Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT
Leanne Nettles, LMFT
This week I had to stand up against a professional injustice. My voice, shaking. My chest, trembling. My fists squeezing the life out of my stress ball as I tried to keep my composure…
Our field is one which is full of grace, compassion, and resilience. But just like any system, our field is also impacted by the intersections of different types of privilege, discrimination, power hierarchy, and red tape. While we tend to view burnout primarily through the lens of vicarious trauma, poor work boundaries, and inadequate self-care, I believe that there is not enough attention paid to the systems and environments in which we work that can either build resilience, or tear it down.
My mom always taught me that as long as you speak respectfully, you should be able to say anything, even if it's hard. In the professional world, I have learned to add that if you have complaints, come with solutions. And if our leaders don't know what's wrong, they won't know what to fix. I follow this advice and urge those whom I supervise to speak up!
So there I sat, coming up against one of these professional systems, having held my breath toward this systemic injustice for too long. And I couldn't anymore. I needed to speak up, directly to the ones who needed to hear it and could have the power to change it. I'm one that tends to hope high, and in response, can get disappointed deeply. I had to weigh the risks: to stay silent and have nothing change, or to speak up and risk disregard or even retaliation (which despite the legality, does happen). But when I see people suffering, I cannot stay silent. So I spoke . . .
As of the date I write this, I do not yet know the outcome of this situation. But I have hope. And I am proud that I spoke up against the injustice. I pray that I will have the perseverance to keep fighting against injustices in this field, the wisdom to know when to pause for my own mental health, and the courage to never give up. And I pray the same for you. YOUR VOICE MATTERS.
I'll leave you with the words of Activist Maggie Kuhn:
"Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say."
Leanne Nettles, LMFT is a School-based Clinical Program Manager in a community-mental health agency and an Adjunct Professor at Pacific Oaks College. She specializes in child and adolescent therapy, while practicing and supervising from a systemic and structural therapy approach. Leanne works to advocate for cultural diversity and equity within the field, and is passionate about training quality mental health professionals to serve low income, historically disenfranchised communities using a team-based, collaborative approach.
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California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
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