\ˈprak-ti-kəm\ a word frequently heard on the graduate level and usually synonymous with students seeking professions in teaching, nursing or in our case psychotherapy. It involves working in the area of study and applying the knowledge that has been obtained during coursework. For first year graduate students the word is foreign and for second year the word may bring a sense of anxiety, excitement and glee.
On Monday, March 21, 2016 Pepperdine University – Irvine Graduate Campus held its Practicum Mentor Faire. The practicum mentor faire is designed to give graduate students, specifically pre-practicum students the opportunity to ask questions of students working with agencies and seeing clients. It is a chance to obtain insight into this somewhat exclusive experience. Not only are students gaining insight, but they receive courage and empowerment from a group of students who have faced the beast, and are conquering it.
During the 30 minute meeting, it was a small intimate setting. Students from pre-practicum sat in a group, while the mentors sat in a circle fielding questions. Each mentor provided a description of their agency, supervisory expectations, and a holistic synopsis of their day to day process. Represented agencies were Monarch Shores, California Family Institute, PRYDE, Turning Point, and ? (Nicola: I don’t recall the location in Whittier).
Students asked questions that ranged from “how many hours are you allowed?” to “is it possible to work for an agency while accruing your hours?”. Each question was answered with great insight and compassion, always reassuring the students that the journey through practicum was possible with a plan and strategy.
One student shared her concerns about having a full-time job and landing an agency that would be able to understand her life commitments. After each of the mentors finish trying to help think of ways she could make it work, I recall one of them simply saying “you can do it!”
While the mentor faire was brief, I left with a greater appreciation of the work that the Professional Development and Clinical Training team is trying to do for students. For me, the mentor faire would be likened to a pre-game preparation with coaches or senior players who know the inner workings of the process. I left feeling reassured that when it was time for me to encounter that foreign word known as \ˈprak-ti-kəm\, Pepperdine University – Irvine Graduate Campus would ensure that I was well prepared.
by Akshay Mehta
If you are a woman reading this right now, I’d like you to think about a scenario for a moment. Imagine yourself as a young teen seeking therapy for an unplanned pregnancy. You sit down on a nice comfortable couch in a pleasantly calm room with décor and atmospheric conditions tailored to immediately tone down your anxiety. As you prepare your thoughts, the door opens and a male therapist walks in. Wait…what?
Your first thoughts might be, “How is he going to understand anything I’m going through?”, “Is he a substitute therapist?”, “How do I start talking and what am I comfortable sharing?” Well, in the near future, I may potentially be that male therapist facing an environment dominated by female patients and issues.
I recently began a volunteer position at Claris Health Clinic. Claris’ mission is to empower women and men to make informed and positive choices in regards to their sexual and relational health. Additionally, Claris isn’t controlled by a linear way of thought or a strict religious ideology. Its utmost aim is to just help people make the best productive choices for themselves.
At first, I was a bit skeptical as to how impactful I would really be at this place. But I thought about it and bounced some ideas back and forth with my supervisor at Pepperdine, Rebecca Reed. Through her knowledge about my personal history and experiences, she helped me to see how important I could be. I gained confidence and applied. I was offered an interview. Dr. Route, the Clinical Director at Claris and Stacy Williams, the Client Services Director, conducted my interview. Aside from making the interview as comfortable as possible, they also assured me that they saw the benefits of having a male around the clinic. In fact, they explained that there is a male right now running an outreach program within Claris. It’s called Reality Check. Reality Check aims to proactively help young teens in school settings. Instead of waiting for the teens to come to the clinic, the Reality Check team goes out and talks to students in their schools. They run various activities, presentations and group therapy sessions. I learned that currently they are in a stage of innovating the ways in which they connect with students. Dr. Route and Stacy thought this would be a perfect fit for me.
I have yet to attend a ‘real’ Reality Check workday, so to speak. I have been attending trainings so far. But I am excited to know I am part of a non-profit health organization, which caringly, openly and interactively helps women and men make informed positive choices in their lives. The level of energy at Claris is abundantly clear through the team members’ efforts and enthusiasm. I am thrilled to be a part of Claris’ mission and hope that I can add another piece to their aspirations of becoming an important resource for our society.
by Akshay Mehta
Should I pursue an MFT, an MA or a Psy.D.? What are the requirements for licensure? When will I begin my internship and how long will it take to complete? What is the best way to network? These are ordinary curiosities for a graduate student. But for many, these questions seem to linger around without ever getting definite answers. It builds up in our minds to such an extent that we might find ourselves thinking of them as essay prompts. Therefore, this forces us to endlessly research about them online and/or attempt to understand them further by scheduling meetings with an expert. Sounds hectic right?
These ‘experts’ are Pepperdine’s faculty, staff and alumni. And luckily for me, I am an assistant to one of these experts. Her name is Rebecca Reed. She is the MFT Clinical Training Coordinator at the West LA Campus. She is a ‘one stop shop’ for anything related to MFT. Her genuine devotion to making sure Pepperdine students succeed easily makes her a critical and valuable resource for someone pursuing an MFT. Although she invests time and effort in everyone equally, I must brag a little about my accessibility to her as her Graduate Assistant. Not only am I able to help her in assisting other students with various needs, but by working next to her I am able to take advantage of her wisdom (stemming from over 25 years of experience at Pepperdine). I consider my assistantship to Rebecca an invaluable opportunity for which I am extremely grateful.
But the flip side of my position brings satisfaction through interaction with the students. Every new semester, Rebecca and I schedule ‘Quick Meets’ with new MA or MFT students. These are short but extremely beneficial presentations, which provide a large number of resources to ultimately help students in getting to know their program better and the various ways they can effectively excel in it. Equipped with information on private practice field trips, Pepperdine MFT workshops, career fairs and career-marketing tools, I am able to really connect with new students and witness the anxiety settle in them.
My work as a Graduate Assistant to Rebecca Reed has provided me with just as much satisfaction, knowledge and confidence as the education I have retained from my classes. With the level of support and accessibility to resources I have in my LMFT/LPCC path, it is now up to me to humbly recognize it and continue making the best of it. Because one day soon, my current experience will be seen as the foundation of my professional life.
Please also note that Quick Meets and Clinical Training Staff are present at every Pepperdine Campus. Please contact Kathleen Wenger, Manager of Clinical Training and Professional Development at the Irvine Campus, Alice Richardson, Clinical Training and Professional Development Coordinator at the Encino Campus, Andrea Lipnicki, at the Malibu Campus or Rebecca Reed, Clinical Training and Professional Development Coordinator at the WLA Campus depending on your specific campus or practicum site preferable locations.
by Kathleen Wenger, M.A., LMFT, LPCC, Manager M.A. Psychology Professional Development and Clinical Training
Summer is relatively slow in the M.A. Psychology Department of Professional Development and Clinical Training as we plan for an exciting series of fall events. So I wanted to take this opportunity to fill you in about some of the enriching events for students in the MAP and MACLP tracks that we’ve had so far this year and encourage you to attend the events that we host this fall! In addition to these events, there are several resources that help guide you through the practicum experience. You can make an appointment for a Quick Meet to receive a personalized explanation of the events and services offered by the department and to have any questions about practicum answered. If you want more information about an agency, you can stop by the GA’s office to read through students’ practicum site reviews (strengths and challenges). We also encourage you to use the Mentor Program, which puts you in contact with a student who has experience at a site you are interested in.
Irvine Graduate Campus
As we do each semester, we welcomed new students to the Irvine Graduate Campus with Quick Meets, our series of one-on-one meetings with new students. These personalized explanations of our departments’ events and services, as well as an overview of practicum basics for MFT students and other subjects of concern for individuals new to the program help our new students to dive right into their program prepared for success.
In February we hosted a Clinical Connections event with George Nalbach, Ph.D. and Connie Saindon, author of The Murder Survivor’s Handbook. Dr. Nalbach introduced a couple whose son was tragically murdered several years ago to share their experience with the grief and loss process. Connie provided clinical strategies for working with clients who have experienced similar tragedies. Attendees felt honored to hear the couple’s story and to receive valuable tips for working with clients who have experienced the violent loss of loved ones. One individual summed up the evening’s event by stating that “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.”
In February we also hosted the annual GSEP Career and Practicum Fair: Career Connections. This event gave our current students and alumni an opportunity to meet with potential practicum and internship employers. We had an outstanding turnout in terms of attendees as well as agencies – approximately 50-60 students and alums met with fifteen of the top mental health agencies in Orange County! We followed this event with the annual Practicum Mentor Fair in March. At the Mentor Fair, students ready to begin practicum had an opportunity to hear about the experiences current practicum students have had at their agencies.
Our popular Private Practice and Agency Visit series continued with two events in Orange County in March. I hosted a visit at my practice in Laguna Beach and Chris Hoff, LMFT, hosted one at his agency in Costa Mesa, the California Family Institute. One attendee at my event commented that he felt “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.”
As we do every semester, we held a New Student Meeting, the Practicum Tips Meeting, and the Intern Registration Meeting to help MACLP students along their practicum journey. Students have responded to this semester’s series of meetings by telling us things like “it is so great that the program goes the extra mile for us like this” compared to other similar programs! It’s a great vote of confidence to know the impact that we’re having on our current students.
The MFT Consortium of Orange County continues to be held at the Irvine Graduate Campus on the third Wednesday of every other month. The next scheduled meetings are scheduled for September 16 and November 18. For the past 20 years, I have been the host and co-chair of the MFT Consortium. This is a collaborative setting that brings together mental health agencies and universities with MFT graduate programs in an effort to foster community partnerships. The meetings serve as a networking opportunity for agencies to be connected with key personnel to discuss MFT employment and practicum training opportunities, programming and clinical training concerns.
West Los Angeles Graduate Campus
West LA started its spring semester with a Clinical Connections topic that we all need to visit often. Alumna Juanita Frassini Goode, MA, presented, “Self-Love Your Way through Life: The Clinical Value of Practicing Self-Love for Yourself and Clients.” Juanita’s workshop was very fun and interactive. Attendees engaged in a variety of self-love activities with the multitude of art supplies that Juanita provided. Juanita shared her unique approach to practicing with clients, which included her approach from her license in spiritual psychology. Participants left feeling excited to try out some of these new ideas and approaches with clients.
Following Juanita’s workshop on self-love, premarital counseling guru, Debbi Molnar, MA, LMFT, LPCC, spoke about, “Premarital Counseling versus Couples Therapy: Understanding the Difference and Making it Work in Your Practice.” With a beautiful manual that Debbi put together, she very clearly explained the differences between the two. Debbi shared with the audience how her sessions with couples therapy look, versus how her sessions with premarital counseling look. She also spoke about the programs for couples that she has put together, which she often holds as weekend workshops. Debbi’s impressive experience and background was very apparent and attendees walked away with an organized and clear-cut way to practice premarital counseling versus couples therapy.
Jody Echegaray, Psy.D, presented the last of the Clinical Connections workshops. Jody’s workshop, entitled “Mass Media—Its Effects, Motivations for Use, and Media-based Clinical Interventions” proved to be a very important topic amongst clinicians. Jody gave a quick historical timeline on the development of media and how it has come to play a part in the practice of psychotherapy. Jody also provided great examples of interventions he has used with his own clients. The workshop addressed some very poignant issues that media can both harm and help in the practice of psychotherapy. Participants were very impressed by the amount of information and were very intrigued by the topic.
West LA’s other professional development events included a Coffee Talk by Alice Richardson, MA, LMFT, LPCC and a Private Practice Visit to alum Curt Widhalm’s practice. For the Coffee Talk, Alice answered questions about pursuing the LPCC. While the development of the license in California is still new, many students and alums struggle with knowing much about it. Alice, who has pursued the license, shared her impressive knowledge about the license and its benefits. Students who attended felt grateful for the clarifications. Later in March, students and alums visited Curt’s practice to learn about the development and running of a private practice. The room was full as Curt spoke about his process to private practice and laying it out straight for how it goes. Attendees felt very informed and lucky to have attended this private practice field trip.
Encino Graduate Campus
This spring, the Encino Graduate Campus was pleased to have Kent Toussaint, LMFT, LPCC, speak at a Clinical Connections about “The 1-2-3’s for Treating Resistant Teens.” Kent gave attendees a better understanding of how to build rapport, earn trust, and create alliances with teens. He also spoke about the developmental needs of teens, and how unconditional positive regard helps with this age group. At the end of Kent’s presentation, the attendees had a hands-on demonstration of the games and toys Kent uses for ice-breakers and rapport building.
In March, Dr. Dennis Lowe graciously gave a 3-hour presentation about “What’s New in the DSM-5” for Pepperdine Alumni who are studying for the licensing exam. This presentation was held on a Saturday afternoon, and was well received by all attendees. Many alumni attended and seemed engaged and interested in this presentation, and some alumni even sent emails and notes of appreciation.
March is National Gambling Awareness Month, and the Encino Graduate Campus was fortunate to have an Alumna who specializes in Gambling Addiction. Audrey Johnson, PsyD, LMFT, spoke about the differences between recreational gambling and gambling addictions. Between 3% and 6% of the general population is impacted by some degree of problem gambling. Audrey spoke about helpful tools, assessment inventories and treatment plans she uses with her problem gambling clients.
Also in March, Sheila Sayani and Alice Richardson organized a Practicum Mentor Fair “Mixer” where seasoned students who are near graduating spoke with students taking the Pre-Practicum class. The students enjoyed this event immensely and we plan to continue doing these mixers in future semesters.
Alice Richardson, Clinical Training & Professional Development Coordinator, spoke about the LPCC License at “Coffee Talks” at both Encino and WLA Campuses. Encino also presented New Student Meetings, Tips for Practicum Meetings and an Intern Registration Meeting, which all three campuses present every semester to keep students as informed as we can.
Traineeships! Internships! Volunteer positions!
Start now – find the right practicum site, internship, or volunteer position for you! Stop by the Career & Practicum Fair to talk to site directors, supervisors, and current trainees/interns about practicum and career opportunities in Orange County.
We’ll see you on the 2nd floor of Pepperdine’s Irvine Graduate Campus from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 5.
For more information, contact: maclpga (at) pepperdine.edu or 949-223-2560
On Thursday, February 5th, Irvine Graduate Campus will host the annual Career Connections Practicum Fair from 5-7pm on the 2nd floor. Join us to meet the Clinical Directors & Supervisors from Orange County practicum sites, learn about clinical practicum, and explore options for sites in Orange County.
Every practicum site is different, and Career Connections gives you the opportunity to explore what site might fit you best, ask questions, and begin introducing yourself to supervisors that you may work with in the future!
Mark your calendars! More information to follow in January as the spring semester begins.
MACLP Students, Test Your Knowledge on MFT and BBS Requirements!
1. If my supervisor’s license lapses, I will not be credited for
hours received during the period of the lapse. (True or False?)
2. I may apply for my intern registration number from the BBS
before I graduate as long as I have completed all practicum
requirements. (True or False?)
3. If I do not complete my requirement for practicum hours by
the end of the semester, I can make up the hours during the
break and in the following semester. (True or False?)
4. Once I receive my degree from Pepperdine, I will have com-
pleted all of the educational requirements toward MFT licen-
sure. (True or False?)
5. Time spent in the classroom for Practicum class (662) may
be counted on my weekly log (True or False?)
Scroll down for the answers when you’re ready!