Each June, the LA-CAMFT Board of Directors and potential new chapter leaders gather for an all-day Leadership Retreat for a day of camaraderie, strategic planning, and reaffirmation of chapter vision and priorities. Each year the focus differs slightly depending on the unique needs of the chapter at the particular moment in time; however, one theme remains constant every year and that is the need to strengthen and sustain chapter leadership itself by engaging chapter members to step up and join the team.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Steven Unruh, Estelle Fisher, Darlene Basch, and Jonathan Flier for being my retreat thinking partners and co-facilitators. I also want to publicly acknowledge each of the 18 phenomenal people who attended this year’s retreat! I am deeply moved, inspired, and grateful to each of you and on behalf of the chapter I want to acknowledge your contribution to us all!
Though I cannot replicate the magic of the opening group activity exquisitely led by Hilary Kern and Michelle Bee in which we shared our first names with movement and created our kinesthetic name sculpture, I invite everyone to use your imagination as you read their names: Michelle, Ilana, Carolin, Deb, Kristy, Daniel, Nattan, Jonathan, Darlene, Jenni, Estelle, Sarah, Jaimi, Kane, Lynne, Steven, Alik, and Hilary.
What exactly was it that motivated 10 new chapter members to attend the 2016 Retreat last month? Curiosity, a yearning for deeper connection within meaningful community, and a desire to serve others coupled with a desire to grow personally and professionally. After first gathering in small group breakouts to connect more personally and to identify these primary motivators; i.e. the “Why” for engaging in chapter leadership, we spent the rest of the day in one large group exploring “What” it takes to move from inspiration to commitment, and delving even more deeply into details about “How” we can support motivated and inspired members to take that step.
People understand the benefits of being part of a vibrant and well run chapter – one that truly supports the greater Los Angeles therapy community. But they also understand that it takes a lot of work to run the chapter and they have reasonable concerns about making a commitment to chapter leadership. So we genuinely explored all of these concerns, not minimizing or denying their reality, and we compared them to the benefits of chapter involvement. In the end we shifted the conversation from a comparison of “give and get” to a completely different paradigm, one in which the time and effort spent in the service to the community is simultaneously a give to self. One in which the work effort is not a drain but a recharge.
How I wish I could make these typed words vibrant with the spirit of the day, with the power of the aha moments, and with the deeply felt emotion from the connections experienced when people shared openly and were truly received and seen by their colleagues. As therapists I know you have experienced these ineffable and transformative moments because they are at the heart of the healing work we do. And though it is not the norm that we experience this depth of connection with colleagues, it is exactly what will create the solid foundation upon which we build a strong and sustainable chapter leadership team.
Finally, let me conclude by saying that the invitation to join LA-CAMFT leadership is extended to everyone. If anyone reading this feels moved by what I have shared and wants to explore how you too can get more involved, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.