Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Voices — February 2023

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  • 01/31/2023 11:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

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

    Pre-Licensed 3000 Club “Dream Team”

    I recently had the opportunity to sit down with LA-CAMFT Pre-Licensed 3000 Club Chair Tyana Tavakol, AMFT and Co-Chair, Carissa Lataillade, AMFT about their “dream team” and what makes it so successful. Both leaders initially got involved with LA-CAMFT through the Diversity Committee and then chose to spread their leadership skills through the Pre-Licensed 3000 Club. This is their second year working together and shared that “trust in each other” has been critical to what they have been able to accomplish. Last year, Carissa was Pre-Licensed 3000 Chair and Tyana was Co-Chair. From the start, the vision was to work as a team as a way for their positions to be “self-sufficient”. They met monthly, texted frequently, always had a plan for the next three months, utilized each other’s strengths and encouraged one another to step out of their comfort zone. 

    Get to know Tyana and Carissa as they share their “why” they are leaders of the Pre-Licensed 3000 Club:

    • “I really like finding the gaps in areas and finding ways to fill them and that is not possible unless you are at the table so I always try wherever I am to be at the table in some way” (Tyana).
    • “Being surrounded by people who are so driven, accomplished and wise because I agree that who you surround yourself with really matters and when I’m surrounded by this on a constant basis it motivates me to be a better clinician and a better leader” (Tyana).
    • “I like to give other people opportunities who could shine but just don’t know how to get in that space. I like to bring in people who I know will thrive into somewhere where they could get more spotlighted” (Tyana).
    • “I wanted to develop my leadership skills, get more involved and network with more clinicians in the field” (Carissa)
    •  “I wanted to practice the leadership style of “Leading From Behind” where you are confident of yourself and trust others to do their work. That is what I want career wise, to build a private practice and develop associates I can trust” (Carissa).
    • “To work off each other’s strengths and encourage each other to practice their leadership. I always intended Tyana to be the 3000 Rep for 2023 in order to build upon the vision of the previous year” (Carissa). 

    As you can see, Tyana and Carissa are amazing leaders of the LA-CAMFT Pre-Licensed 3000 Club and I encourage you to check out the updated webpage and learn more at https://lacamft.org/The-3000-Club. I would also like to highlight some of the upcoming events and new updates:

    Special thank you to Tyana and Carissa for allowing me to interview you and share your greatness with the broader LA-CAMFT Community! 

    With So Much Gratitude, 

    Christina “Tina” Cacho Sakai, LMFT

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

  • 01/31/2023 10:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT February 2023
    including Q&A

    Friday, February 17, 2023
    9:00 am-11:00 am

    11:00-11:30 am (optional) 
    Participant Announcements

    Via Zoom

    2.0 CE Credits

    What Every Therapist Needs to Know about Black Folks
    and Other People of Color (BIPOC)

    Shawn LaRe’ Brinkley, LMFT

    The experiences of BIPOC individuals in America are often dismissed, invalidated, and ridiculed leading to the stress that comes with feeling invisible, inadequate, and misunderstood. In a therapeutic setting the presentation of BIPOC individuals are often misunderstood causing misrepresentation, leading to misdiagnosis, medication mismanagement, and missing pieces existing in their mental health care. As therapists, our commitment is to “DO NO HARM,” however microaggressions, implicit bias, color-blindness, and well-intended missteps can show up in the therapy room and undermine the mental health treatment of BIPOC clients. These challenges can be overcome with intentional commitment to examining, understanding, and holding space for clients of color in an effort to bridge the cultural gap and exercise true cultural competence.

    Event Details: 
    Friday, February 17, 2023, 9:00 am-11:00 am (PT)

    Where: Online Via Zoom
    After you register you will be emailed a Zoom link the Thursday before the presentation.

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

    Register Here

  • 01/31/2023 9:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
    Voices Editor

    Getting Paid: How To Use Holidays & Celebrations Throughout The Year To Fill Your Practice With Clients You Love Using Easy & Affordable Marketing & Networking

    When you’re top of mind to colleagues and referral sources, you get referrals—and job opportunities. 

    This is true for pre-licensed and licensed. 

    Therapists always ask me how to get more clients they love—without spending a lot of time or money. Since the pandemic these queries have not only increased but intensified. 


    Pre-pandemic most therapists were at the top of people’s minds since they saw each other in person at work, workshops, conferences, professional organizations. Connecting was easy since it was part of daily work and professional interaction—you saw people organically on your way to or from a session, meeting, workshop and were able to greet each other, do business, catch up, and arrange to meet for lunch, coffee, happy hour—in a matter of minutes. 

    Circulating among like-minded and allied professionals was easy, fruitful. 

    Since the pandemic, most clinical and professional interactions are online, so connecting takes place—or not—online through Zoom/video platforms, texts, apps, email, DMs, social media. 

    How can a therapist stay at the forefront of potential clients, colleagues, and referral sources minds? 

    Holiday & Celebration Marketing. 

    Think about this, throughout the year there are lots of holidays and celebrations. Each provides an opportunity to reach out and connect or renew connections with colleagues, referral sources, etc. 

    Pick a holiday, celebration, commemoration and send a card, message, graphic, image, video—as a greeting and to make contact. Use email, snail mail, texts, social media . . .  Your preference. Any will work. 

    If you’re not a major holiday person, don’t use one—pick one that isn’t. Any holiday or celebration you or your clients like, celebrate, commemorate will work whether it’s Lunar New Year, Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo, Pride Month, Juneteenth, Summer Solstice, Diwali, Grandparents Day, Star Wars Day. Choose one that works for you, your practice, your clientele. 

    Yes, making contact by emailing or snail mailing referral sources, colleagues, mailing list, portion of a mailing list—an actual physical card, e-card, short email message with or without a template, will keep you connected to, and top of mind to referral sources and colleagues. 

    A physical card even works without a handwritten note or signature! Printed messages and printed signatures work equally well. 

    This type of Holiday & Celebration Marketing is effective and will work to bring you more referrals and opportunities. Even during a pandemic. No mask wearing, vaccination, social distancing required. It doesn’t have to involve Zoom, video, phone. 

    You don’t have to drive anywhere, park, register, pay admission, dress up or talk to anyone . . . It doesn’t have to cost much or take much time. 

    You don’t need a big list or mail/email/text/DM everyone on your list. Sending a small number still works. 

    Hate the idea? Then send a short, personalized, email greeting message on a plain email or holiday email template. Three or four sentences will do. A hello greeting, wishing them well for the holiday, celebration, commemoration; thanking them for their client or job referrals—or expressing some kind of gratitude for the year, season—then closing. 

    Or post a holiday or celebration greeting, graphic, image on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook—or video holiday or celebration greeting or message on any of those. A video greeting also works well on TikTok. Choose which works best for you. 

    Why does this work? Throughout the year there are lots of holidays, celebrations, people and things to commemorate. Each provides the opportunity reach out and connect with colleagues, referral sources, friends, past clients. 

    When we connect with others in one of these ways, it keeps us in the forefront of their mind—they think of us first when needing a referral or an opportunity that’s right for us. 

    Sometimes professionals will send this type of holiday or celebration email to a segment of former clients (who they have permission to email) and attach a pdf of or link to a helpful article or one they wrote. You’d be surprised how many of these clients send a referral or make an appointment for a session very soon after they receive it. It works equally well even when there is no holiday or celebration. 

    The type of card, message, greeting doesn’t matter, it’s the contacting and connecting through the card, e-card, email, newsletter, video, reel, text, that makes the difference. 

    You don’t even have to send this to very many people for it to be effective—5, 10, 20 cards will do. No need to send 100 for this marketing and networking to be effective. 

    It can be personalized or not—this just depends on you, your budget, amount of time you have, type of practice (branding, niche), the type of referral sources, clients you work with. 

    It’s very budget friendly at any price point in any budget. While it takes a little time and effort, it usually adds up to less time, effort, and money than you were spent before when you were driving in traffic to an early morning event that cost you $35-50 or more to attend. 

    If you don’t want to do this yourself, and your marketing and networking budget allows it, hire a virtual assistant to send e-cards or snail mail cards signed, addressed and sent online or send actual snail mail cards that are put together and mailed at the post office. Don’t want to pick out card or printed message? Have the virtual assistant do that! Or have the virtual assistant make a graphic or image card for social media. 

    Remember to carry out sending a virtual or physical card, you need a person’s email or physical address. Don’t forget many professionals have given up physical offices but still have that address on their website or directory listing. If you aren’t sure that they are still at the physical location, then an e-card or email message is probably the best choice. 

    For those who don’t want to spend any money or write anything—or for those on social media or who only want a Facebook or Instagram holiday or celebration card or graphic, that’ll work, too—especially for those professionals near or far you don’t have an email or physical address for. However, don’t rule out the power of receiving a snail mail card you hold in your hand and know the person made an effort to send to you—or an animated e-card that makes you laugh or feel calm and peaceful. People remember. 

    A caveat . . . in picking out your card or writing your email message, be sure to be consciously inclusive of others who may not celebrate the same holiday as you do during the holiday season. 

    While you don’t need to tailor your cards or messages specifically to the receiver’s holiday—doing so is a nice touch if you’re sure the holiday they celebrate (Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Christmas). Remember to check out the words as well as the graphic so that you don’t inadvertently send a word or visual greeting that includes a Christmas tree or Santa to someone who doesn’t celebrate or believe in those traditions. An alternative to sending a holiday season (Easter, Christmas, Hanukkah) greeting is to skip that holiday altogether and pick another celebration. Either works. 


    Sending a snail mail card costs $2-$10 per card with envelope depending on the cost of the card, whether you have your name and or greeting printed on it, and postage on top of that. And you need to buy stamps and take them to the post office to mail. 

    Paper Source, MOMA, Hallmark, etc. have physical cards that can be bought for the same price and sent online—with your actual signature and or note—no post office for stamps or mailing. These often play a song or have a pop-up graphic. 

    E-cards cost less. Most e-card services are less than $50 per year for an unlimited number of cards sent throughout the year, not just during a holiday season (Jacquie Lawson, 123 Cards, Doozy). 

    An email message without any holiday graphic or template will do just fine and costs zero dollars. 

    An email message with a holiday graphic or template can cost zero dollars (free plans) to $10 a month, $100-$120 per year (Canva, Adobe, Spark) depending on the app. 

    At the low end the cost for most therapists is going to be under $50; at the medium price point, $100; the higher end $200+. 

    How much money have you not spent on driving to in-person networking events—at the very least gas, parking, registration fees? Online events are certainly lower cost but most still cost something. This cost, at most, would be the same as 2 or 3 networking events. 

    Try it out. It can be fun and creative. Consider sending some type of a card or greeting. If you get 1 referral and only 1 session you will have covered your cost. Besides the cost for these cards is a tax-deductible business expense. A win-win. 

    Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she works with Couples and Gifted, Talented, and Creative Adults across the lifespan. Lynne’s been doing business and clinical coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping professionals develop even more successful careers and practices. To learn more about her in-person and online services, workshops or monthly no-cost Online Networking & Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com or www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.

  • 01/31/2023 8:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT TOC Grant
    Award Committee

    LA-CAMFT Grant Award for Pre-Licensed Members Who Are Therapists of Color

    The LA-CAMFT Grant Committee is pleased to announce that LA-CAMFT will be awarding two grant awards In for LA-CAMFT Pre-Licensed Member Associates, Trainees, and Students who are Therapists of Color.

    If you are not an LA-CAMFT member, in order to apply for the award, you must first join LA-CAMFT.

    Registration for the LA-CAMFT 2023 Grant Award for Pre-Licensed Members who are Therapist of Color opens on January 2, 2023. Registration closes on February 25, 2023. The drawing will take place on February 26, 2023.

    Please read the information below regarding the description of the grant award, criteria for applying, application process, and selection process.

    Description of the LA-CAMFT Grant Award
    Every 4 months (3x per year), a grant award will be offered to two applicants who meet the following three criteria:

    1. Must be a current LA-CAMFT and CAMFT member
    2. Identify as a Therapist of Color
    3. Must be either an Associate, Trainee, or Student still in graduate school.

    Grant winners will receive:

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

    The $500 award can be used at the recipient’s discretion based on their own individual needs (whether it be for BBS fees, testing materials, memberships, living expenses, etc.). 

    Confirmation for what the Grant Award money is used for will not be required. 

    Application and Selection Process
    Interested Pre-Licensed LA-CAMFT members who are Therapists of Color can complete the 2023 Grant Award Application on the LA-CAMFT website. 

    The selection process entails using a Randomized Generator of the applicants who met the full criteria and complete the application online in order to take out human bias and decrease activation of one's trauma history. 

    The drawing will be recorded via Zoom and posted onto social media along with an announcement naming the grant winners, who will also be contacted via email directly. 

    Registration for the LA-CAMFT 2023 Grant Award for Pre-Licensed Members who are Therapist of Color opens on January 2, 2023. Registration closes on February 25, 2023.

    The drawing will take place on February 26, 2023.

    Best regards,

    The LA-CAMFT TOC Grant Committee

  • 01/31/2023 7:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Joanna Poppink, LMFT

    Friends Change as You Heal in Eating Disorder Recovery

    Friends change as you heal and mature. Being in harmony with your true self attracts new and more healthy relationships.

    When you have an eating disorder friends who are attracted to you are attracted to who you are and how you respond with your eating disorder intact. Friends change as you change throughout your recovery work.

    How you and your friends change as you recover

    When you are deep in your eating disorder your friends and associates have a relationship with a sick person.  When you start to get well your attitudes, choices and responses change. Your friends' responses will change too. 

    In recovery:

    1. You are more caring and respectful of yourself.
    2. You resist sacrificing your personal resources (time, money, skills, energy) because you no longer believe that others are more important than you.
    3. You begin to use your resources to make your own dreams come true, dreams you didn’t know you had because they were buried by the eating disorder.
    4. You no longer engage is high risk behavior for thrills or because you are going along with everyone else and are numb to your fears.
    5. You feel and can bear your feelings.
    6. You gain a more clear mental perspective on what you see and hear..
    7. You have opinions.
    8. You have a point of view.
    9. You matter to yourself.
    10. You say, "No," where you used to say, "Yes."

    Friends Change when they Object to Your Recovery
    The friends in your life who were attracted to you as you lived with your eating disorder symptoms are psychologically matched to you based on those symptoms. They may object to your changes as you move toward a more healthy life.

    They can be ruffled, disbelieving, disappointed, hurt and angry.

    If they can grow themselves and accept your healthy attitudes then your relationships and friends change and grow.

    If your friends  cannot grow and adapt, if they need a relationship with a person who goes numb, who says yes, who sacrifices and feels guilty and responsible for other people's needs, then those friends will grow both resentful and bored. 

    If you remain on your recovery path your friends change. They will not be the same as they were before recovery work. If a friend cannot accept your healthy changes your relationship will fall apart. If you are truly in recovery, you will not or cannot go back to your illness to support people who require a self-sacrificing person to fulfill their needs.

    People who have their own solid self-esteem and are willing to be responsible for themselves will become visible to you as you become visible to them. Some of them may already be in your life and cheer your recovery.

    Getting Better and Gaining Friends
    If your friendships are changing you might feel angry or confused or lonely. This is a time for patience and trust. Most of all, its a time to stay committed to your healing.  This is a time to wait for your more healthy way of life to be visible to your future friends. You live your life in recovery. People who are attracted to health will be attracted to you.

    In recovery and growing health, you have more and different choices. You can have more satisfying friendships based on your more healthy attitude and lifestyle.

    Thought and journal questions

    1. How have your friendships changed as you move on your recovery path?
    2. What are your losses?
    3. What are your gains?
    4. What is new in your life now?
    Joanna Poppink, LMFT, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of Healing Your Hungry Heart: Recovering from Your Eating Disorder, is in private practice and specializes in Eating Disorder Recovery for adult women and with an emphasis on building a fulfilling life beyond recovery. She is licensed in California, Florida, Oregon, and Utah. All appointments are virtual. Website: EatingDisorderRecovery.net
  • 01/31/2023 6:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT March 2023
    Law & Ethics Online Workshop

    Sunday, March 19, 2023
    9:00 am-3:30 pm

    Meets BBS requirements for mandatory 6 CEs/Ethical Education

    6 CEs

    Online Via Zoom

    A Day in the Life of an LA Therapist:
    Exploring Legal and Ethical Issues

    Curt Widhalm, LMFT

    Therapists in Los Angeles have the opportunity to face it all! Whether it is the glitz and glamour of being on the latest reality show or working on the streets with homeless clients with severe mental illness, Los Angeles therapists can find themselves facing almost any ethical or legal challenge imaginable. This workshop covers what Los Angeles area therapists are currently facing that is making the local and national headlines…and provides guidance on how to best manage these situations. This workshop meets the 6 CE BBS requirement for licensure renewal.

    At the end of this presentation, participants will have a general understanding of the legal and ethical challenges facing LA therapists and best practices for handling them

    Event Details: 
    Sunday, March 19, 2023, 9:00 am-3:30 am (PT)

    Where: Online Via Zoom
    After you register you will be emailed a Zoom link the Saturday before the presentation.

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

    Register Here

  • 01/31/2023 5:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Chellie Campbell,
    Financial Stress
    Reduction Expert

    It’s Just A Co-Dependent Love Song

    One comes to believe whatever one repeats to oneself sufficiently often, whether the statement be true or false.

                               Robert Collier  

    Years ago, I heard singer-songwriter named Scott Kalechstein sing a clever, paraphrased version of “It’s Just an Old Fashioned Love Song” called “It’s Just a Co-Dependent Love Song.” That made me laugh, but it also made me think. I loved all those old torchy, hurt-so-bad love songs and sang them all the time. Whenever I felt blue, I just put on some records or strummed my guitar and wailed. I sang “Crazy,” “Single Girl,” “Don’t Think Twice,” “Too Far Gone,” “Am I Blue,” “Mean to Me”. . . get the picture?

    It is emotionally satisfying to sing the blues now and again. But every day? It didn’t cross my mind that, if sung too often, these songs could act as negative affirmations. I just wondered why my love life was a mess . . .

    Think about the songs you’re walking around singing. What’s the message you’re giving yourself? Are they positive affirmations, joyful songs? Or heart-breaking, emotional downers? (Not to mention the violent rapper songs. Better to channel all that anger and rebellion into music than into mayhem in the streets, but I wouldn’t be singing along if I were you.)

    Songs are speaking your word, and your word is powerful. Now I make sure to counteract the blues by also singing songs like “I’m All Right,” “Happy Talk,” “I Feel Lucky,” “It’s My Life” and “Thank You For Loving Me.”

    Why not write your own positive song or change the lyrics to a favorite tune? If you change lyrics to a tune, it must be an already upbeat song, or your subconscious memory of the negative words will impede your progress. A friend of mine had rewritten the lyrics to “Lemon Tree” to be “Money Tree,” but when I sang it, I always remembered the word “impossible” in the song. I didn’t want the word “impossible” connected with my money, so I had to stop singing that one.

    Here’s a song most people know that we can rewrite for our purposes: Change the word “birthday” to “money” in the song “Happy Birthday.” I think singing “Happy money to me” is a great affirmation! Sing it today!

    Today’s Affirmation:
    “Happy money to me! Happy money to me!”

    Chinese New Year Money Tree at Bellagio

    When you stop to think about it, you can start becoming aware of all the negative things you tell yourself on a regular basis, like singing sad songs. It’s fine to roll in the mud sometimesthere is a resonance in shared sorrows that brings people together in compassionate understanding. But too much time there will just make you depressed.

    The daily news of stock market gyrationsis it another bubble or not, whether or not there’s another recession coming, warnings about the continuing lack of affordable housing, consumer debt, lack of retirement savings and high unemployment, makes us want to start singing the old Depression-era song “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.” And all the Tuna out there are joining in that chorus.

    But if you’re here reading this, you aren’t a Tuna, you’re a Dolphin. You don’t follow the crowd down the rabbit hole of gloom and doom, but swim through the waves happily and in communication with your fellow Dolphins, finding your fish, and jumping for joy.

    Now is the time you can have a positive effect on the people around you and the economy. Sing your happy song for all you’re worth. Look at the blessings in your life and celebrate them. Don’t focus on your fears of what you don’t want, but relish creating what you DO want, for that’s what you will manifest in your future.

    Sure, you can join the crowd of Tuna, wailing about the paper loss on your balance sheet when your home’s value goes down a bit, watch the negative news reports or the arguing politicians, feel the fear of financial insecurity and visualize your future as a bag lady or homeless guy on the street.

    Or instead, you can discipline yourself to focus on your goals, visualizing being happy and rich, having plenty of money, overflowing bank accounts, a jam-packed client roster, plenty of time off for family, friends, and vacations. See yourself in fancy dress in rich surroundings, on an emerald-green golf course, on a Mediterranean cruise, strolling the streets of Paris, laughing with loved ones, fine dining at five-star restaurants, building your dream house in the mountains, lying on a sparkling white beach near crystal clear oceans.

    To paraphrase the Dylan Thomas poem—minds, hold you poison or grapes?

    Songs are speaking your word, and your word is powerful. 

    Chellie Campbell, Financial Stress Reduction Expert, is the author of bestselling books The Wealthy Spirit, Zero to Zillionaire, and most recently From Worry to Wealthy: A Woman’s Guide to Financial Success Without the Stress. She is widely quoted in major media including Redbook, Good Housekeeping and more than 50 popular books. She has been treating Money Disorders like Spending Bulimia and Income Anorexia in her Financial Stress Reduction® Workshops for over 25 years. Her website is www.chellie.com.

  • 01/31/2023 4:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT 3000 Club


    DSM-5-TR Updates:
    Revisions that Impact
    the CA Licensure Exam

    Thursday, February 23, 2023

    6:30 pm-7:30 pm

    Free Registration

    Via Zoom

    DSM-5-TR Updates:
    Revisions that Impact the CA Licensure Exam

    Keonna Robinson, LMFT

    In April 2022, the APA released the DSM-5-TR reflecting diagnosis updates based on new clinical research, and in January 2023, the CA Clinical Exam (CCE) will begin to reflect those revisions. We want you to feel ready! This workshop will briefly highlight changes to widely used diagnostic criteria and cover the newest diagnosis added, Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD).

    Event Details: 
    Thursday, February 23, 2023, 6:30 pm-7:30 pm (PT)

    Where: Online Via Zoom
    After you register you will be emailed a Zoom link the Thursday before the presentation.

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

    Register Here

  • 01/31/2023 3:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Van Ethan Levy,

    Yes, You Will Work with Trans or Non Binary Clients and Their Loved Ones at Some Point: What Therapists Need to Know  

    Just like most people entering therapy, trans, non binary, and many more non cis folx are not only entering therapy to address and/or explore gender/identity. We are often looking to build coping skills, learn to regulate, unlearn internalized harmful messages, stop self-gaslighting, find the power we possess within, differentiate between systematic oppression versus self-blame, and so much more. 

    Like most other people, as trans, non binary, and many more non cis identities folx enter into therapy, we are often seeking someone to help us understand ourselves. However, we often lack the awareness that the person providing us care may not have the ability to provide this type of support, due to the lack of competent training that mental health providers have access to in unlearning our internalized transphobia.  

    Oftentimes therapists have the mentality that they are safe for all people despite race, color, abilities, class, and so much more. This mentality can be harmful when, as professionals, our privilege prevents us from creating a safer space for others.  

    We ALL—including trans, non binary people—have internalized transphobia, since we absorb the messaging of the society in which we live. 

    We all constantly engage in micro/macroaggressions, and the majority of the time we are not aware of the harm that it is causing. In fact, when we exist in a mentality that we are a safe person, that is the moment that we are certainly a person who is causing harm because our privilege and ego prevent us from being aware that we are causing harm. 

    A couple of years ago, I wrote a short article, Navigating Mental Health As A Trans & Non Binary Person, addressing the ways in which traversing the mental health field as a trans, non binary, and many more non cis identities person can be incredibly difficult.  

    Rather than repeating information that is there, click on the link to read/access the information. Once you have read the article, please circle back to continue reading the rest of this one.  

    Here are some things you can do as a therapist when working with trans and non binary and many more non cis identities clients:

    1. Trust the client who is trusting you enough to share or not share.
    2. Believe our realities as people and do not question them. Do not question our realities as people by saying things along the lines of, “Are you sure that is what this person meant?” Rather, believe what we are sharing with you. 

    3. Remember that oftentimes there is no solution and trying to find or help us find a solution is not always viable. Instead, holding that space of pain, fear, anger, and so much more is what is healing. 

      For instance, I, as a non binary person whose pronouns are “they,” in English, and “elle,” in Spanish, will always be misgendered—on the phone, in the store, at a restaurant—no matter where I go. 

      Holding that pain, suffering, anger, and much more, is what is going to be affirming and create a safer space for me. Attempting to find a solution and/or challenging an experience that a mental health provider may label as a “cognitive distortion,” on the other hand, is painful and harmful. My cognitions are not “distortions,” my realities are real, and I have every right to feel any and all emotions every time it happens, even with the knowledge that it will always happen.

    4. Do your own internal work to address the anxiety, discomfort, and much more, that comes up when engaging with a client who you may feel “had no solutions,” “is unwilling to accept,” or “change thought patterns,” “is someone who has another crisis of the week,” or so many other harmful labels that are given that are the antithesis of empathy.

    5. Know that that we as therapists really know nothing, even within what we know It is our clients who will always know what is best for them. Even if we are not able to be aware of how the person’s understandings and/or engagements are what is best for the client, know that that person is the one who knows. 

    6. Know that trans, non binary, and many more non cis folx may regularly experience suicidal ideations, sometimes even on a daily basis. This does not mean that a therapist needs to jump to a 5150 or institutionalization, which can add more trauma and harm especially for folx who have been historically marginalized. 
    Instead, safety plan.  

    Safety plans are more than just who to call. They are about what creates safety for the person. This can look like finding beverages that are comforting to the person, safer people, safer clothes, safer spaces, comforting temperatures, supportive textures, or regulating noises. Lean into the sense that tends to be soothing for the client, and expand on that to have a working list that the person can take to utilize. 

    Base the safety plan on what the person has shared, not on what you perceive is best for the person.  

    That includes things with which you may not agree, like smoking pot, masturbating, engaging in an orgy, and/or other forms in which the person consistently finds comfort and safety, does not worsen their experience, and does not create non-consensual harm for others. 

    Therapy is not about inserting ourselves and beliefs into the experiences of others. Therapy is about meeting clients where they are at and providing a safer and consistent landing space. The more we take ourselves, our assumptions, and our “knowledge” out of the equation, the more we can truly be that space.

    Van Ethan Levy, MA, LMFT, LPCC, (they) (elle), a trans and non-binary therapist, is a queer, non binary, trans, socialized as female, nBPOC (not Black Person of Color), who is autistic, and has dynamic disabilities amongst many more historically excluded identities. Van provides consultations and trainings on trans and non binary identities, is the organizer of the upcoming 2022 Virtual International Do Something: Identity(ies) Conference, authored the interactive book, Exploring My Identity(ies), and produced the Documentary, Do Something: Trans & Non Binary Identities, Website: VanEthanLevy.com

  • 01/31/2023 2:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    LA-CAMFT February 2023
    ONLINE Business 

    Friday, February 24, 2023
    10:00 am-11:00 am

    Via Zoom

    Sponsored by

    Bookkeeping and Taxes 101 for Therapists
    presented by Heard 

    Forrest Perry, CPA 

    Heard's mission is to help therapists be therapists. The less time you spend wrangling finances, the more time you have to help clients, and the bigger impact we can all make.

    Event Details: 
    Friday, February 24, 2023, 10:00 am-11:00 am (PT)

    Where: Online Via Zoom
    After you register you will be emailed a Zoom link the Thursday before the presentation.

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

    Register Here

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