Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Voices — May 2020

  • 04/30/2020 10:00 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Matthew Evans

    Matthew Evans
    President, LA-CAMFT

    Dear colleagues,

    Over the past few months, our community has suffered from the COVID-19 outbreak. Our way of life has been turned upside down. Some of us may even have lost loved ones. We must be vigilant of any signs of COVID-19 and take all precautions necessary to prevent exposure to others. We are not just fighting for our own health; we are fighting to protect the lives of our loved ones who may become infected if we are not careful. Our patience and willpower will be tested, but if we join together as a community we will make it through this unprecedented tragedy. In order to curb the spread of this fatal virus, we must follow the recommendations of experts and I encourage each of you to visit the CDC’s page How to Protect Yourself & Others to better educate ourselves.

    Despite all the chaos, I wanted to highlight acts of inspiration, hope, and caring that have occurred over the past few months. I have seen countless heart-warming videos of people expressing love and kindness to each other, such as neighbors applauding doctors and nurses on their way home from working at a hospital, volunteers delivering groceries and medications to homebound elderly individuals, professional athletes paying the stadium workers of their sports organization, etc. Medical professionals throughout the world are putting their lives in danger to aid those infected and for this they deserve our endless appreciation and thanks. During times of despair we truly realize the importance of community and family. Please take care of your health and rely on each other to get through this period. We are all in this together.

    All the best,

    Matthew Evans, LMFT

    Matthew Evans, LMFT, utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in his work as a Primary Therapist in Resilience Treatment Center’s residential program for adults.

    Matthew may be contacted at president@lacamft.org.

  • 04/30/2020 9:30 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
    Voices Editor

    Getting Paid:
    Teletherapy Survival Tips for Clinicians

    Teletherapy . . . Telehealth . . . Telemedicine . . . Telemental Health . . . Telepractice . . . Televideo . . . Internet Therapy . . . Online Therapy . . .

    Teletherapy is everywhere. Like it or not, telehealth is here to stay during the current crisis—and is likely to stay in some form after it ends.

    What’s a therapist to do? How can a therapist survive, and better yet, thrive, while doing so many live teletherapy sessions with clients?

    Many therapists are now working from home for the first time doing therapy with clients using online video or telephone platforms in place of in person sessions. While working from home as a Teletherapy provider allows therapists to have a flexible work schedule and many other conveniences, the shift to virtual comes with many new challenges and stressors as we're adapting to what’s going on in the world and to this new setting and medium.

    While Teletherapy is still therapy, it has idiosyncrasies. When doing a remote session it’s a much more exacting, labor intensive process for skilled therapist to work effectively with the same things they do in person. Facilitating therapeutic communication and interaction is definitely different when you and your client aren’t in the same room—it requires another kind of focus, concentration, and energy. Add to that the fact that most therapists are now juggling a work-from-home therapy practice alongside home and family life while everyone's at home, too. The result? Therapists are reporting how exhausted they are after providing Teletherapy services to clients.

    Teletherapy exhaustion, burnout, and fatigue are real. 

    Why is delivering Telehealth services so tiring? Conveying professionalism through a Teletherapy portal in your home requires that we develop and utilize a therapeutic telepresence and a “web-side” manner while conducting sessions through a screen—and that’s very fatiguing. Therapists are also finding that Telehealth delivery does not lend itself to the same type of marginless in-office scheduling where clients are seen back to back without any breaks.

    Teletherapy is a much more strenuous delivery system than in-office therapy. That shouldn't be surprising since it’s well documented that sustained and prolonged use of digital devices—computers, tablets, smartwatches, smartphones—for video sessions and meetings leads to exhaustion, computer eye strain, dry eyes, focusing fatigue, and neck, shoulder, and back pain.  

    Here are tips for reducing the fatigue, stresses, and challenges of telehealth and conducting video therapy sessions, groups and meetings. Think of these tips as a menu of options. Try the ones that suit you, discard the ones that don’t.

    Teletherapy Survival Tips for Clinicians

    1. Teletherapy relies on a strong internet or phone connection.

    Poor internet or phone quality is one thing that not only makes clients upset, it negatively impacts therapeutic communication, the therapist client connection, and the outcome of therapy. Anytime video gets glitchy and skips, sputters, gets pixelated or freezes the image—or the audio stops, develops, an echo or keeps cutting out—it becomes difficult to maintain therapeutic communication and the therapeutic connection diminishes.

    Therapists need the best, most reliable internet connection—and Telehealth delivery platform—that they can get. Whether poor quality is on the client or therapist side, the experience of therapy deteriorates without solid audio and video. Poor internet or phone quality definitely interferes with progress, the outcome of the session, and the the therapeutic alliance.  

    Before scheduling a session, be sure to check whether the client has a good enough internet or phone connection, and the right type of equipment/device for video sessions, otherwise a different type of Teletherapy is needed.

    2. Create the right environment for you.

    Just as your office set-up is a key part of your in-person practice, how you arrange your remote office can make a big difference in your sessions.

    • Make sure you are in a space private enough and secure enough from other people interrupting. Close doors and windows for privacy
    • Consider silencing anything that can be a distraction or that will make it difficult for the client to hear you clearly—background noise, barking dogs, phones, etc.
    • Position and adjust your desk and chair. Make sure they’re at the right height, with your back supported and your feet on the floor. Save yourself from the physical strain of poor posture caused by less that ideal set-ups.
    • Use the largest screen you can for video as this diminishes eye strain, fatigue, and muscle tension. Position your computer or device so the video screen is at arm’s length. Make sure the height and center of your video screen is in a comfortable position for your eyes, head, and neck. 
    • Have the right lighting. Make sure your computer is in a place to avoid glare. 
    • Turn off email and any other application running in the background.
    • When working on the computer make text bigger so you can comfortably read from a distance.
    • Adjust your computer display settings for comfort—brightness, text size, contrast, etc.
    • If you must type notes during session, consider muting your audio. Keyboarding is loud, especially when both therapist and client are using headphones.
    • If you decide to use headphones, consider those with a noise-canceling feature. Headphones are a good idea for maintaining client confidentiality, too.
    • Test your equipment, links, and Telehealth platform before each session. Consider what clients will see by testing out your camera set-up and lighting.
    • Have ALL your materials ready—and have a backup plan for technology glitches. 

    3. Create the right environment for the client.

    • Inform your client about what they can expect during their Telehealth session. Let them know what platform you use for sessions. Inform them ahead of time if they need to download any additional applications.
    • Consider offering new clients a free short session to test everything and to briefly educate them about how you will conduct the session.
    • At the beginning of the session make sure the client is not driving and is in a space private enough, and secure enough, to ensure confidentiality —and so they will not be interrupted. Make sure that there are no children or adults in the room unless they’re part of the therapy.
    • Verify and document the client’s current address/location in case a crisis is disclosed and you need to respond by getting client help from emergency responders.

    4. Ways to reduce exhaustion and minimize fatigue, dry eyes, computer eye strain, focusing fatigue, and back, neck, and shoulder pain.

    • Take a moment for yourself before opening the session. Allow yourself some time—a few minutes—to stretch and prepare for the client. Then, just like you would in your office, take the time to greet your client with your full attention.
    • Periodically exercise your eyes during video sessions to reduce eye strainEase your visual focus on the screen and look at something far away, then something close, then something far away again. Do this a few times during each session.
    • In between sessions stand up, move around, stretch your arms, legs, back, neck, and shoulders to reduce tension, muscle fatigue, and pain.  
    • Take regular screen breaks to keep from tiring your eyes. Constantly looking at the screen and using your eyes for long periods of time without resting them causes Focusing Fatigue and increases eye strain. Consider wearing computer glasses to reduce your eye strain. 
    • To reduce fatigue, if you can arrange to, take some kind of break for a few minutes between sessions to walk around or stretch. Getting your blood flowing reduces the mental fatigue that's caused by the physical fatigue of your muscles.
    • To keep from getting computer-related dry eye, keep your eyes moist by blinking regularly or using eye drops. Drink enough water so you don’t get dehydrated. 
    • Schedule short gaps (5-10 minutes) in between sessions. A zero break schedule can leave you incredibly drained at the end of a full day of clients or meetings. Building in transition periods with a few minutes of movement and a mental break between sessions can refresh you. Consider scheduling a longer break after three or four sessions. 
    • When attending meetings or conducting groups, choose “speaker view.” Direct your attention primarily to whoever is speaking—so the person speaking has more of your attention and the others are more peripheral.

    5. Consider using phone sessions.

    • Think about and assess whether video is really the best option for you and the client. Sometimes a phone session is better.
    • Being on a phone session can also be a better choice/method/platform for a client who wants to talk to a therapist but isn't comfortable being on camera.
    • Phone sessions can also be especially helpful for those clients or therapists who have slow internet speeds or when there are online or mobile video glitches.

    While many therapists have made the switch to offering Telehealth services, the transition to Teletherapy takes getting used to! Although we miss the rhythm of our usual practice, our clients, and our office, we recognize our good fortune in having jobs and being able to continue to provide therapy. 

    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 develop successful careers and thriving practices. To learn more about her services, training or the monthly LA Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com and www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.

  • 04/30/2020 9:00 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    May ONLINE Presentation

    Friday, May 15, 2020

    9:00 am-11:00 am

    2.0 CEUs

    Understanding and Healing Infidelity:
    Introduction to Systematic Affair Recovery Therapy (SART)™

    Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem, Psy.D, LMFT

    Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem, Psy.D, LMFT, is the author of the acclaimed book, Infidelity: The Best Worst Thing that Could Happen to Your Marriage, and the founder of the Infidelity Counseling Center. He developed Systematic Affair Recovery Therapy (SART)™, which has helped hundreds of couples navigate the challenges of the healing journey after an affair. Learn more at TalalAlsaleem.com.

    Event Details: 
    Friday, May 15, 9:00-11:00 am

    Online Via Zoom

    Register today by clicking the Register Here button below.

    Register Here

  • 04/30/2020 8:30 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Maria Gray,

    Buckets of Money

    I’ve read many books about money; I’m fascinated by the way our attitudes about money influence our countertransference and the fee setting process. One of my favorite money books is Bari Tessler’s The Art of Money. Tessler is a somatically trained financial therapist who teaches a yearlong online money course which I took several years ago. One of the valuable practices I learned was to divide my money into separate “buckets.” These buckets help me stay organized and clear about my business finances.

    My first bucket is a business savings accounts labelled “Quarterlies,” I transfer money to this account every week so that when the end of the quarter comes, I have enough money to pay my taxes. My second business savings account is labelled “Gray’s Bank” which I use for my rainy-day fund to cover me during the slower times and to save money for training and other “Big Ticket” expenses.

    I use the same system to manage my personal finances, but the structure is based on my personal values and interests. I value fitness and I invest in yoga and Pilates classes which I purchase in packs of 20. I’ve created an account called “Pilates and Property Tax” for my property taxes, yoga, and Pilates, and an “Adventures” account that I use to save for vacations. In the past I’d charge my vacations on a credit card which resulted in having to pay off a large debt when I returned home. Now I have the money ready and I can pay the card off immediately without any pressure.

    I have a main savings account where I’ve saved three months of living expenses. Most financial professionals recommend saving more than that, so I’m working on building that account. I began writing this article prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, and now I’ve decided that in the future, I’d like to work toward saving six months of living expenses.

    Maybe this sounds like too many accounts to you, perhaps you’d prefer just one or two. I’ve found that paying myself first and planning for emergencies, vacations, fitness expenses and taxes has created more ease in my financial life. It helps me manage the ebbs and flows of income that come with being self-employed.

    I try to update my profiles regularly, but sometimes I fall behind. I’d love to hear about your practice and what sites you use for referrals. You can find me online or in person at an LA-CAMFT meeting.

    Maria Gray, LMFT, NMP, CGP, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Century City, where she specializes in trauma and addictions and leads groups. She enjoys working with adults who grew up around mentally ill or addictive family members. To learn more, go to www.mariagray.net.

  • 04/30/2020 8:00 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)
    Amy McManus

    Amy McManus, LMFT

    Let’s Combat Coronavirus Productivity Porn

    1. Put On Your Own Mask First
    Fellow therapists, we need you!!! We need you to have psychic energy in the long haul—because this is going to be a long haul. This means you must take care of yourself in the short term.

    By the time this article is published, we will have all been operating on shelter-at-home for a good six weeks. Are you burned out? I bet you are.

    Right now, as I am writing this, we have been stuck in our homes for only three weeks, and many of my clients are extremely distressed. My work as a therapist has been more rewarding than ever, but also more exhausting. I feel compelled to bring my A game every minute, to save people from sinking into a black hole of despair, or from creating deep rifts between themselves and the people with whom they have been sheltering-at-home.

    I know I am not alone.

    My Strategy (for what it’s worth!)
    I spend my days working, talking to friends and family, and making sure I don’t forget to move my body and get some fresh air each day. Period.

    Normally I am the queen of big personal projects, but all that is on hold. Things are not normal.

    I daydream between sessions instead of researching, studying, or writing; I wear the same outfit for a week straight; I eat a lot of cereal for meals. Please don’t tell.

    I’m not sleeping well. I wake up two or three times a night. I don’t sweat it; I pick up my Kindle and read until I fall asleep again. I try to go to bed earlier to counteract this, but often I don’t.

    I stay off of social media.

    That’s right. Off. I read the news online, and I spend the whole darn day talking to people; I doubt I’m missing anything critical. Every day I hear clients complain about what they are reading on social media, and I am glad I made this decision.

    I use my now-very-limited energy to stay deeply connected to those I care about, and I trust that that will be enough for now.

    Which brings me to my personal mantra:

    It’s good enough for now.

    Now is not the time for excellence. Now is the time for “Good enough”. Embrace this for yourself and feel the weight lift.

    Are you still healthy? Do what you can to stay that way. Reach out to those you love. Do what you can to make a difference. These are my top three personal values right now, and I’m not going to worry about anything else. At. All.

    Now is a good time to identify your own personal top 3 values and focus exclusively on those. Trust that you will eventually get back to being productive and pursuing excellence. Trust yourself and then take care of yourself. Put on your own mask first.

    2. Helping Our Clients
    Before Coronavirus, my clients were working on personal goals like “improving their intimate relationships,” “managing their anxiety at work,” “combatting procrastination,” “getting along better with family members,” and “exploring self-sabotaging behavior.”

    All that has changed.

    Anxiety is everywhere. There are a lot of strained relationships, especially when partners are forced to spend 24/7 together in a small space. It certainly helps that anxiety and relationships have been my focus all along. My clients were well-positioned to put their new skills and knowledge to work IRL.

    But now we have a different focus:

    Values Clarification and Self-acceptance.

    Values Clarification
    Just as I have urged you to clarify your own values, I would also urge you to work with your clients to clarify theirs. Being clear on your own personal value system helps you create your own personal “Hierarchy of Needs” (*bow to Maslow*).

    Know that in times of crisis, your physical and psychic energy levels are going to be depleted. You need to focus on just the top few needs and allow yourself to let go of the others for the time being.

    Self-acceptance is one of the top personal growth opportunities right now. Self-acceptance can make the difference between spending the next few months raging against the machine or finding some peace and renewed equilibrium.

    One of the big problems with self-acceptance right now is social media Productivity Porn.

    Joe Shmoe is learning Chinese in all his new-found free time, and Jane Doe is now training for a triathlon on her treadmill and Peloton. Your old friend Suzy is knitting 100 quilts for the homeless, David is already halfway through writing his book, and Andi is teaching Zoom yoga classes. And they’re all crowing about it on social media. Just. Say. No.

    If it’s all you can do to get up in the morning and make your bed, that’s okay. That’s actually quite amazing, on some days. If you can get up and not do anything “productive,” and let that be okay—well, you’ve just worked on something truly difficult: self-acceptance. Take a bow.

    Help your clients identify all they are doing already.

    Did you call your friend to see if she was okay? That’s wonderful! One of the most important things you can do is express care and concern. Did you go to bed early last night? Terrific! You are paying attention to your need for rest.

    Help your clients learn to trust themselves.

    Remind them of when they had the resources to pursue excellence and follow their dreams. Help them learn to trust that they will re-gain this energy even though their resources are more limited in the present.

    If you can teach your clients to have some self-acceptance in this crazy upside-down world, then you are absolutely rockin’ it. Take a bow.

    Amy McManus, LMFT, helps anxious young adults build healthy new relationships with themselves and others after a breakup. Amy’s blog, “Life Hacks,” offers practical tips for thriving in today’s crazy plugged-in world. Learn more about Amy from her website www.thrivetherapyla.com.

  • 04/30/2020 7:30 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Leila Aboohamad,

    Reflections on Change

    These past few weeks have seen so many changes in the world, our country, our families, our jobs and our own personal lives. Life seems to have come to a standstill. No eating or dining out in restaurants, all sports events cancelled, no Summer Olympics, no movie theaters, no live theater venues, doctors’ offices closed. We must practice social distancing, keep a 6-foot distance between ourselves and others. There can be no more than 2 or 3 people in an elevator at the same time. I was walking on Santa Monica Blvd. yesterday on the way to an appointment, and a woman walking at the corner frantically waved me away as if I had the power to do her great harm.

    I laughed in shock and sadness, sad because I felt as if I were in a science fiction world like Stranger in a Strange Land, where I couldn’t “grok” what was going on. I’ve been told change is good, but does it have to be so drastic? I want to return to my comfortable schedule, my fun networking events, my gym, dining out with friends, going to the supermarket without having to stand in line for 30 minutes before I even get in the door and still not find any toilet paper!!! How in the hell is all this change good? Will we really come out of all this with positive results for ourselves and planet Earth?

    Yes, I believe we will. This is a time to pause, take a deep breath, or many, as long as we don’t hyperventilate (a little dark humor, sorry). Seriously, we need to ask ourselves what we can learn from this sudden standstill in all our lives. What must we do now, encased in our cocoons, isolated from our friends, co-workers, clients and activities, to emerge with a deeper understanding of why we are here on this Earth? I realized during my spiritual studies in my 20s that life is a schoolroom and we have chosen to come here. I must have done something really bad in a past life to create this karma. OK, as you can see, a healthy sense of humor is absolutely necessary to make it through the “best of times” and especially through the “worst of times.”

    But does this really have to be the “worst of times” (Thank you, Charles Dickens). This seeming “dark night of the soul” may actually be the best thing that ever happened to our country, the world, our families, and ourselves. I love the phrase I am hearing on TV newscasts: “We are Americans and we will get through this together.” But in addition to that, we are first of all spiritual beings in a human experience. In order to get through this life and grow in character and moral strength, we must go within to that center of wisdom, peace and serenity and listen to that still, small voice of our Higher Self. This Voice will guide us through any unfamiliar territory and seemingly daunting challenges, like the COVID-19 virus.

    As a psychotherapist, I must be centered, calm, positive and supportive of my clients as they experience the fears and changes brought about by the virus. If I am not practicing mindfulness and walking my spiritual path, how can I possibly guide anybody to a place in mind where they can draw upon their positive beliefs and exercise wisdom in their physical, mental and emotional life?

    I received a text this morning from a client who has confessed to me many times that he is fearful and expects the worst, although he participates in life by running a very successful business, has raised a family and travelled the world. In his text, he warned me that “it’s getting closer . . . a friend’s wife is in ICU in critical condition.” He won’t come to my office nor see anyone socially, nor even use Skype for a session. I knew I had to respond, so I just sat for a moment and asked myself what would help this man.

    The answer came really quickly. Just share with him what you are doing and have been practicing for 40 years . . . remembering my Source and surrendering my fear to the faith that my Higher Self has this covered. So, I wrote him a simple text, reiterating what I have often said to him in session, that we rise above the problem and find the solution metaphysically. He texted me a thumbs up. Something I wrote hit home and reminded him of his true spiritual self.

    I just returned from a walk around my neighborhood where I saw so many people out walking, bicycling and playing with their kids. We tried to practice the 6-foot distancing, but I would say hello and comment on how difficult it is to consciously separate from others. Every response I got was positive, as we opened up to one another, smiled and laughed about this crazy, but temporary predicament. See, I said this could result in a positive outcome of people sharing love and concern with one another.

    Leila Aboohamad, LMFT, is a psychotherapist practicing in Brentwood, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles, California. She specializes in helping individuals and couples create successful, committed loving relationships. She has studied and practiced spirituality and mindfulness for over 35 years. 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.

  • 04/30/2020 7:00 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Barry Davis,
    Divorce Mediator

    Practical Tips to Keep Your Therapy Practice Resilient During COVID-19

    Individuals as well as our communities overall desperately need the support therapists provide more than ever! Yet I’ve heard from so many therapists that are struggling to keep their practices reasonably full and maintain a decent income. Either their clients aren’t comfortable with telehealth, they’re worried about paying for therapy due to job insecurity or they simply don’t have the privacy at home to have sessions. Which is why it’s so crucial that therapists customize how they support their clients and find ways to meet clients where they are RIGHT NOW. Below are practical tips and ideas to help therapists adapt both the way they support their current clients as well as how they attract new clients:

    1. Videoconferencing and Abbreviated Sessions

    One of the most tangible ways we can be flexible is in how we see our clients. This includes not only doing videoconferencing and telehealth, but also thinking about whether we need to provide our clients with the option of shorter, more focused sessions. For example, clients that are working at home or have children home from school may not have the privacy to carve out an hour, but could still truly benefit from a concentrated, highly-focused 30-minute session given all the additional stressors in their life.

    2. Relevant Techniques and Tools

    Another way that we can support our clients is to equip them with practical, applicable techniques and tools they can use to deal with what they’re going through right now. Whether it’s stress management tools, healthy ways to interact with their spouse and children, specific mindfulness/breathing exercises or anything else that helps them deal with what they’re going through more constructively, clients under stress are looking for tangible, concrete tools they can use today, tomorrow & throughout the remainder of this crisis.

    3. Being a Good Host

    One of the things I keep hearing repeatedly is that clients aren’t comfortable with telehealth. I think it's incumbent on us as professionals to find ways to help our clients feel comfortable with these new ways of communicating by normalizing them and even pointing out the positives of being able to the meet in the comfort of our own homes. For example, we can check in with our clients at the beginning of the session to make sure that they’re comfortable, that the audio and video connections are good and let them know that it’s not a problem if they need to get up to go to the bathroom, get a drink or anything else that might happen during a session. For example, if they need a minute or two to get the kids started on a new activity, normalize this for them by telling them you’re totally fine with this.

    I’ve also heard of situations where clients, including couples, do their sessions just outside their house in their car while an older sibling or grandparent takes care of the kids. By normalizing this new way of communicating as well as being a good host, there’s a good chance the clients will start to relax and feel comfortable with this new approach.

    4. Reaching out to Previous Clients

    There is no doubt that much of society is experiencing unprecedented levels of uncertainty and stress. Based on this, clients who have previously terminated may need to re-engage the services of their therapists to work through issues that are coming up based on COVID-19. If therapists proactively reach out to clients who have terminated over the last couple of years, they can help support these clients through difficult times while also filling some of the gaps in their calendar left by recent cancellations.

    5. Flexibility & Adaptability = Resilience

    The overarching key is to be as flexible as possible and find ways to meet your clients where they are right now. Everyone is struggling to adapt to the new normal which puts an incredible amount of stress on people who are used to certainty and routine—which is the vast majority of people. If therapists can meet clients where they are at, both literally and figuratively, they will not only be successful in supporting their clients through these difficult times but will also be able to keep their practice not only open, but vibrant.

    My divorce mediation practice is living proof of this—over the last two weeks I’ve only had one out of 14 sessions cancel—the remainder of them have been successfully completed using either videoconferencing or telephone and I have a normal amount of sessions scheduled for the upcoming week as well.

    I want to acknowledge that several of the above ideas are ones that I have gleaned from my therapist colleagues as we’ve been discussing how to adapt our practices to best meet the needs of our clients—we can all learn from each other as we are all in this together! As a divorce mediator, the subject matter I work on with my clients is very different than therapy, but we all share the need to meet our clients where they are at during these challenging times.

    Barry Davis, Divorce Mediator, 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 and resources, visit www.DavisMediation.com or Davis Divorce Mediation’s YouTube Channel.

  • 04/30/2020 6:30 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    David Silverman,

    Does the 10,000 Hour Rule Apply to Writers?

    “In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.”

    Daniel Levitin, Neurologist

    As a therapist and a writer, I see how this rule can apply to both fields. Clearly, as therapists we have 3,000 hours of internship, with input from experienced supervisors. I can see it taking 10,000 hours to “perfect” one’s abilities as a counselor.

    What does this “rule“ mean for writers or screenwriters? Does it take 10,000 hours to become a great writer?

    In his book, The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses what he called “The 10,000 Hour Rule.” According to the rule, no matter what field you’re in, long hours, days and even years are required for you to master your craft. To clarify, just putting in the hours does not guarantee you will be a success. Also, the depth and quality of your practice and the feedback you get on your work can speed up the process.

    Gladwell writes about The Beatles and Bill Gates. He asks how they became the best in their fields? What did they have in common? His answer? He theorizes that the people who rise to those levels have all spent long, long hours preparing, practicing, and mastering their own disciplines.

    The Beatles started out in 1960, playing in Hamburg, Germany. However, they weren’t very well received. They spent years rehearsing and played long hours in German night clubs. By 1964, when they finally did become international sensations, The Beatles had played over 1,200 concerts together.

    Bill Gates met Paul Allen, his friend and future business partner, in high school. They were just kids when they started writing computer code. That was 1968. By the time Gates dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft with Allen, he’d logged way, way over 10,000 hours.

    What about screenwriters like Diablo Cody? You hear about “first time” screenwriters like her, who are discovered out of the blue, and called “overnight sensations.” Cody was 28 when her screenplay Juno was produced and became a hit film. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, and won her an Oscar for Best Screenplay.

    Most award-winning screenwriters have a long track record of both failures and success. They’ve been able to hone their craft over the years. They've done endless rewrites on scripts in the development process and on movie sets. They've learned from their mistakes, so they've had thousands of hours to perfect their craft. Fine.

    So, when someone like Cody wins an Oscar for what people are calling her “first screenplay,” does that prove Gladwell’s theory is wrong?

    Consider this: people assumed she just started writing, and thousands of writers thought they, too, could become overnight sensations. The truth is Cody had been writing poetry, short stories, journaling, and even blogging, for most of her life. She started at 12.

    In fact, ten years before Juno was written, she was promoting a novel on The Late Show with David Letterman. She clearly exceeded her 10,000 hours.

    How long is that many hours in years? If you wrote for three hours a day, it would take about ten years. This is why the kids who started at 12 have an edge. That’s a lot of time. Does that mean you have to wait ten years to see success as a writer? No. But it does suggest you’re going to need a few years of practice. Most MFA Screenwriting programs run about two to three years.

    You can’t always wait ten years to get paid to write, especially if you’re just starting out of college. That’s why I recommend writing plays, novels, short stories, or even nonfiction to start out. Get them published or produced. Write Indy shorts, or features. When you get to see your work produced, it’s a huge encouragement.

    You need to be good, but you don’t need to have 10,000 hours of practice to work on a TV writing staff. It’s expected that you’ll learn and grow writing episodes, with a staff full of writers to learn from. I can't imagine a better place to perfect your craft, while earning a lot of money, than writing for television.

    Let’s say you're good at writing jokes. You get a job on a late night talk show writing jokes. After a few years, you get really, really, good at it. You can count those hours. 5,000 hours writing for Conan or Jimmy Kimmel will get you closer to becoming a successful comedy writer.

    A good example—a lot of the Simpsons' writers started out spending a few years writing for David Letterman. Another large segment of Simpsons' writers started out writing for the Harvard Lampoon. The hours writing for a humor magazine or a talk show will definitely help get you closer to the hours needed to master your craft.

    Getting paid to learn and practice doing what you love to do is the best scenario possible. I can’t recommend that road highly enough.

    Can anything speed the process? Whereas practice matters, I think experience is better. You can call it a "feedback loop." Getting feedback in the form of notes from qualified individuals and making corrections can accelerate your learning. The same goes for seeing your work in rehearsals or table reads, and doing rewrites.

    So more hours of practice will help you, but practice with feedback will help you more.

    David Silverman, LMFT, treats anxiety and depression, especially in highly sensitive individuals in his LA practice. Having experienced the rejection, stress, creative blocks, paralyzing perfectionism, and career reversals over a 25 year career as a Film/TV writer, he’s uniquely suited to work with gifted, creative, and sensitive clients experiencing anxiety, depression, and addiction. David received training at Stanford and Antioch, is fully EMDR certified, and works with programs treating Victims of Crime and Problem Gamblers. Visit www.DavidSilvermanLMFT.com.

    Image credit: Creative Commons, c.e.m.e.t.e.r.y. II, 2005, by Aldo Cauchi Savona, is licensed under CC By 2.

  • 04/30/2020 6:00 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Attention LA-CAMFT Members!
    2020 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.

    May 8, 2020
    June 6, 2020 (Board Retreat)
    July 10, 2020
    August 14, 2020
    September 4, 2020
    October 9, 2020
    November 13, 2020

    Factor’s Deli

    9420 W. Pico Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90035

  • 04/30/2020 5:00 AM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

    Voices Publication Guidelines for 2020

    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 2020 calendar year to Voices, LA-CAMFT's monthly newsletter:

    Upcoming Voices Newsletters  Submission Deadlines
    July 2020 edition June 1
    August 2020 edition July 1
    September 2020 edition August 1
    October 2020 edition September 1
    November 2020 edition October 1
    December 2020 edition November 1
    January 2021 edition December 1 (2020)



    LA-CAMFT Publishing Guidelines for Voices

    • All submissions are DUE by the 1ST of each month.
      • Around the 15th of each month, you will receive the editor’s call for articles for the next edition of VOICES.
      • This editor’s call will allow contributors to have up to 2 weeks to put together all the material for submission by the 1st of the month.
      • Around the 25th of each month, you will receive the editor’s second and last call for articles, reminding contributors to submit completed articles by the first should they wish to be included in VOICES.
      • In this last call for submissions, the editor will include a list of the content planned for the next edition of VOICES.This editorial list will note submissions received as well as submissions expected but not yet received and which must be received by the 1st in order to be included.
      • Any submissions received after the 1st, will be included in the following month's edition of VOICES.
    • ARTICLES are 500–1000 word submissions by LA-CAMFT members, sponsors, speakers, or recognized experts in their field. Only universal file formats, like Word (.doc and docx.) will be accepted as submissions. If an article is submitted in a “.pages” format, it will be returned to the submitter.
    • HYPERLINKS in articles must be individually typed into the body of the article by the writer and must be included at time of submission. It is the responsibility of each writer to “type in” the hyperlink(s) in their own work when the article is submitted. Putting “LIVE LINK” in the body of an article won't work. When multiple links are being included, this must be made clear by the writer as to where each link is to be featured.
    • IMAGES: All personal headshots or images must be attached to an email as either a JPEG, PNG or TIF. Images pasted into an email are not acceptable since the quality of such photos is diminished. Any images received in the body of the email may result in delayed publication of the submission.
    • AUTHOR TAGLINES: Author taglines are a short paragraph of 50 to 75 words after the end of the article in which the author is identified. It includes the author's full name, pertinent professional credentials, a short business description, and website address with a HYPERLINK. Email addresses and phone numbers are not included — the only exceptions are lacamft.org emails. All taglines are limited to 75 words, MAXIMUM. This word count includes the author's name and website.
    • IMAGES OTHER THAN PERSONAL HEADSHOTS. There is an issue about images. When you submit an image other than a personal headshot, you must provide proof of how you obtained that photo. Following is a link that covers the importance of copyright issues, but especially so when it comes to anything “Internet.” (Sued for Copyright Infringement)
      • Helpful tips, strategies, analysis, and other specific useful clinical, educational, business or professional marketing or networking information.
      • A review of literature or arts (reviewer not related to or in business with the creator of the item being reviewed).
      • Reference to commercial products or services being sold or distributed by author;
      • Information that is only useful if the author’s book or other materials are purchased
      • Suggestions that the reader attend the author’s workshop, conference or podcast for more information;
      • Any other material that could be construed as an advertisement, rather than an article;
      • Language that could be construed as defamatory, discriminatory, or offensive

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