Month: December 2013

Welcome from Kathleen Wenger, LMFT — Manager, M.A. Psychology Professional Development and Clinical Training

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Greetings MAP and MACLP Students!

I hope that you are enjoying your graduate education at Pepperdine University GSEP.  As a ‘92’ alumna of our program I often think that next to meeting my husband Rob, attending Pepperdine and becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist was one of the best decisions in my life.  The psychology field is truly one of the most rewarding professions you can choose.

I’d like to welcome you to our new blog. For those of you who have been coming to our department’s events for a while, this is basically a combination of two prior publications: the biweekly e-newsletter and the once a semester Focus on Clinical Training hard copy newsletter. Like the e-newsletter, we will keep you updated on psychology events at the Pepperdine graduate campuses and elsewhere in southern California. Additionally, the features you used to love in Focus on Clinical Training — Faculty Spotlight, Trainee Talk, and all the rest — are making their return on this blog.

We work very hard in the MA Clinical Training and Professional Development Department to help you have a positive practicum experience, and provide workshops that will help inspire you to learn more about the opportunities in the profession. Be sure to also check out our websites   http://gsep.pepperdine.edu/psychology/professional-development-workshops/ and MFT Clinical Training: http://community.pepperdine.edu/gsep/student-services/mft-practicum/ .  We have a wonderful staff in the MA Clinical Training and Professional Development department, consisting of alumnae Rebecca Reed “92” and Alice Richardson, LMFT ‘2005’ who assist students at our West LA and Encino campuses.

To be updated weekly on new posts, please email psyprofdev@pepperdine.edu. We hope you enjoy this new site, and look forward to hearing your comments, suggestions, and letting us know if you come across an important event that our students might like to attend!

Warm regards,

Kathleen Wenger, MA, LMFT
Manager, M.A. Psychology Professional Development and Clinical Training
Pepperdine University
Graduate School of Education and Psychology

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Your Local Chapter of CAMFT: A Great Place to Network!

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The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists is a great way to get involved if you’re new to the MFT field! Not only is there a student membership discount to make it easy for you to join, but you can dive right in with monthly networking events throughout southern California! There are topics appealing to just about every aspect of mental illness and opportunities to network with leaders in your field, students, and seasoned professionals. Here are some pictures of Pepperdine students at recent events put on by the Orange County chapter of CAMFT. We hope to see you at one soon!

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December Clinical Connections with George Nalbach, Ph.D. — The Future of Psychotherapy: The Primacy of Empathy and the Seduction of Evidence Based Treatment

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For the December 6 Clinical Connections at the Irvine Graduate Campus, popular long-time Pepperdine faculty George Nalbach, Ph.D., presented on the history, present status, and future of psychotherapy. Dr. Nalbach, the Associate Executive Director of Santa Anita Family Service, discussed his concerns regarding the current standardization of therapy inevitable with third party reimbursement. He also critiqued the plethora of “evidence based treatments” research and literature and the evolving standardization of graduate education. In contrast to these issues, Dr. Nalbach reintroduced the prioritization of empathy as the indispensable tool of psychotherapy fact finding and the central aspect of psychotherapy effectiveness.

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Upcoming CAMFT Chapter Events

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Orange County

“Adoption and Genetic Separation Trauma”
with Karl Stenske, M.A.
Friday, December 13, 2013
11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Maggiano’s Little Italy
3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa
http://occamft.org/

Los Angeles

Holiday Extravanganza Potluck Party
Sunday, December 8, 2013
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Clearview Treatment Programs
911 Coeur D’Alene Ave., Venice
http://lacamft.org

Long Beach/South Bay

Grief is Like a River – Grief and Loss: Lessons Learned
w. Claire Towle, LCSW
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Thelma McMillen Center
3333 Skypark Drive, Suite 200, Torrance
http://lbsb-camft.org

San Fernando Valley

Annual Installation & Membership Meeting – Reviving Rhythm: Music Medicine for Mind, Body, and Soul
w. Christine Stevens, MSW
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Woodland Hills Country Club
21150 Dumetz Rd., Woodland Hills
http://www.sfvcamft.org/

Tips for Working with Trauma from Sandy Hume

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The November 1, 2013, edition of Clinical Connections at the Irvine Graduate Campus featured Sandy Hume, LMFT’s presentation on working with adults with complex trauma.

In her presentation to an audience of students and practitioners, Sandy explored the attachment research that is the underpinning of the contemporary understanding of complex trauma. Secure infants/children learn to trust how they feel and the world, to understand feelings, make decisions and take action. They develop a complex vocabulary to describe their emotions: “I can regulate myself, make good decisions, take action, communicate what I need and get help.” When this security is undermined by a chronic experience of physical, emotional, or educational neglect or abuse, however, complex trauma can result.

Developmental/chronic trauma interferes with neurobiological development, specifically the capacity to integrate sensory, emotional, and cognitive information into a coherent whole. Adults with developmental trauma often:

  • Desire safety — they do not feel safe, so they engage in behaviors that create a perception of safety. For example, perfectionists order every detail of their lives down to the most minute aspect in order to feel safe.
  • Feel overwhelmed and experience affect regulation issues.
  • Have issues with trust and discernment,
  • Have learned to be overly pleasing and/or rejecting when it comes to people. For clinicians, notice someone’s interpersonal intensity reaches inappropriate levels. Were they left alone early on to deal with their experiences?
  • Are hypervigalent.
  • Self-blame in order to continue loving someone who should have been protective. When you organize your world around someone who is abusive to you, you feel like you have to make it your fault in order to survive.

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Developmental trauma coping mechanisms that you may find in a client with complex trauma include:

  • Fight/flight/freeze responses
  • What is a freeze response? In wild, it’s playing dead in the face of a predator. In people it often takes the form of dissociation.
  • ADHD from trauma? “You’re not living up to your potential” is a common misunderstanding of the situation.
  • Repression of terror are helplessness.
  • Amazing resilience, resourcefulness, and talent.

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Regardless of theoretical orientation or technique (CBT, psychodynamic, and EMDR are all common and empirically supported), the goals of working with complex trauma clients are similar. They include helping clients to:

  • Learn how to respond effectively in the here and now.
  • Regain control of their emotional responses
  • Integrate traumatic memories into the larger perspective as historical rather than current or future.
  • Feel in charge of their lives.
  • Reduce feelings of shame.
  • Set better boundaries.
  • Choose mutual relationships in their lives, rather than relationships that are a one way street.
  • Express their feelings and needs and ask for help.
  • Deal with the disappointment that comes from understanding that no one is coming to be the perfect parent or other person that they never had (thinking this is how people get into bad relationships).
  • Learn how to modulate feelings and responses.
  • Build their ability to self soothe and experience containment – for example, through journaling, exercising, tolerating unpleasant emotion until it passes, reaching out for support, etc.
  • Understand emotions as cues rather than defaulting to fight/flight/freeze instincts.
  • Utilize breathing techniques to bring the calming parasympathetic nervous system online.
  • Verbalize feelings and associated meanings to create context.