Member Meeting Notes

March 18, 2017 - Orinda CA

Member Meeting discussion: Leaving CAMFT

The Board of the East Bay Chapter (EBC) of CAMFT held a meeting to present its recommendation to end the EBC affiliation with CAMFT and to offer members the opportunity to discuss this and offer feedback. Members may listen to an audiotape of the meeting. (Log in and go to this page: Member Meeting Summary)

Board President Jurgen Braungardt moderated; other Board members present: Claire-Elizabeth DeSophia, Ben Jones, Galina Litvin, Don Mathews and Nes Pinar. Newly hired EBC Administrator Judy Benjamin was introduced. The circle included 20 EBC members and a few non-member guests including a member of the Board of AAMFT/Bay Area.

Jurgen went through the Pros and Cons handout. He and other Board members offered their thinking on the reasons to leave CAMFT or stay. The rest of the meeting was an open forum for members to ask questions and present their ideas on this major crossroads for EBC. A summary of the opinions expressed is below.

The Board of Directors has deliberated over this issue for more than a year, and now wants to hear from members by holding meetings throughout the chapter’s territory. Those meetings will be followed by the chance for every member to vote, through electronic voting. (The few members who have opted out of that method for our annual elections will receive paper ballots.)

The inclusion of the membership in this decision is a reflection of the guiding principles of the new organization the Board hopes to create, with the members’ blessing. These principles differ greatly from how we experience the way that CAMFT operates; this is the key reason why this Board recommends we leave CAMFT. 

The new organization will be:

Transparent   -   Democratic   -   Ethical

Responsive to the Needs of Members and the Community


At the end of the meeting, an unofficial straw poll of the members indicated that all but one member would vote to leave CAMFT.

Overview of discussion points made by members

FOR leaving CAMFT

Many of us, including the SaveCAMFT movement, have been working hard for 5 years to reform CAMFT from within, to no avail.

It is time to move on and start a new organization with a fresh, open and responsive attitude. If we become independent from CAMFT, we can focus better on the following interests of our profession, including but not limited to:

  • Taking on managed care issues and working for single payer in CA and nationally

  • Addressing social justice issues that affect us, our clients and our communities

  • Lobbying, and creating an active Legislation Action Response Committee

  • Valuing and supporting trainees and interns

  • Working closely with other mental health professionals and their organizations

CAMFT is not working effectively on members’ behalf: it has refused to address managed care parity issues and reimbursement rates that haven’t changed for the most part in 30 years. The East Bay Board has consulted a nonprofit lawyer on a number of issues regarding separation. He confirmed that CAMFT’s concern for being accused of violation of anti-trust laws is grossly exaggerated.

CAMFT ED Jill Epstein has ignored members’ requests to look into the group of therapists in Massachusetts who have affiliated with a union and are fighting anti-trust issues. The new organization would take on these issues.

CAMFT is secretive and removed from the membership. Because much of CAMFT’s important business is done in secret meetings, often on false pretenses that the meetings be closed, Board members are prohibited from speaking out to the membership about what they observe that is not working or unethical.

One An EBC member at the meeting said that staying with CAMFT is like staying in a bad marriage.

The voting records and positions on issues of CAMFT Board members are not recorded, thereby leaving members in the dark as to who is working for their concerns and who to vote for in elections.

Many MFTs are not CAMFT members or EBC members, or are leaving CAMFT because they are dissatisfied (and therefore are not permitted by CAMFT to be EBC members). A new, vital organization could be a home for them.

A new organization more responsive to their needs might bring in many new members. AAMFT chapters in the Bay Area (approx. 300 members) and for California (approx. 3000 members) will be closed down soon, and their members may wish to join with our new organization.

EBC members can still remain CAMFT members after the EBC chapter affiliation ends. Ronald Mah reported that CAMFT would most likely create a new chapter in the East Bay, for EBC members who want a chapter affiliated with CAMFT.

The new organization can operate free of the undue oversight and limitations that CAMFT has recently placed on all chapters by requiring them to sign new Chapter Agreements, along with restrictions chapters have always had, like not being allowed to lobby.

AGAINST leaving CAMFT

A new organization will not have the large paid staff and expertise of CAMFT, nor its long-established connections to legislators and other organizations, nor the clout of its 30,000 members.

Can the new org grow fast enough to have the resources to hire staff to run the organization? An all-volunteer Board (such as we have now) could not provide the services we envision offering.

The new organization will initially not provide access to legal advice. (Note: Some members reported being unhappy with recent interactions with CAMFT’s lawyers. The use of CPH malpractice insurance company lawyers was reported to have pros and cons.)

/Submitted by Claire-Elizabeth DeSophia MFT, EBC Board member; compiled from several sources.


 

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