marriage and family therapy

“The New Shape of Romantic Love” Webinar Highlights

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On November 20th, I attended a Web-lecture, “The New Science of Romantic Love: What You Understand, You Can Shape” presented by Dr. Sue Johnson at Cal Southern University in Irvine, CA. The lecture was also available to watch live online through Cal Southern’s webpage.

I was excited to learn about one of the most powerful forces on Earth- love. Dr. Sue Johnson is an expert on Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) and utilizes it to help couples repair their relationships. Emotionally Focused Therapy is best used to expand partners’ emotional responses, create new types of interactions between the couple, and foster secure bonding between partners.The basics of EFT Empathic Reflection that Dr. Johnson covered are validations- creates alliance and safety, focus during sessions, and cohesion through organization.

In addition to explaining EFT and how it is used as a “dance” between partners, Dr. Johnson also discussed John Bowlby’s attachment styles and how they influence adult romantic relationships. The ideas that held my interest throughout the lecture include: secure attachment bonds lead to emotional responsiveness while insecure attachment leads to anxious emotional responsiveness. Furthermore, my biggest take-away point was learning how a cue of rejection or criticism from a person you’re connected with is processed the same way as physical pain in the brain.


First Thoughts as a Student Volunteer

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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.

The Greater Los Angeles MFT Consortium: Building the Future of the MFT Profession

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consortium founders

In the photo, Jose Luis of Phillips is on the far left. Olivia Loewy, Executive Director of CA-AAMFT, is on the far right. Standing next to Jose Luis is Marika Zaharkiv, and next to her is Carol Bishop, one of our alumna who is Tarzana Treatment Center.  Next is Stan Charnofsky, Director of the MFT Program at Northridge, Clarence Hibbs, former MACLP Program Director, Rebecca Reed MA Clinical Training and Prof Dev. Coodinator, Kathleen Wenger, Manager MA Clinical Training and Development also Founding Chair of the OC MFT Consortium, Francie Neeley, Faculty and former MACLP Program Director. 

The Greater Los Angeles MFT Consortium was founded when the BBS decided that the schools and educational programs should have greater control over the experiential training of pre-licensed MFT Trainees.  Back then, training for students in practicum was all over the map. By bringing together supervisors, agency directors and educators, the Consortium was able to come up with recommendations to the Board that satisfied all or most of the stakeholders.

The Consortium unites the regional consortia of MFT academic programs throughout California with the mission of enhancing the quality of clinical training to MFT students. MFT educators examine the various protocols schools use in preparing students for practicum training and collaborate with the community clinical sites that provide the direct clinical experience and supervision to the students. These regional consortia have been “effective in promoting the quality of practicum training for students pursuing a career in marriage and family therapy [and] in advancing the integrity of the profession and the participation of its members in local and state governance” There are now 8 Consortia throughout the state of CA and the Orange County Consortia led the way, by being the very first in the state!  Kathleen Wenger, LMFT, LPCC is the founding Chair of the OC MFT Consortium and continues to Co-chair it today (135 meetings over 24 years!)

As this year marks the Greater Los Angeles MFT Consortium’s 20th anniversary, the September 12 meeting had “Celebrating Twenty Years of Collegiality” as its theme. The event opened with a retrospective on the Consortium’s founding, entitled “Establishing a Network of MFT Schools: Events and Contributors” and presented by Consortium co-chair Jose Luis Flores. Following a celebratory lunch, Flores was joined by fellow Consortium co-chair Michele Shepherd as well as Lisa Wolfe for a presentation on the history of the Consortium, “Timeline and Chronicle of the Consortium: 20 Years of Collaboration.” After this review of the past, the event shifted to a look ahead at the possible future of the MFT profession with Sara Kashing’s “The Future of the MFT Profession: A Projective View.” Olivia Loewy and Ben Caldwell concluded the meeting with “Expanded MFT’s Role in the Health Care System: Five Forces Shaping Our Future.” Following this, the formal part of the meeting concluded but attendees continued to mingle and network, reflecting on the MFT profession’s accomplishments over the past twenty years and the bright future that lies ahead for it.