Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Voices — June 2019
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I can’t believe that it’s June already. Hitting this midpoint of the year can have significance in so many ways. For those with young children, this may be a time for travel and adventure. For avid surfers, this is the perfect time to get those boards out and hit the sunny coastline. For my family, June always meant it was time for the county fair.
For LA-CAMFT, there is a specific day in June with great meaning. The Annual Leadership Retreat! It was two years ago at this time when I attended my first leadership retreat event. I had already been a member of LA-CAMFT for about a year, and I was so impressed with the community that I decided to get more involved. It was important for me to talk to the board members and understand their passion for supporting therapists.
As a witness to the advocacy that each member of the board engaged in, attending the retreat seemed like the perfect opportunity to collaborate in some way. Each retreat has a theme, and in 2017 the theme was “compassionate community.” The LA-CAMFT president-elect for the year chooses the theme, and it represents their platform for running the following year. This overall goal drives the decisions and messaging that the president consistently delivers.
Last year, I chose the theme of “Celebration.” We work so hard as therapists, and I wanted us to be able to appreciate each other as well as the incredible impact we have on our clients. Now that Matthew Evans is six months away from his upcoming presidency, he has chosen the theme of “Inclusion and Collaboration” for our June 8th event.
In the coming months, you’ll hear more about Matthew’s goals and initiatives. We’ll also share more about the outcome of this event after it concludes. The board can’t wait to invite leaders within the community to spend a fun day together sharing ideas and creating goals to expand on over the year.
Best Regards,Christina Castorena, LMFT
Christina Castorena, MS, LMFT, worked in community mental health before starting her private practice, Castorena Therapeutic Services, in 2016. She passionately serves adults, couples, and members of the LGBTQ+ community who are dealing with life transitions, parenting, relational conflicts, and anxiety. She employs family systems and mindfulness-based CBT. As president of LA-CAMFT, Christina strongly advocates for her professional community and celebrates the hard-working clinicians that facilitate healing. Her website is castorenatherapeutic.com. Christina may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Smiley, MEd
Neurofeedback:A Breakthrough Adjunct to Psychotherapy
Neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback, has been gaining in popularity since Dr. Bessel van der Kolk started crediting it with being a vital tool in resolving effects of developmental trauma. Neurofeedback trains the brain in self-regulation by providing the brain direct awareness of its’ own brain wave activity. The holistic nature of the training is an effective adjunct to psychotherapy and other interventions that may comprise a treatment plan. How does neurofeedback work? How does it differ from other modalities such as EMDR and Brainspotting? When and why would a therapist refer a patient to neurofeedback? And what conditions does it treat most effectively? Susan will answer these questions and present compelling research currently leading this exciting, emerging field.
Read More and Register
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
Opening New Doors
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. Walt Disney
Spring is here and summer is coming. May was full of celebrations, Mother’s Day, prom, graduation, Memorial Day. June brings Father’s Day, more graduations, the end or pause of the school year, Flag Day, and the beginning of summer.
What are the new doors that you find yourself opening as you move forward into summer? What new things have you been doing? What new paths has your curiosity been leading you down lately in your professional and personal life?
Each month LA-CAMFT is full of new doors to open and new things to do as our curiosity leads us forward personally and professionally down new paths. June brings not only our monthly Networking Event on June 21; we also have our Bowling Party, Leadership Retreat, 3000 Club gathering, Board of Directors Full and Executive Board Meetings, Diversity Committee Therapists of Color Support Group, and, of course, this edition of Voices.
One of the new doors I find myself opening as I’m moving forward, is becoming the editor of Voices. Writing each month’s Editor’s Notes is a new path for me as I reach out to connect with you, the reader—and as I join the ever-growing community of LA-CAMFT Voices’ writers and contributors. Connecting with the ongoing monthly writers and reaching out to new ones is one of the many new things I find myself doing, and enjoying, as editor.
Each one of us has heard so many amazing stories from the therapists and allied professionals in our community about the work they do. These stories are important. Each of these voices, points of view, and experiences deserves to be heard. We need to share them. As editor of Voices I can be part of making that happen and I am excited about that. I hope you are, too.
Our LA-CAMFT Chapter is a rich, warm, and welcoming community of licensed and pre-licensed LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Related and Affiliated Professionals and Organizations who are interested in being a part of our professional community, one that provides us with a plethora of abundant opportunities for connection, support, referrals, jobs and or pre-licensed placements, and the latest in professional development. It is from this enriching and diverse community that we draw the articles and profiles that make up each month’s edition of Voices.
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.
This month I would like to feature another member of our LA-CAMFT chapter. I will continue to write about our members and their connection to our chapter. If you would like me to write about you and why you’re a member of our chapter, please email me at email@example.com.
This month I’d like to introduce, Niralli D’Costa, a licensed MFT, who is also a member of the East Bay Chapter up North. As I was reading Niralli’s profile, I loved the fact she states, “I see therapy as a journey and believe that each client holds an inner compass to their own healing. I operate from the belief that each of us is fundamentally whole.”
Niralli’s emphasis is, Anxiety – Phobias, Attachment, Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual, Gender Identity, Post-Traumatic Stress, and Spirituality. She also offers consultation, group and individual supervision, and group therapy for LGBTQ, survivors of abuse and trauma. Her group therapy is, “A program that helps you transform patterns based in trauma that get in the way of your health and happiness . . . that will give you the tools to be more relaxed and present in your body without the fear of overwhelming emotions taking over.“ Her website is www.nirallitara.com.
Thanks, Niralli for coming to our chapter and becoming a new member of our compassionate community.
Strategic Planning in Private Practice
In her book entitled Sacred Success: A Course in Financial Miracles, Barbara Stanny states “To think strategically, you must constantly link big picture to the costs of doing business, or to put it another way, connect your purpose statement to your profit/loss statement.” Early in my career I felt anxious about spending money on my Brainspotting and EMDR training and certifications; my practice was still growing, and I was trying to keep my expenses down. I made the choice to invest in these trainings because they supported my specialization as a trauma therapist and over time this proved to be a wise investment.
To be strategic you’ll need to examine the areas where you might be spending too much money. I noticed I spent a lot of money buying books on Amazon. Now I add books to my wish list before purchasing them and I ask myself if I really need to own this book. I also borrow books from the library whenever possible, the Los Angeles Public Library has a huge collection of psychology books.
Business expenses can add up quickly and it’s important to review them every month to avoid overspending. I’m not recommending you restrict your spending, instead I am suggesting that you remain conscious and aware of what you spend. Trainings are a good investment but try and be selective and choose the trainings that are most aligned with your specialization and be sure to leave room in your budget for consultation. I’m part of a consultation group and I also utilize individual consultation when I need guidance.
It’s just as important to be strategic with your time. For example — if you have only one day a week for administrative and marketing tasks, you might want to hire a bookkeeper or an assistant, so you have more time to attend networking events or work on promotional materials. This type of strategic decision allows you to spend time promoting your practice and could result in attracting more clients and increasing your income.
Now that the first half of the year is nearly over, it’s a good time to review your income and expenses (Profit and Loss report) and see where you might need to make adjustments.
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 classes and one on one business consultation for therapists and other healthcare professionals. To learn more about Maria’s practice go to www.mariagray.net.
Why Are Young People Not Having Sex?The cultural shift away from relationships
If you are used to your middle-aged clients complaining about their partner’s low libido, you may be surprised to learn that the rate of younger adults who are not having sex has increased over 64%!!
Adults ages 40 and younger are having much less sex than the Baby Boomers did at their age. What’s up with that?
Let me be clear — I believe that everyone should be allowed to choose whether or not to have sex, as long as this involves two consenting adults. However, as therapists we should be concerned about these numbers, because they reflect much more than a drop in sexual activity — they reflect an overall drop in face-to-face human connection.
Lately our culture makes it seem more rewarding to have a healthy resume than to have an IRL relationship with all its messy and complicated feelings.
Here are some of the popular reasons to explain why young people are having less sex — and why I don’t always agree!
PornI’ll just start here, because everyone cites the easy accessibility of internet porn as one of the main reasons people (especially men) aren’t interested in sex or dating any more. But there is more to it than that.
Porn isn’t the reason people don’t want real relationships, it merely makes it so much easier to tolerate what is already a cultural shift away from relationships.
Hookup Culture:Sure, these days there is much less judgment of those who have brief encounters, but are those encounters deeply satisfying? Of course not. Most of my clients who enjoy the hookup culture are still looking for a deeper connection at some point.
Just like porn, the hookup culture reflects cultural values that already existed — it is a result of the way our society is discounting the need for meaningful partnerships, not a cause.
Some Better Explanations Why Young People Aren’t Having Sex:
AntidepressantsWe all know that many people are benefiting from an increased quality of life due to antidepressants. We also know that antidepressants can kill your libido.
But if antidepressants are a reason people are having less sex, they’re certainly not a reason people are eschewing real relationships. In fact, it’s sometimes the pills that make the relationship possible.
Logistics — For the first time in modern history (and by “modern, ”I mean back to 1880!) more young people are living at home with their parents than are living with a partner. This generation is also the first in modern history that is expected to do worse economically than their parents. We all know that it’s logistically complicated to maintain a sexual relationship when one or both partners lives with their parents. Today’s economic environment is a troublesome reason why younger people are having less sex and fewer relationships!
The Truth: Dating Apps Are Killing Relationships (and even Sex!)
Most single people I see have to gear up just to have the energy for all the rejection of modern-day dating. They can only tolerate Tinder or Hinge for a few weeks (or even days!) before they have to log off and regroup for the next round. And there’s no guarantee they will ever even meet anyone IRL — often people they texted for days will just ghost them and leave them wondering what they did wrong. The whole process is discouraging enough that many people just give up.
The illusion of unlimited choice on dating apps makes it feel like a real waste of time to work hard to build a relationship with a less-than-perfect human.
Don’t like the way she dressed for your date? Just ghost her. Don’t like the way he talked about his family? Back on Hinge for the next one. Don’t think his job is stable? Swipe left. Don’t think she’s hot enough? Swipe left. Swipe left. Swipe left.
Before dating apps, people had to try harder.
I think it’s that simple. The illusion of choice is a powerful psychological force.
People think that if they just keep looking, they’ll find someone with whom they can have a perfect and easy relationship. It’s easier to just move on than it is to work at creating something meaningful. This creates a weird and unnatural situation where you have to be perfect or be rejected, and also decide right away if someone is “right”— before you can possibly even know them. It’s enough to discourage anyone from dating!
The young people I see in my practice are all scared to death of dating. They would rather be alone and lonely, or in a dysfunctional relationship, than have to brave the dating culture again.
My clients tend to be high-functioning young adults who are much more comfortable at work or in the classroom than they are on a first date.
"It's a highly motivated, ambitious generation, ”says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and chief scientific adviser to the dating site Match.com. “A lot of them are afraid that they'll get into something they can't get out of and they won't be able to get back to their desk and keep studying.” (latimes.com)
Studying is a known path to success, dating much less so. When you’ve spent all of your life studying, and none of your life learning how to build healthy relationships, which one are you supposed to choose?
It’s up to us as therapists to spread the word about relationships:
Lonely people can find each other and build healthy relationships.
Unhappy relationships can get better.
And most importantly of all . . .
Don’t look for the perfect mate; look for someone who is willing to look at their own contribution to any problems, and who wants to grow as a human and as a partner.
Young people may be choosing to have less sex, but let’s do our best as therapists to make sure that they still value and believe in the power of deeply connected relationships.
Self-care, Carrots and Chocolate Cake:Making the Hard Decision to Do What's Best for You
Self-care is pretty self-explanatory. The simplest definition is the act of taking care of yourself. It sounds simple, but the reality is it’s pretty tough. Taking care of yourself is a foundational exercise that includes the basics: Are you eating well? Are you getting enough sleep? Do you exercise? Are you engaging in positive emotional connections? Is your level of stress reasonable? Self-care is not necessarily something that's going to make you feel good in the moment; it's almost the opposite. When you’re engaging in self-care it's often something that you don't really want to do, but you know it's good for you. Exercising: who really wants to go exercise? Meditating: even if it's just for a few minutes a day, can be challenging to commit to. Good self-care is easier said than done. It can be hard to find the time to make it happen or to get yourself to actually do it.
What about massage, nails, a blow out at Dry Bar? Does that count as self-care? Sometimes it’s self-care but more often it’s self-indulgence. Actions like that are easy and often don’t have lasting effects, but they feel great! There's a huge misunderstanding of self-care and self-indulgence. Self-indulgence, is about going out with friends or getting your nails done or going shopping, eating out or drinking, watching TV, going to the movies, eating junk food. These are all things that people confuse with “I'm taking care of myself because I’m allowing myself to do things that I don’t usually get to do, and it feels good. It re-energizes me.” That’s all true, but when you think about it, isn’t that like what you hear an addict say? “Oh it just really helps me out in that moment. It relaxes me. I have it under control. It's not a big deal.” Participating in self-indulgence is not quite as drastic as doing cocaine, but too much of it is not good for you. It’s all about balance. I'm not trying to say that going out and drinking or having dinner is a terrible thing and you should never do that. What I'm saying is if that’s the only kind of self-care that you’re doing you're not actually taking care of yourself.
I like to explain self-care by imagining there is a plate of yummy carrots sitting in front of you and right next to them is a plate of chocolate cake. And by the way, it’s the most delicious chocolate cake you've ever seen in your life. If you’re not thinking about it, which one of these plates are you going for? I think most of you are going to say, ‘Chocolate Cake’ (unless you have a thing for carrots). Most people go for the chocolate cake and that is self-indulgence. It's saying “I deserve that chocolate cake because I've been working hard. It's going to taste good and I'm going to feel good and it will be all right.” Now technically, although the reason for the cake makes complete sense, the carrots are the better thing for you. Eating carrots is self-care. It’s about making the hard decision to do what's best for you. Doing what’s right could mean going to bed early instead of staying up late to watch an extra show on Netflix. It could mean waking up early so you can exercise or meditate instead of getting that extra 30 minutes of sleep. If you think about all the choices that you make in your life, there are a lot of times when you’re going to be caught between “Do I choose carrots or do I choose chocolate cake?” I'm not saying you should only eat carrots. What I'm saying is we’ve got to have some kind of a balance. You're not taking care of yourself if you're never eating carrots.
As therapists, it’s important to maintain a balanced life with plenty of self-care. It’s tough to give more than you have to give. Refuel yourself and set an example for your clients and your family. And remember, choosing chocolate cake too often leads to weight gain, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and an overall unhealthy you. Go for the carrots!
Tracy Kovacs Bevington, LMFT, is owner and founder of Pacific Marriage & Family Therapy Network, a group psychotherapy practice with 15 clinicians and offices in Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, and Manhattan Beach. Tracy enjoys working with Adolescents, Families, Couples, and people of all ages struggling with anxiety. As a supervisor, Tracy works with Associate MFTs, and enjoys mentoring these clinicians and others by helping develop their careers. Learn more about Tracy and Pacific MFT Network at www.pacificmft.com.
The Secrets to Creating a Loving, "I-Thou" Relationship. Do you Love Too Much?
What does it mean to love too much? Aren't we taught since early childhood that loving another and finding our perfect mate is our most important task? The theme of finding true love and the pain endured when it doesn't appear or last permeates poetry, literature, movies, television, music. We want to be completed by that partner who will fill our hearts bodies and lives with that joy which surpasses in every way living alone with ourselves.
"I'm so lonely. I want someone to share my life with. Why do all my relationships which start out so well end so sadly?” Hmm, why do they? In my thirty years of practicing psychotherapy with individuals and couples who are either in unfulfilling relationships or alone, I have discovered what my clients need to know and the steps they need to take to find that perfect mate for them.
The first step is to recognize that we are complete and whole unto ourselves. What does that mean? Sounds kind of biblical?!? Well, it isn't so much biblical as a spiritual definition of what each person actually is. In this schoolroom we call life, each of us is here to learn and express his or her unique, perfect, wonderful self. But suppose we have grown up in a family with physical, verbal and emotional abuse? Suppose our family system was so dysfunctional, hurtful and unsupportive that we never felt lovable or safe or confident enough to really step out on the promise that the world is waiting for us to share our wonderful talents, gifts and creativity?
The second step to finding your soul mate and a happy, fulfilling committed relationship is to understand your Family of Origin by working with a seasoned psychotherapist who will guide you to explore that Life Script which has created the adult you and your unsuccessful relationships.
John Bradshaw, in his book, Homecoming, defined the importance of “an interpersonal bridge” between the mother or other nurturing survival figure and the infant/child which is built on mutual respect and valuing. This “interpersonal bridge” forms the blueprint out of which new relationships can be created. If our mother and or other nurturing survival figure was unable or unwilling to love us unconditionally, to mirror through the eyes, voice and behavior our perfect I AMness, we will be searching for a lifetime to find that other person who will love us, care for us, support us emotionally . . . in other words, a mommy or daddy who will finally give us the love, attention and security we did not receive as children. But . . . we search for that special love from our wounded inner child who is split off from the adult, reasoning self.
If we were raised by parents who themselves were emotionally damaged by their family system and therefore did not know their own worth, were not loved, accepted, and guided by their parents, how could they possibly love us? So, our adult selves go out into the world “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Remember that song from the movie, “Urban Cowboy?” But
. . . our search is doomed from the beginning because our unloved, unaccepted, hurting, insecure wounded child is making the choices from a self which has no right to depend on anyone.
Those are just two of the steps, there are more. Stay tuned.
Leila Aboohamad, LMFT, is a psychotherapist practicing in Brentwood, West L.A., and Santa Monica. She specializes in helping individuals and couples create successful, committed loving relationships. 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 .
3 Things You Can Do with the New
LA-CAMFT Members App in Under 30 Seconds!
For many of us, it can feel like we never have enough time to get everything done. When you’re rushing from one thing to the next, or when you spend most of the day away from your computer, it can be tough to find the time to register for events or contact other members of LA-CAMFT.
Luckily, if you use a smartphone or other mobile device you can now quickly keep in touch with your member colleagues wherever you are, with the LA-CAMFT Wild Apricot for Members App.
You can use the app to
Plus it’s free, and it’s now available on both Android and iOS.
Starting to use a new mobile app can be intimidating, so we’ve made sure you can get things done with just a few clicks. Below are three things you can do with the app that all take under 30 seconds.
But first, get started by downloading the app (you will need to do this from your mobile device). You can click here or search for “Wild Apricot” in your device’s app store.
Three things you can do with the app that all take under 30 seconds:
1. Register for an event
2. Contact another member
3. Find your way to an event you’re attending
Mike Johnsen, MFA, BSBM, MCP, plays a number of roles with LA-CAMFT. He is the Webmaster, IT Admin and Chapter Administrator. Additionally, he publishes the Voices newsletter. He has a deep background in business management, and is a Microsoft Certified Professional. Mike holds a masters in creative writing. His company, Your.Virtual.Admin, works with several CAMFT chapters. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
June 7, 2019 @ 8:30am to 10:30am
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
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