Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Voices — November 2021
Jenni J.V. Wilson, LMFT
My message this month is simply this—sometimes being grateful is hard.
Everyone doesn’t find this time of year magical. Not everyone has a family to gather with, or friends to share a table—especially with Covid variants still having their way with us. Not everyone can find the silver lining in the gray clouds that stir over one’s solitude, while other folx gleefully make plans to travel, gift, and get. That’s okay. Most of the time I am really good at finding the positive spin, on seeing the opportunity in the crisis, the beauty in the chaos—but not all the time.
Connecting to a bigger picture, recognizing the temporary nature of it all, sometimes can feel like an impossible task. Sometimes things simply suck and no attitude shift can remedy that. When the days get shorter, and the temperature drops—even to a chilly 65 degrees—it is normal for our systems to rebel against us, catapulting us into seasonal malaise, reluctance, and despair. If we’re lucky we get a few days off at the end of November and December, where we are faced with what we’ve not been facing. We sit with our own pain, process it in our own therapy, consultation, and/or supervision, and then find ways to wring ourselves out to freshly absorb what our clients spill for us the next time around.
Self-care is not just a hot trendy buzzword inspiring memes and TikTok posts, podcasts, and Psychology Today articles. Self-care is not just a marketing ploy to sell vagina-scented candles, kelp smoothies, light-therapy boxes, and craft supplies. It’s a real thing that no one but you can define. Sometimes Self-Care is getting in the shower, dressing up, and pushing oneself to be social. Sometimes Self-Care is admitting you’re having a shitty day, can’t get it up to “fake it till you make it,” and prefer to put on a pair of sweats, dig into a bag of potato chips, watch That ‘70s Show reruns, and ignore texts for a while. You decide.
I’ve traveled on Thanksgiving, hosted Thanksgiving, and felt I was being held hostage on Thanksgiving. I’ve also spent more than a handful of Thanksgivings all alone, dodging the drama and trauma Olympics of family holiday gatherings. I’ve found that it’s just another day, one that will pass, and one that only has the power and meaning we give it. If you are having a hard time summoning gratitude this year, I see you. If you are choosing Self-Care instead of over-obligation, I feel you. If you just want the few days off to process the hard stuff, organize the mess, cry or sleep, I’m with you.
Whatever you do, I wish you low-to-no paperwork, no client crises, no family emergencies, no irritating small-talk, no broken hearts, no commercial interruptions, and no unbearable pain. But where some of those things may be present or unavoidable, where your heart has truly broken and your pain feels never-ending, I wish you restful down-time, I wish you renewal, I wish you love, and I wish you silver-linings in the beautiful chaos.
This month on November 7 from 9:00am-3:30pm, LA-CAMFT is offering a 6-CE Suicide Prevention, Risk Assessment and Management Workshop presented via Zoom by Dr. Mekel Harris, PhD, NCSP, PMH-C. This Suicide Prevention Training is good for BBS licensure renewal, any workplace requirements, and/or overall reinforcement. LA-CAMFT is unlikely to offer this training again, so don’t miss out on it this time around.
Keep an eye out for the 2022 Board of Directors ballot, for membership approval. We would also appreciate if members can take a few minutes to review and ratify the new bylaws—which will hopefully be showing up in your inbox by the end of the year, as well.
As of the time of this writing, we are still planning to hold our annual in-person Holiday Party at a place TBD, on the afternoon of Sunday, December 12, 2021. Check on https://www.lacamft.org/ for more information and to register. It is a free social networking event, we will be following CDC-recommended safety protocols, and everyone is welcome.
If you or someone you know would like to be more involved in some way or to be a part of the leadership team in the months and years to come, reach out to me at President@LACAMFT.org. You know volunteering helps lift the spirits, don’t you?
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. Mekel Harris, Ph.D., NCSP, PMH-C
Event Details: Sunday, November 7, 2021, 9:00 am-3:30 am (PT)
Where: Online Via Zoom
After you register you will be emailed a Zoom link the Thursday before the presentation.
More information and register today by clicking the Register Here button below.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
Getting Paid: Easy & Affordable Holiday Season Marketing & Networking That Will Fill Your Practice with Clients You Love
The holiday season is a great time for marketing and networking that’ll fill your practice with the type of clients you love to work with by keeping you and your practice at the forefront of people’s minds. This type of marketing and networking works equally well for pre-licensed as well as licensed professionals.
What???? Yes, it’s true, Holiday Season Marketing works. Even during the pandemic. No mask wearing, vaccination or social distancing required. It doesn’t involve Zoom, video or phone.
You don’t have to drive anywhere, park, register, pay for admission, dress professionally or talk to anyone . . . It doesn’t even have to cost much or take much time.
What type of marketing and networking is this?
Drumroll please . . . Sending a holiday card—or greeting. By email or snail mail. With or without a handwritten note or signature. Yes, a printed message and a printed signature works equally well.
Emailing or Snail Mailing your referral sources or colleagues or mailing list an actual physical card or e-card or a short email message with or without a holiday template will keep you connected to your referral sources, colleagues, and even those new professionals you’ve met on Zoom or other online or in-person event.
When you’re top of mind to colleagues and referral sources, you get referrals.
Hate that idea? Then send a personalized email greeting message on a plain email or holiday email template. Three or four sentences will do. A hello greeting, wishing them well for the holiday or holiday season, thanking them for their client or job referrals—or expressing some kind of gratitude for the year or season, then closing.
Sometimes professionals will send this type of email to a segment of former clients (who they have permission to email) and attach a pdf of or link to a helpful article or one they wrote. You’d be surprised how many of these clients send a referral or make an appointment for a session. It works equally well even when there is no holiday or holiday season.
The type of card, message, greeting doesn’t matter, it’s the contacting and connecting through the card, e-card, email, newsletter, etc., that makes the difference.
You don’t even have to send this to very many people for it to be effective—5 or 10 or 20 cards will do it. No need to send 100 for this type of marketing and networking to be effective.
It can be personalized or not—this just depends on you, your budget, the amount of time you have, the type of practice you have (branding, niche), the type of referral sources and clients you work with.
Think about it . . . It’s very budget friendly at any price point in any budget. While it takes a little time and effort to send these, it usually adds up to less time, effort and money than you were spending before stay-at-home orders—remember when you were driving in traffic to an early morning event that you paid $35-50 or more to attend?
If you don’t want to do this yourself, and your marketing and networking budget allows it, you can hire a virtual assistant to send the e-cards or to snail mail cards signed, addressed and sent online or send actual snail mail cards that are put together—put in the envelope, addressed, stamp affixed, and mailed at the post office. If you don’t want to pick out the card or the printed message you can have the virtual assistant do that, too!
Needless to say, to carry out sending a virtual or physical card you need to have the person’s email or physical address. Don’t forget many have given up physical offices but still have the address on their website or directory listing. If you aren’t sure that they are still at the physical location, then an e-card or email message is probably the best choice.
For those who don’t want to spend any money or write anything or for those are on social media and want to only do a Facebook or Instagram holiday card or graphic, that’ll work, too—especially for those professionals near or far that you don’t have an email or physical address for. However, don’t rule out the power of receiving a snail mail card you hold in your hand and know the person made an effort to send to you—or an animated e-card that makes you laugh or feel calm and peaceful. People remember.
A caveat . . . in picking out your card or writing your email message, be sure to be consciously inclusive of others who may not celebrate the same holiday as you do during the holiday season. While you don’t have to tailor your cards or messages specifically to your receiver’s holiday—although doing so is a nice touch if you are sure what holiday they celebrate (Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Christmas, etc.). Remember to check out the words as well as the graphic so that you don’t inadvertently send a word or visual greeting that includes a Christmas tree or Santa Claus to someone who doesn’t celebrate or believe in those traditions. An alternative to sending a holiday season greeting is to skip that altogether and send a New Year’s card. Either works.
Sending a snail mail card costs $2-$8 per card with envelope depending on the cost of the card itself, whether or not you have your name and or greeting printed on it and add postage on top of that. So, $3 to $10. And you have to buy stamps and take them to the post office to mail. Postage is 58 to 88 cents per envelope (Square envelopes are 88 cents—sigh . . . square cards are my favorite).
There are also snail mail cards (Paper Source, MOMA, Hallmark, etc.) that can be bought ($3-$10) and sent online—with your actual signature and or note and no post office trip to buy stamps or send. These often play a song or have a pop-up graphic.
E-cards cost less. Most e-card services are less that $50 per year for an unlimited number of cards that can be sent throughout the year, not just during a holiday season (Jacquie Lawson, 123 Cards, Doozy, etc.)
An email message without any holiday graphic or template will do just fine and costs zero dollars.
An email message with a holiday graphic or template can cost zero dollars (free plans) to $10 per month or $100-$120 per year (Canva, Adobe Spark, etc.) depending on the graphic app you use.
The cost for most therapists to do this at the low end is going to be under $50; at the medium price point, $100-$150; at the higher end $200-$250.
I just bought my Holiday Season and New Year cards for this year. Total cost of customized printed Paper Source cards to send 60 total for Holiday Season (preprinted message, name and website as signature, with envelopes) and New Year (no printing)—both for me to address and add postage to: $135. (Disclosure . . . I bought early for a 40% discount and free shipping.) Last year I sent 20 beautiful pop-up cards from MOMA and the total cost was $50.
The cost of sending a an online or physical card--if you don't choose the no cost email option—is about the same as attending two or three in person networking events.
It's more than likely that this year, you, like most therapists, spent a lot less on networking and marketing because you didn't attend any or attended just a few in-person networking events or attended online events. That same amount of money—the amount you would have spent on gas, parking costs, and registration fees—can go toward covering the costs of your holiday card and message.
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.
Tina Cacho Sakai,
LA-CAMFT Therapists of Color Mentorship Program: Call for Therapist of Color (TOC) Mentors
During our “Anti-Racism as a Movement, Not a Moment” Roundtable in August 2020, we came together as a therapeutic community to discuss and address racism and discrimination. We collaborated on what LA-CAMFT can do to be an actively and overtly anti-racist community. We specifically identified needed supports that we as therapists of color and as a therapeutic community wanted to see provided. One of the many needed supports identified was a Therapists of Color (TOC) Mentorship Program.
In January 2021 a group of students, associates and licensed therapists of color formed the Therapists of Color (TOC) Mentorship Program Committee and met on a monthly basis to discuss and begin the creation of this program. The committee spent quality time on the purpose statement, guidelines, interest form, marketing, launch date, and more. The development of the program are the contributions of the following committee participants: Akiah Selwa, Destiny Campron, Jenni Villegas Wilson, Leanne Nettles, Lucy Sladek, Maisha Gainer, Matthew Fernandez, Nehemiah Campbell, Perla Hollow, Rachell Alger, Raven Barrow, Stara Shakti, and Tina Cacho Sakai
The LA-CAMFT Therapists of Color (TOC) Mentorship Program exists to help address inequities experienced by professional mental health therapists of color and intersections with other historically marginalized groups. The first of its kind amongst CAMFT chapters, LA-CAMFT is committed to ensuring quality mentorship for therapists of color by therapists of color. The mentorship program is intended to help bridge the gap of identifying and creating opportunities for growth and advancement in the field, guide clinicians across various stages of professional development, increase accessibility and sustainability in the field, and assist therapists of color to confidently provide services from their culturally authentic self.
At this time, we are Calling for Therapists of Color (TOC) Mentors who are committed to this mission and more:
Here are some of the many rewards for being a Therapist of Color (TOC) Mentor:
If you are interested in becoming a Therapist of Color (TOC) Mentor, would like to receive more information and/or receive the Interest Form, reach out to us at email@example.com.
With Gratitude and Solidarity,
Why You Should Hang With More Successful Writers
If you’re trying to break into writing for television or film, chances are you’re already hanging around with some other writers. If you don’t have friends who are going after the goals you are, get some new friends.
It’s not that complicated. Join some groups, get out and meet some other writers. You can do it. You have to decide you want to do it first. Then you take the logical next steps.
If you can manage it, try to make friends with writers who are just a bit more successful than you. It’s clearly more intimidating to try to hang out with really successful writers. You know who I’m talking about. You don’t have to meet those people right away.
There’s probably someone in your screenwriting class who’s placed very high up in—let’s say—the Page screenwriting competition. That’s someone you want to get to know better. Offer to buy them coffee and find out how they did it. Be curious. Have an open mind. Be friendly.
What happens when you start hanging around with people who’ve had some success? If you’re smart, you listen to them. Ask questions. Find out where they got the idea for their script. Which screenwriting books do they like? Do they have an agent or a manager? How did they make that happen?
When you get close to a more successful writer, you start to see succeeding is possible. After all, your new friend’s had some success and they’re just someone in your class. Hanging around with this person will help you feel you can place in the Page competition, too. Success is possible.
Where do you find writers who’ve achieved some success—but not too much? You can find them working on laptops in coffee shops and bars. You can find them at seminars, contests, and pitchfests. Even if you can’t find an actual person to hang around with, you can join an online group (on Facebook, LinkedIn, for example) and get to know those writers.
Writers who’ve experienced some success are generally pretty happy to share their secrets. Like all writers they’ve struggled and overcome some steep odds. Let them share their stories with you. If you listen you’ll learn how to sell your own screenplays.
The better you get to know writers who’ve experienced some success, you’ll pick up on how confident and determined they are about writing. Those feeling can be contagious. When you see someone you know achieve their goals, it makes you feel that you can do it, too.
If you really put your mind to it you can make lots of friends who are decent screenwriters. Then you can meet for coffee every once in a while. You can share your movie ideas with them and gage from their reaction how good they are. At some point you’ll be exchanging scripts. You’ll be giving each other feedback.
The writers who are the furthest ahead of you in their careers will have the most valuable feedback. When you read their scripts, you’ll get a better idea about how to do it right. You can discuss what works and what doesn’t. After a while you’re both bound to get better.
If your successful friends get to know you and still feel that you can make it, think about how great that’ll make you feel. And that’ll do a lot for your confidence—which will help you trust your judgment. Hopefully you’ll both advance in your careers together and be there for each other.
Another big part of succeeding in screenwriting is networking with other writers, directors, and producers. Your writer friends will be able to introduce you to the people in the field who can help you get closer to your goals. And you should be able to share your contacts with them.
You and your friends will hopefully reach professional levels in screenwriting about the same time. And if you keep in touch you’ll be able to help each other throughout your careers. In my twenty five years of writing for film and television I know I’ve gotten many staff jobs and some feature writing assignments by keeping up with my friends.
When my writing partner and I were just starting out we took a writing class with Lorenzo Music, the creator of the TV show Rhoda. We met some other writers who were at about our level. When we started to get work, they did too. We helped each other get jobs on four different shows.
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.
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 the LA-CAMFT Diversity Committee at DiversityCommittee@lacamft.org.
Licensed Therapists, Associates, and Students
Event Details: Sunday, November 14, 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 day of the event.
Questions about Registration? Contact Christina Cacho Sakai, LMFT at DiversityCommittee@lacamft.org.
In diversity there is beauty
and there is strength.
How to Turn a Cold Call into a Gold Call
When you learn how to turn a Cold Call into a Gold Call, it can seem like magic!
Financial Stress Reduction Expert
When you get a call from someone interested in your product or service, do you always say the right thing?
I’ve blown it a number of times. But sometimes, I can even turn a bad call into a great call!
Here’s one of my favorite examples from “The Wealthy Spirit."
Can you see what I did wrong? And then how I turned it around?
How to Turn a Cold Call into a Gold Call
“You have to take it as it happens, but you should try to make it happen the way you want to take it.” German Proverb
“My friend, Judy, told me I had to take your workshop. When is your next one?” said the female voice on the phone.
I was so happy to get the call—a ship coming in to harbor that I didn’t send out!—that I made a classic mistake: I answered her question.
“The next eight-week session begins on Wednesday from 3:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon.” I replied.
“Oh, I can’t come in the afternoon!” she exclaimed, “I work during the day. Where are you located?”
“I’m in Pacific Palisades.”
“Oh, no. I’m in Pasadena, that’s much too far away for me. How much does the seminar cost?”
“One thousand dollars,” I answered. (This was the price in 1994.)
“Oh, no! There’s no way I can afford that!”
Do you see the problem? This woman called to enroll in my seminar and proceeded to ask questions about the FEATURES of the seminar (when is it, where is it, etc.) instead of the BENEFITS of the seminar (how will it improve my life?).
I then proceeded to answer her questions, instead of telling her what she really wanted to know.
It is a classic mistake salespeople often make. I gave control to the prospect, I talked instead of listened, I addressed the wrong issue.
Finally, I realized my error!
So then I took control and turned the conversation around:
“I understand,” I said sympathetically. “But let me ask you a question. If the seminar was at a time you could come, a place that was convenient, and a price you could afford—what would you want to get out of it?”
“Well, I don’t know exactly, but I have a lot of stress around money in my life . . .”
With one question, I had taken back control of the conversation.
I asked more questions: What do you see as your biggest problem with money? How long have you had this problem? What would you most like to change about the money in your life? And so on.
After she answered these questions, and told me her vision of success, I saw that she would benefit from taking my course.
Then I shared with her the success stories of people just like herself who had benefited from the workshop in the specific ways she wanted to benefit.
By the end of the conversation, she got so excited about the possibilities, she exclaimed, “Okay, I’m in! Tell me how to get there.” She voluntarily threw out all her objections and enrolled in the class, because she wanted the benefits.
What do people come to you for? How do they benefit? That’s what you have to give—and what you have to sell.
Today’s Affirmation: “People love to buy from me!”
Even though it was years ago, I remember that conversation so well! I learned a lot from that experience that helped me with sales conversations ever since.
Isn’t it funny how often we learn the most from our mistakes?
Being able to have a good sales conversation is a skill everyone needs to develop.
You might be selling your product or service, or you may just be convincing your child to pick up their room, or a friend to go with you to the movie you want to see.
Chellie Campbell, Financial Stress Reduction Expert, is the author of bestselling books The Wealthy Spirit, Zero to Zillionaire, and most recently From Worry to Wealthy: A Woman’s Guide to Financial Success Without the Stress. She is widely quoted in major media including Redbook, Good Housekeeping and more than 50 popular books. She has been treating Money Disorders like Spending Bulimia and Income Anorexia in her Financial Stress Reduction® Workshops for over 25 years. Her website is www.chellie.com.
White Therapists Antiracist Group at Six Months
In the summer of 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, LA-CAMFT hosted a forum titled, Roundtable: Anti-racism as a Movement, not a Moment. Over 50 therapists brought their voices to begin the difficult conversations we needed to have about systemic racism within our own therapy community and how to move forward.
That first Roundtable served as a catalyst for a multitude of additional conversations, workshops, and initiatives, including a focused planning effort on the part of several therapists to engage white therapists in antiracist work.
Fast forward to April 25, 2021, when twelve therapists attended the breakout group for white therapists at LA-CAMFT’s Antiracist Roundtable 2. And on June 5th, just a little over a month later, the official first meeting of the White Therapists Antiracist Group was held.
Recognizing that when whiteness is invisible to white people, racism is maintained, we knew this is where we had to begin our work. So, for these first six months, we have been “unpacking the personal” which means exploring our white identity. We have been confronting the invisible whiteness of our lives, making the invisible visible. We are “witnessing our whiteness” by facing our personal experiences of white privilege in our lives and seeing how it is embedded in every aspect of our social, educational, financial, political, medical and mental health systems. We have created a safe space to express and explore our discomfort, to grow beyond the white fragility of our shame, defensiveness, and denial so that we can engage with our colleague therapists of color to dismantle racism in our therapy practice and community. We are committed to gain the skills to be in action in effective, affirmative ways.
The following are the words of several group members speaking to their commitment to the work and to their experience thus far in the White Therapists Antiracist Group.
“As therapists, we have committed ourselves to fostering self-understanding and personal growth in our clients. And for many of us, this same commitment applies to ourselves. As a white person who is a therapist, my growth edge now is a deep dive into unflinchingly recognizing my whiteness, in all its parameters and seeking new choices in how I think, act, live. I am so fortunate to be able to pursue this growth in a community of white therapists, all of us dedicated to exposing and taming our latent racism.”
“Participating in this group has granted me an opening to access the lifetime accumulation of beliefs, thoughts and actions / in-actions that are a part of being white.
I’m more aware and willing to own my internal narrative that has developed from being a member of the empowered and dominant group in our society.”
“I made a commitment to continue to unpack, make contact with, and explore my growing edges regarding my White Identity and how that impacts the world, others and self. I believe the more that I am making conscious what is unconscious, the more available I will be to engage in responsible allyship.”
“As a white person and parent, I feel it’s essential for me to engage in antiracist efforts, and to better understand race and racism through self-education, dialogue and self-examination. As a white therapist, with the additional responsibility to “do no harm,” I recognize the importance of acknowledging my privilege and opening up conversations about race in the therapy room. I really appreciate LA-CAMFT's White Therapists Antiracist Group, as it provides a space for a deeper exploration of whiteness, and an opportunity for continued learning, reflecting and growth.”
“When I look into my heart, I know racism and discriminatory practices and patterns are unjust. I do this antiracism work because for too long I have let discomfort silence me. The fact that I have a choice to be quiet at all is a sign of my privilege. The first part of this work is to be able to look at myself, honestly, and to decide that I must embrace being uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable is the first step to acknowledge and accept the need for growth in order to make change. My commitment to this antiracist affinity group has given me the safe space needed in order to educate myself so I can consistently show up and be who I say I am, no matter the circumstances. Tell me, when you look into your heart, what does it say to you?”
What have we learned these six months? That though we have just begun, we are on the right track. That meeting these 6 months has only increased our commitment to the work. That this kind of work is best done in small groups averaging about 8 people. Therefore, to provide the opportunity and experience for more folks, it is incumbent upon us to replicate. If, “when you look into your heart” you feel moved to become part of this movement, and would like to be part of the next 8-member group, We’d love to hear from you!
Randi Gottlieb, LMFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles. Her work is rooted in Gestalt, attachment focused EMDR, and Trauma Resiliency as complimentary body/mind approaches. She frames her work within a Narrative Therapy lens. Randi’s areas of specialization include treatment for children, birth through emerging adulthood, life transitions, and trauma recovery. She is Chair of the LA-CAMFT White Therapists Anti-Racist Group and a member of the Diversity Committee.
Black Therapist Support Group
First Saturday of Every Month
Saturday, November 6, 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.
Event Details: Saturday, November 6, 2021, 12:00 pm-1:30 pm (PT)
Time of Check-In: 11:50 am
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.
Andrew Susskind,LCSW, SEP, CGP
Avoidance as a Survival Strategy (Part 1)
Scratch the surface of compulsive sexual behavior, and you’ll find an avoidant attachment style. As a matter of fact, sexual compulsivity and intimacy avoidance are inseparable. Because you had poor role models to show you the way, substantial intimacy blocks are inevitable. In other words, giving and receiving love has been dangerous territory for you resulting in brokenheartedness and profound isolation.
How you experienced love in the first months and years of life lays the blueprint for your style of relating to others as a grown-up. One of the keys to sustainable recovery is to integrate sex, love, and intimacy. In the movie, Moulin Rouge, the protagonist named Christian declares that “the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” Because of my own challenges with intimacy—both longing for and fearing closeness—this was a very moving message in the film as he desperately pursued love with someone who was truly unavailable and potentially life-threatening to him.
Christian’s anguish escalated when ongoing attempts to establish deeper contact with his object of desire remained futile. The obsessive quest for the unavailable person—sometimes referred to as the impossible love—creates emotional hunger and unsatisfied longings. Giving and receiving love more freely is a powerful antidote to compulsive behavior. When you’re able to develop true intimate contact with others, seeking the impossible love loses steam, and sobriety gains traction.
Jan Bauer’s book, Impossible Love, describes both the suffering and the growing edge that goes along with looking for love in all the wrong places—for example, affairs and emotional entanglements. Although the excitement of the brief adrenaline rush may be supercharged, it’s unlikely to be converted into long-term intimacy. Don’t get me wrong. The impossible love can be a fantastic learning opportunity, but only if you’re able to recognize it, gain perspective on your part in the relationship and tease out the deeper meaning and purpose beneath your longings.
If you have the luxury of owning a pet, this may be one of the finest intimacy laboratories. My dogs have always been instrumental in my practice of giving and receiving. Pets are powerful healers because of their instinctual way of loving. And if you pay attention to the free flow of love they offer, they demonstrate a rare template of intimacy unsurpassed by humans. No expectations. No conditions. No pressure. Pets offer a rare 24/7 consistency as a true companion and wholehearted creature. In the second half of this post, we will take a closer look at attachment wounds and how to repair them.
Reprint October 13, 2021, Westside Post.
Andrew Susskind, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Somatic Experiencing and Brainspotting Practitioner and Certified Group Psychotherapist, based in West Los Angeles since 1992, specializing in trauma and addictions. His recent book, It’s Not About the Sex: Moving from Isolation to Intimacy after Sexual Addiction joins his workbook, From Now On: Seven Keys to Purposeful Recovery. For more information visit his websites westsidetherapist.com and brainspottinglosangeles.org.
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California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
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