Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Voices — September 2023
Christina “Tina” Cacho Sakai, LMFTPresident, LA-CAMFT
Excited to introduce you to 2023 LA-CAMFT Board Member-At-Large, Diversity Committee Member and Therapist of Color Mentor, Stara Shakti, LMFT and Special Interest Group Chair, Sandi Bohle, AMFT. Stara and Sandi’s leadership involvement began at the 2017 Leadership Retreat and have evolved to the Board of Directors. They both have a unique set of skills and the desire to create “Safe Spaces” for therapists.
Stara Shakti, LMFT has been a leader within LA-CAMFT since 2017 as one of the founding and current members of the Diversity Committee. Stara is a prominent leader within the Diversity Committee and helped create and facilitate the monthly support groups; such as, the Therapists of Color Support Group and the Asian American Pacific Islander+ Therapists Circle. In addition, Stara assisted with launching the Therapists of Color Mentorship Program and is a mentor to therapists of color. Stara has partaken in the growth of the Diversity Committee which has focused on race and culture and is passionate about the evolution of the Diversity Committee to include more intersectionality; such as, Race AND….LGBTQ+, Neurodivergent, Adult Children of Immigrants, etc. Stara believes that it is time to move into the future and “the future is intersectional where more young people are mixed race, gender queer, fluid and non-binary.” Stara believes in creating safe spaces to bring ALL of ourselves to the table.
Stara’s “why” to being a LA-CAMFT Leader:
Stara’s “how” to being a LA-CAMFT Leader:
Stara’s “hopes and dreams” for LA-CAMFT:
Sandi Bohle, AMFT joined LA-CAMFT while she was in graduate school for clinical psychology due to “always being highly involved with organizations that make things better for members and being an LA-CAMFT Board Member is just a piece of that.”
Before Sandi pursued her passion for psychology, she worked in the entertainment industry for 30 years and learned the way to get involved and get jobs is to be part of a Union. Sandi was Head of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local in Santa Rosa, Member and Head of StageHands Union on the East Coast, Stage Managers Committee at Actors Equity and member and executive director of the Stage Managers Association.
In Sandi’s early years with LA-CAMFT, she attended networking events and trainings where she met leaders who uplifted her to leadership. Sandi then became involved with the Special Interest Group and it was a natural progression to becoming the Somatic Psychotherapy Chair in 2019 and Special Interest Group Chair in 2021. Sandi feels “so much of our work is moving more into a somatic sense” where the focus is helping clients with releasing trauma from the body.
Sandi’s “why” to being a LA-CAMFT Leader:
Sandi’s “highlights” to being a LA-CAMFT Leader:
Sandi’s “hopes and dreams” for LA-CAMFT:
Special thank you to Stara and Sandi for allowing me to interview you and share your uniqueness with the broader LA-CAMFT Community! If you would like to get in contact with either of them, you could find them here: https://lacamft.org/Board-of-Directors-2023. If you are interested in leadership opportunities, please email me directly at President@lacamft.org.
Christina “Tina” Cacho Sakai, LMFT
Friday, September 22, 2023
10:00 am-12:00 pm
2 CE Credits
Online Via Zoom
(Registration is open and available until the group begins)
Road to Licensure
Luke Martin, Esq.
CAMFT Staff Attorney
This presentation is intended to provide an overview of the licensing process for pre-licensees as they work toward licensure in marriage and family therapy. Topics to be discussed include: the marriage and family therapy licensing process; supervised experience requirements for applicants; supervisor qualifications and supervision requirements; licensing examinations; and common employment issues pre-licensees encounter with their supervisors.
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.
Awardees of the 2023 Grant Awards for Pre-Licensed Members Who Are Therapists of Color
On June 25, 2023, the most recent awardees of the LA-CAMFT TOC GRANT AWARD were randomly selected. They are Beatriz Valencia and Tunde Esho. Each will receive a check for $500, a free year of LA-CAMFT membership and free admission to 3 LA-CAMFT workshops or networking events. The next cycle for the grant will begin on September 5, 2023. It is limited to members of LA-CAMFT and limited to once per calendar year.
Description of Grant Stipend
Every 4 months (3x per year), a grant award will be offered to two applicants who meet the following criteria: (1) must be a current LA-CAMFT member, (2) identify as a Therapist of Color, and (3) must be either an Associate, Trainee, or Student still in graduate school.
Grant winners will receive
The $500 award can be used at the recipient’s discretion based on their own individual needs (whether it be for BBS fees, testing materials, memberships, rent, groceries, etc.). Confirmation of the purpose that the money is used will not be required.
Application and Selection Process
Interested members can complete the application on the LA-CAMFT website. The selection process entails using a Randomized Generator of the applicants who met the full qualifying criteria and completed the application online to take out human bias and decrease activation of one's trauma history. The drawing will be recorded via Zoom and posted onto social media along with an announcement naming the grant winners, whom will also be contacted via email directly. Registration for the next award cycle will open on September 5, 2023, and will close on November 4, 2023. The drawing will take place on November 5, 2023.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFTVoices Editor
Getting Paid: Professional Self-Care — The Secret to A Successful, Sustainable Private Practice, Career Longevity & Happiness
In the process of providing support to others, it's easy for us as psychotherapists to neglect our own well-being. This is where professional self-care comes in. The secret to a successful and profitable psychotherapy practice lies in our ability to care for ourselves as we care for others.
Professional self-care, including setting boundaries, taking regular breaks, seeking supervision or peer support, helps mental health professionals maintain emotional resilience and avoid burnout. When well-rested and emotionally balanced, we provide better care to clients, leading to higher client satisfaction and retention.
It’s also a path to personal growth and resilience. Counselors who engage in self-care activities like ongoing education, supervision, and personal therapy continue to develop skills and expand their knowledge base.
When therapists are overworked and stressed, they struggle to maintain appropriate boundaries, protect client confidentiality, and make sound clinical judgments. By prioritizing self-care, we can uphold the highest ethical standards in our practice, safeguarding our therapeutic reputation and profitability in the long run.
A therapist's own well-being can also directly impact the ability to facilitate positive change in clients—since clients who perceive a therapist as a model of self-care are more likely to engage in their own self-care practices. This leads to improved client outcomes and referrals, ultimately contributing to the profitability of our practice and career.
Self-care also nurtures a therapist's resilience and enables us to cope with the emotional demands of the job. Resilient therapists better adapt to changing circumstances, handle difficult cases, and bounce back from setbacks—all which are crucial for a thriving practice and career.
Professional self-care is not a luxury; it's a necessity. It isn't selfish; it's the foundation upon which success is built.
Here are 12 practical, supportive tips and inspiration for professional self-care selected from articles used with those I do practice coaching, training, supervision, and consultation. Links to the articles or books are included.
1.May you be moved by passion and enthusiasm for your work, may you deeply believe that you deserve self-care, may you replenish yourself daily, may inspiration be a guiding compass to your days, may you know you are a bright light in a world that needs your presence, may you be an instrument of help and healing and may your cup overflow so that there is plenty to share.
Ashley Davis Bush, LICSWSimple Self-Care for Therapists: Restorative Practices to Weave Through Your Workday
2.I have always been better at caring for and looking after others than I have been at caring for myself. But in these later years, I have made progress.
Carl Rogers at age 75
3.Self-care is living your life in a way that is physically and mentally sustainable. As a therapist, a good self-care practice allows you to maintain your well-being so that you don’t deplete your own energy to care for your clients.
Melanie Donohue, LCSWWhy Self-care Is So Important for Therapists
4.We all have times when the stress of our clinical work causes us to become exhausted, anxious and agitated. Some of us are suffering now, or have suffered, from distress, compassion fatigue or burnout. All are occupational hazards. We’ve discovered that our inner reserves of empathy aren’t infinite. Becoming more self-aware helps us to know the limits of what is possible in our own lives as well as in the lives of our clients.
Vivian BaruchSelf-Care for Therapists
5.Prioritizing self-care is not a luxury; it is a necessity for therapists. Engaging in regular and intentional self-care practices can have a profound impact on our well-being and professional effectiveness. When we take care of ourselves, we are better equipped to provide quality care to our clients.
Caroline RouNurturing the Healer: Effective Therapist Self-Care Tools Unveiled
6.What does true work-life-balance look like? How is it achieved? Having a healthy balance between work and your personal life means that you are practicing professional self-care. Prioritizing this type of self-care often takes practice, especially since work is a huge aspect of our daily lives. Sometimes it can be difficult to turn off our “working brains” at the end of a work day, and the line between our professional and personal lives begins to blur.
While a lot of forms of self-care are practiced on people’s own time, professional self-care is something that can also be incorporated into the work day.
OregonCounseling.comProfessional Self-Care: Self-Care Series (Part 2)
7.When therapists neglect their own self-care by taking on more clients than they can reasonably fit into their schedules, working long hours to satisfy clients, and answering phone calls and emails around the clock, they may think they are doing clients a favor, when in reality they are setting themselves up for burnout.
Chris Howard, CADC-III, CCMI-M
Yes, International Self-Care Day is for Therapists Too
8.Professional self-care shows in the habits and routines you use to keep a healthy separation between your personal life and your work, for example:
Robyn E. Brickel, MA, LMFT Good Self-Care for Therapists
9.Micro Self-Care Vs. Self-Violence. The hard truth is that when you don’t take care of yourself, then you’re doing harm (violence) to yourself. It’s time to start thinking of self-care as a form of self-love and self-respect. It is not selfish to take care of yourself; it is necessary. So, the next time you find yourself skipping meals, not drinking water, or working long hours without a break, remember that you are worthy of self-care.
Micro Self-Care for Helping Professionals
10.When counselors are isolated, whether working in rural areas or working as sole private practitioners, maintaining wellness can pose an even bigger challenge. Without other colleagues to learn from, vent with or lean on for support, stress is more likely to build unimpeded. Experts say finding a support system, whether through formal supervision or an informal network of other professionals to meet with for consultation and camaraderie, is vital.
Lynne ShallcrossTaking Care of Yourself As A Counselor
11.My best tip for self-care is to never, ever let it fall to the back burner. It always has to be top of mind. As care givers there will be many times in your career that you will feel that you should put your self-care last in order to take care of others. It’s never a good idea. Think about your longevity in the profession and your future clients, and make self-care decisions very, very carefully.
12. The practice of self-care is an ongoing endeavor. We are never done with self-care; it must be engaged in throughout our careers. As our life circumstances change over time, so too should our self-care practices.
Jeffrey E. BarnettDistress, Therapist Burnout, Self-Care, and the Promotion of Wellness for Psychotherapists and Trainees.
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 professionals 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.
Middle Eastern North African (MENA)
Therapists Community Group
Monday, October 2, 2023
6:30 pm-7:30 pm (PT)
The MENA Therapists Community Group is a safe place across the Middle Eastern and North African therapist diaspora to build community and a sense of belonging. We hold an inclusive space to process the impact of cultural biases experienced by people of MENA descent and the effect it may have on our work as mental health professionals. Within the process, we will strive to create healing, support, and empowerment. We will collaboratively exchange ideas, experiences and resources while acknowledging cultural differences and shared similarities. As the poet Khalil Gibran states — “The reality of the other person lies not in what he reveals to you, but what he cannot reveal to you.” — our community will create a place to be seen, heard, and understood.
Open to LA-CAMFT Members and Non-Members
Location: Zoom Meeting
For more information contact the Diversity Committee, email@example.com.
For:Licensed Therapists, Associates, and Students
Event Details: Monday, October 2, 2023, 6:30 pm-7:30 pm (PT)Time of Check-In: 9:30 am
Where: Online Via Zoom
Upon registration for the presentation, you will receive a confirmation email that includes a link to our Zoom meeting.
Registration is open and available until the group begins.
Questions about Registration? Contact Tyana Tavakol, Perla Hollow, & Tania Osipof at DiversityCommittee@lacamft.org.
Joanna Poppink, LMFT
Quality Friendship: How to Recognize a Friend Who Is Good For You, Part 2
A good friendship can have a positive and uplifting impact on your life. It's important to recognize the signs of a healthy and supportive friendship. Moreover, being with a good friend can teach you how to be a good friend yourself.
How Your History May Hamper Your Ability to Establish Genuine Friendships
Ability to DiscriminateIt’s possible that if you have a history of being abused or betrayed you will doubt or spurn overtures of genuine friendship. The approach of a new friend can seem too good to be true. You may feel you are being set up, lured into a friendly relationship that will turn sour quickly. You may be angry in advance of the coming exploitation you are sure will follow the friendship overture. Learning how to discriminate between an approaching charmer who attempts to deceive you to get what they want and an approaching friend who is looking for a warm and honest bond is your growth challenge.
Taking time to get to know someone under different conditions, enjoying what is offered with no expectations or commitments, gradually learning if this person is trustworthy is the nature of developing a friend.
How to AssessDeveloping the ability to assess without accepting too soon or dismissing too soon is part of your ongoing growth challenge. You learn to hold your feelings, discriminate between what feelings you had when you were exploited and compare those situations to what is going on in this relationship in the here and now. Strong feelings can influence your perceptions. If your feelings come from past associations that do not relate to your present situation your perceptions can be distorted and incorrect.
Distorted PerceptionIt's important to recognize that strong emotions have the potential to influence your perceptions. If your emotions stem from past experiences that are unrelated to your present situation, they can distort your perceptions and lead to incorrect judgments.
By actively comparing your past associations with the present relationship, you can gain a clearer understanding of whether your suspicions are warranted or if they are based on unfounded fears. This process allows you to navigate your emotions more effectively and make more informed decisions about the trustworthiness of a potential friend. Your fears may be real and strong, but they may not be related at all to the exchange you have with the new person.
Furthermore, as you continue to grow, it becomes crucial to develop a deeper self-awareness that enables you to recognize the origins of your feelings and perceptions. By understanding the sources of your emotions, whether they arise from past traumas or present experiences, you can better discern their relevance to the current friendship.
Self-AwarenessIn order to avoid falling into the trap of dismissing genuine friendships out of fear or accepting toxic relationships due to misguided trust, it is essential to engage in mindful observation. Take the time to objectively evaluate the actions, words, and intentions of the person extending friendship to you.
Evaluate too, your own internal responses and judgements that rise up in your own consciousness. Use your skill and growing maturation to stay in the present. This process involves considering the consistency of their and your behavior, their willingness to listen and understand and yours, plus the alignment of their actions with their words and that alignment within yourself too.
BoundariesIt’s crucial to maintain healthy boundaries and not rush into deep commitments or complete withdrawal. Allow the friendship to unfold naturally over time, revealing its true nature and depth. By gradually building trust through shared experiences, open communication, and mutual respect, you can develop a more accurate assessment of the person's character and intentions.
Every new friendship is a unique opportunity for growth and connection. While your past experiences may have influenced your outlook, it is important to approach each relationship with an open mind and the willingness to let go of preconceived notions. By actively challenging your own biases and giving people a fair chance, you create the possibility of forming meaningful and authentic connections.
More Signs of a Good Friendship
Shared Values and Beliefs A good friendship often aligns with shared values and beliefs. You and your friend have similar principles and moral compasses, which create a sense of harmony and understanding. This shared foundation allows for deeper connections and mutual respect.
Example: You and your friend share core values such as honesty, integrity, and compassion. Your friendship is built on a common understanding of what is important in life.
Celebration of DifferencesIn a good friendship, differences are embraced and celebrated. You and your friend appreciate and respect each other's unique qualities, perspectives, and backgrounds. These differences bring diversity and richness to the friendship, fostering growth and learning.
Example: You and your friend come from different cultural backgrounds, and instead of letting it create barriers, you both appreciate the opportunity to learn from each other's traditions and experiences.
Reliability in Times of Need
A good friend shows up for you during challenging times. They are there to offer practical help, a listening ear, or simply a comforting presence when you're going through a difficult situation. Their reliability and willingness to support you create a sense of security.
Example: When you experience a family crisis, your friend rearranges their schedule to be by your side and provide the support you need.
Laughter and JoyA good friendship is filled with laughter, joy, and shared moments of happiness. You and your friend find delight in each other's company, share inside jokes, and create memories that bring smiles to your faces.
Example: Spending time with your friend always leaves you feeling uplifted and laughing together, whether it's through silly conversations, watching funny movies, or reminiscing about hilarious experiences.
Growth and Acceptance
In a good friendship, both friends support each other's personal growth and accept each other's evolving identities. You encourage each other to pursue goals, learn from mistakes, and embrace new experiences. The friendship provides a safe space for personal development and acceptance.
Example: Your friend encourages you to take on new challenges and celebrates the growth and positive changes you make in your life.
Forgiveness and Understanding
Good friends have the ability to forgive and understand each other's mistakes or shortcomings. They recognize that everyone is human and can make errors, and they choose to focus on the overall bond and shared positive experiences rather than holding grudges.
Example: When you make a mistake that affects your friend, they communicate their feelings, but they also forgive you and work together to repair the friendship.
Honest FeedbackIn a good friendship, both friends provide honest feedback to help each other grow. They offer constructive criticism with kindness and care, knowing that it comes from a place of love and support.
Example: Your friend gently points out areas where you can improve or offers suggestions for personal development, and you appreciate their honesty and willingness to help you become the best version of yourself.
Ultimately, a good friendship involves unconditional support. Your friend is there for you through thick and thin, without judgment or conditions. They offer a safe haven where you can be vulnerable and know that you will be accepted and supported. Regardless of the circumstances, your friend stands by your side, offering unwavering support and love.
A good friendship requires effort and reciprocity from both sides. By recognizing these signs, you can cherish and nurture your valuable friendships, fostering happiness, personal growth, and a sense of belonging.
(Note: Certain qualities are not listed here. Friendship is not dependent on money, status, fame, celebrity, power or connections. Relationships based on these variables may be valuable in business and your profession, but they are transactional. As long as both parties know this there is no deception and no foul. But be careful not to let transactional friendships be confused with genuine friendship.)
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, September 10, 2023, 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 Diversity Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Divorce and Financial Abuse: A Survival Guide
Imagine waking up one morning to a credit card bill with an enormous, unanticipated balance. Or perhaps you find out there are bank accounts in your spouse’s name, which you had no idea existed. You’re forced to ask for money for the most basic of necessities, stripped of your financial independence. This is not a random bad dream; it’s the harsh reality for many divorcees who have experienced financial abuse.
Financial abuse during divorce isn’t uncommon. In fact, 1 in 4 Americans reported experiencing financial abuse in their relationship, according to a study conducted by The Center for Financial Security. This type of abuse can leave you financially vulnerable, hampering your ability to fend for yourself or your children after the divorce.
Beyond the tangible repercussions, the problem of financial abuse stirs up feelings of betrayal, powerlessness, and fear. It’s as if you’re walking on a financial tightrope without a safety net.
Finally, there is the sheer injustice of it all. In a relationship, partners should uphold respect and honesty. However, financial abuse flagrantly undermines these fundamental principles.
However, let me reassure you, it doesn’t have to be this way.
5 Ways to Reclaim Your Financial Independence
1. Empower Yourself with Knowledge
Financial abuse flourishes in the dark corners of ignorance, making knowledge your best defense. Familiarizing yourself with your financial landscape, including assets, debts, and expenses, equips you to battle this abuse. Keeping copies of essential financial documents provides a clear and undeniable record of your financial history. By arming yourself with these tools, you reclaim your power and safeguard your financial future.
2. Secure Your Assets
Securing your assets is a vital step in combatting financial abuse. Start by setting up new bank or investment accounts solely under your name to ensure control over your funds. Reinforce your financial security by altering PINs and changing online passwords, thus cutting off unauthorized access. Safeguarding your financial identity also entails vigilant monitoring of your credit reports and transactions. This multi-pronged approach lays the foundation for a secure financial future.
3. Engage a Financial Advisor
Engaging the services of a financial advisor can prove invaluable during this challenging time. A financial advisor, with their expertise, can provide insight into your financial situation that might be hard to see on your own. They can help you map out a detailed picture of your assets, debts, and future financial needs. Beyond mere understanding, an advisor can guide you through crucial decisions, helping you navigate towards financial stability. This professional guidance can be a key element in rebuilding your financial independence after divorce.
4. Consider Divorce Mediation
Traditional litigation in divorce cases often fuels conflict and exacerbates animosity between the parties involved. The adversarial nature of the courtroom can strain relationships further and can sometimes obscure the true issues at hand, such as financial abuse. On the contrary, divorce mediation fosters a more cooperative environment, encouraging open and honest communication. This communicative atmosphere often allows for financial abuse to be unveiled and constructively addressed. My three decades of experience as a divorce mediator has consistently shown that this approach often leads to more equitable and satisfying financial outcomes for both parties.
5. Document Everything
Documenting any signs of financial abuse is a crucial step in protecting your interests. Keep track of unusual financial activities, gather receipts, bank statements, and any other pertinent records. This compilation serves as tangible evidence of the abuse, bringing clarity and credibility to your claims. This thorough documentation could prove to be a decisive factor during your divorce proceedings, influencing the outcome in your favor.
Take Control of Your Financial Future
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and hesitant about tackling this problem head-on. You may question whether it’s worth stirring the pot or if you can financially afford to. However, remember, it’s not just about immediate comfort but about long-term financial security and peace of mind.
Steven Unruh is a Divorce Mediator and LMFT. He completes the entire divorce process along with all the documentation. He files in 13 different courthouse throughout Southern California. Website: stevenunruh.com.
Black Therapist Support Group
First Saturday of this Month
Saturday, September 9, 2023
12:00 pm-1:30 pm (PT)
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.
First Saturday of Each Month
For more information contact Akiah Robinson Selwa, LMFT at email@example.com.
Event Details: Saturday, September 9, 2023
12:00 pm-1:30 pm (PT)Time of Check-In: 11:50 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 Diversity Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carrying the Mental Load—Why Women Are Anxious
Women often complain that they do all the work in the house, even when they also have a full-time job and career. When they complain that they are overwhelmed by all they have to do, their partners say “You shouldn’t worry so much!” This is not as helpful as their partners think it is.
Research shows that women do more of the physical household work, although the ratio has changed dramatically in the last 50 years.
But what about the Mental Load?
What about the cognitive labor—the thinking, planning, deciding, and problem-solving necessary to run a household and a relationship?
Note that by “running a household” we’re not just talking about vacuuming and grocery shopping, etc., but also financial planning; interactions with extended family; gifts for friends, family, service workers, and colleagues; travel; insurance; pet care; healthcare; car maintenance; sports equipment purchases and maintenance; neighborhood involvement; and other aspects of adulting. And that’s if you don’t have kids.
Allison Daminger, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University, has done research about the way couples divide the mental load. She breaks down the mental load into 4 parts:
Ms. Daminger found that often when couples say their decision-making is collaborative, they are referring to the “Decide and Execute” phase of the decision-making. The “Identify Options” phase is sometimes shared as well.
Couples will tell you they chose that new sofa together—but chances are that the woman is the one who pointed out that they needed a new couch and researched the options. She is probably the one that deals with any problems with production or delivery as well.
The “Anticipate a Need” phase and the “Monitor Results” phase, however, are by-and-large tasks that fall on the woman alone.
These tasks are mostly invisible, so women don’t get “credit” for doing them—often they aren’t even aware of it themselves! These tasks are often time-consuming, and demand that a woman take time from a busy career or from personal activities in order to perform them.
But one of the least-appreciated aspects of these tasks is that they require constant vigilance.
Ms. Daminger tells us this cognitive labor imbalance can engender a “pervasive sense of anxiety: Which needs have they failed to anticipate? What schedule conflicts have they not foreseen? Which ongoing home project might they have lost track of along the way?”
“Decide and Execute” is a one-and-done task. “Identify Options”, though it can be time-consuming, has a distinct beginning and end. Also, interestingly enough, Ms. Daminger’s work does not identify whether there is a difference in genders in the amount of time spent on identifying options. Other researchers have pointed out that women tend to worry more about things household-related, because our culture will judge them more on the results. This could easily lead to them spending more time trying to find the best option available.
As therapists when we have a woman in our office who is suffering from a feeling of being constantly overwhelmed, we may approach this issue in a number of ways.
We may teach her relaxation techniques, or use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to challenge her beliefs about perfectionism. We may explore her attachment issues to see why she feels like she needs her home to be so well-run.
In these cases I would encourage you to also explore the relationship your client has with their partner. Even in the case of a healthy relationship, the bearing of the bulk of the mental load is often invisible, and often on the woman.
You can help your client:
One helpful tool is Eve Rodsky’s excellent book Fair Play, which gives couples a system for dividing up household tasks that includes both physical tasks and cognitive tasks.
Fair Play also addresses another common relationship issue—that the woman is “in charge” of managing the household.
French blogger Emma Clit addresses this in her hilarious feminist comic, “You Should’ve Asked.” The woman in the comic knocks herself out taking care of the house and the children and dinner for the guests, while her partner drinks cocktails and chats with their friends. When something boils over on the stove and makes a huge mess, he says to her, “What a disaster! What did you do???” She screams back, “I did everything, that’s what I did!”. Her partner, nonplussed, responds, “You should’ve asked. I would’ve helped!”
The woman is not the boss of running the household that two people share. Do your clients say things to their partners like, “Can you help me and take out that garbage tonight, honey?” Make sure they understand how their language promotes the idea that they are the boss and their partners are merely helpers. This dynamic is completely unconscious in many couples, and it eats away at equality and fosters resentment—but it is easy to change!
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.
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