Editor’s Message

Sylvia Sandler, M.A., MFTi

This was inspired and is being dedicated in loving memory of my dear father, Rafael L. Jinich, a true artist and champion of embracing change.

Dear LA-CAMFT colleagues,

In last months’ Editor’s Message, I wrote about the challenges and benefits of facing the unknown as a result of change. Many of us understand that change is a part of everyday life. So why do so many of us resist or struggle with change?

The answer is not as complicated as one may think. Change demands a lot from us. Change can instantly and often without our permission set us into a relationship that summons us to enact new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. Starting over is never easy, and many individuals consciously opt to stay in undesirable, even unsafe situations because the fear of the unknown is markedly greater than what they already are familiar with. People like predictability and stability. By definition change challenges our perceived sense of safety, control and order in life. Many people come to therapy as a result of “life pulling the rug from under them.” Whatever safety-nets they relied on in the past are no longer working, or perhaps don’t even exist.

When working with clients, therapists have a unique opportunity to help them examine what is under the surface and peel away at the layers or defenses they cling onto as a way of dealing with the uncertainty of life. A good place to start is for the clinician to fearlessly inquire about the coping mechanisms used to maintain that sense of safety, control and order. A well-trained clinician will encourage a client to examine if the coping mechanisms used are yielding pro-social results or causing unintended, negative, and potentially self-harming consequences. In doing so, the clinician is metaphorically creating the space for the client to ‘reweave’ a new, pro-social and life affirming narrative in which they are self-determining. With the help of a clinician, clients can address the cognitive, emotional and behavioral issues contributing to maladaptive coping. Through a strong therapeutic fit the client can slowly sew a tapestry that once again gives them a sense of safety and control, even if it is for a short while until they crochet their next safety net. That is the beauty of change, and therapy provides the loom for the fabric of a client’s life to evolve into something more colorful and vibrant than ever before.

Sylvia J. Sandler, M.A., is the current editor of Voices for LA-CAMFT, and holds a subsequent registration with the Board of Behavioral Sciences as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, #90381. Sylvia is bi-lingual and fully proficient in reading and writing in the Spanish language. Sylvia is currently gaining hours for licensing at The Ness Counseling Center on a volunteer basis. You may reach her by email at newsletter@lacamft.org.