The Redwood Empire Therapist
RECAMFT's Online Newsletter
At first look Alchemy is a strange and mysterious language filled with indecipherable prose and imagery. But if we look more closely, we discover Alchemy conceals methods, images and metaphors for evolving oneself psychologically. Carl Jung spent the last part of his life exploring this complex and beautiful world, recognizing its psychological value.
This presentation will take the listener through a landscape of imagery and contemplation, reflecting on the riches that can emerge when imagery is incorporated into psychological thinking. Such symbols often show up in sessions as metaphors as clients reach for ways to describe their inner experiences.
Developing a curious attitude and engaging these symbols and metaphors through creative practices can enrich the work, bringing a more soulful and pondering, less directive attitude to the work.
Felicia Matto-Shepard is a Jungian Analyst and artist who will share her experiences of art making in psychological transformation, based on material from her personal process, as well as those of her students and patients. Her website is https://feliciamattoshepard.com.
Register to take this fascinating 1.5 CE Zoom course on Fri., May 6th, 10-11:30 am here.
Attendees will be entered in a drawing for a FREE PASS to CAMFT's Annual Conference (see below). We will draw a winner at the end of this presentation. You must be present (on Zoom) to win.
I hate to admit that I don't read a lot, but honestly in the pandemic years, I've limited it to newspapers. That's in the past now thanks to the Justice Project and the genius of Audible. Since January I've read (and/or listened to) eleven books, all from the list on the Justice Project page. Here are the three that dart into my reveries frequently.
Oprah-recommended, and NY Times #1 bestseller, Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist is my current read. She brilliantly ties together historical writings and interviews to demonstrate how America functions under a caste system (of which some of us are sort of unaware) similar to India. Worse was learning Nazis used literature, case rulings and law from America, along with sponsoring American eugenicists to come over and teach them how to best set up the caste system they intended to (and did) put in place just prior to the start of the WWII. The Nazis admired America as the best example in the world of a caste system that also disenfranchised one level of the caste, and forbade interracial marriage - a goal the Nazis had in mind. It disturbs me to know the Nazis admired us for our caste system.
Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon was an exquisite read by the author in his lyrical Mississippi accent. I loved it and understand why it was voted Best Book of 2018 by the NY Times and Audible (out of ALL the books written that year).
President Obama picked Beautiful Country: A Memoir by Qian Julie Wang as his favorite book of 2021. Read by the author it was a compelling story of her life beginning in China, then migrating to the "beautiful country" (China's name for the US) where she arrived in New York City at the age of seven. Before leaving China, the author's mother showed her young daughter a book, with the mother's name embossed on the cover. She was a college professor and was proud to show her first published text book. In America the mother was consigned to sewing in a factory, cutting hair, and waitressing.
A write up and links to these books and a host of other fabulous titles is located on the Justice Project page in our website. Please visit http://recamft.org/justice. Find out how you can get free Law & Ethics this year if you are one of the first 50 people to complete the Justice Project.
I implore you to read up on RECAMFT's newest venture, the Justice Project, and join all of us in reading and discussion groups this year designed to deepen your education, knowledge and sensitivity to racial justice issues. Every book I read causes me to feel like my heart is expanding. This is literally one of the best things I've done in years.
Prelicensed members, please answer our survey to let us know what kinds of events/support you would like!
FREE Prelicensed Event!!
Navigating the Road to Licensure
with Luke Martin, CAMFT Staff Attorney
Recording will be available for 3 weeks after this event. Click here to register for the recording.
Please donate to RECAMFT's Joe & Pam Ward Memorial Scholarship Fund for Prelicensed and Newly Licensed Members (Tax deductible)
Prelicensed and Newly Licensed Members - you have until April 30th to apply for a Scholarship! Be sure to visit our scholarship page to learn more.
The Programs Committee is calling for presentation applications to be submitted between April 1-30th, 2022. Please let interested parties know and find out more here.
We also need a couple of people to help us review presentation applications. This is a lot of fun, choosing the next group of speakers for our colleagues to enjoy. Can you help? Send your interest to email@example.com.
RECAMFT'sListserv For All!
Our listserv has over 300 members on it, and is active daily with great conversations, resources, offerings, in search of, books, movies, office rentals, jobs, internships, etc. You can view the home page of our listserv at
The listserv has been especially valuable as a lifeline to each other during the pandemic. But there are currently over 150 members who are not taking advantage of this vital resource and membership benefit we offer.
Other therapist organizations automatically enroll every member into their listservs. So at the April 8th, 2022 RECAMFT Board of Directors meeting, President Laura Strom brought up the topic of automatically registering all/new members to the listserv. This was approved by the Board of Directors.
If you are not currently enrolled in the listserv, you soon will be. You have the option of setting up your account to be
After you have been added to the listserv, you can change the way you receive the emails to any of the above choices.
In Gmail the emails will appear under your Forums tab. To send an email to the listserv, simply address your email to
If you do not want to be on our listserv, you can delete your account or write to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to not be a part of the listserv. But we urge you to give it a try. You are missing out on a ton of meaningful collaboration with your colleagues. We hope you will enjoy being part of our online community! Coming soon....
RECAMFT's Mission Statement
The purpose of RECAMFT is to promote and maintain professional competence and integrity with knowledge, innovation, compassion, humor and respect for human dignity and diversity.
We do this by providing opportunities for networking, education and community outreach.
RECAMFT's Racial and Social Justice Pledge
RECAMFT is committed to equity including addressing structural racism and systemic injustice. We endeavor to be inclusive and value individuals from all ethnicities, ages, races, sexual orientations, genders, languages, abilities, religions, citizenship statuses, and socioeconomic backgrounds into our chapter and into treatment.
We strive to advocate, educate, collaborate, and strategize for positive racial and social justice change within our membership and our community.
Therapists work in this field because they see the importance of mental health approaches and interventions. Those interventions can be on individual, partnership, family, or group levels. The biggest immediate group we live in is our community. In a family, if we saw physical abuse happening, we’d intervene to create behavior change on all sides, and hopefully underlying mental change as well. It is our duty to create safety. We each have an opportunity to do a community intervention towards more mental health awareness and safety. In June in Sonoma County, there will be an election that may heavily influence mental health policies that affect the community.
This year, Sonoma County is the only county in the area whose liability insurance premium recently increased by 40%= $2.7million due to the liability of excessive use of force.
In comparison, funding the new Santa Rosa InRESPONSE team full time would only cost $1.2 million annually. It currently operates only part time.
City and county budgets are being affected by expenses due to excessive force. As a result of ongoing Law Enforcement Agencies’ (LEA) excessive force, Sonoma County had to spend over $6 million in the last 10 years for civil suits. This is money being siphoned away from community development including mental health treatments and housing solutions.
In Sonoma County, the largest psychiatric facility is the jail. In 2017, the Press Democrat reported that nearly 40% of the 1,100 people incarcerated in the main jail and the lower-security North County Detention facility had a mental illness. The Sheriff’s Department is responsible for Sonoma County Jail. People with severe and persistent mental health issues are being underserved in the Sonoma County jail. While about 3 percent of U.S. adults suffer from a severe mental illness, they make up a quarter to one-half of all fatal law enforcement encounters.
The Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (“IOLERO”) was established in 2015 as a response to the murder of 13 year old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa by a sheriff’s deputy. Its task is to provide civilian oversight for all local law enforcement agencies across the county, thereby providing a coordinated and efficient means of accountability, transparency, and public input to all local policing agencies. It is crucial that the new Sheriff is willing to work closely with IOLERO.
There are many different forums where voters can meet the three candidates:
RECAMFT members need to show up to informational forums and ask critical questions of these candidates in this important race for the Mental Health and Health of Sonoma County. At the last election in 2018, only about 30% of voters voted!
Who we vote in to become Sonoma County Sheriff has a huge influence on what is happening in our county in regards to budgets, to Mental Health contracts and outreach, and for the well-being of our Black and Brown communities. If RECAMFT members can do our part in supporting the right person, we will send an important message to community members of color about how serious we are about standing up for Racial Justice and Social Change.
Are you creative? Join us for our Crafting Group.
we knit, sew, paint, draw, cook, create, etc.
Thank you to M.E.N. for your support!
Find out more about advertising with RECAMFT here.
Thank you to CasanovaToral.com for your support and partnership with RECAMFT!
On April 1st we had an interesting presentation by Molly Merson, LMFT, titled "Found At Sea: Depth Psychotherapy for Unfathomed Times." Molly has a practice in Berkeley and is a Candidate at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. As her title suggests, Molly gave us her view of how a psychoanalytic approach to therapy can be helpful to our patients (analytic term for clients), especially in these times of change and the increasing awareness of the embedded bias we may all be carrying.
Molly talked about psychoanalysis as "offering imaginative space, willingness to be vulnerable and providing evenly hovering attention," and that through this process "we can support our patients in addressing harm, increasing self reflection and action, and dreaming up new types of personal and social relationships each of us may need in navigating a changing climate and social fabric." She went on to say "our practices are informed by the environments within which we and our patients are forced to contend with..... extractive and colonial practice inputs and formulates our view....we are not immune from this... (as therapists) we come from a position of humility....we take our narcissism down a notch and listen....we listen to whatever comes up in ourself as our unconscious process is metabolizing." She explained that "we are not out to change people's minds to match our own but to recognize them with curiosity and support our patients into breathing some air into spaces that have been collapsed by social and familial messaging that leaves (them) feeling helpless and fragmented."Molly stated that "curiosity and spaciousness can support a process that can unhook us from the limiting and, at times, problematic ways we've tried to cure ourselves through our symptoms - our internal punishers and critics,...our patterns may have come about as a way to cure ourselves from the effects of intense affect and sensatin, social structures that perpetuate injustices and barriers to liberation, the effects of longing, separation, desire and love that causes pain and excesses of affect."
Molly talked about what the patient suffers from is impeded growth and that the therapist is on the side of growth and development to an "unknown and unknowable future to the many and unpredictable variations in the psychobiological life cycle....the concept of cure would be preemptive....that to allow the conscious to unfold means not knowing where the therapy will go....we hold to the framework for that unfolding to happen....the cure is not an end result, it is a process that is ongoing. A patient is cured when they can free-associate." By this, I believe Molly means that the patient's inner censors, critics and prohibitions no longer hold sway over the patient's ability to feel, think and express.Thank you, Molly, for a thought provoking and challenging presentation today. Molly can be reached at 510-594-4035 or by visiting her website at http://www.mollymerson.com.
Michael Krikorian, LMFT has over 40 years experience working with individuals and couples at his practice in Santa Rosa. More information about him can be found at www.krikorianmft.com.
Here's a picture of how we work with men to make a Plan of Action in our Stop the Violence Zoom groups. Currently accepting referrals.
Very often we find ourselves anticipating a potential stressful event in the near future where our feelings and emotions may get “tweaked”. When working with a new group of M.E.N. participants we’ll often ask the question, “By a show of hands, how many of you have blown it, lost your temper, yelled, called names, swore, hit something or someone, and when you calmed down said, “Gee, I sure am glad I handled it that way"? Generally, no hands raise.
In the M.E.N. work we advocate making a Plan of Action for situations when you know you are at risk for acting out. A good guideline is to ask yourself, “What actions will I take in order to be happy with myself?” A little planning can avoid damage to your relationship and weeks or months of personal regret and shame.
All of us find ourselves in the midst of confrontational situations at one time or the other. We picture ourselves in stressful situations where our defenses naturally kick in to protect us. Fight or flight is real. Our body sends adrenaline through us to kick in our survival instincts. We prepare ourselves for war, and in most of the cases, we don’t get what we want.
So what’s the alternative? We prepare ourselves for peace.
One M.E.N. collective member offered a personal example. I would use someone else for example, but that would be a waste of the good money I shelled out for several years of intense therapy in order to find out who I really was!
So here’s the rub. I’d help my mother prepare for the function. Now my mother’s pattern was to imagine every single thing that could possibly go wrong during the event and have a plan for it just in case it did. Each year I would say the same thing. “Mom, just don’t worry.” That’s when the fireworks started, of which most could be detected on the Richter Scale. Every year we had rousing fights. Tears were often involved.
As a member of a M.E.N. group I had learned a new skill; create a Plan of Action. I looked forward to the next event my family hosted so I could enact my new plan. When mom starts listing everything that could go wrong, I’d say “Okay, I’m going to Rancho Park.” This is the way the conversation took place when I put that plan into action. “What? You’re not going to tell me not to worry?” “Nope Mom, I can see why you would worry. I’m going to Rancho Park. Call if you need me to pick up anything for you.”
I left for Rancho Park. And ya know what? We never fought about worrying ever again. I prepared for the peace, not the war! The principle can be applied to all confrontations with just a bit of planning!
While this example is presented somewhat lightly, the message is serious and deals with reality. When you know you’re going into a possible hostile environment or a situation where you know you have a tendency to get triggered, have a plan that prepares for peace, not for war.
M.E.N. is currently offering their weekly Stop The Violence group on Zoom. The STV group covers 14 topics and men are encouraged to repeat the 14 weeks until they’ve integrated the new tools and skills. For more information call the Helpline at 707-528-2636. www.sonomacountymen.org
Thank you for reading this month's newsletter! RECAMFT is great because of involved members like you!!