Month: March 2015

A Glimpse into a Private Practice Career with Kathleen Wenger, LMFT

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Kathleen Wenger, LMFT, held a Private Practice Visit at her practice in Laguna Beach earlier this month. Our next Private Practice Visit will be with Chris Hoff, LMFT, at his practice, California Family Institute, on March 24. Here are some insights from Kathleen into building a private practice provided by two of the attendees at her event!
Kays Professional Photo


Intro by Ryan Heapy
Ever since I saw my first therapist at the age of 13, I’ve always felt a sense of privilege when walking into a therapists domain.The thought that always arises when taking that first step beyond those doors is, “So this is where the magic happens!” Not only did Kathleen’s office portray that sense of magic, it epitomized it. I can’t entirely recall if I was able to see the ocean from her office window, which really didn’t matter, because it was her office’s ambiance that gave you the feeling you might as well be having a therapeutic session right there on the sand. Although, instead of worrying about sand in your shoes and clothes, you were in a pristine, serene, office with three to four incredibly comfortable Lazy Boy chairs well placed between them. Now I can’t speak for everyone, but I can imagine this is an office that most of us can only dream of having, no matter what the profession.


Because of the intimacy, warmth, and serenity that her office provides, we students were put right at ease to ask many questions about the nuts and bolts of starting, managing, and maintaining a private practice such as this. We were also able to discuss other business aspects such as marketing tools, networking, and even google analytics to ensure that we will have enough clients to keep our businesses afloat, yet not so many that we ourselves start to drown and lose our effectiveness.


In a previous career of mine, which feels like a lifetime ago, I had a boss who is still to this day, one of the greatest marketing professionals to walk the planet. His motto for himself and us, his staff, was always “GET INVOLVED!! Make Friends! And then GET EVEN MORE INVOLVED!!” Not only did that motto work well for our career then, but I believe it is the perfect credo for all of us that one day wish to excel in this incredible field of clinical psychology. If you or anyone you know ever get to partake in an opportunity like this in the future, I can not stress enough the importance of attending to help further your dream of establishing such a successful private practice. 


Notes from Ryan Heapy and Kalina Preston
A group of 7 students were in attendance at Kathleen Wenger’s private practice visit in Laguna Beach. Kathleen gave a lot of great insight, helpful tips, useful advice and shared some mistakes made along the way of creating her private practice. Here are some of the main and helpful points discussed by Kathleen:

The Office

  • Location, location, location! Where your practice is located, the accessibility, parking, potential neighbors, how many therapists are located in that area, how close you are to other towns, handicapped accessible, were discussed, and Kathleen shared some of her personal experiences and tips with these points. For example: While Laguna Beach is a beautiful location, it is not as easily accessible for clients to drive to.
  • Find an office space that is highly accessible and comfortable! It’s never good to start sessions late because your clients are consistently getting lost looking for your office. Is there ample parking for your clients? Will they have to feed a meter every time they see you? Will they have to take a toll road?
  • Pay attention to the little things when signing your lease. Is there A/C? (Are you and your clients going to be sweating during the summer months in your sessions?) Is there a cleaning service included for your office or for the building? (Your office is a direct reflection of yourself!)
  • Starting up your practice and expenses along the way: Kathleen discussed the pro’s and con’s of either renting or subletting a space, and shed light that subletting is a cheaper option especially for a new therapist. In terms of expenses, rent is going to be the most expensive. Other expenses to consider are whether or not to have an accountant, or a web manger for your website. Another major expense- furnishing your new space. The group was all in agreement with how comfortable and relaxing the space was. The walls were painted a relaxing, faint green, new furniture, and the comfortable chairs! Kathleen shared that the set of rocking, reclining chairs she purchased were expensive, but a “worth-it” expense so that both herself and clients are sitting comfortably during sessions. A remark I heard in the group that I feel is a great representation of Kathleen’s practice was something to the effect of the space not looking like a “typical therapist’s office ”and that it looked and felt comfortable along with being non-intimidating.
  • Decor – Make it comfortable for not only your clients, but for yourself. Think about the lighting, during the day and at night. The artwork. And of course the furniture. Ask yourself, “Is there enough room to have a comfortable family session here?” (I can’t put into to words how incredibly comfortable Kathleen’s Lazy Boy Chairs were. They were a perfect balance in having the controls to sit upright and attentive during a session, and to also stretch out as the therapist in between sessions and get some much needed relaxation.)
  • Make sure your office space isn’t smack dab in the middle of hundreds of other LMFTs — separate yourself from the crowd.
  • WIFI, Computer Access – Unless we partner up with a large coalition of other therapists, we will have to be resourceful in finding inexpensive ways to obtain such services.A good laptop can be our best friend. Most cell phone companies offer “hot spots” (small boxes/routers) that provide internet access for around $20.00 a month. 
  • Billing and Scheduling – For quick billing there is a service called Square, which works directly with your cell phone or tablet and charges a fee of around $3-$5 dollars per session (depending on how much you bill your sessions). has a great layout that tracks your billing, your schedule, and even process notes. Paypal is another alternative that accepts credit cards and checks at just slightly smaller fees. 


  • Kathleen shared the importance of getting your name out there and strategies in doing so. Kathleen showed the group her website she created specifically for her practice. Having a website is a really useful tool for getting people to know about you, and for getting clients. In this day and age, about 60-70% of clients found their therapist online. Along with creating a website, having Social Media pages, joining registries, creating business cards, advertisements and attending conferences, have all been useful and successful tools for Kathleen in marketing her practice and gaining clients.
  • There are a few companies that specialize in building great websites for therapists for very reasonable prices (approx. $100.) has great ease of use to customize a highly professional site, with do it your self capability. Accompany your website with a program called and you’ll be at the top of your game. allows you to create forms, blogs, surveys, and data management to ensure client satisfaction and the latest up-to-date information for you clients.
  • Keep your website current! Add blogs, posts, newspaper articles, etc… Just like our ever-changing technological advances, our clients want a therapist who is forward-thinking as well. We all know to well how quickly we click another link if we stumble on to a webpage that hasn’t been updated in years, so try to keep your clients engage and let them know you’re just as cutting edge as they are.
  • SEO / Google Analytics – For those of you that don’t know, SEO means Search Engine Optimization. In plain English, that means doing all the things necessary to get your website at the very top of the list when someone googles anything about therapy. Once again, the more exposure the better.
  • Get your name out there! – Sites like,,,, and are all great places we should be advertising ourselves. There are even more out there and we should be getting ourselves on each and every one of them. 
  • Kathleen strongly encouraged becoming a member of CAMFT- A great resource for upcoming, and current MFT’s. CAMFT not only has a referral page, they also offer useful forms (HIPPA, other clinical forms) for you to use in your practice, great resources and information on upcoming conferences. All are ways to not only stay informed, but again to get yourself and name out there.
  • Speak! Contribute! Write! Volunteer! – There are plenty of different avenues available to contribute to the field which in turn only adds exposure to ourselves. Get involved in different organizations. Write columns for magazines and journals. Speak at panels and conferences. The more exposure the better! Whether on social media sites, church newsletters, or the local neighborhood paper, all of these help. If there is a niche market you specialize in, reach out to the many organizations that already exist, or even better, start your own organizations! 

The students reported this discussion to be really helpful, and a lot of light was shed on all of the nuances there are in creating a private practice and marketing yourself. Keep your eye out for the next practice/agency visit- a valuable resource for those interested in creating a practice!


A Powerful Clinical Connections Event: Family Survivors who have Lost a Loved One Due to Violent Death

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by Kalina Preston


On Friday, February 27th a group of 30 students and alumni from Pepperdine and surrounding schools, gathered to hear Family Survivors Who Have Lost a Loved One Due to Violent Death a moving presentation by IGC adjunct faculty member George Nalbach, Ph.D and Connie Saindon, LMFT. Dr. Nalbach introduced a couple whose son was tragically murdered several years ago. The couple graciously agreed to join the presentation, and briefly shared their experience through their grief and loss.

Connie Saindon, LMFT, author of “Murder Survivor’s Handbook” and one of the few specialists in the field of violent death bereavement shared her extensive knowledge and experiences with individuals and families affected by murder. Connie shed light on the lack of resources for not only murder survivors but for therapists that may have client’s facing this tragic event.  Connie briefly summarized her Handbook, and shared clinical strategies to help client’s with their grieving process and different coping tools. Connie discussed and presented the Restorative Retelling Model.

As a listener, I was moved and impacted by the couple’s story and appreciative of their willingness to share their story and personal experience. While the content and discussion was heavy, saddening, and emotional, I felt most impacted and moved by the display of human resiliency and growth. It was inspiring to hear this couple’s journey through their grief and loss, what they have learned about the process, and what they have learned about themselves.

Upcoming Professional Development and Clinical Training Department Events

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We hope you’ve survived midterms, our weird late winter heat wave, and are having a great semester! Here’s what’s coming up for the rest of this term:

Irvine Graduate Campus

Wednesday, March 18: MFT Consortium of Orange County, 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Tuesday, March 24: Agency Visit – California Family Institute in Costa Mesa (Chris Hoff, LMFT), 1:00 p.m. RSVP REQUIRED to (10 person maximum)

Wednesday, March 25: Practicum Mentor Fair, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 8: Intern Registration Meeting, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

West Los Angeles Graduate Campus

Monday, March 30: Intern Registration Meeting, 7:15 p.m.

Friday, April 3: Clinical Connections – Mass Media, Its Effects, Motivations for Use, and Media-Based Clinical Interventions, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Encino Graduate Campus

Wednesday, March 18: Practicum Mentor Fair, 6:15 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

Wednesday, April 15: Intern Registration Meeting, 7:15 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.


MFT Practicum Agencies Pack the 2015 Career and Practicum Fair

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by Katie Copeland
This year’s Spring Career Fair at the West LA campus had a great turnout in the MFT Trainee / Practicum room (210). Thirteen highly esteemed MFT Practicum Training Agencies eagerly came to meet Pepperdine students and discuss their volunteer and training opportunities. These training sites included:
  • Airport Marina
  • Center for Individual and Family Counseling
  • Counseling Partners of Los Angeles
  • Crenshaw Christian ~ Betty Price Counseling Center
  • Didi Hirsch
  • Los Angeles City College
  • Mychal’s Learning Place
  • OPICA Adult Day Care
  • Outreach Concern
  • PUC Schools
  • Richstone Family Center
  • San Fernando Valley Homebound Program
  • Southern California Counseling Center
There was also a great turnout on behalf of Pepperdine psychology students, many of whom even made sure to stop by during their break if they had class that night. Students seems to be especially interested in the opportunity to network and learn about training sites this year, resulting in a constant inflow of students and a filled room of students making connections with the representatives.
The MFT Clinical Training department was thrilled to hear the positive and enthusiastic feedback from many of these practicum sites during and after the fair, including “it was great, there were so many students so passionate about what they want to do,” among many other similar insights.
So, with a great showing of both Pepperdine students and MFT Practicum Training Agencies the Clinical Training Department is happy to call this year’s career fair a major success.

Gestalt Therapy Conversation and Demonstration with Erving Polster – March 28

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National University Distinguished Speaker Series: Erving Polster, Ph.D., Saturday March 28

Please join us for a rare and special event featuring renowned clinical psychologist Erving Polster, Ph.D. A major contributor to the field of psychology, Dr. Polster collaborated closely with Fritz Perls in the creation and development of Gestalt Therapy. Dr. Polster is the author of five books, a celebrated master therapist, and has taught modern psychotherapy technique to thousands of students over his 60-year career.

The event will be hosted by Dr. Caroline Paltin, who has worked closely with Dr. Polster as founder and facilitator of the Mindful Life Focus Community. The conversation will explore Dr. Polster’s contributions to the field of Gestalt Psychotherapy and will be followed by a live clinical demonstration. The two will then discuss creating Pathways to Connectedness in the therapeutic encounter and the development of Life Focus Communities.

Schedule of Events:

10:00am – 1:00pm Discussion with Dr. Polster and Dr. Paltin
1:00pm – 2:00pm Lunch (box lunch provided)
2:00pm – 4:00pm Demonstration of Life Focus Community Work


To buy tickets and to register, click here.

LACPA 2015 Convention Call for Presentations and Posters

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2015 Los Angeles County Psychological Association Annual Convention

Call for Presentations: Deadline May 6, 2015
The LACPA Convention Committee is accepting proposals on all topics. Members have expressed interest in programs on PTSD, parenting, anxiety, depression, sexuality, substance abuse disorders, treatment issues with adolescents and couples therapy to name a few. Multicultural perspectives on all topics are welcomed. Proposals will be reviewed by the LACPA Convention Committee.

Call for Posters: Deadline June 12, 2015
LACPA invites poster proposals from its student and early career members (within seven years of receipt of doctorate). Proposals on any research or theoretical topic related to the field of psychology will be considered.
The LACPA Foundation will generously award $200, $100, and $50 for the posters judged to be the three best at Convention.

Click here for rates, location, and other details.

Upcoming Local Psychological Association Events

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Orange County Psychological Association

Finding Your Niche in Psychology: 2nd Edition
With Patricia Moulton, Ph.D.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Argosy University
601 Lewis St., Orange

Los Angeles County Psychological Association

Power Dynamics in Intimate Relationships
with Marty Klein, Ph.D.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
New Center for Psychoanalysis
2014 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles

CPA 2015 Convention

April 23-26, 2015
San Diego, CA