Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Voices — December 2020
As this year comes to a close, I want to take a moment to recap some of the monumental events that occurred throughout the past 12 months. It truly has been an unprecedented year, from a global pandemic, continued racial injustice leading to peaceful demonstrations and advocation for policy reform to draw attention to and reduce/eliminate police discrimination and brutality, the death of Kobe Bryant, and a stressful and uneasy election process. However, over the past month, glimmers of hope have emerged and while there is much work to be done in our society, for the first time in years we are able to take a momentary breath of relief.
COVID-19 changed several aspects of how we run LA-CAMFT as an organization, such as altering the structure of our monthly, networking events, trainings, and our Diversity Committee’s Therapists of Color Support Group. Being no small task, it truly took a collaborative effort from our entire Board of Directors to make a change like this possible. From holding individual Zoom trainings for our presenters to teach the fundamentals of Zoom prior to networking events, to creating new workflows for CEU administration, communications, and materials distribution, those in chapter management stepped in and stepped up. Not one area of our chapter’s efforts has been untouched by the current pandemic.
As President of LA-CAMFT there have been many twists and turns, which I would not have been able to navigate as gracefully without the guidance from the Presidential Team and Past Presidents. Also, thank you to all the 2020 Board members for your hard work, collaboration, and professionalism over the past year. Navigating this year’s challenges truly was a team effort.
I am overcome with excitement to welcome Jenni Wilson, LMFT into the role of President, starting in January. As President-elect, she hit the ground running by taking on many different responsibilities Including but not limited to co-facilitating this year’s leadership retreat; taking the lead in writing LA-CAMFT’s Declaration of Inclusion, Diversity, and Anti-Racism; and advocating for racially-diverse leaders to become Board members.
Warm welcome to the incoming 2021 Board members, I look forward to seeing you all grow and pursue your visions within LA-CAMFT. We are all in this together.
With warm regards,
Matthew Evans, LMFT, utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in his work with adults struggling with anxiety and depression at Kaiser Permanente. Matthew may be contacted through December 31, 2020 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
Getting Paid: Private Practice Success Without Stress—Top 10 Articles to Make Your Practice Better
‘Tis the season to be giving, so . . . My gift to you is 10 of the best articles I’ve come across that give the best answers to the questions that therapists have about how make and keep their practices profitable and successful—without having to spend a lot of time or money or effort to do so.
Each of these articles is a short and easy read—and every single one of them is chock full of the best tips and information that therapists can quickly and easily use to make their practice better any time of the year. Reading any one of them will definitely give you more private practice success—and without stress!
So, if you have a little time during this season to reflect on your practice and how to make it better, stronger, more profitable, and more, take a look at one of these and see what you think.
Bonus Articles—I couldn’t resist!
11. Handouts: Better Than a Business Card!12. Speak Directly to Your Ideal Clients in Your Marketing
There you have it, your very own Private Practice Coaching Kit. Enjoy your reading!
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she works with Couples and Gifted, Talented, and Creative Adults across the lifespan. Lynne’s been doing business and clinical coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping them develop even more successful careers and practices. To learn more about her in-person and online services, workshops or monthly no-cost Online Networking & Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com or www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.
How to Survive the Holidays During Covid: My 2-Step Plan to Stay Sane this December
The Holidays are always stressful—for clients and therapists!
First there’s the question of infection. Who might have Covid-19? Who might give it to grandma, or to immuno-compromised Uncle Joe? How long should everyone quarantine before getting together, and if and when should everyone be tested?
That alone is enough to tap out your ability to handle logistics.
Then there’s the usual holiday stuff. How long are the adult children going to stay? Where will everyone sleep? How much food to buy? It goes on and on and on . . .
But this year the issues are different. This holiday season we are also dealing with Covid-19.
This year many of us have family we won’t be able to see. Either they are worried about exposure during traveling or they are worried about exposing other family members if they do come. Some of us have loved ones who are sick at home or in the hospital. This can make all the other holiday issues pale in comparison.
As therapists, we have an additional challenge. Our emotional reserves may already be tapped out by now. Even those of us who work mostly with clients who are not deeply distressed have seen our clients’ anxiety levels skyrocket. This can suck the emotional energy out of anyone, and every therapist I have spoken to these days is suffering from some stage of burnout.
As I try to serve my clients, take care of my family, and keep my own sanity, I find it’s absolutely necessary to whittle down my expectations.
Here are the two things I find to be most helpful to remember—my success rate varies, and yours will, too!
1.Get Enough Sleep
It’s such a simple thing, and so easily discounted.
Without enough sleep, there is no way I can successfully regulate my emotions. When I haven’t had enough sleep, I don’t always feel tired—I feel cranky. I snap easily, and I can’t focus or think clearly. It’s a recipe for disaster.
My own strategy
I’m a night owl— I see clients until 9pm, and then often work or write for a couple of hours after. To wind down, I love to lose myself in a good tv show. It’s the best way for me to get out of my own head and give myself a little reward. This is the story I tell myself, anyway!
What I know is that it is unhealthy to have screen time just before bed; it can upset your circadian rhythm and disturb your sleep. This is the time of year where I try to be really disciplined about nighttime screen time, in the name of pure survival. I make sure I have several good books on hand—something psychology-related, a mystery, historical fiction, light humor. That way I can choose something to read each night that fits my mood. I also have one of those tiny book lights so that I can both set the mood with low light and also turn it off by barely moving when I drop off to sleep while reading!
One of my favorite books this year was local LA therapist Lori Gottlieb’s memoir, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. It’s both heartwarming and funny—a compelling read!
I also like reading my Kindle paperwhite—even though it’s a screen, it looks like paper, it doesn’t emit the same blue light as a phone or laptop, and I can make the backlight quite low. That way I can order books on the library app, Libby, and not even have to pay for them. If you don’t have this app already, you should check it out!
You can also “take out” audio books on Libby. Audio books can be a great way to end your day as you fall asleep, and they are also helpful if you wake up in the middle of the night. I find that listening to an interesting book when I wake up at 2 am can sometimes be enough to engage my spinning mind on something other than my “To Do” list, or all the things I wish I’d done differently which are my usual go-to thoughts at 2am!
2. Let Go
Plan the things that are important and let the rest go. This works best when you spend some time beforehand really isolating the critical factors for your holiday. Think about your core values, and what best expresses them this month. Keep the list short!
The most important thing for me at Christmas is for the family to feel connected and supported.
I learned long ago that producing a perfect Christmas dinner was not what really made people feel connected. We had a much better outcome when we spent the day cooking together, and some things turned out badly (Mom, I forgot the sugar in the pie!) than we did when I did everything myself in my own overly-detailed way in order to make everything “perfect.” (I also buy frozen pies as a back-up!)
Identify the truly important things, and let everything else happen as it may.
Some of the things that I’ve learned over time are not important:
Some of the things that are important:
Keep your list short! When you start to stress about something, remember to ask yourself, “Is it on the short list?”
Trust me—you will be surprised at what you won’t miss if you take a risk and let it go!
Of course, these are all ideas that you can share with your clients. That will not only make them less stressed, but should also translate into an easier job for you in the therapist’s chair this year!
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.
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 Niparpon Johansen, LMFT at email@example.com.
Licensed Therapists, Associates, and Students
Event Details: Sunday, December 13, 2020, 11:00 am-1:00 pm (PT)
Time of Check-In: 10:50 am
Where: Online Via Zoom
Once you have registered for the presentation, we will email you a link to Zoom a few days before the presentation.
Online Registration CLOSES Saturday, December 12th at 11 pm.
Questions about Registration? Contact Christina Cacho Sakai, LMFT at DiversityCommittee@lacamft.org.
In diversity there is beauty
and there is strength.
Barry Davis,Divorce Mediator
Parenting Schedule Strategies for
Christmas & Winter Break
The holidays that occur near the end of the year, whether we’re talking about Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas, are wonderful, warm times to get together with family and enjoy special times together for many people. However, for divorced or divorcing parents the holidays often cause a lot of stress and/or loneliness due to the uncertainty of how they will handle these special times and whether they will be able to continue previous traditions with their children.
The idea of not having their children for part, or sometimes even all, of a given cherished holiday is often an overwhelming thought to a newly divorcing parent. And then when you add in extended family commitments, previous family traditions, new romantic partners and just the overall franticness of the Holiday Season, unfortunately this often makes it difficult for divorced parents to navigate all this in a healthy, constructive manner.
This is why having a specific, balanced plan for when the children will be with each parent during the holidays can be so helpful for divorced parents. Discussing and coming up with a plan that works for both parents as well as the children well in advance of the holidays helps provide clarity and therefore lower friction between the parents. It also helps by lowering anxiety over when the parents will be able to celebrate these special times with their children.
When it comes to Christmas and the two-week winter break, I often start with two general structures for clients:
This is where we focus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well as a couple days before and after
This is where we divide the two-week break into Week 1 and Week 2. Generally, each parent gets one of these weeks and they alternate the weeks every other year.
The Micro approach generally works well for clients that will not be traveling out of town and therefore don’t need an extended period of time. The major benefit of this approach is that both parents get some of this special time with the children every year. Often times, one parent gets “Christmas Eve” and the other parent gets “Christmas Day”—and then the parents alternate which parent gets each of these special days every other year.
However, I also have plenty of clients that, either based on their culture or family tradition, prefer to have one or the other days every year. I generally encourage my clients to add at least a day or two to both “Christmas Eve” and “Christmas Day.”
By adding a day or two to each of the special days, the parent who gets “Christmas Eve” has a day or two ahead of time to find some creative ways to celebrate with the children and the parent who has “Christmas Day” has some time afterwards to relax with the children and enjoy playing with them and their new toys.
The Macro approach generally works well for clients who want to travel out of town to see family living in other states. Of course, the downside is that the parents only get the special time that is generally in Week 1 every other year. However, for clients that want to make sure their children spend significant time with, and really get to know, extended family in other areas, this approach can work very well.
These two approaches are just the beginning of coming up with very specific, customized plan based on each family’s individual needs. For example, it’s not unusual to come up with a hybrid of the two approaches where they go with the Micro approach when both parents will be staying local while allowing for either parent to use the Macro approach every 2-3 years.
The bottom line is that by proactively addressing how to handle the Holiday Season and coming up with a balanced approach, we can find something that works for everyone involved.
When it comes to Hanukkah, it can be a bit more challenging since the dates for Hanukkah are not as static as December 25. Therefore, coming up with something uniform that works every year can take a little more time to work out. However, by exploring what is most important to the parents as well as the fact that there are 8 nights to work with, we are generally able to come up with something that works for everyone.
Watching videos like these Thanksgiving Options and Christmas Options videos can provide divorced parents with multiple options for how to go about arranging the time around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
As is typical in divorce mediation, mediators working together with the parents, try to balance the interests of both parents, as well as the children, in coming up with a detailed approach that will allow both parents to spend time with their children during these family holidays.
Barry Davis, Divorce Mediator, Founder of Davis Mediation, has been helping clients get through the divorce process in the most amicable, affordable manner possible for 16 years. His passion is keeping children out of the middle of divorce so they can grow up healthy. As a divorce mediator, Barry holds Masters Degrees in Clinical Psychology and Conflict Management and has served on the Torrance Family Court and Second Appellate District mediation panels. For more information and resources, visit www.DavisMediation.com or Davis Divorce Mediation’s YouTube Channel.
LMFT, NMP, CGP
A Different Kind of Year End Review
When December arrives, I schedule my annual business review. I run a Profit and Loss report and compare my expenses and earnings to the prior year. Next, I calculate the number of hours I worked and consider the impact on my brain and body. I choose my trainings and conferences for the upcoming year and block out my vacation time on my calendar.
This year’s review feels different. When the pandemic began in March, I was concerned about the impact on my business and as things progressed, I found that my clients needed me more than ever. The process of working from home, online, during the multitude of crises in 2020 required a lot more mental energy than 2019!
Although the numbers are still important, this year I am focusing on time. The pandemic reminded me that life could change drastically at any moment. This was not my first awakening, I spent seven years navigating a devastating chronic illness which taught me to prioritize my health. One of my favorite lines from the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” is “You cannot transmit what you haven’t got.”
In order for me to devote time and energy to my clients, I must prioritize my own health and well-being. One way I do that is to travel and I have gone on some lovely, local trips this year, but I’m yearning for a more dramatic change of scenery. I’m sad about missing my Spring hiking trip to Utah, and the chance for a summer visit to the Catskill mountains to see my aunt and uncle, and all the other missed travel opportunities.
This end of the year column is less about getting my Excel spreadsheet organized (though I still have one!) and more about taking a mindful look at what I really want in the next year and how I plan to get there.
This summer I added a second group to my practice and gradually reduced the number of individual clients I see. Eventually I plan to add a third group and work a half day on Thursdays to extend my time off. I want to be able to leave town for long weekends or stay home and spend more time at the beach; I plan to work less and play more.
What are your intentions for the upcoming year?
10 Archetypal Film Stories That Sell: Part 2
“The ten genres that Blake Snyder identified in the 'Save the Cat' books . . . . These are my single favorite tool for screenwriters, and I strongly recommend writers know these types, and seek to write squarely within one of them.” Erik Bork, Screenwriter “Band of Brothers.”
As we noted in Part 1, as far as the studios are concerned, they seem to have dropped the word "original" from their vocabulary. You can plainly see by the numbers of prequels, sequels, remakes, reboots, novel and comic book adaptations, that studio films are risk-averse.
For those who still want to try selling a screenplay to the studios (and have a good shot at independent sales, too), here are the next two sub-genres, of archetypal film stories identified in Snyder’s book Save the Cat.
According to research by Bork, the trend since 2012 has been that the studios are only buying original spec scripts in these (and Snyder's other 8) genres;
This archetypal storyline does not always involve a man in tights saving the world from evil forces. As Snyder explains, these stories generally start out with an everyman sort of hero who fights against overwhelming odds against a villain with seemingly absolute powers.
Let’s look at Erin Brockovich. Brockovich (Julia Roberts) is the everyman’s lawyer, or rather the everywoman’s lawyer. She is kind of a gum-chewing plainspoken blonde bombshell who dressed and acts the part.
She's basically broke when she begs Ed Masry (Albert Finney) for a job as a glorified secretary at his law firm. Against his better judgment, he hires her.
At the firm, Brockovich stumbles across some records while examining real estate files that point to a cover up by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG &E) of contaminated water which has been causing various cancers and birth defects among the locals living in Hinkley, CA.
She convinces Masry to help her sue the arrogant and formidable corporate force that is PG&E. The class action lawsuit is especially hard on Brockovich, a single mom juggling work with motherhood, but the two manage to prevail in court on behalf the Hinkley victims.
Thanks to Brockovich’s rapport with the locals and Masry’s legal acumen, they manage to win a fortune in damages for the desperate and ailing victims of PG&E’s negligence and cover up.
So, the commonality in these films is that we start with an everyman hero, who goes up against what appears to be an unassailable opponent.
To give you an idea of the range of stories this niche encompasses, consider the following films:
Raging Bull, The Chronicles of Narnia, Batman, X-Men, The Jungle Book, The Passion of the Christ, and Schindler’s List.
4.The Golden Fleece
Snyder wrote that there was always a journey of growth and discovery for the characters that go on the quest in this story archetype.
Consider Saving Private Ryan; it is decided by the military brass that since Private Ryan’s two brothers have already given their lives fighting for their country, their mother has suffered enough.
Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) is charged with the task of finding Private Ryan and returning him safely to the States. Miller thus embarks on a journey of mercy, through the battlefields that take their toll on the men under his command.
We learn through his actions that Captain Miller is honorable, courageous, and merciful to a fault.
Miller does his best to protect the soldiers under his command, but loses a few while searching for Ryan. When what’s left of the group finally finds Ryan, he doesn’t want to go home without finishing out his current battle. Miller’s soldiers feel Ryan is ungrateful for all they’ve sacrificed on their journey.
Captain Miller, however, sees things differently; he understands and admires Ryan’s loyalty to his fellow soldiers. Miller convinces his men to stay and take a stand against the Nazi’s. They do and they prevail.
In a cruel twist, Captain Miller dies in the process. With his last breath he tells Ryan, “Earn it,” a message Ryan carries with him the rest of his life.
After Ryan is safely returned to his mother and a normal life in the states, Miller’s mission is accomplished. In a tag, we see Ryan decades later in a Veteran’s cemetery placing flowers on Captain Miller’s grave.
These stories feature a hero who embarks on a harrowing journey (often with others), with the added motivation of "collecting a treasure," and returning home. They are changed in the process.
Among the variations that still fit into this niche are:
Ocean’s Eleven, Easy Rider, Thelma and Louise, Oh Brother Where Art Thou? The Lord of the Rings, and Maria Full of Grace.
You will need to come up with lots of your own original characters, story-lines, subplots and plot twists, but these 10 sub-genres will guide you in a more commercial direction, and increase your odds of selling an original screenplay.
So far, we've discussed Out of the Bottle, Monster in the House, and now Superhero and The Golden Fleece. Next time, in Part 3 we'll discuss Institutionalized, and The Fool Triumphant.
This article was originally published here and is used with the permission of the author.
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.
Attention LA-CAMFT Members!
2021 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.
Online Via Zoom
Voices Publication Guidelines for 2021
Calling all community writers and contributors!
Are you searching for a unique platform to express your passions and showcase your expertise in the Marriage and Family Therapy field? Look no further, as we welcome your input!
Following are the due dates and publication guidelines for submitting articles and ads for the 2021 calendar year to Voices, LA-CAMFT's monthly newsletter:
LA-CAMFT Publishing Guidelines for Voices
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