Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Voices — July 2019
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
LA-CAMFT’s 2019 Annual Leadership Retreat is complete! This event is very personal and important to me. The anticipation leading up to it left me excited, yet nervous and stressed. That’s how you know something is important to you, when both sides of that spectrum clash together in a fun way. As much as I wanted to make sure that we had good attendance and everything ran smoothly, I also knew that I had a great team to lean on. “Teamwork” was the main theme of the entire event, and if I’ve learned anything over my years at LA-CAMFT, it’s that you are not alone.
Having attended two previous retreats, I was most excited about meeting the new emerging leaders and getting to know Matthew “Matt” Evans, LA-CAMFT’s current president elect, and his leadership style much better. We need motivated people to move our initiatives forward, and there were so many LA-CAMFT members not only willing to participate, but spearhead causes that they feel passionate about.
Matt started the retreat by asking each person to share a time in their lives when they’ve been a part of a team and what strength they could bring to ours. Everyone shared personal stories about learning the importance of collaboration, whether it be through sports teams, debate teams, academic teams, and even families that they see as their teams.
As I stood in the main area of Clearview Treatment Center about halfway through the event, I paused to look around the room at everyone in attendance. We had invited at least a dozen potential new leaders who had expressed interest in getting involved, and to see them all there, with each of their unique strengths, was such a proud moment.
So, what came out of this retreat? There were several initiatives that came about which will be focused on revitalizing the Special Interests Groups or “SIGs.” The Somatic group and Expressive Arts group, as well as new initiatives like the upcoming Meditation and Experiential groups are some examples. There will also be a new support group for LGBTQ+ therapists that will mirror the existing Therapist of Color (TOC) Support Group offered through LA-CAMFT’s Diversity Committee (DC). Outreach to schools and community mental health agencies will be a big focus, as well as initiatives to develop more special events. We’re looking into planning an all-day retreat, and we will continue to expand our DC initiatives by broadening constructive conversations around race and ethnicity in our community.
Since June is Pride month, the LGBTQ+ group ideas were especially exciting for me to see! This initiative hits close to home, since I am the first openly gay president of LA-CAMFT. I know that this is a safe and brave space to have honest conversations, and these values are vital to the well-being of LGBTQ+ therapists as much as any other. I actually marched in West Hollywood’s Pride Parade the day after the retreat, and it was a great feeling knowing that this organization is developing support for this community.
At the end of the event, I reflected on all the great ideas that were brought up and what the next steps should be to make sure that all of our leaders are successful. The stress I initially felt disappeared thanks to the hard work and support of the LA-CAMFT board members, the incredible volunteers, and the amazing people at Clearview Treatment Center that helped to make this whole thing happen. I’d like to particularly thank our Special Events Chair, Randy Gottlieb, for facilitating the development of the agenda and for helping to drive the discussions on the day of. Another special thanks to the Presidential team (Shelley Pearce, Matt Evans, and myself) and to all of you for reading.
If you’d like to see pictures from the event, follow our Instagram account by downloading the app and search for @lacamft and/or by visiting: https://www.instagram.com/lacamft/.
Best Regards,Christina Castorena, LMFT
Christina Castorena, MS, LMFT, worked in community mental health before starting her private practice, Castorena Therapeutic Services, in 2016. She passionately serves adults, couples, and members of the LGBTQ+ community who are dealing with life transitions, parenting, relational conflicts, and anxiety. She employs family systems and mindfulness-based CBT. As president of LA-CAMFT, Christina strongly advocates for her professional community and celebrates the hard-working clinicians that facilitate healing. Her website is castorenatherapeutic.com. Christina may be contacted at email@example.com.
Mel Pohl, MD,
Pain and Addiction:
A Challenging Co-Occurring Disorder
Chronic Pain occurs as a complicated web of emotions and physical symptoms. The most common way to treat pain is to use opioid medications, which actually complicate the course of chronic pain. For some individuals who develop dependence/addiction to these medications, management and treatment for their condition can become much more complicated. This presentation will review the interactions of pain, suffering and addiction in the lives of clients, with suggestions for intervention and treatment.
Read More and Register
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
Full Practice, Ideal Clients, Money, Vacation
If I’ve learned anything from attending LA-CAMFT’s networking events and hosting a monthly practice development lunch, it’s what licensed and pre-licensed therapists and related professionals want.
Top of the list are: full practice or good job; work they love; ideal clients; enough money to support themselves, family (this doesn’t have to mean having a partner or children), and practice without struggling too much; a reasonable number of hours along with time away from work for personal and family life, vacation, networking and professional development, as well as for other individual or professional pursuits
Therapists are willing to work hard for all the above — starting with graduate school and continuing through gaining hours for licensure, and post-licensure or certification, then through the accruing of years working, and the maturing of their career.
How can, and do, professionals attain these highly-desired benchmarks while still serving clients, the profession, and the community?
The good news is that it can be done with any type of practice that suits you best: cash pay, insurance, sliding scale, part-time, online, coaching; day, night, weekday or weekend; rent your own office, share, sublet full day or half day or hourly, etc. It’s your choice. In fact, having the successful practice you want depends largely on the practice being suited to you and the clients you work with.
So how do you grow and fill a practice? Local networking. Consistent, effective, and ongoing, local networking is the best way to get known in your community and the fastest way to grow a practice and keep it filled.
What is local networking and how does it work?
Local networking is one of the most natural ways of interacting with people—and most professionals find this a comfortable way to get known in their community. It means raising awareness about your services and getting the word out about how you help people and doing this by regularly connecting with everyone you know and keeping them up-to-date with what you’re doing in your practice or career and maybe even inviting them to check out your website, social media, blog, article or podcast.
This means letting those in your community know what you do and how you help people—relatives, friends, neighbors, social and community contacts, colleagues, those at church or temple, people you worked with at previously or were in graduate school with or a placement—don’t forget professors and supervisors. Each one of these people is a potential referral source for your practice. Find a way to keep in contact with them and to keep them current on you and your practice. Building your contact list, e-mail list, referral sources, and resource list is a long-term project. Start today!
Getting the word out about what you do and the services you offer to the community also involves meeting new people and making new friends as you increase your practice’s visibility and grow your network. Who you know, those who know you, and those who refer to you are valuable resources for filling your practice with clients who need your services and will pay your fees.
Think about it this way, when people know about your practice, and are familiar with your services, they can find you or refer to you when a therapist with your skills and abilities is needed. This type of networking is viewed as a community service, so make sure your community knows how you can be of service to them. The more people, businesses, organizations, and professionals in your community who know about the work you do the faster your caseload will fill.
Local networking can take a variety of forms, in person, online, digital or print advertising, talks, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, and any type of social media or online forum. It’s up to you to decide what works best for you, your practice, client market, available time, and budget. Take your pick. You get to choose. Try things out, then see what works best for you.
Local networking also means becoming familiar with your community and how your potential clients move through it via churches, schools, sports programs and teams, athletic and country clubs, theater arts, colleges, yoga centers, hospitals, libraries, parks and recreation, employee assistance programs, and many others. Understanding the needs of potential therapy clients in your area and how those needs are being or not being met makes practice building easier.
Since therapists are an important part of every community, it’s important that we be visible so that our clients can find us when they need our services. The therapists I know who have a full enough practice with a consistent influx of clients are those who are known in, and know, their communities and keep up regular contact.
Local networking also includes getting known in your professional community. LA-CAMFT is a great way to get connected with other professionals in your area and to develop and maintain relationships and friendships as well as referral sources for your network. Through our monthly networking events, workshops, member events, Voices newsletter articles, classified advertising e-blast, SIGs, support groups, and special events, LA-CAMFT provides many networking opportunities for therapists and related professionals to get known in the community and develop themselves and their relationships.
As you can see, filling your practice with the clients you’re meant to work with requires that you find a way to connect with your community and let them know, on a regular basis, that your practice exists, what services you offer—and how people can go about contacting you when they desire your services. This success formula for attracting new clients, filling your schedule, earning enough income, and having vacations, consists of raising awareness about your private practice in your community.
So, go ahead, announce your presence to the world and raise community awareness about your private practice. Be sure to keep me posted about your progress. I look forward to hearing about your success — and your vacation!
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 them develop their careers and practices. To learn more about services, training or the monthly LA Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com or www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.
Chief Financial Officer
In my renewed position as CFO, I can write all day about being involved in our chapter. I feel knowing about other members’ journeys is a way for us to see how linked together we are in our compassion in this profession.
From time to time I will occasionally be reaching out to our members to ask about their experiences in attending and becoming involved in our chapter. This month, I asked an LA-CAMFT member, Audra Potz, who attended our May Networking Event, to allow me to let all of you know of her journey. Enjoy reading about one of our newest LA-CAMFT members, Audra Potz.
Audra Potz, LMFT, completed her M.A. in Clinical Psychology, depth specialization, at Antioch University in Los Angeles. She trained at The Maple Counseling Center in Beverly Hills and Counseling West in Sherman Oaks. Audra also supervised groups at Our House Grief Support Center and Teen Line, a joint venture of Cedars Sinai Medical Center and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.
Audra is psychodynamically trained. Her specialties include grief, illness (cancer/infertility), blended families, and couples. She maintains a practice in Sherman Oaks and has a position at UCLA.
“I learned about CAMFT back while attending Antioch University and training at The Maple Counseling Center and Counseling West. I wanted to join the organization for continued training opportunities, practice education and most importantly for the support from colleagues. Private practice can be isolating, so it was key to me to build a strong network of peers.”
Audra hails from Connecticut with a background in journalism and film/television. She earned her B.A. in Mass Communications from the University of Florida, with a certificate in writing from the University of Limerick in Ireland, and previously worked for Viacom in New York City and Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles.
For twelve years Audra has held a position with the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, counseling and educating patients and their families in various specialties of care, including oncology, infertility and autoimmune diseases. She participates in programs for the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC), Simms-Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology and was a research assistant with Dr. Lobsang Rapgay for two mindfulness studies through UCLA's Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at their Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, in association with the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital.
Combining her background and interests, Audra continues her empathic work with individuals, couples, families and groups in her private practice in Sherman Oaks. From adolescents to seniors, Audra works with clients struggling through bereavement, chronic illness or the caregiving of a loved one; patients searching for an advocate through their medical journey; singles navigating dating and healthy coupling; and blended/step families seeking support.
Most important to Audra is her ability to provide a safe, holding environment for clients to process their experiences, explore connections to their early attachment, gain insight into their behavioral patterns and develop their inner strength. She sits with her clients in the grief. She strives to model authenticity and acceptance for her clients, in hope they may enjoy a more mindful, meaningful way of life. Audra also utilizes CBT crisis support, Existential theory and Humanistic approach, meditative techniques, sand tray therapy, dream analysis and Family Systems structure. Her passion includes collaboration in wellness retreats in Southern California, in the near future.
Audra is a member of CAMFT, has a pending application as a Lecturer/Adjunct Professor in continuing education and plans to return to school to pursue her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Contact Audra Potz by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Valerie "Billie" Klayman, M.A., LMFT, an integrative Meaning Centered Therapist, became a supervisor at Antioch University Counseling Center in 2014. Billie initiated a partnership between AUCC and the Culver City Senior Center offering pro-bono therapy and group therapy to members of CCSC. December 2016, Culver City hired Billie to help residents of the community at the Culver City Senior Center. She’s presented on Substance Abuse and Addiction. Billie can be reached at email@example.com.
Honoring the Rhythm of Your Practice
Now that July is here, many of my clients are travelling and my schedule is lighter than usual. When I first started my business, I’d feel anxious during these slower times. I remember my private practice supervisor telling me that someday I would appreciate the quieter times and he was right!
Now I use these breaks as an opportunity to tend to my business by working on financial planning, marketing, and administrative tasks; I honor the rhythm of my practice.
Here are some of the tasks I work on during slower times:
The most important thing I do during this time is relax and take it easy! This year, I’m looking forward to going hiking in Vermont and visiting my uncle in upstate New York, where I’ll spend time with my East Coast cousins. I’ve gotten use to the unpredictable rhythms of my practice and I have learned to use the time wisely.
Maria Gray, LMFT, NMP, CGP, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Century City, where she specializes in trauma and addictions. Maria is passionate about helping people thrive in private practice, she offers individual business consultation and live, online, trainings. To learn more, go to www.mariagray.net.
How I Came to View Networking Events as Social Meetups by Attending 3-5 Networking Events per Month, Thanks to My Supervisor
My supervisor requires me to attend 3-5 networking events per month. This sounds like a lot and in many ways it is. It’s hard to find events that fit with your work schedule. When I first started looking for networking events, it felt like a burden. There were many months where I fell short of my networking requirement. My supervisor would then kindly remind me to pick up my networking responsibilities. I would reach out to colleagues and ask them if they were attending events or I would search for events on Google. I disliked attending events because I had a negative narrative in my head about it. My supervisor’s requirement continuously pushed me to go.
Now I am at a place where I enjoy attending networking events. Not all the time of course. Sometimes I really don’t want to go, and I must force myself, but I usually enjoy it once I am there. If my supervisor did not require me to go, I probably would not have reached the place where I enjoy them, and I thank her for that. Funny thing is that I have not shared my gratitude with her, which I should probably do. The following is what has helped me get to a place where I enjoy networking.
Your Approach—Changing Your Narrative
Prior to attending networking events, I viewed them in a negative light. I saw them as a “Me, Me, Me” sales pitch, similar to commercials in the media: “Guaranteed success or your money back.” This is therapy, there is no guaranteed success, at least in my opinion. A typical elevator pitch for sales consists of “You know when you have this problem, well, we can solve that problem because our product does this.” Therapy is not like gong to the dentist and getting your teeth cleaned. It’s not like fixing the broken screen on your cell phone. The outcome of treatment can be unpredictable due to the many variables at play in each individual case. I struggled with this and I got in my head about it. I needed a narrative shift, so I practiced the tools that I developed throughout my career.
Now I view networking events as a social meetup. Yes, a social meetup. I go there to meet people and learn about what they do. I tell them about what I do. We exchange business cards and keep it casual. I have an elevator pitch, but it consists of 3 things: (1) name; (2) location; (3) specialty, a tip I got from an attendee at a networking event. It’s fun to meet new people and it helps me build my resources when I need to refer out.
I learned something else from the attendee who helped me with my elevator pitch. He is a divorce mediator and was attending an LA-CAMFT event for therapists. He was networking outside of his circle of colleagues (divorce mediators). He cultivated relationships with his fellow members at LA-CAMFT and they are now his colleagues, but prior to this he must have thought about stepping out of his inner circle of divorce mediators. I realized I could try this technique myself.
Networking Outside of Your Profession
In the beginning of this article I talked about how difficult it can be to find 3-5 networking events per month that fit your schedule. Well that was because I was narrowing my search by only looking for events for mental health clinicians. I decided to widen my search by looking for ALL networking events in Los Angeles.
Last month I attended an event for graphic designers that was hosted by Adobe. It was free and they served pizza and macaroons. I do motion graphics as a hobby (my version of art therapy for self-soothing) so it was of interest to me. I chatted with people as we ate pizza. I was the only therapist that I met there. A common response I got from people was, “Wait, you’re a therapist, what are you doing here?” I explained to them that I play with motion graphics as a hobby and that I wanted to learn more about it, which is true. I do love my motion graphics. I asked them about what they do and asked them for their business cards. I did not pretend to show interest. I was genuinely interested, which builds a connection. They expressed genuine interest in my field because they did not know much about mental health, which led to them asking for my business card. I found myself networking outside of my profession and reaching people who would not attend a mental health event.
Another area I have been exploring is eSports and gaming networking events. I am a competitive gamer myself and I have noticed a huge need for mental health services within the gaming community. Sports psychology for traditional sports has been around since the 1930s. It has not fully transitioned to eSports teams yet. Some eSports teams have clinicians on staff, but many don’t. Professional gamers struggle with the same pressures as traditional athletes. Several professional gamers suffer from panic attacks after losing a big tournament on stage, then they fear future attacks at their next tournament. Gamers also struggle with social anxiety and depression. I attend these events to see if there is any way I can get involved.
Attending networking events outside of your profession is a great way to see how you can combine your passion for mental health with your interest in other industries. This is Los Angeles and the networking events are endless. You may not have a supervisor who requires you to attend 3-5 networking events per month like I do, but you can make it a requirement for yourself. I highly recommend that you do.
Eric Kruse, Registered Associate MFT, and Associate Professional Clinical Counselor, is a pre-licensed therapist in private practice at Play Vista Counseling where he specializes in substance abuse and process addictions. Eric believes that every person has a unique and interesting story. With clients he works towards deconstructing problem-saturated narratives and thickening thin descriptions that lead to unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviors. Eric is supervised by Rachel Thomasian, LMFT. To learn more, visit www.playavistacounseling.
Busy Is the New BlackHow We’ve Lost Our Balance
and Gotten Addicted to Busy-ness
Imagine this scenario: You’ve just gotten back to work after the Fourth of July holiday, and your colleague asks you, “How was your weekend?” You respond, “Oh, man, I was so busy! I finished that proposal for work, had a barbecue for 20 people, and cleaned my garage. I’m exhausted!”
What if you responded instead, “Oh, man, it was great! I did absolutely nothing. Never even left the house. The weather was nice so I just decided to sit outside most of the weekend and read a book I’ve been wanting to read.”
Which scenario do you feel more comfortable sharing with your colleagues? Which scenario makes you feel powerful, and which makes you feel weak?
If you’re like many of us you feel a bit proud of being so busy. Being busy makes us feel powerful. I’m in high demand! I’m the one who gets stuff done! I always have something to do! I’m tired, because I’m so productive.
Take Time for Self-Care
I love the phrase, “self-care” (insert ironic smile). Since when did we stop saying “having fun,” or “being healthy,” or even, “getting enough sleep.” Instead of saying, “I’m going to just hang out and do nothing all weekend” we say, “I need to take time for some self-care.”
“Self-care” sounds like something we do only because we should do it. I’m not actually thinking about myself; I just need to be stopped from spending all my time on productive and altruistic endeavors. Why is “self-care” a thing? And what does that say about the values promoted in our society?
I’m as guilty as anyone else in this arena. For years I had a hard time taking a break. Time for myself could only occur when no one else needed me, and only at the expense of sleep. I would run on the treadmill at 5:00 am before the kids woke up, or listen to books-on-tape (remember those?) while cleaning up the house after the kids were in bed. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much.
Being busy at least feels important.
In a time when many people struggle to find meaning in their lives, and many people feel powerless over so much, being busy is easily seen as a panacea.
We Have Become Addicted to Our Busy-ness
My clients know that one of my favorite sayings is paraphrased from Dr. Vincent Felitti, one of the co-authors of the massive Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE): “It’s hard to get enough of something that almost works.”
Think about that for a minute. We keep busy in search of a feeling of usefulness, or meaning. But it doesn’t quite work, so we try harder, get busier. That still doesn’t work, so we try even harder. It’s no coincidence that this quote is from a study of addiction behavior. We get addicted to our busy-ness.
Being busy in order to feel more power over our lives actually has the opposite effect, because it distracts us from clarifying what truly does have meaning in our lives. Keeping busy in order to feel important and happy keeps us from figuring out what will actually make us feel important and happy.
But it gets much worse than that.
Our societal mandate to keep busy is one of the factors leading to skyrocketing rates of anxiety in our country today. More than 75% of adults are more anxious this year than they were last year, and 40 million adults (18.1% of the population) suffer from enough anxiety that it qualifies as an anxiety disorder.
Our addiction to busy-ness has lead us to unprecedented levels of anxiety.
As therapists, we have an opportunity to change this attitude. “Self-care” is a common recommendation to our clients, but we need to be mindful of the subtle connotation of this phrase. Perhaps exploring the implications of the language around enjoying and taking care of oneself could be a useful exercise for your clients. It might help them see the idea of balancing various areas of their lives in a more integrated way.
I know that when I have explored this idea with my own clients they have been surprised to realize that they often feel they must justify making enough time even to sleep. Showing up at work with dark circles under your eyes isn’t optimal, but at least it’s evidence of how hard you are working—that’s a good thing, right? After all, how many people have a boss who tells them to be sure to leave work at the office, and enjoy their friends and family when they are at home? That’s practically un-American. On the contrary, my clients request later and later time-slots because they want to be able to stay at work until 7 or 8pm.
Finally, we should ask ourselves what kind of role model we are for our clients. Do we come to work exhausted with stories of how busy we are all the time? Do we agree to have sessions whenever clients want them, or do we have clear boundaries between our work and home life?
When I have a particularly busy schedule, and I am noticeably tired at work, I use this occasion to discuss how unbalanced life can get, and how it can be easy to be sucked into the cultural vortex of busy-ness. My clients appreciate that I struggle with the same issue as well. It’s tough to resist the cultural imperative, and we can explore and struggle together.
We don’t need self-care so much as we need balance. Personal life, work life, family life, spiritual life, social life. Our lives need to reflect the values we have in order for us to feel healthy and fulfilled. It’s not about being busy, it’s about spending time in activities that have meaning for you—and hopefully one of those activities is rest and relaxation!
Barry Davis,Divorce Mediator
How Parenting Plans Protect Children
from Trauma During Divorce
When working with divorcing clients who have children, as a divorce mediator I have one overarching goal—keep the children out of the middle and minimize the overall impact of divorce on their lives! By focusing on the children and what’s best for them, divorce mediation can help clients create an environment where divorce becomes a transition, rather than a trauma, for their children. Serendipitously a focus on meeting the children’s needs often helps divorce mediation clients who are parents work through other divisive issues simply because they’re focused on their children’s best interests rather than on their conflicts and feelings about their soon to be ex.
In divorce mediation, building a comprehensive, proactive parenting plan does take some time, but it’s a sound investment in reduced conflict for the remainder of the co-parenting experience which can last 10–15 years with younger children. It also allows parents to provide structure and support for their children during and after the divorce process and minimize the negative impact.
Working with divorcing clients to create a customized parenting plan that is specific to their children’s needs—and provides the sense of order and consistency that children crave—is very rewarding. By providing these adult divorce mediation clients with a safe, constructive space to address their parenting issues, this type of mediation work achieves two goals:
Some of the aspects of a Comprehensive Parenting Plan* that I use with my divorce mediation clients include:
While there are many additional aspects* that can be included, a good parenting plan keeps the children out of the middle and helps parents provide structure and support for their children during and after the divorce process by creating an environment that minimizes the impact of divorce on their children.
Barry Davis, 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, visit www.DavisMediation.com or Davis Divorce Mediation’s YouTube Channel.
Attention LA-CAMFT Members!
2019 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.
July 12, 2019 @ 8:30am to 10:30am
August 9, 2019 @ 8:30am to 10:30am
September 13, 2019 @ 8:30am to 10:30am
October 11, 2019 @ 8:30am to 10:30am
November 8, 2019 @ 8:30am to 10:30am
December 18, 2019 @ 8:30am to 10:30am
9420 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Voices Publication Guidelines for 2019
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 2019 calendar year to Voices, LA-CAMFT's monthly newsletter:
LA-CAMFT Publishing Guidelines for Voices
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