Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT

President's Message

02/28/2022 11:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

Leanne Nettles, LMFT
President, LA-CAMFT

Community x3: Community Mental Health

During their term, each recent President of LA-CAMFT has selected a key word which developed as a theme and a vision for their presidency, words like Inclusion, Celebration, Teamwork, and Compassion. When considering my own theme, the key word I have chosen to guide my presidency is “Community.

There are 3 main aspects of community that I hope to emphasize this year: (1) Community Mental Health, (2) rebuilding community in a time of social distancing during the pandemic, and (3) the community aspect of DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) that often goes ignored: belonging. For this President’s Message, I’d like to focus on Community Mental Health (CMH).

I have worked in CMH throughout all of my therapeutic career since grad school. I started as an intensive in-home Clinician in a Full-Service Partnership (FSP) program, and have grown into leadership positions as a Referral Manager, Clinical Supervisor, and now Clinical Manager of School-Based Services at D’Veal Family and Youth Services. Throughout my experience thus far doing agency work, one thing that continues to unnerve me is when I hear people share that they work in CMH, and others respond with something like “*Deep groan* I’m so sorry. At least you’ll get your hours quick so you can move outta there and into private practice soon.”

Ok, so I get it. CMH can be hard, unpredictable, and for many people, overwhelming. There’s definitely reform needed on a systemic level. And with the many horror stories people tell (DMH paperwork, anyone?), it can feel demoralizing and impossible to sustain. But I would like to change the narrative. I confidently believe that CMH doesn’t need to be just a stepping stone into private practice, but can be a sustainable long-term career!

So hear me out, I’m not knocking private practice. If that is the route a person has passion to pursue for their career, then go for it! LA-CAMFT has lots of supports and opportunities for people in private practice. And while that is an amazing option for some, it is not the only option to having a successful therapeutic career. With over 700 county-contracted provider locations in Los Angeles, there are numerous Clinicians in CMH who devote their energy to working with those clients with the highest needs, but the least resources to garner affordable care. Clients who have often been victimized by community trauma and systemic oppression across generations. Clients that reflect the family and community in which I grew up.

These clients have so much intrinsic worth and value, and the capacity for incredible resilience and growth. And I believe they deserve to have high-quality, collaborative mental health services from well-trained providers instead of a revolving door of therapists. But when Clinicians in CMH transition from bright-eyed to burnt-out, is there another answer than to escape? I’d like to pose an alternative: that we join together to rally around those in CMH systems to provide them with support, advocate systemic reform, and help them on their way to a sustainable career within CMH! But how do we start?

Two ways LA-CAMFT is helping to support those starting out in their journey toward licensure within CMH is through The 3000 Club and Mentorship. Spearheaded by Board member Carissa Lataillade and Tyana Tavakol, The 3000 Club is a special interest group designed to support pre-licensed members through networking events, workshops, and advocacy, all at no cost! This year, we will be working together on increasing LA-CAMFT’s outreach to pre-licensed Clinicians in Los Angeles who work in CMH so they know they have a supportive place where they belong in LA-CAMFT. For more information, visit the 3000 Club or email Carissa or Tyana at prelicensed@lacamft.org.

Led by President-Elect, Christina “Tina” Cacho Sakai, our Therapist of Color Mentorship Program will be matching the first round of our mentors and mentees this month, and will start our next round in July 2022. If you or anyone you know is a Therapist of Color, and especially if you have experience in CMH and would like to help others grow their career within CMH, please consider becoming a mentor! For more information, visit the Therapist of Color Mentorship Program or contact tocmentorshipprogram@lacamft.org.

If you’re reading this and work in or are considering CMH as a career option, don’t be discouraged! LA-CAMFT is a place for you, and we want to know how we can better support you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at President@lacamft.org if you have ideas or would like to get more involved.

Until next time, blessings.

Leanne Nettles

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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