News Items

News and Commentary For The Mental Health Professional
  • Mon, May 31, 2021 11:15 PM | Michael Mann (Administrator)

    SGV-CAMFT launched our newly forming Book Club on May 2nd on the heels of an article about joining a professional reading group which felt very fitting. Our intimate group met virtually and discussed several options for how we could see this book club develop over time. We dared to dream about holding these meetings in person soon. There were discussions about the benefits and challenges of reading the same reading material and getting deeper with the content. We also considered the option of leaving the group loosely formed with the ability for some members to share as their passions and interests arise. As we move forward, we want to include reading styles and interests of as many members as possible.

    Our topics of discussion in this first meeting also included what we are currently reading and books that have influenced us personally and professionally. I personally enjoyed hearing about books that impact and challenge my colleagues’ practices like Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence by Robin Karr-Morse, Meredith S. Wiley,T. and Berry Brazelton, These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore, and My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of Our Bodies and Hearts by Resmaa Menakem.

    Our next meeting is on June 6th at 7pm and will meet virtually. If you read and are a member, join us. If you are thinking about adding a few more books to your summer reading wish list, join us. If you want to find a book buddy to swap books with, join us. If you have never been in a book club or reading group and are curious, join us. Looking forward to seeing you there!

    – Natasha Morisawa, Book Club Facilitator
  • Fri, May 07, 2021 8:45 AM | Michael Mann (Administrator)

    Spring has sprung! The birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and here in the Pasadena area our Covid numbers are going down! Slowly, things are starting to open up. Lots of exciting things are on the horizon. SGVCAMFT has a number of exciting opportunities for you as well! 

    Starting as soon as May 2nd, we are launching our new Book Club meeting the first Sunday of every month at 7 pm. For the first meeting we’ll be Virtual on Zoom but hope to move to in-person as things open up. Coordinator Natasha Morisawa suggests that for the first meeting we each bring a book we are currently reading or that has impacted our practice. Register on the website. Email Natasha at for more information.

    Friday May 7th we are hosting our Membership Appreciation Mixer from 7-8 pm on Zoom! Let us provide you with some well-deserved nurture in the form of Yoga Nidra with Lauren Maher, exciting raffle items like beautiful jewelry hand-made by Julie Gigante, gifts baskets, fun surprises, and more! Register ASAP on our website. We look forward to relaxing and connecting with you!

    An exciting line-up of CE Programs and Connect and Learn lunch time events are in the works. We’ll update you as details are confirmed but here’s what we have so far:

    Save the Date: Saturday, June 26th 10am-12pm look for a stimulating virtual panel presentation geared towards helping our pre-licensed and early career members with “The Road to Private Practice for Pre-Licensed Therapists!” Learn from our experts what to look for in a supervision site and a supervisor, how to evaluate a private practice internship setting, ways to build professional relationships, and how to make the most out of your professional organization. Whether you are pre-licensed, early career, a supervisor, or a seasoned therapist who wants to learn more about developing your professional persona you won’t want to miss this important opportunity to learn the most effective ways to put your best foot forward as a counseling professional! Mark it on your calendar: Registration details to come.

    And looking ahead: Friday July 9th from 11 am-12:30 pm we have a very special virtual presentation by Dr. Saida Peprah entitled “Cultivating Humility: Dismantling Implicit Bias and Building Allies in Therapy.” You may recall that Dr. Peprah was on our schedule to present this important topic in March of 2020 just as we were all being shut down for Covid safety precautions. We’re very excited to be able to book her virtually despite her very busy schedule! Look for registration details to come. 

     Thanks to all of our Board members and volunteers for helping to bring these wonderful opportunities to you! We are always on the look-out for new and enthusiastic volunteers! If you have a desire to join a group of hard-working therapists dedicated to supporting your colleagues in the community, we would love to have you join us! Feel free to contact me anytime at

    Thanks for being a member of SGVCAMFT! I look forward to seeing you (virtually) soon!


    Kathryn Bikle
    President, SGVCAMFT

  • Fri, June 19, 2020 4:13 PM | Michael Mann (Administrator)

    Dear SGV-CAMFT Members,

    I struggle to use the words "unprecedented times" right now, because it lacks the depth of what we are all experiencing. I'm actually struggling to synthesize what I'm experiencing as a clinician and as Board President into a concise message.

    Some of us may be contemplating how and when to resume face-to-face sessions with clients, or to give up our offices to permanently practice via Telehealth. Some may be reflecting, discussing, and educating themselves on how and when to address racism and racial disparity in our practice or agency. Others of us may be acutely aware of the impact of being a wounded healer in these uncertain and changing times and are taking new measures to care for ourselves and each other. Wherever you are in your professional journey, I hope that you have the tools, support, and health to sustain you. The work you do builds the kind of resiliency your clients and community need right now.

    As Marriage and Family Therapists, we have had training and practice in systems theory which gives us a unique advantage to incorporate our voice in the finding of solutions to complex social issues. At the heart of what we do we are agents of social change. Our chapter leadership stands behind and support's CAMFT's position regarding California Therapists Disavow Racial Injustice, Voice Concern over Mental Health Impacts of Racial Trauma.This is echoed in the AAMFT Statement on MFT Responsibility to Counter Racism.

    Your SGV-CAMFT Board is not giving you a statement of our chapter values at this time. To do so would put the focus on us when that is neither helpful nor productive. Rather, I challenge our SGV-CAMFT board and chapter members to actively discuss, educate ourselves, take a hard look at our role in perpetuating and dismantling racial disparity in our field, and find sustainable action to move in the direction of mental health and racial equity.

    We have begun formal discussions as a board to identify our current capacity and potential avenues to make meaningful change. As our board gets more familiar with the technological tools available to us, we will open discussion to all our members. We are committed to finding and creating safe spaces in which to do this work. We will make mistakes and want to hear feedback. We expect that discomfort that comes with growth will show up.

    As always, please reach out to me or any board member with your comments or ideas. And if you're ready to roll up your sleeves and get more involved, reach out to a Committee Chair or myself for volunteer positions. The world needs more leaders who have the vision and training of MFTs!

    We see you and the work you do.

    In gratitude,

    Natasha Morisawa, LMFT

    SGV-CAMFT Board President

  • Fri, June 19, 2020 4:11 PM | Michael Mann (Administrator)

    Are you feeling a little bit isolated working from home? Could you use a friendly mentoring relationship to help you keep your bearings in these challenging times? Might you like to have someone to bounce ideas off of about how to grow your practice? Or brainstorm ways to create a safe space for your clients while using TeleHealth? The Mentor-Mentee Program may be just what you need! SGVCAMFT members are all eligible to participate. And right now, we're eager to encourage new Mentors and new Mentees into the program!

    For more information and to sign up, go to our SGVCAMFT website at or email facilitator Kathryn Bikle at

  • Fri, May 01, 2020 12:00 PM | Michael Mann (Administrator)

    It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear friend, John Pio, who died on April 19th. He had been recovering from surgery performed in January but was never able to regain his strength.

    John was a member of SGVCAMFT for 15 years and joined the Board in 2004. He served for ten years as Treasurer and as President in 2005-2006. John was instrumental in bringing the chapter into the digital age. When he joined in 2001, all transactions were paper-based, and all business was conducted by mail or telephone. He was part of a leadership team that introduced online communications and a website that automated chapter transactions. At a time when membership was dwindling, he was instrumental in growing the chapter so that it continued as a viable entity. He will be remembered as a friend by many chapter members.

    We send our deepest condolences to John's family and to his partner, Ricky. We are grateful to him for all his contributions to SGVCAMFT, and we will miss him dearly. Please email if you would like contact information.

  • Sat, November 02, 2019 1:29 PM | Elizabeth Ortiz

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  • Tue, April 04, 2017 5:57 PM | Deleted user

    A warm Spring Welcome in the San Gabriel Valley to you all!

    Thank you to John Sovec for coming in and presenting a wonderfully informative and engaging workshop in March! His advocacy and education enhanced our cultural competance and grew my empathy and humanity.

    At the end of February, SGV-CAMFT sent two board members (Casey Meinster and yours truly)  to CAMFT's Chapter Leadership Conference where we were able to share best practices with other chapters, get updates on the state of CAMFT and get re-energized in the work of our boards. We brought that energy back to the San Gabriel Valley and are hoping to incorporate some ideas into our chapter's workings.

    Most relevant to our members may be the updates to the Supervision requirements that are being put together by the BBS and affect many of us. We hope to move together through this transition and hope that it will have the intended effect of raising the bar of professionalism in our field.

    Looking forward to seeing you all in the upcoming workshops and networking events.

    Natasha Morisawa, President

  • Fri, March 10, 2017 12:32 PM | Deleted user

    Article by Steven D. Unruh, MDiv., LMFT

    No one likes to lose and for good reason.  We live in a culture focused on winning, and we are not taught how to negotiate or how to yield.  As individuals, many of us have not learned the art of losing. However, there is a way to transform losing into a "win", and lead us to experience a freedom within us. I say this because I believe this notion captures something that may present for us both a professional and personal struggle. This is a story about how losing can help us win.
    Steven D. UnruhI always had a desire to resolve conflict, pursue justice and create peace. Growing up in Minnesota within a German Mennonite Minister's family, I saw early on how conflict was avoided, denied and then escalated without resolution. Everyone was trying to win; to get their needs met, but no one was willing to negotiate, to bend, to lose.

    This all unraveled when we learned that my mother, recently the victim of pancreatic cancer, had left my brother and sister co-executors of her will. Besides the fact that they hated each other, my brother and sister threatened to sue each other over how to handle her property which had zero-equity, as well as an $18,000 bank account.

     I was in graduate school at the time. Summoning all my new training as a counselor and mediator I sought to resolve this issue. I called my dad, who had been divorced from my mother, and I offered the following solution: "Dad, here's the deal...I suggest we turn the house over to you, and in exchange you pay my sister $25,000 to stop her lawsuit and walk away from the rest of the will." My dad agreed, and so did my sister.  What a relief!  We all moved on with our lives.
    Paradoxically, when conflict is resolved well it seems everybody loses something.  Sometimes you feel that somebody got a bigger piece than you. But winning and "living in peace" requires losing. The simple resolution described here required each person give up something. It also allowed each of us to move towards the grieving process. This is the basis for all healthy mediation. It speeds up the process, allowing every family member to be in control of their lives again and focus on the future, rather than being mired in the past. 
    To win, you need to be willing to lose.

    This is what I tell my divorce mediation clients when they are becoming overwhelmed by the process and are thinking about getting attorneys and battling it out in court. I remind them that "to win, you need to be willing to lose." I point out to them that the courthouse will add another 2 1/2 years to the process, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars in cost, and often adding years of anger, resentment and sleeplessness. This drawn out process of constant fighting isn't winning, nor does it lead to "living in peace." As therapists, our role is similar.

    Even in counseling, our role is similar to that of a mediator. We seek to empower our clients to become more whole, more adult and take responsibility for their own lives, moving away from blaming others and shaming themselves. 

    While listening to clients attentively and with curiosity, we have to listen for what is not making sense what they're not telling us, and what pieces do not fit together.  Then we have to ask more probing and challenging questions in order to get a clear sense of reality. For me, psychotherapy is not imposing my sophisticated reality upon the client. Nor is it my fully accepting the reality that a client presents to me.  Our client's reality may be distorted and that may hold the key as to why they are seeking counseling.

    The dance between therapist and patient is complicated. Together we challenge each other's perspectives and forge a new reality in order to bring about deeper insight and understanding into their problems. In so doing, the goal of emotional healing, restitution and resolution can be reached.

    From my viewpoint, that is how I define "winning." Winning requires the hard work of your client losing hold of some parts of their "reality." This is my process in divorce mediation. Being a psychotherapist and a mediator, I find the clearest solution happens when I balance the multiple realities present in the divorce. That's the hard work. It means no one is "right;" everyone "loses," but this is the process required for them to win and find resolution.

    Taking this a step further, where in your life, in your intimate relationships is there a place where you may need to surrender or yield?   This is neither about being exploited nor being taken advantage of. Instead, where in your personal life, family life, with your spouse or kids, can you cease always being correct, unbending or unyielding? Where might we see the need to `let go', to lose a little, to unbend? For each one of us, there is certainly a place in our intimate relationships where we fear losing.  However, if we look carefully and honestly within, we know that a certain loss can bring peace and reconciliation.

    Therefore (that's always a nice word to use when you're ending), when things don't quite add up with your patient, we have to manage and balance multiple realities in order to help patients win.

    1. Listen for what is not being said.  Ask more challenging, thought provoking questions.

    2. Call it out.  Communicate that you are confused, and it seems that something is missing in the equation. Watch for the shift that happens in your client when this is made explicit. 

    3. Know when mediation is required.  No matter how resentful or angry your client is, if it involves a lawsuit of any kind whether a contested will, a conflict with a family member over Eldercare, divorcee or a Family Business squabble, refer them to mediation so you can continue to move forward in the work you are doing with your client.

    ~In your Counseling and in your Mediation, I wish for you "Courage and Grace."

    About the Author

    Steven D. Unruh is a divorce mediation counselor and psychotherapist practicing in Pasadena and Los Angeles, California and a member of San Gabriel Valley CAMFT. Read more about Steven online at

  • Wed, August 31, 2016 11:05 PM | Deleted user

    According to the Gregorian calendar, January is the beginning of our new year. Preparations from the end of one year to the next are often times of reflection and renewal. For your SGV-CAMFT Board, January has come in September this year.

    Steve, as you make your transition to your new adventures up north, on behalf of the board and the members we serve, we wish you and your family wellness and thanks for the last few years of service to our profession!

    Having served on the Programs Committee for the last couple of years, I have gained a deeper appreciation for our members and the jobs they choose to do. I've met many of you who continue to work under challenging conditions, with people who suffer greatly, and still strive to learn, grow and gain new tools to do the work we do. This is the inspiration that I take with me into this new position as your Board President.

    Thank you to the Board for all of the work you're doing to bring relevant programing and support to our members. As we enter our 4th quarter of the year, we're looking ahead to what our 2017 year will look like. Our annual survey will be an opportunity for members to voice their interests and provide us with feedback on what we're getting right and how we might improve our services to you. You may also reach me directly at I look forward to hearing your ideas and what inspires you to do what you do.

    Natasha Morisawa, MFT

  • Wed, August 31, 2016 10:57 PM | Deleted user

    Dear San Gabriel Valley Therapists,

    Apparently a popular thing for "Millennials" to do now is "ghost" from parties, or relationships: leaving without saying goodbye or thanking the host verbally in any way. The bloggers who justify it come across as huge narcissists! Their reasons are an affront to us therapists. See

    It is not my intention to ghost in our SGV off-month of August, hence this letter. Extending the metaphor of a party to "chapter activities" generally, and the Chapter Board as a select group of guests, then the board knows what you do not, that I am "leaving the party" early, and moving back to the SF Bay Area at the end of August! Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your President (2015-16), Co-President (2014) and Committee member (2013).

    The literal and metaphorical crucible of the San Gabriel Valley (I won't miss this heat!) has been a personal and professional proving ground. My volunteerism helped our chapter, but as for many of us, my private practice never quite picked up steam. I did get on three panels, and I enjoyed seeing the clients I had, but marketing to a niche in this saturated market proved tough. I was honored to receive an "Outstanding Chapter Leader" award in February 2016 at the CAMFT Chapter Leadership Conference, and I believe I leave this chapter stronger than when I arrived in 2013.

    Broadly speaking, the "stage of life" issue, aging parents, is taking me back home. I grew up in Berkeley, but I've been managing various medical crises Since January, moved my parents into assisted living in April, and with help, cleared out their home of 46 years in preparation for its sale. All great stage of life transitions with their lessons! As you've no doubt noticed, I have been at almost none of our Chapter meetings in 2016, and they've been capably run by Natasha Morisawa, Rudy Hayek, Casey Meinster, Rachel Ward and other capable board volunteers.

    Their excellent stewardship will continue for the remainder of 2016 and beyond. I hope you'll fill the vacuum I leave with your own participation and the effort to make the SGV great again!


    Steve Keightley, LMFT

San Gabriel Valley CAMFT
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