AAMFT California Newsletter, Spring 2015


AAMFT Restructure – Keep Updated
Advocacy Days and Advocacy Update
2015 Advocacy Days in Sacramento
AAMFT Leadership Symposium 2015
Helpful Apps
A Big Success! California Division Annual Conference
Book Review

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AAMFT Restructuring Keep Updated

Naveen Jonathan, PhD, LMFT
AAMFT-CA President

Changes are Being Proposed

AAMFT has recommended a proposal for restructuring the national organization that would eliminate state divisions, as they exist now. Voting will take place in the upcoming summer elections ballot, which will be mailed out on June 1st as to whether or not members approve of this proposal.

The AAMFT-California Division Board of Directors has taken steps to ensure that each member is properly informed on these issues. The Restructure Task-force has created the following short video below to help explain what the proposed restructure plan from AAMFT is and how it will impact the California Division:  WATCH VIDEO

We have also included this page on the AAMFT-California Division website that will give you more information on the proposed restructure:  READ MORE ABOUT IT

The Restructure Taskforce and Board of Directors would like to hear from each of its members, on the structure of the California Division, should the restructure proposal pass. We are asking all members to complete this brief survey so that we can better be informed of your preferences for the future form of the California Division. The survey can be found here:


We ask that you share the links to the video, restructure page and survey with your colleagues, interns and students so that they are aware of these upcoming changes.

It is imperative that you be informed of what this proposal for restructure looks like and how it will eliminate state divisions, prior to the voting that takes place this summer. Members will have the choice of voting “yes” or “no” for the restructure proposal. Note only Clinical Fellows, Pre-Clinical and Members will be able to vote for this proposal in the summer elections. Student and Associate members will not be able to vote per AAMFT national Bylaws.

If you would like to have input into the CA Division’s decision making process or the restructuring, please don’t hesitate to contact President Naveen Jonathan (mftguy79@gmail.com);Task Force Chair Norma Scarborough (mftdoc05@gmail.com); or Executive Director Olivia Loewy  (olivialoewy@aamftca.org).

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Advocacy Days and Advocacy Update
Off to a Busy Start…

marilyn-davisAngela Kahn, LMFT
AAMFT-CA Legislative and Advocacy Chair

Sacramento got off to a busy start this year! A record number of mental health bills were introduced at the end of February, many inspired by recent headlines about mistreatment of the homeless, police brutality, and the VA debacle resulting in countless veterans not having access to desperately needed services. The legislature has already conducted hearings on several bills dedicated to improving the health and welfare of California’s most vulnerable citizens, with particular attention to their mental health.

As you may be aware, back in November the AAMFT-CA board approved the proposed legislative priorities for 2015. They are:

  • Revision of CANRA (Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act) to equalize reporting mandates
  • Difficulties in becoming licensed as an MFT
  • Workplace problems/burnout
  • Mental health parity/reimbursement

AAMFT-CA has worked very closely with Assembly- member Cristina Garcia on AB 832, a bill that would revise the child abuse reporting laws to equalize what therapists report when it comes to consensual activ- ity among minors. Existing law creates a reporting discrepancy where heterosexual teens are free to talk with their therapists about sexual intercourse without fear of a child abuse report, while gay and lesbian teens are restricted from the same experience because sodomy, oral copulation, and sexual penetration are mandated reports regardless of age. This controver- sial bill passed through the Assembly’s Committee on Public Safety on April 7, and will be moving forward through the legislature accordingly. Stay tuned for action alerts—we’ll need your help getting word to your representatives!

We have taken a support position on the CAMFT- sponsored bill that would allow MFT interns and trainees to count telehealth hours toward licensure (AB 250), as well as a support position on the BBS bill that aims to eliminate the confusing “buckets” of hours and streamline the process for counting hours toward licensure (SB 620). This particular bill is close to our heart, as it was inspired by our white paper published last year discussing the difficulties in becoming licensed as an MFT.

Other support positions taken so far:

  • AB 690 (Wood): Would add MFTs to the list of providers in FQHCs
  • SB 11 (Beall): Would require police officers to take a mandatory training on dealing with the mentally ill
  • SB 296 (Cannella): Would streamline redundant and confusing DMH paperwork at the county level
  • SB 531 (Bates): Would allow the BBS to move more fluidly through an investigation
  • SB 621 (Hertzberg): Would authorize funds in a crime reduction grant to be used toward mental health services

The committee is still analyzing eleven other bills, and more continue to be brought to our attention by sister organizations. It’s an exciting time of year for legislation and advocacy, and we are on the front lines for you!

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Angela Kahn, LMFT, the Legislative and Advocacy Chair for AAMFT-CA. Angela is a Marriage & Family Therapist in the Los Angeles area and the founder of the Kahn Institute for Self Injury.

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2015 Advocacy Days in Sacramento
AAMFT-CA is a small but might force


Olivia Loewy, PhD
AAMFT-CA Executive Director

A Great Success!

Your AAMFT-CA Division has become a “small but mighty” force in Sacramento. We have achieved solid visibility and a formidable voice in legislative, regulatory and public policy meetings. When we testify in Sacramento, we bring the perspective of the clinician who is on the front lines and able to speak very directly to the impact of the proposed legislation. The legislators are very interested in hearing from us and often pay closer attention to our words than to those of the lobbyists whom they hear from regularly in relation to a diversity of issues. As such, we are often contacted by California legislators who want to know (or who want to influence) our position on proposed legislation before a vote takes place.

sac-meetingAdvocacy Day was held for the first time last year as a way to educate our members about what is happening in Sacramento and how they can really, personally impact decisions being made that will affect clinicians and the profession in our state. We purposely keep the number of participants small. This strategy is in contrast to some Advocacy Day events that include rallies and signs on the lawn of the Capitol, followed by office visits. We work closely and carefully with our lobbyists at Noteware Government Relations (NGR) in planning and organizing this event.

Fred Noteware and his associates have achieved a truly exceptional reputation around the Capitol. NGR is known, first and foremost, for integrity. The firm was established in 1995 and NGR associates are highly regarded and well respected in Sacramento. When our lobbyists Fred Noteware and Bless Shep- pard contacted legislators to set up an Advocacy Day office visit, they were greeted with enthusiasm and our members were welcomed at all offices that we had selected to visit.

Advocacy Day 2015 began with an educational program at the office of Noteware Government Relations, where participants were able to get “up close and personal” with our outstanding presenters:

  • Fred Noteware, owner NGR: The Job of the Lob byist and the Legislative Process
  • Shelley Rouillard, Director of the California Department of Managed Healthcare: Overview of the DMHC and the Implementation of Federal Managed Healthcare.
  • Kim Madsen, Director, Board of Behavioral Science: Plans, Progress and Pursuits that affect MFTs.
  • Tracy Rhine, Deputy Director of Legislative and Policy Review, Department of Consumer Affairs: Role of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

We learned about Director Rouillard’s endeavors to improve access to care and establish parity for mental health services. She is committed to these efforts and she is not afraid to confront insurance plans that are non-compliant. Always collaborative and responsive, BBS Executive Officer Kim Madsen informed us about the Board’s work and progress. We learned about the relationship between the Department of Consumer Affairs and the BBS and how to effectively impact decisions that are being made by these regulatory boards. Participants were able to ask questions, share their own experiences and make requests.

After the morning program, we walked over to the Capitol and presented a plaque to Senator Jim Beall in appreciation for his work in the legislature to advance and improve mental health services in California. Senator Beall is one of our champions in Sacramento. He shared with us his goals for the coming year as well as his personal story related to our state, his passion for improving mental health services in our state. Following the visit, Senator Beall’s office arranged for our participants to have a private, guided tour of the Capitol.

We then walked to lunch at a local favorite spot, where our dynamic Advocacy Chair, Angela Kahn, presented information about the AAMFT-CA Divi- sion priorities, emphasizing legislation that was to be addressed during our office visits. Lobbyist Bless Sheppard then presented: Preparing for Your Meeting: what to do and what to expect.

Led by Angela Kahn and immediate past Advocacy Chair Ben Caldwell, we divided into small groups to proceed to the offices of law- makers, who were selected for visits because of their standings in the legislature as related to current bills of importance for MFTs.

We finally returned to the NGR offices to reconvene as one larger group, debrief, and determine next steps. The event was a great success. We accom- plished our goals, learned a lot and had a good time. With many thanks to our Advocacy Day Commit- tee members, Christina Tobie, Stephen Vernon and Gabrielle Guedet, and to NGR associates Bless Sheppard, Fred Noteware, Cindy Pierson. This special event never could have happened without their hard and dedicated work.

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AAMFT Leadership Symposium 2015

Sara Thorsen
University of San Francisco
AAMFT Bay Area Student Member

I’m thankful I got to attend the AAMFT Leader-ship Symposium because as a student, it was an invaluable experience. The speakers were engaging and covered a variety of topics relevant to both folks new to the profession and those more established. Not surprisingly, the conversations that took place between presentations were incredibly engaging. Also, participating in this symposium provided a unique look at how AAMFT operates on a macro level. My favorite aspect of the symposium was connecting with MFTs from other states and hearing about their education programs, paths to licensure, and practices.

Sara Thorsen is a student in the MFT program at the University of San Francisco.

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Helpful Apps

Searching the App Store on an iPhone garnered 512 apps under the key word “mental health.” Many are geared for the consumer, ranging from meditation/relaxation techniques to brain workouts. There are also many apps geared for the clinician’s use. Many are free or cost under $5 and can be used as a resource for the therapist or used in conjunction with a client.

Click on the icons to be taken to the apps website or iTunes App store. These apps are available for Apple and Android products.

Please note that by providing information on these apps, AAMFT-CA does not promote these as effective clinical tools. Each therapist needs to use their own clinical judgment when using these applications.

Suicide Safe (free)
suicideSuicide Safe, SAMHSA’s new suicide prevention app, helps providers integrate suicide preven- tion strategies into their practice and address suicide risk among their patients. It is based on SAMHSA’s Suicide Assessment Five-Step Evaluation and Triage (SAFE-T) and provides edu- cational material for patient and provider, as well as treatment locator and conversation starters.

Mood Watch ($0.99)
moodMood Watch empowers people who suffer from mood disorders like anxiety, bipolar, depres- sion, borderline, and post-traumatic stress disorders to track their feelings throughout the day. Developed by a consumer, this app helps analyze different mood states, focus and mindfulness, as well as track medications.

Psych Drugs (free)
psychWant to learn about psychotropic medications quickly and easily? With Psych Drugs, you can learn important and useful information about various psychotropic medications such as antide- pressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and anti-anxiety medications. For each medication, you will find the generic/brand name, class, indications, dosage forms, maximum daily dosage for children/adults and side effects.

CBT Skills for Kids ($1.99)
cbt-toolsThis is a colorful and unique app designed to help children and adolescents increase their emo- tional self-awareness and management of their feelings. CBT Tools allows children to learn and use effective strategies for understanding and managing their thoughts and feelings. Features include an emotion tracker, emotion graph and history log, relaxation skills, thinking skills, positive actions and email my therapist (to send the data).

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A Big Success! California Division Annual Conference

 Norma Scarborough, DMFT
AAMFT-CA President Elect

If you missed the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy California Division conference, you missed a wonderful professional treat. Almost 200 people attended and there was an air of excitement about the scheduled events. The theme was “Bringing Systemic Therapy into a Collaborative Mental Health World: Applications for Clinical, Community, & Private Practice”. The conference was held in Southern California at California State University at Northridge. This year the conference was expanded to 2 days and provided opportunities for students, professors, and clinicians to give workshops or seminars, or participate in the poster session. The workshops and seminars were big favorites. Many attendees commented on the quality and content of the various presentations. In addition, there were excellent keynote speakers such as Dr. Diane Gehart, Professor at California State Univer- sity at Northridge, who spoke on “Mindfulness in Mental Health Practice”; Dr. Jan Ewing, Professor at San Diego State University presented on “Narrative Health: The Neurophysiology of Our Narratives: Developing Cultures of Relating”; Dr. Matthew Mock, Professor at John F. Kennedy University taught on “Culture, Mental Health, and Systemic Community Practice: Wellness, Resilience, and Recovery”; and Dr. Lekeisha Sumner, Professor at California School of Professional Psychology and her co-presenter, student Sara Assar, M.A., spoke about “Health Promotion with Couples: Using Attachment Theory and Science to promote Sexual Vitality, Relational Growth, and Positive Health Behaviors”. The Plenary speaker was Dr. Katheryn Whittaker, the Clinical Director for the Center for Psychiatric Diagnosis and Addiction in Venice, CA, which is run by Clearview Treatment Center, explored “Substance Abuse Issues for MFT’s in the 21st Century”. All of the speakers were interesting and informative.

To round out the presentations, there was a panel discussion on the future of MFT’s in private practice, public mental health agencies, and education. The panelist were specialist in each of these areas: Dr. Loree Johnson, runs several private practice offices represented private practitioners, Gina Papa, MFT, past clinical director of Para Los Niño’s mental health clinics, represented public mental health, and Dr. Michael Laurent, Department Chair of the MFT program at California State University at Dominguez Hills, represented educators. The panel discus- sion was facilitated by Gabrielle Moore, a PsyD in MFT student from The California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, the Los Angeles Campus. It was a lively discussion which included audience participation. The California Division of AAMFT was thankful to the speakers, who volunteered their time and expertise, and the many clinicians, students, and professors who contributed to the conference’s success.

However, the conference would not have been as successful without the contributions of sponsors, AAMFT- CA and the Michael D. Eisner College of Educationat California State University Northridge. The Khan Institute for Self Injury and the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling at California State University Northridge were also acknowledged for their donations to the conference.

Finally, the California Division Conference Committee and student volunteers made this conference possible. They spent many hours organizing and coordinating the many details that make a successful event. They were a special team that always presented with a smile no matter what was asked of them. The AAMFT-CA Division Conference Committee was: Dana Stone, Co-Chair; Norma Scarborough, Co-Chair; Naveen Jonathon, committee member; Sahar Aboutalebi, committee member; and Alejandra Trujillo, committee member.

The student volunteers who made sure everything ran smoothly were: Lauren Brown, Kayla Caceres, Joseph Cardenas, Bernice Contreras, Sara Forouzan, Lindsay Gooze, Yvette Nava, Alexandra Oved, all from California State University Northridge and Denise Lopez and Melanie Kovarkizi from Alliant International University, Los Angeles Campus.

There will be another opportunity for you to enjoy an AAMFT-CA conference. Preparations for the 6th Annual Conference are already underway. So this time don’t get left out! Look for “Save the Date” emails and plan to attend the conference which will be held in Northern California in 2016.

Norma Scarborough is currently an assistant professor and site program director in the Couple and Family Therapy at Alliant University, the Los Angeles campus in Alhambra, CA. In addition, Dr. Scarborough provides supervision for interns at her counseling service in Redondo Beach.

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Book Review: The Contemporary Relational Supervisor
by Robert Lee & Thorana Nelson (2014)

Bob_NorthcuttReviewed by Robert Northcutt, LMFT

I have been looking for a contemporary book about couples and family therapy supervision to help me on my quest to become an AAMFT approved supervisor and I have definitely found it. Lee and Nelson have written a comprehensive and contemporary book on relational supervision aimed at current and future couple and family therapist (CFT) supervisors. Overall the book is divided into four parts: understanding the supervisory process, relational supervision practices, contextual considerations, and trouble shooting and writing a personal philosophy of supervision paper. Each part of the book includes specific chapters that cover the breadth of the supervisory process in a systematic and very thorough way.

The book has a post-modern, contemporary sensibility about it as it addresses the relational, contextual, and co-constructed nature of both CFT and the supervisory process. The authors distinguish CFT supervision from other supervision approaches. In essence, they argue that CFT supervision is different because couples and family therapists can face intense emotions while practicing CFT, the complexity of the therapeutic alliance when working with couples and families, and the focus given to values and beliefs that “trainees hold about families and couples in therapy, including same-sex couples.” The authors state that the book is based on a “systematic conceptual model which encompasses systems thinking and an awareness of the differences in values, attitudes and ways of understanding the world.”

contemporary_relational_supervisorIn my opinion, chapter 13 entitled, “Self of the Therapist, Self of the Supervisor” captures the heart and soul of the book. Self of the therapist/supervisor in this chapter refers to understanding the personal barriers to both therapist and supervisor effectiveness and cultural barriers that may arise from a lack of awareness and sensitivity. The authors identify three common CFT models for addressing self of the therapist/supervisor issues. The first is a psychodynamic approach to supervision that allows dis- cussion of transference and countertran- ference issues to illuminate distortions, biases, and other personal reactions. The second is video recordings which allow both therapists and their supervisors to speculate and reflect on the process and reactions of the therapists and the supervisor’s reaction and interaction with the therapist as they watch how the therapy encounter unfolds. The third is taking a constructivist, postmodern approach to supervision where the domi- nant narrative can be deconstructed and modified to make explicit the implicit beliefs and perceptions that are behind therapeutic and supervisory interactions. All of these methods point to a sense of moment to moment awareness on the part of the supervisee and the supervisor as they work together with a keen sense of curiosity and discovery.

I find the book a reliable guide and an invaluable resource as I work toward the approved supervisor designation. At the end of each chapter there are a series of questions that encourage self-reflection and discussion with my supervisory mentor. In addition, the book is well documented with 17 pages of references that encourages further and deeper exploration of specific topics. Although I have not written my personal philosophy of supervision paper yet, I am sure I will find the last chapter of the book, which covers this topic, extremely helpful. Lee and Nelson say their goal in writing the book is to prepare “the next wave of CFT supervisors” but it is also for those of us currently supervising. In many ways this book seems perfectly attuned to the contemporary outlook in couples and family therapy and I would say, in the mental health field at large as trainees and supervisors take a relational stance toward each other that is epitomized by collaboration, respect, connection, curiosity, cultural awareness and sensitivity. This book is highly recommended for anyone who wants to be on the cutting edge of contemporary supervision practices.

Robert Northcutt, LMFT is an AAMFT Supervisor candidate and is a clinical supervisor at Airport Marina Counseling Service in Los Angeles. In addition to his supervision and training duties at Airport Marina, Robert has a private practice in Los Angeles and Los Alamitos. 

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