy endeavors. And helping others usually makes us feel good.

    However, to me, the very term volunteer implies that not much except that good feeling is expected in return. It suggests that you are being asked to offer your help, time, labor, and possibly some money, in order accomplish something the organization thinks is important, but you really should not expect to get much in return, except for fervent appreciation! Not the impression I ever hoped to give, when I invited you to participate!

    So what now? Why would you ever decide to spend your time participating in event organization, on a committee, as a board member, as a greeter, at the registration table, and so much more? After all, if you think of that participation as volunteering, working, offering your precious time, just to help out . . . well, why would you want to do that?

    Here’s why: Your participation is an even trade! Your involvement can enhance your networking and help you create lots of good connections. Your organization gets your support, as the board prepares for events, forms committees, develops leadership positions, etc. And, in return, you have the opportunity to be more professionally involved, in order to extend your networking contacts, build your leadership skills, learn more about your professional organizations, join one or more collaborative teams, develop a support network, make valuable contacts and new friends, and, maybe most important, have fun!

    Now doesn’t that sound more appealing than just “volunteering?”

    Every organization needs member involvement in order to continue to flourish. And leaders always hope you will see value in joining an organizational team. No Board of Directors, no committee chairs can operate alone—member involvement is essential. When members step up to get involved, to support leadership, to collaborate, to join teams, everyone learns and grows, organizationally, personally, and professionally.

    Don’t miss the fun! If you find value in attending your organization’s meetings and other events, if you’d like to enhance your networking options and skills, now is the time to get involved! Let any board or committee member know that you’d like to participate in large or small ways or if you’d like to aim for a leadership position. Your participation will be appreciated by all—and hopefully, the benefit will be mutual. 

    And I can promise that extending your participation will benefit you at least as much as it will benefit your organization!   

    This article originally appeared in the LA-CAMFT newsletter, the LA Therapist Update, in 2012 and has been updated for this issue of Voices. 

    Karen Wulfson, LMFT, has a private practice in Beverly Hills, where she helps clients communicate more effectively to reduce conflict, anger, stress in their lives. Karen works primarily with professional men and encourages involvement of family members in client sessions. Karen has previously been extensively involved on the Board of LACAMFT, as VicePresident and Event Coordinator, and was CoChair of the Santa MonicaWest LA District of AAMFT. Contact Karen through her website: www.karenwulfson.com.

  • 11/30/2019 7:00 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.

    December 18, 2019
    January 10, 2020
    February 14, 2020
    March 13, 2020
    April 10, 2020
    May 8, 2020
    June 6, 2020 (Board Retreat)
    July 10, 2020
    August 14, 2020
    September 4, 2020
    October 9, 2020
    November 13, 2020

    Factor’s Deli

    9420 W. Pico Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90035

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