Stop the presses! BIG NEWS - After at least 22 years of lobbying, LMFTs and LPCCs are about to become Medicare providers!! We are just waiting for President Biden's signature.
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.
Participate in the Justice Project : Antiracism by 12/31/22 and receive a lovely Certificate of Achievement for your wall! Click here to find out more.
President'sMessage: A time of change and reflection
By Gina Culver, LMFT
Hello and welcome, RECAMFT community, to 2023. Each new year brings a time for change, reflection, and setting new intentions. While there is always transformation, sometimes it feels harder to navigate.
With change comes grief. In my work with clients, especially teens, we talk about grief. Loss is not only about death. It is about newness or transformation – expected, unexpected, positive, devastating, and everything in between.
I recall our Francis Weller workshop, and his teaching the importance of having anchors to steady us in the tempest. Maybe the anchor is a parent, a best friend, a memory, an item with sentimental value, a pet, or something else that allows us to metaphorically hold on as we weather the storm of grief.
This fall has been rough as I lost my dearest sister and friend. In those moments where the sadness aches, my anchors are the loving, sweet times my sister and I shared. Grief transforms you forever – the losses are part of your story at a cellular level from this point forward. We all need permission to grieve losses which can be seen, and those which remain hidden, regardless if others agree, understand or even know.
As we toast the end of the third year of COVID-19 and greet the shiny new year brimming with possibility, be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Find your anchor(s). Be an anchor. May each of you have peace, health, and prosperity in 2023 as we continue traveling our paths together with RECAMFT.
Gina L. Culver, MS, LMFT
At the December 9th Board meeting, the Board decided to allow for 25 free Law & Ethics seats (6 hr L&E to be offered in late spring) for those members who complete the 2023 Justice Project: LGBTQ+ Affirming Care and fill out the Attestation form located here.
The President and Board thanked Annette Seibel and Gail Van Buuren for their many years of Board service as Directors at Large, and Vicky Rohrer who served the last two years as Board Secretary. Vicky is currently serving on the state CAMFT Board as a Director at Large.
A note from retiring Board Director at Large, Gail Van Buuren...
Dear RECAMFT members,
At the end of 2022 I am stepping down from serving on the RECAMFT Board of Directors. I joined the Board in 2006 when I first moved here from Pacific Grove. I gained instant friendships and a community with colleagues and that brought referrals and support, both of which I value deeply. I have served in many positions on the Board including President in 2007 and have been greatly enriched by my service.
Together we provided meetings, education, and a financially strong and vibrant chapter that ranks as one of the best in CAMFT’s community and received the Outstanding Chapter Award. It has been rewarding to welcome many dynamic leaders onto the Board over these many years who have expanded our chapter’s offerings and capabilities, even during the pandemic.
I miss our in-person chapter meetings and visiting with you there but hope springs eternal for a return of that someday. Though I am retiring from the Board, I am still practicing, so will stay present at our meetings and will see some of you there.
Gail Van Buuren, LMFT
Please consider giving a tax-deductible donation to our Joe and Pamela Ward Scholarship Program to continue our program of financial support for our emerging clinicians who face high expenses and low pay.
Last year, RECAMFT launched the Joe and Pamela Ward Scholarship Program, which awards three scholarships of $1000 each and a free year-long membership to Pre-Licensed and Newly-Licensed chapter members. Our first awards were granted in 2022 to Bree Watson, AMFT and Claudia Hernandez, AMFT. Congrats to both Bree and Claudia!!
The funds that make these awards possible have been generously donated by members of our chapter and are doubled by matching funds authorized by our Board of Directors. Your donations will go twice as far! We have raised $2070 towards our goal of $5250 which funds the scholarship program for 2022, 2023, and 2024. We are $3180 away from our goal!
Please visit www.recamft.org/scholarship to give a tax-free donation today!
Announcing the all-new Spirit of RECAMFT Award!
The all-new Spirit of RECAMFT Award is intended to highlight or showcase our members who are working in the community to support the mental health profession and the well-being of our community at large. It is for those members who may not necessarily be seen but have contributed to unmet needs and or advancements in the mental health profession.
At the heart of this award is acknowledging someone who embodies all of the aspects of RECAMFT’s mission, values, vision, and commitment to the profession and mental well-being within the community.
SAVE THE DATE! Law & Ethics CEs
Seductions and Arrogance: Client Presentations and Therapist Vulnerabilities that Lead to Legal and Ethical Violations
Ronald Mah, PhD, LMFT
Friday, Feb. 3rd, 2023
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Zoom, 2.0 CEs (Law & Ethics)
Our listserv has over 400 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 https://groups.io/g/recamft.
If you are not currently enrolled in the listserv, please email email@example.com and ask to be added. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do not want to be on our listserv, you can delete your account or write to email@example.com 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!
Kick-off of Justice Project 2023 with Melle Browning's Informative Presentation
By Wowlvenn Seward-Katzmiller, LMFT
The RECAMFT Racial and Social Justice Committee’s new LGBTQ Justice Project for 2023 had an early kick off Friday, December 2nd with Melle Browning’s online presentation: Affirmative Therapy with Trans/Gender Expansive Clients. Browning is an expert in the subject matter, let alone being a highly experienced therapist and educator. His approach was welcoming and direct. He used his personal experience as a gender expansive trans man to illustrate points.
We started with language, learning how suicidal ideation is reduced by 50% in clients whose pronouns are used accurately by others. According to Browning, a therapeutic alliance cannot be formed with a therapist who isn’t trying.
“We can tell when somebody’s trying or not,” he said. He normalized that mistakes happen. “I sometimes get non-gender expansive people’s pronouns wrong. You just correct yourself and move on.”
He advocated for recognizing and addressing microaggressions like mis-gendering without making a big deal out of it. “We all have transphobia, like we all have internalized racism”, even members of LGBTQ communities. It’s a result of living in this society. But excessive apologies or stating embarrassment puts an emotional care-taking burden on the client.
During breakout time, participants discussed their own early gender experiences with prompts from the Gender Unicorn model of gender identity, gender expression, sex assigned at birth (which is controversial), and physical attractions separate from emotional attractions. He also offered up a less binary model called the Gender Galaxy.
He emphasized that standards of care in the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) are shifting toward a model of informed consent about pros/cons of treatment and away from harmful gatekeeping requirements like multiple letters including ones that must be from doctoral level providers.
“Bring a critical lens to research and media about trans/gender expansive issues,” Browning said. Transphobia informs much media and even research by professionals. For example, he said ‘detransitioning’ and ‘regret’ rates are very low but media sensationalizes them and makes them seem more prevalent. He provided a link for an article about puberty blocking hormone treatment and said a reliable January 2022 Stanford study indicated clients receiving hormonal treatment in adolescence, as opposed to in adulthood, are much less likely to have suicidal ideation and substance use disorders caused by distress.
Participants all received links to handouts and resource pages with referrals, updated terminology, local agencies serving trans/gender expansive clients, and helpful reading materials.
A Clinician’s Guide to Gender Affirming Care by Chang, Singh and Dickey was a top book on his list. It happens to be required reading for the 2023 Justice Project. Please be sure to visit our newest Justice Project website page: https://recamft.org/Justice-Project-LGBTQ+.
Lastly, we have decided to continue to Justice Project Antiracism track for 2023. If you weren't able to participate this year, you will be able to earn the certificate in 2023. Visit this page for more information. For members who earn both certificates, we have something special brewing for 2024 for you. Stay tuned....
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.
Prelicensed 3000 Hour Club Meeting is the first Friday monthly on Zoom (for now), 3-5 pm. Speaker in the first hour with the second hour reserved for group discussion.
Jan. 6th "Using Assessment Tools to Improve Patient Care Coordination" with Laura Strom, PsyD, LMFT. Register here.
Feb. 3rd "Working with Clients Presenting with Psychosis Symptoms" with Gina Culver, LMFT. Register here.
Mar. 3rd "Understanding Collaborative Divorce" with Randy Cheek, LMFT. Register here.
Meet RECAMFT's Prelicensed Chair and Director at Large, Jessica Heaney, AMFT. She is a recent graduate of Touro University Worldwide, and is now working for Seneca's Wraparound Program. Jessica is hosting our newly named 3000 Hour Club for Prelicensed Members monthly events on the first Friday monthly. 3-5 PM. Learn more here. Contact Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a sticky problem?
Not consultation, just a great way to get some ideas about how to handle your sticky case. Friendly and open group. Learn more here.
The Very Best Volunteer Job at RECAMFT
By Laura Strom
I think our very best volunteer job is the Programs Committee, and specifically, the Chair. I have worked closely with our Programs Committee Chairs the last few years, and I think being on the committee, and especially as the Chair is super entertaining and interesting. As the Programs Chair you get to brainstorm about all sorts of things.
Once the presentation applications have arrived, it's fascinating to read them, then check out the potential speaker's web presence, and watch video clips they have. You can compare with your fellow committee members to see who likes which speaker the best, and why. Then you just plug people into the monthly slots we have available, and verify they can make it in the preferred slot. If you feel comfortable, you can introduce the speaker at their event. If not, someone else can do it.
I love thinking about all the possibilities. When I told Director at Large Randy Cheek about my dream to have Brene Brown come speak to us, he told me he had actually introduced her at an event, and had lunch with her! What an amazing coincidence, and how cool would that be?? Wouldn't it be fun to communicate with Brene Brown in person, and get to know her a little bit? This is one of the many reasons I think our Programs Committee Chair is the very best volunteer job at RECAMFT! Interested? Send your interest to email@example.com so we can get started on the fun! Return to top.
We had an very thoughtful and informative presentation on "Affirmative Therapy for Trans/Gender Expansive Clients" by Melle Browning, LMFT. Melle is a neuroqueer trans man with therapy offices in Rohnert Park and Petaluma. He sought to help us understand some of the lived experience of gender expansive (those who identify outside the traditional binary categories) folx (a gender neutral way to refer to members of the LGBTQ community) so that we can provide care that is welcoming, affirming and less likely to include microaggressions.
Melle explained that the language we as therapists use is important as it communicates how we are looking at the world and the people we meet. Using the client's pronouns is vital as it communicates a message of acceptance and respect. He stated that one study showed 50% less suicide attempts in those folx who were surrounded by those who use that person's preferred pronouns than those surrounded by people who don't.
He taught us that the language used in the LGBTQ community is ever-evolving as people move away from terms that are now felt as invalidating or offensive. For instance, the term "sex change operation" shifted to "sex reassignment surgery" to "gender confirmation surgery" and now to "gender affirmation surgery."
There are multiple aspects of who we are and the old binary way of classifying people are not accurate. Melle used the "Gender Unicorn" to highlight 5 aspects of our identity:
In describing the risks to the trans community Melle included
That refusal can lead to a suicide attempt. Folx that are wanting to express their unique sense of gender identity have to deal with fear of the reaction of others and the potential loss and grief that may ensue. Sometimes prior medical traumas create a barrier to seeking the type of gender affirmation surgery the person may desire. Our speaker also explained that "transitioning" is not a single event as it may happen on the social, legal, medical, mental/emotional and sexual levels - all to different degrees and at different times.
He urged us to become informed of knowledgeable providers and resources in our area for these clients. Another suggestion is we have gender neutral bathrooms, signage and displayed images that show a range of identities, and forms that offer choices of pronouns as a way to be welcoming to LGBTQ people.
Thank you to Melle Browning, LMFT, for helping us expand our understanding, sensitivity and compassion for the folx in the gender expansive community. Melle can be reached at (707) 200-4968 or on the web: https://www.mellebrowningtherapy.com.
Michael Krikorian is an MFT who brings over 40 years of experience to his work with individuals and couples in Sonoma County. More information can be found at http://krikorianmft.com.
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Staying Sane During Insane Times
If you’re like me and most of my friends, you’re finding it challenging to stay balanced, healthy, grounded, and otherwise sane during these difficult time. Not only is covid still around, but more troubling for many of us are the unsettling, if not horrific, political stories that greet us daily. How can we keep our head above water as our democracy teeters, war rages in Ukraine (where I’ve done some teaching have friends there), and where some of the most unsavory characters are jockeying for political advantage?
If you’re wondering how to stay sane these days, you’re not alone. I'm trying to figure that out too. I wish I had easy solutions for you (and for me!). But for whatever it might be worth, here are some things helping keep me maintain balance during challenging times.
With covid concerns easing (at least fewer people dying), I'm more willing to risk getting out there. The gym helps keep me stay grounded and I’ve been attending more social gatherings. I recently went to a pot luck party for therapist types in Marin County with over 50 people. It was a little scary, but very gratifying—first time I’ve socialized with such a large group in years. I felt like it was an intelligent risk to transport myself beyond my computer screen into the social arena.
Being with like-minded people is a salve for me. At the gathering, no one spoke about politics, thankfully. I was reminded of how fulfilling it is to be with congenial souls—people equally committed to making the world a better place. Perhaps before long, we can re-convene our in-person RECAMFT presentations that we’ve enjoyed over the years.
Spiritual practice is another thing that keeps me sane. Meditation, yoga, remembering stay in my body is very helpful.
I’ve made some progress in limiting my exposure to the news, but I could use more headway there. I don’t want to put my head in the sand, but how many variations of the same theme do we need to expose ourselves to in order to know the basic story of what’s going on? I read the headlines and dig deeper into some news stories. But when it starts feeling repetitive or overwhelming, I switch to a movie, or take a walk, do some stretching, or indulge in repeat episodes of the Andy Griffith Show (yes, I admit it!). Now that kind of humor is therapeutic for me. It gets me out of my head and worries—and allows me to not take myself too seriously.
Being in nature, connecting with friends, enjoying my work, maintaining a sense of humor, meditating, and limiting my exposure to horrific news stories (the latest shootings or political shenanigans) are some of the ways that keep me balanced.
Most importantly, I try to follow Mahatma Gandhi’s advice to BE the change we want to see in the world—doing my best to live with an open heart and engaging with people in a connecting, caring, and sometimes playful way. It’s to forget the value of the work we’re all doing. Helping to improve people’s lives and relationships has ripple effects—helping our community, country, and world to become a better place. Let’s keep supporting each other to do our caring and nurturing work.
Call for Submissions for the February 2023 Issue of The RECAMFT Therapist!
February is Black History, American Heart, and Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. We especially welcome submissions where these themes intersect with mental health. Please send your submission (500 word max) to firstname.lastname@example.org by the 15th. Questions? email@example.com.
In 1994 when South Africa held its first free election, bringing Nelson Mandela to the presidency, Kitty Chelton served as the president of RECAMFT for two years: 1994 and 1995. It was a scary time when the US sent forces to the Persian Gulf, and war was broken out in Rwanda, and Serajevo. But Kitty brought her special brand of body wisdom calm to the RECAMFT Board. Thank you, Kitty, for your service to RECAMFT!
Thank you for reading this month's newsletter! RECAMFT is great because of involved members like you!!