Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Voices — May 2021
Jenni J.V. Wilson, LMFT
First I want to gleefully type at you about the many honors our chapter received at the CAMFT Leadership Conference in February. LA-CAMFT was recognized for our Chapter Management last year, stood out as having a higher percentage of our board attending and participating in the conference this year, and awarded former president, Christina Castorena, the Chapter Leadership Award for her significant contributions to LA-CAMFT over many years. At the CLC, how proud I felt to be a part of this team, sharing and learning alongside other state chapter board members, and hearing how fully the larger association is committed to supporting the professional community on macro and micro levels.
Next, I want to thank everyone who registered and attended our Law and Ethics training with Curt Widhalm in March—despite the many technical snafus. The start of the journey was harrowing, and the patience of attendees in-and-out of the Zoom room was practically saint-like. Our webmaster, Mike Johnsen, was a superstar (as always) early on, when the registration service LA-CAMFT uses experienced glitches outside our control. On “Game Day,” Di Wilson, Elizabeth Sterbenz, and Billie Klayman masterfully kept spirits up as they problem-solved a resolution to the Zoom-room capacity issue we naively hadn’t anticipated. Curt graciously waited with us, giving a presentation rich in content, and kindly offering unscheduled time for questions at the end.
All of this is in the rear-view mirror now, even more so when this posts in May. I’m aware of how these wonderful and worrying moments loom so large as they’re happening, and feel so insignificant as time retreats. What persists weighs on me—the never-ending battles for equality, kindness, respect, and justice, as I know they weigh on so many of you.
The horrifying cell phone videos streaming in social media feeds, of atrocities inflicted upon fellow humans, threaten to break me, but I recognize that those recordings shine light on ugliness we might now find ways to prevent in the future. If these videos force us to become virtual bystanders, we are now challenged to face what cannot be denied or dismissed. In the camera’s light, we are called upon to devise ways to cope with the realities of failing systems, that program people for violence and tribalism, perpetuating hundreds—no, THOUSANDS—of years of people dividing and treating each other as subhuman. This unraveling and reorganizing is complex and difficult work that cannot suddenly be turned around or undone with simply a hashtag.
As I write this, the trial addressing the death of George Floyd while in police custody takes place, laying bare the undeniable inhumane treatment caught on video last May. Five days ago a recording captured a 65-year-old Filipino woman en route to church in Manhattan being viciously beaten on the street, as nearby security guards closed their building doors, and their eyes, to the brutality without intervening. Once again we’re cast as digital bystanders to horrific events we’re sentenced to watch on repeat. As we demand justice for George, and others in our Black, Native, and Latinx communities, we must also be as vigilant about justice for our AAPI brothers and sisters.
Since March 2020, reports of violence against Asian Americans have increased greatly, with women and elders being most significantly targeted. The coalition, “Stop AAPI Hate,” noted that 44% of incidents reported since the pandemic began have been in California, where 15% of our 40 million residents identify as Asian American with the U.S. Census. With the insanely xenophobic language the Former White House Occupant (FWHO) used in 2020 from his malignant-bully pulpit, we find ourselves facing more than just a misinformation or willful ignorance problem. FWHO provided hateful followers the justification they sought to misdirect their anger onto innocent groups of fellow Americans over the very real frustrations and desperations of feeling locked-up and under-employed in the name of public health. Although none of this is new to anyone who outwardly presents other-than-Caucasian, this violence has become as infectious as the virus itself, and in too many cases, as deadly.
We have a gun problem, a violence problem, racism and xenophobia problems—and we definitely have a mental wellness problem in our country. That’s where we must look at what we as a community of mental health professionals are doing, and can do, to support and advocate for, not only our clients of color, but for our colleagues and loved ones as well. We must educate ourselves and do better.
In 2017, Janaki Neptune and Christina Castorena led the charge to form LA-CAMFT’s Diversity Committee, establishing the Therapists of Color Support Group as their first order of business (for more information contact Niparpon@yahoo.com). Following the Anti-Racism Roundtable in August 2020, under Christina “Tina” Cacho Sakai’s leadership the Diversity Committee founded the Black Therapists Support Group facilitated by Baaba Hawthorne which met for the first time last month. These groups are no cost and are open to all Licensed Therapists, Associates, and Students who identify as indicated, and who are committed to creating safe supportive spaces to “process experiences of racism, (systemic, social, and internalized), discrimination, implicit bias, racist injury, aggression, and micro-aggressions, along with additional experiences that therapists of color encounter in the field of mental health.”
In an effort to inspire further allyship, former LA-CAMFT Presidents, Randi Gottlieb and Matthew Evans, along with former Sponsorship Chair Estelle Fisher, created the White Therapists Anti-Racism Group, with a mission that includes the expansion of white consciousness around issues of racism and privilege, while increasing engagement in anti-racism work within our community.
As this is a movement, not a moment, next we must support the Diversity Committee and our AAPI colleagues, as they come together to design an AAPI peer support group. If you or someone you know would be interested in being part of this important enterprise, please contact DiversityCommittee@LACAMFT.org.
Look out for each other beyond hashtags, my friends.
Paz y Amor—siempre.
JJVW - Jenni June Villegas Wilson
Jenni J.V. Wilson, LMFT is a collaborative conversationalist, trained in narrative therapy and EMDR. She works with creative and anxious clients on improving, avoiding, and eliminating co-dependent and toxic relationships, while finding healthy ways to be unapologetically themselves. She is the primary therapist at Conclusions Treatment Center IOP in Mission Hills, and has a private practice in Sherman Oaks.
Dr. Manijeh Daneshpour, LMFT
Event Details: Friday, May 21, 2021, 9:00 am-11:00 am (PT)
Where: Online Via Zoom
After you register you will be emailed a Zoom link the Wednesday before the presentation.
More information and register today by clicking the Register Here button below.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
Getting Paid: Money Talk About Pricing, Services, Rates—
The Words You Use to Describe Your Services & Rates Make a Difference
Talking with clients about therapy services, cost, and payment—and the importance of making and keeping regular appointments—is a vital part of therapy. Finding the right words to use professionally and clinically to convey the value of these services and the appropriate cost, timeframe, and involvement—is key to the success of every therapist’s private practice.
However, today many therapists are finding that they must spend significant time and energy to reset a client’s, or prospective client’s, expectations for therapy with regard to cost, frequency, duration, participation, and involvement in the therapy process. As a result of these challenging money-driven clinical conversations, many therapists have reduced their rates significantly—and are undercharging and being paid too little for therapeutic services.
Unfortunately, it is a common misperception that charging as little as possible is the best strategy for attracting new clients and filling a practice. However, undercharging and underearning can seriously harm your practice if you are mainly providing low-cost offerings to clients—you and the work you do aren’t valued by many of these low-paying clients, you still need a lot of clients, and any new client makes very little difference to your income.
If you’re in private practice you have a responsibility to work with enough clients who can pay your rates and keep you and your practice solvent so you can do the work you were meant to do instead of spending all your time and energy trying to fill a practice.
Therapists are tired of undercharging and underearning. They want to work less, earn more—and make a bigger difference. More and more therapists are seeking out clinical and practice coaching so they can take charge of clinical money conversations and refocus them on the value, relief, and life/relationship/health changing/enhancing, conflict/anxiety/depression reducing benefits that clients are seeking from one-on-one therapy work with a trained professional—and they charge more and are paid accordingly. Their income increases, they attract more clients, they fill their practice. Therapists deserve to earn a good living for the work they do.
The Wording You Use Can Make Difference in Your Income
As in any clinical endeavor, the words you use to describe your services do make a difference. In this case, the amount a client is willing to pay for therapy with a trained professional—and in order to receive the desired result/relief/outcome. Yes, the meaning your words convey can either increase or decrease the amount of money you are paid for therapy. You’ll find that most people will pay in full and out of their own pocket for your services, when they believe you are the professional who can give them what they want—and the wording you use to describe your services conveys that.
Money Talk: Words & Phrases to Consider
Here are some examples of words that can make a difference in income when a clinician talks, writes, or communicates about therapy or money matters—and how and why these words can affect the perceived value, and subsequently, the amount a person is willing to pay for the therapy services provided by a clinician.
This information applies equally to face-to-face conversations in real time or virtually, to emails, texts, social media postings, and what’s printed in marketing materials or is on your website. Each one of these words and phrases can have a direct effect on the amount a client pays for your clinical services.
As you read the following information, be sure to remember:
Many therapists, clients, and lay people refer to therapy as: help, support, advice, listening, guidance, appointment, etc. When it comes to the amount of money a client is willing to pay for each of those ‘services,’ the perceived value and worth is low since these are things that non-professionals—friends, colleagues, neighbors, parents, siblings, online forums, etc.—can, and do, provide.
Exceptions to these are: professional help/support/advice/guidance. These have a higher perceived value of worth to clients.
Contrast the words: help, support, advice, etc., with the following ones that have a higher perceived value and worth: session, service, psychotherapy, counseling, treatment, recovery, consultation. Now combine them: psychotherapy session . . . therapy session . . . counseling session . . . psychotherapy services . . . therapy services . . . therapeutic services . . . professional services . . . depression treatment . . . anxiety treatment . . . bipolar treatment . . . trauma recovery . . . professional consultation . . . etc. These terms mean business. They are definite and professional—and position you as trained and capable professional of delivering the services they need.
Other terms can be added when appropriate: licensed, certified, approved, supervised by, etc. Yes, clients will pay you more for your service when these words are added.
Here are two examples of lower perceived value wording: my services, services I provide. However, when you add other words to those phrases you come out with higher perceived value: psychotherapeutic /psychotherapy services I provide. Add another certifier to that and you then have the highest perceived value: psychotherapy conducted by a licensed psychotherapist/clinician.
What word or terms do you, and your clients, prefer—or use—to talk about or describe the services you provide? Which would you or your clients pay a higher amount for?
2. Ask, Get, Take, Accept, Charge
I ask $ . . . What I ask is $ . . . How much do you get for a session? I can take $ . . . The fee I accept is . . . I charge $ . . . What I charge is . . . What do you charge?
Are you asking or is it the cost? Are you asking or is it the price?
Be professional and definite: “The cost is . . ." not “What I ask is . . .”
State what the cost is for. “The charge/price/cost for/of the 60-minute session is . . .”
Here it’s important to remember that a client doesn’t “give you money,” a client pays for services rendered. You earned the money by providing services to the client—services provided by a highly-trained professional as we have quite a bit of education, training, skills, and experience, not to mention licensure or supervision by a licensed person. Therapists deserve a fair rate of professional compensation.
Here are some alternative words and phrases to consider when stating the prices for services in your practice. Using these terms positions you and the services you offer as confident and of high value and worth:
The PRICE is . . . The COST is. . . The RATE is . . . The AMOUNT for that is . . . The session price is . . . The session cost is . . . The session rate is . . . The Price/Cost/Rate/Amount/Charge for that service is
Decide for yourself what fits you, your clients, and your practice best. Try a few of the phrases out. See what fits you best.
3. Free, discounted, reduced, lower
“No charge,” “no cost,” and “complimentary” are better terms for practice success than the word “free” which seems to mean to people that your services aren’t worth much and they should expect to receive all your services “for free,” all the time.
Discounted, discount, and reduced rate are popular words but aren’t the best for practice success as they train people to always ask for “a discount” or reduction. A better choice in wording is “special” price/pricing or “introductory’ pricing, “a special offer” or even, “a limited time offer.” With these words and phrases, people associate your services as something of worth that are available at this pricing for a limited amount time.
Sometimes people ask if you have a “lower” fee or if you will “lower” the fee or even, “What’s your lowest fee?” Some better alternative words and phrases are an “adjusted” fee or “special pricing” or “professional courtesy” pricing or even “college student, unemployed, etc.” pricing.
It’s important for mental health professionals as a profession to not train people to expect us to always reduce, discount, lower or charge the lowest fees just because a client wants but doesn’t actually need an adjusted fee.
It’s important that therapists, as a profession, maintain a reputation for being paid well for the good work they do—work that’s worth every dollar they’re paid. It’s not a good thing for therapists to be known for charging the lowest rates in town to anyone who asks even when they don’t need a price adjustment.
4. Fee Scale—Prices, Pricing, Rates, Fee Range
When talking numbers around the amounts you charge for your services, most therapists find it’s better received to refer to pricing, prices, and rates, as a “price range” instead of a “fee scale.” Using the term “price range” is associated with “a range of services and pricing.” People seem to understand that concept easily. “A price range” connotes choices and options whereas “fee scale” suggests some type of ranking or judgement.
That’s enough for today about money matters and getting paid. Try a few of these out and see what happens.
Previously published in LA-CAMFT’s November 2019 Voices.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she works with Couples and Gifted, Talented, and Creative Adults across the lifespan. Lynne’s been doing business and clinical coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping them develop even more successful careers and practices. To learn more about her in-person and online services, workshops or monthly no-cost Online Networking & Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com or www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.
How We Can Help Clients in Toxic Relationships
As a therapist specializing in anxiety and relationships, I often have clients who are in relationships that are emotionally abusive. Initially they seek to improve these relationships. Their question often is, “What can I do to have the healthy relationship I want to have?”
My first goal is to help my client understand that the treatment they are getting from their partner is not about them, that there is nothing they are doing to deserve this, and nothing they can do to change the way the other person behaves.
Research has shown that one of the defining characteristics of women who leave physically abusive relationships is that they understand that they cannot control their partner’s behavior. This is also true for emotionally abusive relationships.
First, we explore their family of origin stories. Nearly always there is a history of a primary attachment figure giving them the message that they aren’t good enough. They aren’t lovable just as they are; they need to earn love.
This early message is a setup for future toxic relationships.
I once had a client I’ll call Jane, who I initially suspected had Borderline Personality Disorder. Soon I learned of her upbringing in a family that consistently, but intermittently, gave her messages that she was a terrible person. Her mother would mostly berate her and call her names, but occasionally she would try to connect to Jane in a more loving way—and Jane was always hoping for another of these moments.
Research shows that intermittent rewards are the most compelling, and when the intermittent reward is the love of your primary attachment figure, it can be one of the most compelling rewards of all. My client had fully absorbed the lesson that she didn’t deserve to be treated with love and kindness, but that sometimes, if she was really “good,” she could feel loved.
It is no surprise, then, that most of Jane’s relationships reflected these beliefs about herself. She came to me to help her with a particularly toxic relationship with a guy who would act as if they were in a relationship, and then would send her long text messages telling her that all he really wanted from her was sex—and that he actually wanted a relationship with someone else. This happened repeatedly over a period of years.
The thing is, Jane just couldn’t get herself to just walk away from this man, and she couldn’t understand why she needed so badly for him to tell her he cared about her.
Why couldn’t she leave?
His degrading text messages had caused her to lash out in hurt and anger. He told her that it was her angry messages that showed she was “crazy”, and that was why he could never be in a real relationship with her; it was her fault. He would be with her if she weren’t crazy. She was hooked.
Her history with her mom made his hurtful messages seem credible. Isn’t this what love feels like? This message was painful, but it was familiar.
Reid Wilson, PhD, Director of the Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center in Chapel Hill, can help us understand how we can use this dynamic to heal our clients. Dr. Wilson helps his clients learn to welcome anxiety into their lives, and then “work to give their amygdala a different message.” He tells them, “You want to step into a safe but reasonable facsimile of the trauma, and let your amygdala hang out.”
In this same way, we can help our clients heal their early attachment trauma by using these toxic relationships. We can help them have the same experience— being told they are unlovable—and have a different outcome. We can help them train their brains to know that this message is not the truth—they are lovable, and they deserve to be around others who believe this also.
So how do we do this?
Dan Siegel, M.D., tells us that “The power to direct our attention has the power to shape the brain’s firing patterns, as well as the power to shape the architecture of the brain itself.”
By building awareness and challenging the thoughts, we can change the automaticity of these thoughts, and that can make all the difference.
I have seen many clients extricate themselves from toxic relationships. It’s a process, and along the way they learn to love themselves for who they are. Most of these clients make significant changes in their relationship with their attachment figures as well. After practicing experiencing the feelings they want to have in a loving and supportive relationship, many go on to create that healthy experience in their next serious relationship.
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.
Dreaming Big vs. Dreaming Small
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau
If you’ve decided to become a screenwriter, a filmmaker, or to write for television you’re already dreaming about as big as it gets. You’ve decided to take on the insanely long odds of making it in one of the toughest, most competitive fields there is. Clearly you know what it means to dream big.
When you see yourself going after a big dream, you tap into the greatest source of motivation there is. Dreaming is different than planning, or creating a to-do list. It taps into something very primal. There is tremendous power in dreaming big.
When you dream about becoming a screenwriter, you’re throwing in with a group of select souls. You’re saying to the universe, I want to follow in the footsteps of great men and women. You can watch their movies, study their screenplays—you can listen to their Academy Award acceptance speeches.
You have put yourself in the company of men and women like Francis Coppola, Nora Ephron, Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarantino, Diablo Cody, Alfred Hitchcock, and Woody Allen. And that’s inspiring. Those are the people who come the closest to actually making magic on this planet.
When you dream about doing something, you’re deciding what to do with your life. And in keeping your dream alive, you’re constantly renewing your commitment, and willing yourself closer to the goal.
As you continue to dream, you start working smarter. You’re driven to manage your time better. You tend to gravitate toward the work. Something inside tells you to sit down at the keyboard and write.
You’ll also tend to gravitate toward people who inspire you to do the work. You’ll look for teachers, and mentors. You’ll spend more time with other people who share your dream. You’ll have friends you can talk to about your film ideas. You’ll build a network of people who are involved in film. It all builds to you reaching your goal.
Sometimes, however, the really big dream will feel overwhelming. The other people in your life may discourage you just because your dreams are so big. Your dream, your lofty goal may make others uncomfortable.
There will always be well-meaning people in your life, who’ll tell you, “The odds are against you. You’re going to be working day jobs and writing every night. How can you have a family if you chase a crazy dream?”
Like all writers, you’re eventually going to find yourself in a slump. A long series of rejections may wear away at your resolve. You might have to take on an extra day job. You might feel bad about not being about not being able to spend time with friends and family.
At times like that, when your motivation starts to wane, I recommend looking for more attainable goals. In the early phases of my own career, for example, I decided to get a job as a reader, covering screenplays for a studio. When I got that job, I was thrilled. It kept me going.
At other times in my career, I dreamt about smaller goals—like getting a job rewriting an independent feature script. I dreamt about getting a five hundred dollar option on a screenplay. I dreamt about getting a job writing for a kid’s cartoon show. Those dreams didn’t seem so out of reach but they were paying jobs.
I believe you have to completely buy into your dreams for them to resonate with you. They have to feel plausible, and somewhat realistic. With a set of less overwhelming, more realistic goals, you might find yourself more motivated to go after them.
What would you consider a more attainable goal in your career? Getting a meeting with an agent, or a manager? Pitching movie ideas to producer? Creating or writing for a web TV series?
Sometimes, even a few good networking experiences can raise your confidence. Placing in the top ten screenplays in The Page Competition do wonders for your outlook. Make one phone call a day to an individual you want to network with. The more contacts who agree to meet you, the farther out you’ll feel like reaching.
There are times during your career when achieving the small goals can get you through. Writing is so much about having confidence, and confidence comes from success. Small successes build into larger ones. It’s like a “snowball effect.”
You can get through a difficult period in your writing career by dreaming small. Don’t get overwhelmed thinking about getting from where you are to where you want to be. Create goals you can attain in a few weeks, or months. Keep dreaming small, until you can dream big again.
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.
Black Therapist Support Group
First Saturday of Every Month
Saturday, May 1, 2021
12:00 pm-1:30 pm (PT)
Online Via Zoom
A safe place for healing, connection, support and building community. In this group, licensed clinicians, associates and students can come together and process experiences of racism (systemic, social, and internalized), discrimination, implicit bias, and micro-aggressions, along with additional experiences that therapists of African descent encounter in the field of mental health. As the late great Maya Angelou once said, “As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal someone else.” May this space, be the support needed to facilitate that journey.
Open to LA-CAMFT Members and Non-Members
First Saturday of Each Month
Location: Zoom Meeting
Baaba Hawthorne LMFT, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Licensed Therapists, Associates, and Students
Event Details: Saturday, May 1, 2021, 11:00 am-1:00 pm (PT)
Time of Check-In: 10:50 am
Where: Online Via Zoom
Once you have registered for the presentation, we will email you a link to Zoom a few days before the presentation.
Online Registration CLOSES on the date of the event.
(Registration is open and available until the group ends.)
Questions about Registration? Contact Marvin Whistler & Tina Cacho Sakai at DiversityCommittee@lacamft.org.
In diversity there is beauty
and there is strength.
LMFT, NMP, CGP
What’s Your Ideal Schedule?
Have you seen the posts on Facebook asking, “How Many Clients Do You See Each Week?” This question feels like a competition and implies that we all have the same capacity for our work. Someone who has been a therapist for over 20 years may be fine with seeing thirty clients in a week, while a newer therapist may feel good seeing ten or fifteen. There are other contributing factors like health, age, and personal responsibilities; a parent of a toddler might make different choices than someone who has no children. An older therapist with an established practice might choose to work a few days a week and travel during her off time. (This is my ultimate goal!).
One of my favorite phrases is “Compare and Despair;” and comparison is the essence of social media. When I compare myself to others, I notice that I’m not working as many hours as many of my colleagues, this is a sign of good self-care for me! When I was a child, my mother ran our household like a technology startup, each of us had chores and we were highly invested in being productive; high productivity was a way to earn approval.
This pervasive culture of “busyness” has been passed down through generations in my family. Self-esteem got coupled with accomplishment. My early years prepared me for a successful career managing large technology projects, but it didn’t teach me much about rest and recreation and eventually I hit a bottom with overworking.
I enjoy my work as a therapist; when I notice my desire to do more, I can no longer blame a boss or my mother. It’s important to me to be intentional about my time and capacity. I want to be present for my clients and have energy for myself at the end of the day. I see clients four days a week and use Fridays as an administrative/networking day. Ideally, I prefer not to schedule more than five individual clients in a day. Four individual clients and one group is an ideal day for me. I feel the most energetic in the mornings and early afternoons, so I try to schedule most of my clients during that time. I work late one night a week and I start my day later that morning.
One useful tool I have discovered is using a paper “map” that displays all my client slots and I utilize this in addition to my calendar. I am a visual person and I keep my map nearby when I’m returning calls to potential clients. The map keeps me honest and prevents me from impulsively creating new timeslots which might not work best for me.
We all have different capacities on different days and I regularly check in with myself to notice how I am feeling. If a client is in crisis, I do my best to get them scheduled but I have to make sure I have enough “gas in my tank” to accommodate them. I have two “flex” slots in my schedule that I keep open for this purpose.
I’m fascinated with the relationship between time, earning, and workaholism. In my prior career in technology there were always emergencies and we worked exceptionally long hours; the culture rewarded workaholism. Therapists also experience emergencies—and sometimes we overschedule ourselves to accommodate our clients. When this happens on a regular basis it might be workaholism. The 12-Step Group, Workaholics Anonymous, LA offers some good literature on workaholism. They offer 20 questions you can ask yourself about your work habits. Their website is https://workaholics-anonymous.org/. Here are two of my favorite questions.
Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most?
Do you believe that it is okay to work long hours if you love what you are doing?
I’d love to hear about your ideal schedule. Feel free to reach out to me on social media, or via phone or email.
Maria Gray, LMFT, NMP, CGP, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles. She is a Brainspotting Specialist who specializes in trauma and addictions. Maria is a Certified Group Therapist and currently offers three online groups in her practice. She enjoys working with adults who grew up around mentally ill or addictive family members. To learn more, go to www.mariagray.net.
Simple Cures for Loneliness
Loneliness is on the rise. The most recent US data studied by John Cacioppo, a social neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, found that almost a quarter of people today are plagued by frequent loneliness, regardless of gender, race, or education levels. A 2010 AARP survey found that of the people age 45 and up who participated in their study, 35% reported chronic loneliness compared with 20% ten years ago.
This disturbing trend reflects the fact that increasing numbers of people are living alone, added to the decrease in people joining groups and organizations that in the past fostered a sense of community. Robert Putnam, Ph.D. from Harvard (Bowling Alone, 2001), puts the blame on the long- term decline in Americans’ civic engagement. Boomers and those younger have been less likely to join churches or other groups that supported feelings of belonging to something meaningful. The fact that a person has hundreds if not thousands of “friends” on Facebook can actually make loneliness worse, because we seem to need to be in the presence of each other’s bodies.
The hidden costs of this isolation are now linked to serious health problems such as depression, alcohol abuse, sleep disorders, chronic pain, anxiety, and even dementia and Alzheimer’s. The World Health Organization has rated loneliness as a higher risk to health than smoking and as great a risk as obesity. Lonely people’s immune systems become compromised, increasing their risk of health problems, as well as their feelings of discouragement which affect their willingness to practice good self-care.
Despite this epidemic, there appears to be a positive correlation between spirituality and lower reports of loneliness. In a study by Jacqueline Olds, M.D., people who identify as “very religious or spiritual” report half the degree of loneliness than people who identify as “not religious at all.” People who attend religious or spiritual services once a month or more reported the lowest incidences of loneliness of all.
There is also a correlation between low reports of loneliness among people who donate their time to charities and other nonprofits. Volunteers who work together toward a common goal of helping others often develop meaningful relationships with each other.
It appears that spirituality is good for your physical, emotional, and relational health. Research indicates that the best prescription to prevent loneliness is to meet with others on a regular basis, join and become active in groups, volunteer for causes you believe in, and to put into action your understanding that we are all in this together.
© 2021 Catherine Auman
Catherine Auman, LMFT is a licensed therapist with advanced training in both traditional and spiritual psychology with over thirty years of successful professional experience helping thousands of clients. She has headed nationally based psychiatric programs as well as worked through alternative methodologies based on ancient traditions and wisdom teachings. Visit her online at catherineauman.com.
LA-CAMFT Diversity Committee
Therapists of Color Support Group
Second Sunday of Every Month
A safe place to receive peer support and process experiences of racism (systemic, social, and internalized), discrimination, implicit bias, racist injury, aggression, and micro-aggressions, along with additional experiences that therapists of color encounter in the field of mental health.
Open to LA-CAMFT Members and Non-Members
Second Sunday of Each Month
Location: Zoom Meeting
For more information, contact Niparpon Johansen, LMFT at email@example.com.
Event Details: Sunday, May 9, 2021, 11:00 am-1:00 pm (PT)
Time of Check-In: 10:50 am
Online Registration CLOSES on the day of the event.
Questions about Registration? Contact Christina Cacho Sakai, LMFT at DiversityCommittee@lacamft.org.
LA-CAMFT Online On-Demand CEU Courses from Charter for Compassionate Education
LA-CAMFT is excited to announce new additions to our online on-demand CEU offerings from Charter for Compassionate Education. Starting in April, you can find links to these great online CEU courses on the LACAMFT.org Home Page under the Information tab:
Emotional Intelligence for a Compassionate World (On Demand) (Barbara Kerr) (20 CEUs)
Maybe you’ve thought about how empowering it could be to join with others who are willing to take action for a more compassionate world.
And maybe you’ve recognized that building Emotional Intelligence skills could be helpful to you in your work with clients, your personal relationships, as well as in building a more compassionate community where you live.
Emotional Intelligence skills and competencies can become the fertile ground for a more compassionate world. The skills that contribute to Emotional Intelligence can lead to the development of empathy and compassion—in individuals, in families, in the workplace, in communities, and among the interconnected societies of people throughout the world.
During this course, you will discover your own Emotional Intelligence strengths, learn ways to add to your Emotional Intelligence competencies, and consider practical ways to apply your skills to build a more compassionate world.
Compassionate Integrity Training (CIT) (10 Week Live Course) (30 CEUs)
Have you ever wondered how you could cultivate the compassion called for in the world or help others cultivate that compassion? Compassionate Integrity Training (CIT) is a great place to start!
CIT is a resiliency-informed program that cultivates human values as skills, so we can thrive as individuals, and a society, within a healthy environment. By learning skills to calm our bodies and mind, becoming more emotionally aware, learning to practice compassion for ourselves and others, as well as engaging with compassion in complex systems, we can build towards compassionate integrity: the ability to live one’s life in accordance with one’s values with a recognition of common humanity, our basic orientation to kindness and reciprocity.
The Compassionate Integrity Training is a 10-week, live-streaming course starting April 26th, 2021, so REGISTER NOW and don’t miss it!
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