News Items

News and Commentary For The Mental Health Professional
  • 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

  • Tue, April 05, 2016 10:44 AM | Deleted user

    President's Message by Steven Keightley, LMFT

    Dear Chapter Members, Regional CAMFT Members and other allied professionals,

    I cast my salutation widely because this newsletter is sent to 1,500 regional CAMFT members and 230 Chapter members. That's a 15.3% chapter participation rate, just a tick better than the state-wide average of 14% of us in chapters. Thus 86% of us state-wide members only belong to CAMFT, versus also being a member of the  local chapter. (Yet when we send these newsletters out, they sometimes get opened by as many as 500 people, so there's a set of peers out there who are "listening", so a thank you to them for paying attention to our chapter affairs)!

    I am surprised to see that it has been since September 2015 that we have published a SGV Chapter Newsletter! I knew it had been a while, as I am effectively Editor in Chief. Your SGV Chapter has been having a busy 2016 so far, starting with a Member Social in January, and a Board Election on February 27. Via both an online and in-person vote, 21% of us elected a new Board of Directors for 2016. We had an engaging psycho-pharmacology presentation that same day. We had a successful 3000 Club social, and recently Gerry Grossman spoke to nearly 50 Pre-Licensed members about the changes to the licensing exams. Our Law & Ethics Presentation with David Jensen, CAMFT Attorney is coming at the end of the week. (There is still time to register!)

    From January to now I have been preoccupied with a family stage-of-life issue, and as of a few days ago the loss of two cats in two months. The stage-of-life element of my distraction has getting to know Interstate 5 much better. I've almost been too self-involved to see the amazing board we now have and the brighter future our Chapter faces!

    Speaking of recognition, one of my trips north was a two-fer. I got to visit an old colleague from my MFT Intern days (also a past board member of a different chapter) and attend the Chapter Leadership Conference in San Mateo, California (north of San Jose, east of Palo Alto). There I was one of 14 recipients of an Outstanding Chapter Leadership Award, plus I got to pick up some best practices and generally great ideas on how to better run a chapter.

    We now have even more peers on our board, and a few additional committees. We're intending to jump-start the newsletter and get it back to its former "bi-monthly level of functioning". Thank you for your patience and support!

    Presidentially yours,

    Steve Keightley, LMFT

  • Tue, April 05, 2016 10:23 AM | Deleted user

    By Casey Meinster

    The long road to MFT licensure can sometimes seem like it will never end. Getting through graduate school, finding and acculturating to a practicum site, getting an internship (hopefully paid), and completing 3,000 hours of clinical work all lead up to the grueling licensure exams. With all that, it is no wonder the recent exam changes have created anxiety and frustration.

    I invite you to take a deep breath and remember why you are doing all of this. Thinking back to the moment you decided to go to graduate school in the first place, and why you chose Marriage and Family Therapy as the degree, will likely bring up thoughts and feelings you had about wanting to help others and your community.

    The children, families, couples, and individuals we see are coming to us because we are the professionals with the education and expertise to help them get through difficulties and challenges of their experience. They come to us trusting we have the skills and knowledge that will help them feel better, become more authentically themselves, and have quality relationships with their loved ones.

    Consider reframing how you think about studying for the exams. Reviewing the study materials is an opportunity to refresh your knowledge on the foundational principles that will ultimately help you to best serve those who come to you for help. Also, remember that you are not in this alone and should reach out to the MFT community for support.

  • Tue, April 05, 2016 10:00 AM | Deleted user

    By Casey Meinster

    1.  Become familiar with Board of Behavioral Science (BBS) website. There are three different brief videos, as well as many other resources outlining how the changes in exams will impact you.  Visit

    2. If you are not getting answers from the BBS around whether or not you are approved to take one or both of the exams, bypass the BBS and call the PSI test center directly and ask "am I eligible to take the exam". (Make sure your check was cashed first) Call PSI at 877-392-6422.

    3. Utilize test prep companies that offer a variety of services, including study materials, courses, and access to professionals who can help interpret the changes as they relate to your situation. Consider Gerry Grossman Seminars, Association for Advanced Training in the Behavioral Sciences, or The Therapist Development Center.    

    4.  Visit this website and download a FREE printable PDF outlining the new 2016 California laws impacting MFTs including information on the exam restructure and experience restructure.  Visit

    5. Utilize CAMFT resources to ask questions and network with others who are navigating the same process as you. Visit for the calendar of events and contact information for board members.

  • Mon, March 14, 2016 1:51 PM | Deleted user

    Volunteerism is on the rise at SGV-CAMFT! The Board of Directors has gained five new members, including Almog Shanun, Anne Wullschlager, Casey Meinster, Vanessa Fierstadt and Katie Telser. Along with the returning directors, the size of the board is a healthy 12 members.

  • Tue, December 22, 2015 10:15 PM | Deleted user

    On September 15, 2015 the CAMFT Board of Directors approved a Chapter Affiliation Agreement that defines the relationship between the statewide organization (CAMFT) and each of the individual chapters, one of which is the San Gabriel Valley Chapter. SGV-CAMFT has been asked to sign the agreement no later than March 1, 2016. The SGV-CAMFT Board of Directors will consider the matter at its January and/or February meetings. Members are invited to read the agreement and submit any questions or comments to the Board.

    The document is available here by PDF download.

  • Tue, April 14, 2015 3:54 PM | Deleted user

    by Gerry Fagoaga, MFT, past president

    SGV-CAMFT members and members from other local chapters have fought hard in the past two years to have more of a say in the decisions CAMFT makes at the state level that affect all members. Emerging from that effort are some first opportunities to do so! Here is a brief summary to keep you abreast of the action and encourage your active participation in the ongoing process. Join us to ensure that San Gabriel Valley Chapter continues to play a leading role.

    Parity For LMFTs

    CAMFT has been involved in an extensive campaign to remove the onerous requirement that an LMFT hired by the VA must be a graduate of a COAMFTE-accredited school. 95% of California LMFTs are not graduates of COAMFTE; consequently few LMFTs are eligible for employment in California Veterans Affairs facilities.

    CAMFT has prepared an email calling on Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary McDonald to remove the onerous requirement. You can add your name to the effort and send a customized version of that email using tools on the CAMFT Website. Hurry - emails must be sent by April 17!

    CAMFT Seeks Your Opinion On Legislative Matters

    The CAMFT Board of Directors would like your input as they discuss two controversial pieces of legislation:

    Please take a few moments to answer the four questions about these bills on Survey Monkey.

    CAMFT: A Conversation About The Future

    The CAMFT Board of Directors would like your input on several issues relating to organizational governance:

    • Dually Licensed Board Members
    • Electronic Voting
    • Pre-Licensed Board Representation
    • Pre-Licensed Voting Rights

    Read A Conversation About the Future in the January/February issue of The Therapist. Then, share your thoughts online in the CAMFT Community by April 30.

    Become Part of the CAMFT Community

    The CAMFT Community is a private, online, networking tool available to all members. It enables you to connect and communicate about current issues through various groups and forums. Those unfamiliar with the CAMFT Community may obtain assistance by contacting CAMFT at 888 892-2638.

  • Tue, April 14, 2015 12:38 AM | Deleted user

    by David Jensen, JD

    With The Garden of Forking Paths, i Jorge Luis Borges penned one of the greatest short-stories in all of world literature, and, although he certainly was not intending to do so, his conception of time and his emphasis on the consequences of the choices we make, gives us a framework for the outcomes of possible interactions with the Board of Behavioral Sciences ("BBS"), with three possibilities being particularly important and fairly recurrent. One possible interaction with the BBS is for it to renew your intern registration or license as "Clear." This is a friendly, bureaucratic interaction, which essentially means, as far as the BBS can tell at the time, "Keep up the good work!" A second possible interaction is for the BBS to conclude that you have done something wrong and are now in SOME trouble with it. And, a third possible interaction is for the BBS to conclude that you have done something very wrong and are now in SERIOUS trouble with it. So, "Keep up the good work," SOME trouble, or SERIOUS trouble? The outcome is yours to write with the "pen and paper" of your professional and personal conduct.

    The Garden of Forking Paths

    For the uninitiated, The Garden of Forking Paths is a spy story set against the back-drop of World War One. In the story, Yu Tsun is a Chinese national and a former professor of English, who is living in England. Tsun is also a German spy. Tsun realizes that he is about to be captured by the English, and he wants to get word to the Germans about a city in England that should be bombed by the Germans.

    Tsun is being pursued by Captain Richard Madden, an Irishman in service to the English, and Tsun then proceeds to the estate of Richard Albert, a noted scholar of Chinese culture. Albert relates to Tsun that he knows of Tsun's great ancestor, Ts'ui Pen, who gave up his kingdom in China to do two things, create a labyrinth in which all men would lose their way and write a great novel. However, after Pen was murdered, no one found the labyrinth, and all that was discovered was a chaotic manuscript that seemed to make no sense whatsoever.

    Albert explained to Tsun that he solved the riddle of the labyrinth, which is that the novel is the labyrinth. While everyone had been looking for a physical labyrinth to experience, Alpert surmised that the novel was the labyrinth, and that the reason it was regarded as a chaotic mess was because it was written in such a way as to contain all possible futures for the characters involved.

    Alpert then explains to Tsun that "Unlike Newton and Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not believe in a uniform and absolute time; he believed in an infinite series of times, a growing, dizzying web of divergent, convergent, and parallel times" (127). He also added that "The fabric of these times contain all of life's possibilities" (127).

    In another passage, Albert explains that "each time a man meets diverse alternatives, he chooses one and eliminates the others" (125).

    What makes The Garden of Forking Paths a delight to read is its emphasis on how the possibilities of life are open or foreclosed by the choices we make. Albert puts the issue starkly: "Once in a while the paths of that labyrinth converge: for example, you come to this house, but in one of the possible pasts you are my enemy, (but) in another (of the possible pasts you are) my friend" (125).

    And, that's kind of how it is with the BBS.

    Depending on the choices you make in your professional and personal life, you will interact with the BBS under different scenarios, one is friendly and bureaucratic, but the others are adversarial.

    One Forking Path: "Keep Up the Good Work!"

    Many therapists go their entire careers interacting with the BBS only to renew their intern registrations and licenses. They get the appropriate forms, and they read them carefully. They check all of the necessary boxes and they sign these forms where indicated. They enclose proper payment, and their checks do not bounce. And, they do all this well before the registration or license expires so that the BBS has ample time to process the paperwork. They are also competent and ethical practitioners.

    In reality, the only time the BBS "thinks" about these individuals is when the BBS is processing their renewal paperwork. Since the BBS has not learned of any problems regarding these practitioners, it does not need to worry about them and their fitness to practice marriage and family therapy. Consequently, this path forks to an idyllic locale where the person's registration or license is deemed "Clear," which essentially means "Keep up the good work!"

    "Keep up the good work!" is the way it should go, and, in fact, is the way it actually does go for the vast majority of marriage and family therapists practicing their profession in California. They are ethical and competent practitioners, and they do what they have been taught to do by their professors, supervisors, and colleagues. They are a boon to their clients and a credit to the profession. On behalf of your professional association, and probably on behalf of the BBS as well, thank you for your good work and keep it up!

    Another Forking Path: Intern or Licensee in SOME Trouble with the BBS

    Some interns or licensees get themselves into SOME trouble with the BBS because they make poor choices in their personal or professional lives. This is SOME trouble as opposed to SERIOUS trouble, which will be discussed later.

    The SOME trouble cases are resolved by the BBS issuing the person a citation and the person then paying a fine, much like a speeding ticket or a parking violation, to resolve the trouble. With SOME trouble cases, the practitioner is not in danger of losing his or her intern registration or license to practice; rather, their checking-account is in danger of taking a "hit." Hence, the conveyance of money from the practitioner's bank account to the BBS's bank account essentially rights these wrongs.

    California law gives the executive officer of the BBS ("EO") the power to determine when and against whom a citation is issued, and to issue orders of abatement and fines.ii The EO can issue a citation for any breach of the BBS's statutes or regulations,iii which gives the EO extremely broad powers. Fortunately, most therapists learn what to do to avoid running afoul of the statutes and regulations in their law and ethics class in graduate school and as they make the natural progression from trainee-to-intern-to-licensee.

    However, in cases where the violation is "of such a nature and/or severity that revocation of the license or restrictions on the cited person are necessary to ensure consumer protection," or because the cited person failed to comply with a previous citation, the BBS will not issue a citation but rather will issue an accusation,iv which means SERIOUS trouble, not SOME trouble. The path from SOME trouble to SERIOUS trouble is a major fork in the road. But, back to citations and SOME trouble cases for now.

    It is also important to realize that issuing a citation is the BBS's own adjudication of these issues, which would not prevent a therapist from being sued by an aggrieved patient or from being prosecuted for committing a crime, should the facts of the case warrant such action. The issuance of a citation by the BBS is just one of the ways practitioners can get themselves into trouble. Hopefully, those other "forks" in the road never materialize.

    So, how much of a fine does the BBS typically impose? In assessing the fine, the EO is required to take into account the following factors:

    1. The gravity of the violation;
    2. The good or bad faith exhibited by the cited person;
    3. The history of previous violations of the same or similar nature;
    4. Evidence that the violation was or was not willful;
    5. The extent to which the cited person cooperated with the board's investigation;
    6. The extent to which the cited person mitigated or attempted to mitigate any damages or injuries caused by the violation; and,
    7. Any other factors that justice may require. v

    The EO can assess fines of up to two-thousand five-hundred dollars ($2,500), and most are well within that amount, but a fine of up to five-thousand dollars ($5,000) can be assessed by the EO if the cited person has a history of two or more prior citations for similar violations, or if the conduct involves:

    1. Multiple violations demonstrating willful disregard of the laws pertaining to the profession;
    2. Minors, elders, dependent adults, or those with physical or mental disabilities;
    3. The unlicensed practice of the profession;
    4. Breaches of confidentiality;
    5. Failing to submit fingerprints as required by the Department of Justice; or,
    6. Fraudulent billing to insurance or government programs.

    If cited, you can challenge the citation or the amount of the fine by requesting an informal citation conference or an administrative hearing, and the citation itself will contain information about these

    You can be represented by an attorney at the citation conference or administrative hearing, and at the conclusion of the conference or hearing, the citation will be affirmed, modified, or dismissed. If the citation is affirmed, the fine will remain the same. If the citation is modified, the fine will be reduced, not raised. And, if the citation is dismissed, the fine will be wiped-away.

    To get a sense of what others have been cited for and the amount of the fines imposed, below are ten examples of recent citations and fines. Keep in mind, however, that the fines imposed were the result of the EO applying the factors set forth above to the facts of the particular cases, and the cited person may have challenged the amount of the fine via the citation conference or hearing and may have been able to offer evidence mitigating guilt. So, these fines should not be regarded as binding precedent, merely an indication or a "Head's up." As the facts of the situation change, a greater or lesser fine may be imposed by the BBS:

    1. A $500 dollar fine for failing to report suspected child abuse.
    2. A $1,000 fine for treating a minor without the consent of both parents when the consent of both parents was required by the custody order.
    3. A $1,000 fine for practicing with a name that differed from the person's name as indicated on the BBS's records.
    4. A $500 fine for failing to disclose a conviction of a crime to the BBS.
    5. A $1,000 fine for failing to complete required CEUs.
    6. A $200 fine for failing to complete the law and ethics requirement.
    7. A $1,000 fine for directing a sexually-explicit comment towards a client.
    8. A $1,000 fine for failing to establish the fee with the patient before therapy commenced.
    9. A $500 fine for breaching a client's confidentiality.
    10. A $500 fine for supervising without a valid license.

    Again, these are some examples of fines that have been imposed in the past, but this is certainly not an all-encompassing list. After reviewing hundreds of citations over the years, I will say that the vast majority of them are issued because licensees fail to comply with their continuing education requirement. Instead of doing all thirty-six hours, the licensee may only do twenty, thirty, or even thirty-five of the required thirty-six, any of which would be grounds for the issuance of a citation, although the fine for only doing twenty of the thirty-six is likely to be more than the fine for doing thirty-five of the thirty-six.

    Sometimes licensees do fifty hours of continuing education, but forget to do their six hours of mandated coursework in law and ethics, which would be a citable offense. Sometimes supervisors forget to do their mandated coursework in supervision, which would also be a citable offense.

    Based on my review of hundreds of citations, you can go a long way towards the "Keep up the good work!" outcome by making sure you do your required continuing education units, and by being ready to produce your continuing education certificates, should the BBS select you for an audit.

    Before we leave the land of citations, however, it is also important to realize that citations are not confidential between you and the BBS. If the fine is for one-thousand five-hundred dollars ($1,500) or less, the BBS has the right to publish that citation on the Internet for five years from the date the citation was issued.vii Consequently, anyone searching a therapist's registration or licensing information would be able to access the citation.

    Citations issued in excess of one-thousand five-hundred dollars ($1,500), however, will be posted on the Internet in perpetuity.

    Yet, Another Forking Path: Intern or Licensee in SERIOUS Trouble with the BBS

    Each year a small minority of the thousands of registrants and licensees throughout the state get themselves into SERIOUS trouble with the BBS because of very poor choices they make in their personal or professional lives. With the SERIOUS trouble cases, the BBS is attempting to deny, suspend, or revoke an intern registration or license. viii

    Before the BBS can deny, suspend, or revoke an intern registration or license, it has to find the person guilty of committing "unprofessional conduct," ix and that finding by the BBS is unlikely to occur to you without you having had the opportunity to defend yourself, including being represented by an attorney during the proceeding. However, in this article, I want to stress the positive things you can do to help create the "Keep up the good work!" outcome and avoid the SOME trouble or SERIOUS trouble outcomes entirely. You can likely avoid committing unprofessional conduct, and create the "Keep up the good work!" outcome, by doing the following:

    1. x Be a law-abiding citizen, including utilizing alcohol and prescription medications responsibly.
    2. Be honest with the BBS when applying for your intern registration or license, and when renewing your intern registration or license, and be honest with third parties in your professional and personal business dealings.
    3. Practice psychotherapy competently, paying special attention to your assessment, evaluation, and management of each of your cases, and maintain treatment records that reflect your judgments about these issues.
    4. Be especially vigilant in creating, maintaining, and enforcing appropriate professional boundaries.
    5. Establish the fee before treatment commences, including the basis upon which the fee is calculated.
    6. Maintain the confidentiality of client information, unless the law mandates or permits the disclosure of client information, and remember that if the client is a couple, you will likely need to have each of them execute a release before disclosing their information.
    7. Supervise trainees and interns competently, and know the laws and regulations pertaining to the supervision of trainees and interns, if you supervise.
    8. Advertise professional services accurately and in accord with BBS requirements.
    9. Do not offer or accept any consideration, compensation, or remuneration, whether monetary or otherwise (Angels, Dodgers, or Giants tickets), for the referral of patients.
    10. Represent yourself and your qualifications accurately.
    11. Comply with all testing procedures and protocols.
    12. Do not impersonate another intern or licensee, and do not allow anyone else to use your intern or license number.
    13. Refrain from getting involved sexually with patients, and if you really want to minimize risk in this area, with former patients as well.
    14. Do not allow anyone without a license or intern registration to engage in conduct for which a license or intern registration is required.
    15. Perform counseling and therapy services that are inside the scope of the practice for the profession, and make sure supervisees do the same, if you supervise.
    16. Perform counseling and therapy services that are inside your scope of competence, and make sure supervisees perform such services inside their scope of competence, if you supervise.
    17. When using psychological tests or other assessment devices, comply with all protocols established for the use of such tests or devices.
    18. Report any suspected child, elder, or dependent adult abuse!
    19. Handle requests for patient records in a timely manner and in good faith.
    20. Comply with all aspects of the "Telehealth" law, if doing counseling or therapy via the Internet.
    • iBorges, Jorge Luis. "The Garden of Forking Paths." Collected Fictions. Penguin Classics. New York. 1988. Print.
    • ii16 CCR § 1886
    • iii16 CCR § 1886
    • iv16 CCR § 1886.50
    • v16 CCR § 1886.30
    • vi16 CCR § 1886.70
    • viiCalifornia Business & Professions Code § 4990.09
    • viiiIt may be possible for a SERIOUS trouble case to fork back to a SOME trouble case if the BBS can be persuaded that the conduct involved really was not of such a nature and/or severity that revocation of the license or restrictions on the cited person are necessary to protect consumers.
    • ixCalifornia Business & Professions Code § 4982
    • xThis is not an exhaustive listing of all of a therapist’s legal responsibilities; rather, simply a summary of the law regarding unprofessional conduct, which is the law that the BBS uses to prosecute the SOME trouble and SERIOUS trouble cases.
  • Sun, February 15, 2015 11:25 AM | Deleted user

    The Pre-licensed Group of SGV-CAMFT gathered Feb 8, 2015 at the Sync Counseling Center to participate in an informative workshop on Self Care for Clinicians. Over 25 MFT students, trainees and interns from the San Gabriel Valley had the opportunity to grow their sense of community and network amongst peers while taking part in the training.

    Dain Kloner, MA presented an introduction to compassion fatigue and burnout. Irene Yaymadjian, MA highlighted the importance of self-care and provided multiple tips and strategies on how to avoid burnout in the field. Irene stressed the importance of attempting to maintain a balance between one's work and personal life. Participants appeared to enjoy the workshop and provided very positive feedback.

    Co-chairs of the Pre-licensed group, Andrea Walker, LMFT and Jennifer Levin, Phd would like to express their gratitude to Curtis Miller, Psy.D, DMin, MFT, Clinical director of Sync Counseling Center for opening up their serene space for the SGV 3000 Club event.

  • Fri, February 13, 2015 10:50 AM | Deleted user

    By Gerry Fagoaga, MFT
    Chair, CAMFT Committee

    In last March's election for the CAMFT Board of Directors, all SaveCAMFT candidates were elected by an historic landslide vote. It's time to do it again! CAMFTUnited (formerly SaveCAMFT) candidates have been placed on the ballot by the CAMFT Nominating Committee. They are:

    • Patricia Ravitz, President-Elect
    • Bob Casanova, Secretary
    • Liz Birch, Member-at-Large
    • Jonathan Flier, Member-at-Large
    • James Guay, Member-at-Large

    Your SGV-CAMFT Committee also supports Mark Perlmutter for Member-at-Large (Pre-licensed).

    If all candidates are elected, 9 of the 12 Board members will be CAMFTUnited people. We'll be able to count on more transparency, financial accountability, collaborative leadership, and the restoring of CAMFT's mission to advocating/promoting LMFTs.

    Should Patricia Ravitz and Bob Casanova, who are current CAMFT Board Members-At-Large, be elected to President-Elect, and Secretary, respectively, the Board would vote for replacement Board-Members-At-Large. This could mean two more CAMFTUnited people.

    Election ballots are to be mailed to members by February 16, and ballots are to be returned by March 12.


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