Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Voices — February 2020

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  • 01/31/2020 3:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Matthew Evans

    Matthew Evans
    President, LA-CAMFT

    Dear colleagues,

    As we begin the new decade, you may be finding yourself longing to become more involved in a community. If you resonate with this sentiment, consider becoming involved in a leadership role within LA-CAMFT. Some of the benefits of volunteering with LA-CAMFT include (1) learning and building leadership, teamwork, and communication skills, (2) developing a sense of community, and (3) advocating for issues you believe in.

    Whether or not you decide to volunteer with LA-CAMFT, taking the time to focus on what cultural/social issues drive you forward on a daily basis and fighting for these issues can have a far-reaching impact. This is more than a call to action, but an embodiment of purpose and exploration of each of our passions.

    My sense of purpose is focused on advocacy for mental health professionals and individuals struggling with mental health issues. Which is why over the next few months, I will be drafting and sending a letter to California state government leaders to advocate for increased funding for the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) in order to speed up the process of counting clinical hours and reviewing applications for taking the licensure exam. This lengthy process under current BBS staffing is resulting in longer wait times for approval and economic strain on Associate MFTs. Although the road of advocacy may be long, these issues are worth fighting for.

    In closing, if you are looking to increase your involvement in the local mental health community, send an email to president@lacamft.org to learn more about how you can become involved in LA-CAMFT.

    All the best, 

    Matthew Evans, LMFT

    Matthew Evans, LMFT, utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in his work as a Primary Therapist in Resilience Treatment Center’s residential program for adults. 

    Matthew may be contacted at president@lacamft.org.
  • 01/31/2020 2:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)


    Networking Event & Presentation

    Friday, February 28, 2020

    Sponsored by

    Life Adjustment Team

    Brunch, Networking, 60-Minute Featured Presentation,
    Literature Table, Round Table Discussion, 
    Business Card Drawing, Participant Announcements
    1.5 CEUs

    We invite you to join us and attend our FRIDAY, February 28th Networking Event at the Olympic Collection. Become a part of our warm, welcoming and supportive community as we gather together for brunch, networking, and to learn about “Our Relationship with Technology: The Consequences of Too Much Screen Time and What Therapists Can Do, with Holli Kenley, MA, LMFT.

    Our meetings feature great opportunities for personal and group networking as well as individual participant announcements, our community literature table, your own participant contact list, and a delicious breakfast buffet—all in an intimate informal atmosphere. 

    Attend and make new professional connections, renew old ones, share your expertise, and gain valuable professional information. Experience our monthly networking  meeting for yourself.

    Register today by clicking the Register Here button below.

    Register Here
  • 01/31/2020 1:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
    Voices Editor

    Getting Paid: Fast, Easy, Convenient,
    and Cost-Effective Ways to Get Paid
    and Increase the Cash Flow in Your Practice

    When clients pay for therapy in your practice, what type of payment do you accept?

    Check? Cash? Credit Card? Debit Card? HSA or FSA Card? Money Order? Yes, they still issue money orders.

    Today there are so many options to choose from for client payment. How do we decide which one is best for us and our practice? What are legal and ethical options available to therapists to get paid fast and not have to pay too much in bank or credit card charges?

    Not too long ago clients handed their therapist cash or a check before or after the session; were sent an invoice/billed at the end of the month; and then mailed or brought in their check or gave the therapist cash at the next therapy session.

    Should you consider adding or changing the type of payment you accept for therapy charges?

    How can a therapist decide which forms of payment are best for their therapy practice?

    With whatever types of payment you decide to accept in your therapy practice, it’s important to look at how much it costs you or saves you—in time, energy, wait time for funds, as well as charges/money—to process those funds and get them into your practice bank account.

    Therapists, like most small business owners, are always wanting to know what the best way is to get paid and increase their available cash. They want to know how to get their funds into the bank as quickly and easily as possible and how to pay the lowest possible amount to do that. Having earned this money, therapists want to take home as much of it as possible, save time, and have more clients.

    In fact, the most common reason therapists give for accepting only check or cash is that it costs money (just under 3% of each transaction) to take credit cards. And, as you have probably heard, most therapists do not like to—or want to—pay any credit or debit card, or other type, of processing charges since this amount is subtracted from what the therapist is paid.

    However, contrary to popular lore, whatever type of payment a therapist accepts for therapy sessions, it costs the therapist something. At the very least it costs time, energy, effort, and time before the funds can be accessed, and it can also cost money per transaction. How is it worth it for a therapist to take card and electronic payments and pay those transaction fees?

    Giving your clients more ways to pay can increase the number of clients in your practice and improve your cash flow.

    It's a fact that most clients expect to be able to use credit or debit cards when paying for things. Today’s clients, whether no matter what their age, find it convenient to pay via credit or debit card, or directly from their HSA or FSA. If you do phone, video or other types of virtual or remote sessions, credit card and electronic payments are essential because they enable the client to pay you before or after the session.

    More payment options that are convenient means more access to care for a larger number of people—and result in more clients in your practice.

    Whether a therapist accepts payment by electronic means--credit card, debit card, e-check, wire transfer, Zelle, Venmo, etc.—depends on both the therapist and clients’ preferences and needs. Many therapists find that their number of paid weekly client hours increase when they accept credit cards. Clients often like to get rewards--points or miles or cash back—when they pay for therapy.

    If you don’t accept credit cards but accept checks or a bank transfer of funds, clients who want the rewards can use Plastiq. With Plastiq a client can pay with a credit card—and even split the charge between two different cards—and the therapist is sent a paper check or receives a bank transfer right away, just as if the client had paid with a credit card. Another benefit to the therapist with Plastiq is that the client pays the credit card processing fee, the therapist doesn’t. Many therapists love that because it means they receive all the money paid for the session.

    For therapists, card and electronic payments can mean freeing up more time, energy, and effort—and quicker access to funds because of the following:

    • Instant payment, so less hassle getting paid
    • Less time spent every week going to the bank to cash or deposit checks and cash
    • Less time scanning checks into your bank app
    • No waiting for checks to clear.
    • 1 or 2 days, at most, to have the funds deposited in your account
    • Autopay features available for payment or invoicing
    • Having a card on file for missed appointments or late cancellation

    One way to increase income from your practice and not have to pay any transaction fees is to have your clients pay you using Zelle or Venmo.

    One therapist I coached added Zelle to his practice in addition to credit cards as a payment option and increased his take home earnings $100 per month because he didn’t have to pay that amount in credit card fees. That was a very easy way to bring in $1200 more that year. Another therapist in one of my practice development groups added Venmo as a payment option when a client suggested it. When using Venmo, the client pays through the app at the end of the session—just a couple of clicks—then there's a ding on the smartphone, the therapist receives it, opens the app, clicks on the amount of the balance. then clicks on the deposit button. Voila! Two days later it’s in her account. If she wants it instantly then she clicks on the instant deposit button and pays a small fee, then it’s deposited in her account shortly after that. 

    Here are some descriptions of options for getting paid spelled out:

    • Client hands you cash. You record it, use it, or deposit it at the bank.
    • Client hands you a check. You record it and deposit it by phone or tablet app or at the bank.
    • Client hands you a credit card, debit card, HSA or FSA card. You enter the amount, swipe the card or enter it manually, have the client sign. Credit card company deposits the money in your bank account a day or two later.
    • Client uses Plastiq app and sends/gives you a Plastiq check or immediate bank transfer. Plastiq charges the client’s credit card, the client pays the 2.5% fee, client receives the credit card rewards/points/miles on their card.
    • Client pays you in office by Venmo. You receive the amount immediately, click on transfer balance, a day or two later the money is in your bank account. No transaction charge. If you use instant transfer then there is a small charge. Note: If you use Venmo in your practice make sure your privacy setting is on “Private” or everyone in your network and your client’s network will know how much they paid you, what for, and when.
    • Client has a credit card or debit card on file with you via your Electronic Health Record Provider or Ivy Pay, you enter the session info and price, the amount is automatically charged to the client’s credit card--if it is not expired--and the money is put in your bank account in a day or two.
    • Client pays you in advance for a number of sessions by either credit card, debit card, check or cash. For the time it takes to receive it, see above examples.
    • Client receives therapist sent—through email, text or app--the invoice for credit card, debit card or electronic check payment right before or after the therapy session; client clicks on the invoice and pays the amount. A day or two later the amount is in your practice bank account. Offered by PayPal, Square, etc.
    • Client receives end of the month billing. Therapist sends invoice after the month’s sessions—by mail, email, or app—and the client sends or make a payment by a physical check, e-check, money order, credit card, debit card, etc. For the time it takes to receive it see above examples.

    Credit Card processing companies that therapists report using are: Square, PayPal, Stripe, Ivy Pay or their bank. These companies also process debit cards and bank funds. These processors charge/keep a small percentage of the dollar amount of the transaction, usually just under 3%. Some therapists use a credit card terminal to swipe or insert cards—this is purchased from the card processor by the therapist—others use an app on their phone or tablet. I use the Square Terminal in my office and have it on my desk; it’s easy to read, insert cards in, and processes very rapidly. Very professional, convenient, and easy to use.

    Venmo and Zelle transfer funds from the client’s bank account and deposits into the therapist’s bank account. They do not charge/keep any amount from the transaction. However, for instant transfers, Venmo does charge a small amount, equivalent to a credit card processing fee.

    Plastiq, as described, charges the client’s credit card and deposits the full amount, no charge to the therapist, into the therapist’s bank account. The credit card processing charge is paid by the client in addition to the amount the therapist is paid.

    HSA (Health Savings Account) and FSA (Flexible Savings Account) Cards are debit cards and are processed the same way. Clients who have HSA and FSA cards like to use those because they aren’t taxed on that income since it can only be used for qualified healthcare expenses—therapy is one. HSA and FSA cards help clients with high-deductible health insurance plans cover their out-of-pocket costs. Another thing to note about HSA cards is that contributions, up to the yearly IRS limit, can come from the client, the employer, a relative or anyone else who wants to add to the HSA.

    So now you’ve had a presentation of a number of the options available to therapists for getting paid fast, and in easy, convenient, and cost-effective ways. By no means does this article include every option available to therapists as there are many more not mentioned here. Should you decide to add some new payment options to your practice it will, I’m sure, give you added time, money, and clients. See what differences these new options bring to your practice.

    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 coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping develop successful careers and thriving practices. To learn more about services, training or the monthly LA Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com or www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.

  • 01/31/2020 12:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Maria Gray,

    Do you Need a Business Buddy?

    Working in private practice can feel isolating. Last year I took an online class and the teacher recommended we pair up with someone to help us achieve our goals. I found the experience of working with an accountability partner to be very helpful, and after the class I decided to find a “business buddy.” I asked a colleague, who is also a dear friend and she agreed.

    Our first meeting went very well, and now we meet every month. We discuss lots of topics including our financial goals, work/life balance, clinical issues and marketing. Sometimes we brainstorm about new ways to use Brainspotting or EMDR with our clients.

    We are available for each other via text or voicemail between sessions, whenever one of us is having a tough day or in need of a quick consult. We support each other and make every attempt to return each other’s calls as quickly as possible.

    I’ve found it especially helpful to connect with my friend when I’m experiencing intense countertransference or when I need to refer a client to a higher level of care. Depending on the situation, I might call or text her before and after I’ve handled whatever issue I am facing. In 12-Step programs, when people are facing a challenging task it’s suggested that they “bookend” the task with phone calls or maybe a call first and a meeting afterward. The term “bookend” refers to two actions that create emotional support before and after a difficult situation.

    Is there someone you can call when you need support? Have you thought about having a regular meeting with that person or joining a consultation group? When it comes to finding support for myself; I lean toward more rather than less, relying on others helps me to be able to hold the needs of my clients while taking good care of myself.

    Maria Gray, LMFT, NMP, CGP, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Century City, where she specializes in trauma and addictions and leads groups. Maria offers individual business consultation and workshops for therapists who want to thrive in private practice. To learn more, go to www.mariagray.net.

  • 01/31/2020 11:30 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT Somatic SIG Workshop

    Saturday, March 7, 2020
    1:00 pm-4:00 pm

    3.0 CEUs

    Introduction to Hakomi:
    A Mindfulness-Based Somatic Psychotherapy

    Susan San Tara, LMFT, and Ashley Ross, LMFT

    The Hakomi Method is a powerful psychotherapy that combines unique mindfulness-centered methods with somatic techniques, with a focus on present-time experiencing within an attuned relational field. In this introductory workshop, participants will be presented with a powerful way to identify and work with implicit communications, safely engage and re-negotiate clients' core-schemas and organizations, access their deeper core-affects, and guide and nourish them towards states of self-coherency, creating deeper and lasting change.

    Saturday, March 7, 2020
    1-4 pm

    Culver City Veteran’s Memorial Building, Garden Room, 
    4117 Overland Ave., Culver City, 90230

    Register today by clicking the Register Here button below.

    Register Here
  • 01/31/2020 11:00 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)
    Amy McManus

    Amy McManus, LMFT

    One Easy Change That Can Make
    A Huge Difference in Your Practice

    If you have been reading my articles so far, you may have a suspicion that I am a word snob. You’d be right.

    I love words; I collect them instead of figurines (popular back home in the Midwest), or stamps, or whatever people usually collect. This annoys some people, BUT . . . there is a time when it is important, even critical, to be a word snob if you are a therapist.

    When you talk about feelings.

    Everybody thinks they talk about their feelings, but often they don’t. Here’s why: sometime back in the 70s, there was a popular movement to make “feelings statements.” To start your sentences with “I feel”—because unlike thoughts, feelings are indisputable.

    As we know from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; thoughts, feelings, and behavior are inextricably intertwined. Our thoughts drive our feelings which drive our behavior. If you can change your thoughts, you will change your feelings and your behavior. If you can even imagine the possibility that a given thought is not 100% true, your feelings will begin to change. Most likely, your mood will begin to improve. This is the magic of CBT.

    But what if you don’t know the difference between your thoughts and your feelings? If you think everything is a feeling, you will believe that everything you think is true. Then you can’t change it, and you are stuck in your lousy feeling, with nowhere to go.

    When I explain this to my clients, and challenge them to differentiate between their thoughts and their feelings, at first, they find it tremendously difficult. They are used to starting every sentence with “I feel like . . . .”

    When a sentence starts with “I feel LIKE . . . ,” what follows is going to be a thought, not a feeling.

    This is especially evident (and annoying!) in couples therapy. She says, “I feel like you were being passive-aggressive with that comment.” That’s a thought, not a feeling. But now he has nowhere to go with that. He says, “It was not passive-aggressive. I was trying to tell you . . . .” She says, “Well, that’s just how I feel.” End. Of. Discussion.

    She feels victorious, but it’s a pyrrhic victory. Empty. He feels tremendously frustrated. When he tries to explain himself, she cries that he never cares about her feelings. He is trapped, but so is she. She will not be able to understand, or feel understood by, her partner any more than he will—as long as this dance continues.

    Sound familiar?

    Therapists do this all the time as well. We don’t want to be so aggressive as to state an actual thought—it doesn’t sound compassionate; so, everything becomes a feeling. We are doing our clients a disservice when we don’t show them that there is a time and a place to express your thoughts as well as your feelings.

    Saying “I think” instead of “I feel like” sounds aggressive to most people. I find this to be especially true for women, even in this day and age. Ask a woman to say, “I think it would be more effective to do this a different way” at her next meeting, and she may visibly shudder. It feels so aggressive. (Did you see what I did there?) She is so much more comfortable with “I feel like it would work better if we did it like this . . . .”

    Ask a man to say to his partner, “I think you are jumping to conclusions” and he knows his partner will just shut him down with “I don’t feel like I am,” or “you always tell me what I am doing wrong.” If he is clued-in he may say, “I feel like you are jumping to conclusions” and when his partner argues he can then say, “Well, that’s just how it feels to me.”

    So how do we fix this?

    Awareness and practice. It’s basically habit-reversal training. First change your own behavior if this is something you regularly do. Then catch your clients doing it, and redirect them every time. It’s easier than you might think, and it works like magic.

    In individual therapy your clients may be a little skeptical at first, but when they start to practice it at home they quickly become converts to this new way of expressing themselves. They also feel much more powerful as they are increasingly able to accept their own feelings and challenge their own thoughts. Their partners often catch on, and now they have a much more effective way of communicating. So simple, and so powerful.

    It’s tougher to teach this in couples therapy, but it makes a HUGE difference almost immediately. Challenging someone to say “I think” or “I believe” instead of “I feel” forces them to own their thoughts and beliefs, and it puts their partner less often on the defensive. It gives couples the space to look at what each other believes, and talk about the different feelings those beliefs generate.

    I find that in couples therapy, partners are actually very understanding of each other’s feelings. When one partner says to the other, “I am afraid you are becoming bored with me” their partner can empathize with the feeling without having to defend themselves. The first partner, in owning their fear, begins to realize that it is based on a thought that might not even be true. Often just receiving empathy from a partner who doesn’t get defensive is enough to change the whole dynamic. If not, after empathizing with their partner’s fear, they can discuss the thought and challenge it together. As you know, often the fear has nothing to do with the other partner—and this gives them a template for discussing difficult feelings without your intervention.

    Learning to differentiate thoughts from feelings is something that will benefit all of your clients, even if you don’t specifically practice CBT. Changing your language is a simple way for anyone to move toward managing their feelings and communicating more effectively with their partner. Try it and see for yourself!

    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.
  • 01/31/2020 10:00 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    David Silverman,

    Inside the Writer’s Mind — Mark Twain

    The way I view a writer’s personality is shaped in part by being a writer, a journalist, and a TV/Film writer for over twenty years, and by studying the lives of writers, reading their biographies, and studying their books, plays and films. Now I specialize in treating writers and other creative individuals in my private practice.

    What is a writer’s personality? On the surface, no two writers seem alike. However, I’ve noticed that most writers (not all) seem to display a matrix of personality traits and experiences. Some of those traits include a tendency toward introversion, shyness, a studious nature, a strong goal orientation, ability to empathize, an intuitive thought process, perseverance, extreme high productivity.

    Almost all writers’ day-to-day existence is made up of spending up to ten hours a day in complete solitude, living inside their heads and staring into a computer screen creating something from nothing. These daily activities would not sit well with most extroverts, who require more social stimulus and thrive in the company of others.

    Many of the writers I’ve talked with, or treated, have told me they feel like they fit into the category of “highly sensitive persons” or HSPs. Those of you familiar with Elaine Aron’s work on the subject will recognize many of the above listed traits as “highly sensitive.”

    Writers’ lives almost always involve long term self-sacrifice, since they rarely get discovered after their first novel, play, poem or screenplay. Include the stress that comes with self-sacrifice, and the results of that stress; damage done to relationships, financial crises, and a tendency to self-medicate which can lead to full-blown addictions.

    Many writers could also be characterized as adopting a bohemian existence, or a lavish lifestyle, in addition to various personal eccentricities, and odd habits, drinking or drug problems, and possibly an array of neuroses, and sometimes serious mental disorders.

    Of course, some writers manage to keep more balance and moderation in their day-to-day lives.  Some writers may be able to shift into a somewhat more extroverted state when they’re not writing, and around others. Other writers may not be able to shift gears that way.

    Many actors are painfully shy and only “come alive” on stage. In the same way, writers who are sensitive and introverted can “come alive” occasionally, and be extremely outspoken, or even carry on quite flamboyantly in social circles and in the media.

    After studying the lives of many writers in depth, including Mark Twain, Franz Kafka, George S. Kaufman (who wrote Marx Brothers’ films) and Woody Allen, I’ve noticed some early characteristics, abilities and needs that tend to make a person more apt to become a writer.

    In the early years, back in their families of origin, writers develop a strong need for attention, starting with their mothers. There are many circumstances that play into this need. Sometimes a child is a middle child, who competes for, and feels starved for attention.

    I’ve chosen to focus on Samuel Clemens’s (Mark Twain’s) life story to demonstrate how certain dynamics that make for a driven and productive writer can evolve out of their family dynamics and other early interpersonal relationships.

    Clemens was born premature, the sixth of seven children to his mother Olivia Langdon. Being a sickly child for a few years, he became used to constant attention from his mother. Olivia was considered to be in a loveless marriage, so her affections were focused on her children, and especially young Sam.

    During Sam’s childhood, he loved spending time with an uncle who was known for telling funny stories, or “whoppers.” At three years of age, Sam began to mimic his uncle and to make up his own “whoppers.”

    Then his younger brother was born and Olivia focused on her seventh child, which left Sam virtually further starved for her attention, and affection. Around the same time, his father began travelling, trying to sell his family’s real estate.

    According to psychologist Erik Erikson, it’s during these early years that children are thought to develop a sense of trust, or mistrust, generally about their world. Sam’s mother could not keep up the levels of attention Sam was used to after her husband left, and she had another son to take care of.

    It’s likely that Sam felt somewhat abandoned, leaving him with a general sense of mistrust about his world. It’s no surprise that Sam blossoms into a major skeptic as a writer, taking pot shots at politics and religion, making fun of authority figures while championing the common man. Humorists are generally skeptics by nature, and satire is all about finding faults (especially in the “high and mighty”) and exploiting them for laughs.

    Sam’s needs for constant attention led him to become what they called a “show off,” even in his middle childhood. After gaining a following as a storyteller, he wrote his first short story (while still a young child) called Jim Wolfe and his Cats.

    His childhood curiosity about pirates, bandits and riverboats will all become fodder for his humorous novels. At 18 he worked as a typesetter and reporter for some local newspapers. Not long after that, he made friends with a circle of like-minded writers who worked around San Francisco at that time, including other promising humorists, Bret Harte and Artemus Ward. They became a kind of reference group for him, helping him to solidify his identity as a professional writer.

    Ward convinced Clemens to add his short story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County to a collection of short stories published that year. Sam and Bret Harte became lifelong friends (and foes), and they later collaborated on Luck of Roaring Camp.

    Always the show-off, grown-up Sam (famous author of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer) became known for wearing ostentatious white suits (like another writer, Tom Wolfe). As an adult, he always brandished a cigar, drank to excess, and eventually lectured to crowds of thousands.

    In reading about other authors, I found some similar early dynamics; a strong need for attention, coupled with a curiosity about storytelling, keen powers of observation, and an ease and confidence in playing with words.

    Often, the shyness, or introversion, when coupled with the need for attention, leads writers to learn to express themselves on paper, sitting safely behind a typewriter or computer. Certainly, most of the comedy writers I’ve known and studied, have wanted to be funny, but had to hide behind their words.

    When writers develop, and practice their skill, playing with words, they are able to develop their own style of writing, and in the process, find their own voice.

    Often writers work at jobs like journalism, or advertising, where they can hone their skills and develop their unique voices. They meet like-minded people (as Sam did with Ward and Harte) who can offer support, criticism, and share in their successes.

    Writers tend to seek out other writers who become their models, mentors, competitors, friends, and supporters. Above all, they’re driven by a need for attention, to show off, to be productive, and to create stories that thrill us, scare us, inspire us, make us laugh or cry, or simply to entertain us.

    Some writers are truly, extremely shy or introverted (like Kafka or Kaufman), whereas some are able to shift, and live in both worlds—with occasional bouts of extroversion (like Mark Twain, during his lectures), but generally spend most of their lives creating, and writing inside their inner words, where the writing process generally happens.

    While not all writers display the exact same personality traits, it seems they share many common characteristics—perhaps the most important, the ability to thrive in isolation. Writers spend long, difficult hours alone with their thoughts, writing, and rewriting endlessly.

    They are driven to express themselves, and have a strong need for attention that is traceable to their childhoods. They come up against rejection, creative blocks, and long hard odds, but they persist. To do so, they must have an unyielding belief in their abilities, and a sense of hope—that they will eventually be recognized and rewarded for their efforts.

    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.

    Image credit: Mark Twain 1907 by FotoGuy49057 is licensed under CC By 2.0.

  • 01/31/2020 9:00 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Leila Aboohamad,

    Lost After College? What Do I Do Now? Where Do I Belong? What Career Is Right for Me?

    In my over 30 years as a psychotherapist in private practice, these are the questions I have heard through the years from clients in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and even their 60s. The transition from the safe structure of college, university or trade school can be very daunting.

    All of a sudden, the real, big world is out there and where do you belong? There are no classes; there are no dorms; there are no supportive professors and teachers to provide comfort and familiarity. Most of the friends you made have graduated and scattered to various locales or are still in school. No more living in frat or sorority houses, being with familiar friends every day. It is time to be a grown up, go out into the real world and enter that career and/or job which will provide for you financially, emotionally and spiritually.

    There are counselors available on campus, but the transition from classes you enjoy to actually working in the field may not be a good fit. I changed my major three times, discussed the choices with professors, but they were not therapists or career counselors, and didn’t really know me, that inner person who didn’t really know herself.

    Many people start looking for a job in their chosen profession, but often what they thought they wanted to do doesn’t really fit who they are. They feel disappointed, disoriented, dispirited and terrified that they won’t be able to support themselves, pay off their college loans, and worst of all, will not find and express their special gifts and talents.

    So, what is needed to make that big transition from school to the real world a success for all concerned…the job/career seeker, the employer and the parents who expect success for their offspring?

    I have found through years of experience helping clients through the transition from the safety of school to the reality of the big world outside, that a willingness to really explore who they are, the family system in which they grew up, the successes and failures in their lives, their dreams for the future, and what they came into this Life to do, is absolutely necessary. What is their special gift and talent? How can they be of service by shining their light with love, wisdom and understanding?

    To successfully make that big transition from school to the real world, you need to ask yourself—and answer—the following questions.

    Where do you want to live? Have you chosen a profession like the communications media or the film and television industry which necessitates your living in a big city like NYC, Los Angeles or San Francisco? Does big city living work for you or do you prefer a smaller city or even the country? Where will you work? If you are in the medical field, doctor, dentist, nurse, where are the best career opportunities for your specialty?

    I just saw a client this morning who is quite disturbed by the financial pressures he is dealing with in his large manufacturing company. “I wish in the 80s that I had taken that $400k that I invested in starting my company and invested in real estate instead. I wish I knew then what I know now.” He went on to say that most people don’t really like the work/job they have and just go through life painfully earning a living. Of course, I disagreed. However, I knew how his family background had influenced his belief system. He had received little, if any, emotional support and guidance from his father, and had been criticized by him on a daily basis.

    How different his attitude and success in life would be if he had had a nurturing father, but if not that, at least a great therapist to guide him after college.

    How can we possibly make positive decisions re our careers if we have no idea what our special gifts, talents and creative desires are? I have a friend who just retired from a 40-year legal career. He was a tremendous success financially, a multi-millionaire, but confessed to me that he had hated being an attorney. How sad for him. With his intelligence and talents, he could have been just as successful financially if he had been kind to himself and done some inner exploration. Not for him. He is terrified of therapists and warns our friends not to be open with me as “Leila will get into you and find out all about you.” I have known him for 40 years and he is one of my dear friends. But he prides himself on being inscrutable. 

    Ten years ago, I was counseling a recent graduate from a prestigious university. He had majored in business, planning a career in the sales field, encouraged by his father who had attained great success in the business world. During the months, I worked with him as his therapist, I realized that he was not gifted in the sales field, nor did he even like it. He was doing it to please his powerful father. I told him everything I had observed about him clearly told me that his talents and gifts were in the field of psychotherapy. He was taken aback, aghast at the thought of disappointing his father and soon left therapy. 

    A few years later, he called me for an appointment, came in and proceeded to tell me that what I had observed about him was correct and would I please write a letter of recommendation to his graduate school where he planned to pursue a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. He got the degree, is quite successful, and very much at peace with the positive direction his life has taken. It took a lot of courage for him to really question his family system and the roles he had unconsciously played. His unhappiness compelled him to step out of what seemed to be a “comfort zone” and really explore who he was and how best to serve himself and the world.

    I hope this article will be a beacon of light to those making the difficult transition from high school, trade school or college. We need to really commit to our future success, serenity and happiness by courageously taking that inner journey which will help us discover where we fit in, where to shine our light, where and how to serve who world with our special gifts. Finding an excellent psychotherapist is the first step to take in discovering our true selves. It’s a fantastic path which will open up a whole new world of wonder.

    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.

  • 01/31/2020 7:00 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Barry Davis,
    Divorce Mediator

    Resources to Help Your Clients Through Their Divorce

    It’s the beginning of a new year so many of our clients will be contemplating divorce. Going through a divorce is one of the most challenging, destabilizing experiences that most people will ever face. Unfortunately, this means that most of our clients ‘react’ based on their strong emotions (often, very negative emotions) rather than ‘responding’ to this crisis in a way that protects their children and sets them up to move on with their life as quickly as possible.

    This is why it is so important to have both the guidance and support of a therapist as well as relevant and effective resources during this critical time. Whether it is a good book to help children understand and process the changes that are happening or a helpful online resource to explain the divorce process, the right resources can make all the difference for clients experiencing the upheaval of divorce (and many times even more so for their children). Having relevant information will help clients:

    1. Manage their anxiety by helping them understand the divorce process and the options available to them. By lowering their stress level, clients are more likely to make good decisions for them and their children by focusing on what will be best for them in the long run.
    2. Keep their focus on their children rather than on strong negative emotions towards their spouse.
    3. Engage in the process in a much more constructive manner in order to avoid a nasty court battle (which averages ~ $150,000 in attorney’s fees and generally last anywhere between 2 – 3 years).

    This is why it's so important for therapists to be informed about the helpful resources available to support their clients during the divorce process. Below are some of the best resources available for both parents and children.

    Websites for Parents

    1. Up to Parents
      An interactive website that helps parents focus on their children’s well-being in a very practical manner by helping them understand how their decisions impact their children.
    2. Parents’ Guide to Helping Children through Divorce 
      Ideas for parents to help their children deal with divorce more productively.
    3. Divorce Care
      Listing of church-based support groups for both parents and children.
    4. Divorce Net
      Basic information and understanding about the divorce process.

    Websites for Children

    1. Sesame Street
      Several videos, FAQs, a booklet and a smartphone app to help young children understand and deal with divorce.
    2. Families Change
      Comprehensive site with separate sections for kids (animated), teenagers and parents with practical, age-appropriate advice for divorce.

    Books for Children

    1. Two Homes by Claire Masurel
      For young children.

    2. Divorce Is Not the End of the World: Zoe’s & Evan’s Coping Guide for Kids by Zoe and Evan Stern
      For older children and teenagers, this book is written by two children, Zoe and Evan.

    3. A Smart Girl’s Guide to Her Parents’ Divorce by Nancy Holyoke
      For teenage girls.

    Books for Parents

    1. The Good Divorce by Constance Ahrons
    2. Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way by M. Gary Neuman
    3. The Truth about Children and Divorce by Robert E. Emery

    Helpful Information Sheets and Handouts

    1. Talking with Children about Divorce 
    2. Advice from Adult Children of Divorced Parents

    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.

  • 01/31/2020 6:00 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT March 2020
    Law & Ethics Workshop

    Sunday, March 22, 2020
    9am – 4pm 

    Sponsored by

    Price for the workshop includes expanded continental breakfast,
    buffet lunch, presentation and 6 CEUs

    Don’t miss LA-CAMFT’s annual Law and Ethics Workshop on SUNDAY, MARCH 22nd

    The purpose of the program is to help therapists be aware of their legal and ethical responsibilities to clients and the new security of platforms to use when providing telehealth services. 

    Our presenter is Curt Widhalm, LMFT. Curt is a knowledgeable and entertaining presenter on Law and Ethics. 

    This workshop will fulfill your bi-annual BBS Law and Ethics requirement.  

    As usual, the workshop includes 2 meals: a delicious breakfast buffet of eggs, bagels, fruit, etc. Lunch features two fantastic salads and a complete sandwich bar and afternoon snack of fresh-made chocolate chip cookies. 

    Free all-day parking is also included.

    Register Here

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