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  • July 12, 2013 8:11 PM | Admin EBCAMFT
    Happy Independence Day to all!  This has been a very busy time with all the energy surrounding the CAMFT bylaw
    changes.  The Board of EB CAMFT continues to dialogue about ways to best support and advocate for our members around the upcoming changes.  At this point we are still unclear of the implications of these changes.  We have just
    learned that Jill Epstein and 2 CAMFT Board members will be attending a Town Hall meeting in Marin County on Sat,
    July 27th.  Please spread the word about this very important opportunity to learn more about what is to come of
    CAMFT.  I am not clear on the agenda but am hopeful that we can voice our concerns and learn more about CAMFT’s
    intentions.  The meeting will be held in San Rafael at The Four Points Sheraton located at 1010 Northgate Drive.  

    The meeting will run from 1-3 and RSVP’s are requested.  Please send your RSVP to Much
    appreciation to MARIN CAMFT for organizing this meeting.  EB CAMFT will send out an overview of the meeting for all
    those who are unable to attend.  We encourage you to forward along this invitation.

    As a local chapter of CAMFT, EB CAMFT needs to hear from you.  We are in the position of needing to sign our Chapter
    Agreements which keeps us current as a CAMFT Chapter.  With the uncertainty of the future of CAMFT, we especially
    need to hear your voice about what you want from your local chapter.  Please consider attending an upcoming Board
    meeting or emailing us with your ideas, thoughts and concerns. The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 19th
    from 4-6.  Email us for the address.  It is critically important that we make decisions based on our members’ needs;
    please help us do this by participating in these discussions as they arise.  We will continue to inquire about your
    needs and concerns as we gain more information and will make our decisions with as much transparency as possible.

    The BBS has sent out an update to all those MFT’s awaiting the GAP exam for LPCC licensure.  As of July 1, 2013 the
    GAP exam will be available, the clock is now ticking, so please be sure to look into any deadlines that may apply to

    Thanks to all of you that have reached out to become volunteers with EB CAMFT.  We are in the process of putting
    together volunteer opportunities and if we have not yet responded to your inquiry, please be on the look out for an
    email from us with more information.

    Have a lovely summer and as always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at
  • July 12, 2013 8:05 PM | Admin EBCAMFT
    “I considered Nat King Cole to be a friend and, in many ways, a mentor.  He always had words of profound advice”-
                                                                                 ~Diahann Carroll

    As the Mentoring Program Chair, I am pleased to report the successful launch of our initial cohort of mentors and mentees.  We currently have twenty-three mentorships that began, with the goal of sharing expertise, in May 2013!  
    The commitment and energy around this new program has been dynamic!  All involved have contributed generously to the program’s initial success and the “pay it forward” movement.  Collaboratively, with this interconnectedness, we are
    creating a more compassionate organization where inclusion is encouraged and rewarded.

    In May 2013, I attended a thought provoking conference on Cultivating Compassionate Organizations, which incidentally, was held in Louisville, Kentucky.  I had the opportunity to meet and speak with the Mayor of
    Louisville, Greg Fischer.  Louisville is considered a “compassionate city”.  Fischer signed on to the Charter for
    Compassion which requires a 10 year commitment of practicing action-based compassion in the community on a daily
    basis.  Fischer’s mission is to fuel connectedness and inclusion, meaning having empathy and a deeper understanding
    of all people, in order to create greater opportunities, social justice, and a better environment, all which helps
    with resilience, happiness, and the best opportunities for people in the community to flourish.  Without the ability
    to be compassionate, we are vulnerable to illness/disease, increased depression, poor attachment, and lack of
    meaning in life.

    For those contemplating membership in this program, imagine the following:
                    * A therapeutic community with a credible organization, where members not only feel comfortable
                       discussing controversial matters, but are perceived as well respected in the community.
                    * A therapeutic community in which these mentorships are values and protected
                    * A therapeutic community that gives back by sharing knowledge, and that sensitively addresses issues

    This is an invitation for involvement in such a community.  The Mentoring Program is currently enrolling new mentors
    and mentees for our second cohort.  A time commitment of one hour per month for at least one year is required.
    Licensed therapists are encouraged to mentor students/interns or newly licensed therapists.  A mentor is someone
    willing to give back by sharing expertise and guiding the professional and personal development of another.  A
    mentee is a “learner”, who is motivated to seek valuable advice in order to grow.  Please contact me at for more information or to enroll.

    Laura Friedeberg completed her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University.  She
    supports adults, teens, graduate students, law enforcement, and groups, suffering from losing a loved one by
    disability, transition, divorce, affairs, addiction, or death.  She uses evidence-based practices, framed to re-
    structure "stuck" thinking.  Her approach addresses compassion and social substance as a method of finding meaning
    in times of profound pain.

    Laura's new practice will open in September 2013!

    Laura Friedeberg,
    Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, Unriddling Relationship Loss with Compassion: The foundation for Emotional
    Freedom, Mentoring Program Chair EB CAMFT
    1676 Solano Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94707 * 510-984-6544 * *

  • July 12, 2013 5:38 PM | Admin EBCAMFT
    It is hot at the lunch stop. I am sitting in the shade eating a very good sandwich.  A woman with a red Medical Staff T-shirt comes up to me and says “Your eyes look red and irritated.  Come by the medical tent when you get in to camp and we will take care of you”. 

    Where else on Earth does medical care come to you?

    Many of us are old enough to remember the days when the scourge of AIDS seemed to hover everywhere. By the 1980’s and early 90’s the previously colorful and lively Castro District had become a veritable hospice, and too often a morgue.  All of us knew someone who was dying an agonizing death or had lost someone to the disease.  My best friend from seventh grade, who had grown up to become a glamorous fashion model, was the first person whose ravaged body I saw.  It was with him that I had my first conversations about what it was like to be dying.

    After Donny died at the age of 33, I went on to work with the Volunteer Therapists AIDS Project, an organization that provided free psychotherapy to people with AIDS.  It was sobering and sad, sharing in individuals’ and couples’ fear and grief as life was cut short way too soon.

    Since the advent of life-extending AIDS medications, the place that the illness holds in the public eye has of course changed dramatically. Still, while life on today’s meds is very different from the short and miserable life trajectory of earlier AIDS sufferers, it is still far from easy.  I now have only one client who has AIDS, a nurse infected on the job by a needle stick in the middle 1990’s.  The early drugs had a side effect of nearly unbearable depression.  The meds she has been on over the last four years that I have known her, have a complex constellation of other side effects, from relentless, gnawing muscle ache, to immobilizing fatigue, memory slippage, crumbling teeth and hearing loss.  We are constantly sorting symptoms of the illness from the side effects of the meds, the psychological from the physical, while simultaneously navigating the state’s draconian Workers Compensation system.  Even now, she says that “living with AIDS is a full time job. “

    Almost since its inception, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) has largely been funded by the California AIDS Ride, now called AIDS LifeCycle.  This seven-day, 545 mile fund raising bicycle trek from San Francisco to Los Angeles, enables SFAF to provide vital AIDS support and education services all completely free of charge.  After thinking about it for some time, I first decided to do the ride in 1999.  I bought a jade green Bianchi Eros (yes, a bike called Eros!) for the venture.  At the time I thought I’d be doing a very good deed.  I proceeded to have one of the great experiences of my life.  My Eros and I recently returned from our fifth AIDS Ride.

    Long before becoming a therapist, I was fascinated and mystified by the interplay between body, mind and spirit.  I was compelled by issues such as eating disorders, addictions, trauma and sexuality, all of which took place at the interface between psychological and physiological.  The study of the brain seemed to be an avenue to tie it all together.  Yet I have never experienced a world so holistically integrative, that seamlessly embodies all of these dimensions in the warm context of community, as the world of the AIDS LifeCycle.

    Riding a bicycle 545 miles in seven days is a feat of considerable bodily strength and endurance.  On most days we cover between 80 and 110 miles.  Many riders are non-athletes who started riding a bike specifically to do this ride.  We are bodies of every size and shape, color, age (this year’s oldest rider was 83!) and of course sexual orientation, out there pedaling together.

    This year we were 2,200 riders strong, supported by 500 “roadies” (volunteers who do everything from serving food to bike parking, gear trucking controlling  traffic, etc.)  Always among us are the “Positive Pedalers,” a contingent of HIV-positive riders who are the undisputed heroes of the Ride.

    We begin training at least six months before the ride.  My husband and I are training ride leaders- not unlike being a therapist on wheels!  For this year’s June 2nd departure, we led our first training ride on Thanksgiving Day.  For more than half the year we work hard together, helping riders to build strength and endurance while also making sure they learn the crucial basics of balancing food, hydration, exertion and rest/recovery.

    During the week of the Ride we share not only the road, but also all of our meals, port-a-potties, shower trucks, and sleeping quarters on massive campgrounds. As our traveling village makes its way down the coast, we inhabit a different tent city each night, accompanied by a volunteer medical staff, that includes not only doctors and nurses, but also physical therapists, chiropractors and massage therapists.  On every level we are profoundly involved in a shared bodily experience. And every camp has a staff of volunteer professional bike mechanics attending to the physical life of our vehicles.  Bike shops across the Bay Area have been important allies of the Ride for years, not only lending us their best staff, but offering discounts in their stores throughout the training year.

    The range of emotions we experience is hard to describe.  There is not only the elation and empowerment of being able to achieve previously unknown physical heights,  (bathed in those delicious brain chemicals that come with vigorous physical activity,) but also the thrill of being part of a large organism of others who have devoted a phenomenal proportion of their year to this cause.  During our six months of training, all of us spend at least half of every weekend on the road.

    We also meet the challenge- and the pride- of being involved in a massive fundraising effort.  While each rider must raise a minimum of $3,000, many participants manage to raise $5,000,  $10,000, even $20,000 and more. This year’s ride amassed over $14.2 million with more funds still rolling in.  I am proud to say the vast majority of the money raised goes directly where it is supposed to go- for AIDS services and education.  Even now, I am regularly overcome with awe and love for this community and how we work together for a cause; that matters deeply to each one of us.

    This is the spiritual dimension of the Ride.  It evolves out of a connection to something larger than ourselves, and united by the common commitment to the cause of health and justice for people facing AIDS.  As we pump our way southward, we are often greeted by the outpouring of support from communities along the route.  Inhabitants of small farm towns, rural enclaves and larger cities too, stand on the side of the road with signs or bells, cheering, encouraging and thanking us.  Little kids wave, school children hand us licorice vines or strawberries.  For eleven consecutive years, one small town has set up a stand that distributes ice cream and home made cookies to our riders.  A café in Santa Cruz annually posts a sign in front that announces: “Everything free to AIDS Riders.”

    This sense of spirituality deepens at each campsite, all of which have a meditation tent to memorialize the many who have left us.  At the same time, it amazes me that such a tragic and somber cause is regularly and respectfully transformed into a hotbed of humor and fun, wacky costumes and unending laughter- a world so imminently positive.

    Limitations of space prevent me from saying all I would like to about the AIDS LifeCycle.  You can learn more by logging in to  Of course you can contact me directly for an earful.  Perhaps you’d like to join us!  For me, this year’s slogan “You Belong Here” aptly captures the essence of the Ride- this year and every year.   Although I am an HIV negative, heterosexual, middle aged married lady, I have never felt so much a part of something in my entire life.

    Ruth Cohn, MFT and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, is in private practice in Oakland. She specializes in work with adults with histories of childhood trauma and neglect and their intimate partners and families. She is the author of Coming Home to Passion: Restoring Loving Sexuality in Couples with Histories of Childhood Trauma and Neglect . She can be reached at or
  • July 12, 2013 5:34 PM | Admin EBCAMFT
    Because you have most likely been working with clients afflicted with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) in your caseload without recognizing it!

    Spitzer et alia (2006) note that i “The prevalence of pathological dissociation [pathological dissociation refers to DID] in the general population of North America was estimated to range between 2 and 3.3%.” ii Vedat Sar (2011) notes that “overall, the prevalence of dissociative disorders in inpatient and outpatient psychiatric settings seems to be around 10%, while approximately half of them (5%) has DID.” iii Sar further states that these rates jump dramatically for special populations such as alcohol dependency (9.0%), chemical dependency between 15% and 39% and exotic dancers and women in sex work (no statistic given). iv Practically speaking the percentages are really much higher because DSM-IV defines DID very strictly and excludes many who in terms of presentation and treatment are DID.

    What are common presentations in an MFT office?
    A couple came in for pre-marriage evaluation. It seems they went to a party where an ex was present and Sue (identifying characteristics have been changed) left her current boyfriend behind. She woke up the following morning in the ex’s bed not knowing how she got there. Easy diagnosis revealed she lost things, lost time and people come up to her calling her a different name than she knew. I had seen Bill for about a year for individual work when he brought in his wife. I understood the problem better when I found he had an alter that totally closed down and shut her out when she got upset with him. Bill knew nothing about this alter who needed to be worked with along with Bill to help resolve relationship issues.

    Jacqueline, a woman in her 70’s presented with a history of therapy going back to her 20’s that included LSD therapy and other dramatic kinds of therapy that did not help. In the initial interview I asked if she heard anything inside her. She began to cry and said, “Yes, I hear a baby crying.”

    The next session I used EMDR to release the baby’s experience of being molested and integrated the infant. “I feel more complete now,” Jacqueline said. She had other alters that we worked with using different approaches ways until they were integrated, with her traumatic feelings gone. After about a year she was vibrant and bursting with energy!

    In the first session with Sabrina she suddenly froze with her tongue stuck out of the side of her mouth. I could not contact her and I suddenly felt like someone had drawn the blood out of my veins. Desperately I pulled myself out of the sudden deep hole I was in and asked her to pull her legs up to her chest. Slowly she began to do this but sitting on a chair made that difficult. I suggested it might be easier for her to sit on the floor and coached her to continue and hold her arms around her legs hard. She did this, came back and I could breathe again. What had happened? Sabrina had abreacted a child part frozen in time in a traumatic experience of the past. I had her concentrate on her body by curling into a tight ball and that brought her back to her adult self. She had first split into parts as an effect of sexual abuse when an infant by her mother. Later we found her mother also had DID.

    DID covers a wide spectrum of presentations and I am only touching on a few in this article. While DID usually begins before 8 years old and sexual abuse is most commonly present, the DID can be caused by other overwhelming events. Bill, mentioned above, grew up with major abandonment in a war torn country. John was extremely brutalized both physically and emotionally by a raging alcoholic father. Carol was isolated as an infant and also grew up with a violent alcoholic father without early sexual abuse. Of course people who are gay or lesbian may also have DID. Sometimes the violence from a father increases if a child appears gay.

    Here is a caveat. If someone wants to have a sex change operation, check very carefully to see if he or she has DID. Sometimes one part may take over who is a different sex than the body but all the other parts have the body’s sexual orientation. The sex change operation can create irreparable damage. Such conflicts within the “system” is common with DID.

    When I get a client with a history of trauma, either from abandonment, sexual abuse, violence or severe attachment breaches, or with diagnoses such as bipolar, schizoid, borderline,  schizoaffective, or somatic disorders I almost automatically expect DID. DID alters may present with almost the entire DSM’s diagnoses. It is estimated that it usually takes from six to eight years in the mental health system (that includes MFT’s) before an accurate diagnosis of DID is made.

    Sabrina, mentioned above, had all of the above diagnoses and more from 25 years in the mental health system beginning in a hospitalization with her mother! before I diagnosed her with what was then called Multiple Personality Disorder. Needless to say, hospitalization with a perpetrator of abuse is NOT ideal.

    I have learned the hard way that to be effective I need to be always aware that a given client could be DID. But how can you tell?

    Switches between alters can be clear with head rolling or a suddenly different appearance. Sometimes a client will appear to be a child or even much older in a minute. But it can also be very subtle. Even the client may not be aware of the switch. Sometimes a client may have a mask-like face – that often indicates another part is taking a peep to see who you are.

    DID is not always present even with extensive trauma. However trauma itself is often hidden from the client. DID, by its very nature, is almost always hidden from the client.  Clients with DID generally don’t have a clue they have it. I strongly recommend taking the training provided by the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. Go to and look under “Training and Conferences.” I would also recommend training in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and (EFT) Emotional Freedom Technique, as each of these are useful in treating trauma and the traumatic memories found in DID.

    Gil Shepard LMFT has been licensed over 35 years and specializes in treating individuals with severe trauma issues, PTSD, and especially Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). He has specialized in treating DID for the last 12 years. He is trained in and uses EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing,) EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique,) and Hypnosis and has found that combinations of these speed up healing. He is also trained in Breema and Ortho-Bionomy, two forms of bodywork that provide a strong somatic base for his work. His office is in Walnut Creek (very close to Hwy 24 and to Hwy 680) and can be reached at 925-937-3337 or at He is listed on, and articles he has written can be found by searching his name.

  • June 12, 2013 8:26 PM | Admin EBCAMFT
    Many of our members have expressed great concern about the recent proposed bylaw changes initiated by CAMFT.  The Board of EB CAMFT has been vocal about our concerns regarding the lack of transparency about these proposed changes and sent a letter to Jill Epstein formally addressing these concerns.  Thank you to the many members who have passionately gotten involved and shared their strategies for getting our voices heard.  The tone of conversations on the Etree has been respectful and allowed those with differing or undecided opinions to consider strong points in a professional and open manner.  The Board of EB CAMFT strives to support our members’ concerns in thoughtful and strategic ways.  Your input, participation and ideas are welcome and heard.  Thank You!

    We have gotten a great response to the launch of our Mentoring Program and welcome more applications, particularly from Mentors.  We have a waiting list of Mentees who would love the opportunity to learn from you, please consider signing up if you have not.  More information can be found on the website, or you can contact Laura Friedeberg, the Program Chair at

    The next EB CAMFT social is getting planned as we speak.  We are teasing out the details and will keep you posted.  We are considering a Sunday, coffee/Tea social and have a couple of ideas in the works.  If you have particular suggestions or places in mind please feel free to let us know.  This next social will most likely be held East of the Caldecott.  

    As always, your feedback, thoughts and comments are welcome and greatly appreciated.  Contact me any time at

    Have a great June!
  • June 12, 2013 8:23 PM | Admin EBCAMFT
    Can you imagine what it might be like to be so ill, especially with a chronic condition, and your relationships suffer?  What do you do if you can’t leave the home for the therapy you need?

    I facilitated support groups for people with life-challenging, chronic illnesses both on the Peninsula and in the East Bay for 12 years.  In these groups, I helped members find their own best answers on how to deal with their condition(s) and relationship issues, how best to communicate with their doctors and other health practitioners, work on setting good boundaries for self-care, saying "no" without guilt, and develop a better relationship with themselves.

    I know firsthand the challenges these people face.  Although I no longer run these groups, I now am putting in the time to assist individuals, couples and families in dealing with the various issues that arise when one or more family members suffer from chronic illness.  I do this by telephone and can, possibly, include Skype.  

    Many divorces occur when a mate becomes chronically ill, the children don’t understand and struggle to deal with a health-challenged parent, older parents worry about what will happen to their adult offspring when they, the parent, passes away.  Being a parent with a chronic illness poses multiple challenges and resulting emotions from the inability to be who you used to be and the parent you want to be and know you could be if not for poor health.   Other family members feel burdened and resentful when caring for a chronically ill person.  The ill person can feel isolated, abandoned, fearful and hopeless.  All may suffer from feelings of denial, anger, resentment, guilt, fear and more.  Now, maybe more than any other time in life, a chronically ill person needs help with managing their own life better and restoring and healing ailing relationships.

    Too, the healthy people who deal with the chronically ill also need a place to vent, share their side of the story without the shame and judgment involved.   They need validation for their enduring hardships as well.

    Frustrations with the medical community are also a factor for many a chronically ill person.   Assessing even if an ill person can even get to a doctor’s appointment can be a stressor for all involved.  Impatience on both sides is not uncommon when dealing with caregivers, drivers, doctors, nurses and so on.

    For those who can work, there can be misunderstandings with co-workers and bosses who expect them to meet their job requirements when they can't, need to go in late or leave early, and take more days off than is considered acceptable.  In addition there is the stress of lost wages from not being able to work.

    Some people have to go through the process of getting on a disability plan either private or Social Security or both and this process can be cumbersome and confusing.  One can go through numerous feelings of disbelief about their health and where they are in life, disbelief from those in their support network or no support at all.  With all major difficult changes in life most deal with the grief process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

    Additionally, many have been put on psychotropic medications to, hopefully, cope better with their lives but have discovered later on that the medications themselves are causing other health issues.  For those individuals who want to or are tapering off psychiatric medications under their physicians supervision, I can offer support and guidance on learning new coping skills to deal with the feelings that surface or resurface so that one doesn't become overwhelmed by them and want to give up.  The process can be lengthy and considerably uncomfortable at times but with the right skills and understanding about the process, one can achieve the goal of safely coming off their medications and build more self-confidence and internal control over their own lives so they don't need to resort to chemical treatment for their issues.   Just to be clear, I do not advise a client to come off medications or on anything relating to what medications are available and what they are for as that is not within my scope of practice.

    It is during these difficult times when we could immensely benefit from an experienced person to help guide and lead the way to a more fulfilling and rewarding life.  I am here for them.

    Rosalee Benelli is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in the state of California.  She was born in Sebastopol, California in 1948.  She did her undergraduate work at San Francisco State University and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Health Science in 1983.  While working on her B.A. degree, she was married, raising two sons and working at College of San Mateo as Secretary to the English Division Chairman.  In 1989, she became very ill with an incurable physical illness and is still health-challenged today.  During her early years with her health challenges, she worked at Stanford University as Secretary to the Chairmen of Petroleum Engineering.  While working at Stanford University, she worked on her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology which she received in 1994, then acquired her MFT license in 2003.

    She chose this work as she knows first-hand the value of psychotherapy in dealing with relationship issues in regard to chronic illness and dealing with illness itself as well life’s challenges in general.  Following a divorce in 1987 she continued to co-raise her sons with her former husband and has an amicable relationship with him now although there were difficult years in-between.  For 12 years she facilitated support groups for people with life-challenging, chronic illness both in San Mateo and then in Hayward where she lives and works now.  Her scope is still in relational work with the specialty of managing the additional stress  of chronic illness and offering help to those who are home-bound.

    510 909 7950
    Hayward, CA
  • May 17, 2013 7:23 AM | Admin EBCAMFT
    Overview: The purpose of this article is to share some ideas and experience regarding psychotherapy and the Twelve Steps and working with clients in Twelve Step Recovery, offer some guidelines and suggestions for working with recovering clients, and invite dialogue and conversation within our community to better serve this population.

    There is a fair amount of ambivalence, if not outright distrust or disdain, in both communities, regarding the value and effectiveness of the other. Many a joke is cracked and a good hearty laugh had at the expense of psychotherapy during the course of Twelve Step meetings around the world, where therapy is often regarded as a total waste of time and money. At the same time, I have noticed an equal ambivalence or doubt, if not ignorance, among therapists, regarding the value and effectiveness of the Twelve Step Recovery experience for those who rely on it.

    While there is some truth to both of these points of view – psychotherapy is not useful for all addicts in all situations and some addicts do use the Twelve Step programs as another escape from the deeper and more challenging issues they face - for the most part, my experience has been that psychotherapy and the Twelve Steps, when used together to complement each other and practiced in the spirit of cooperation, are a powerful force for healing and transformation which can mean the difference between true happiness in recovery and continued relapse and suffering. Furthermore I've found that the Twelve Steps and psychotherapy are not only compatible but are, in a sense, merely different approaches to, and contexts for, the same process: discovering and bringing to light that which blocks or obstructs our capacity for joy and aliveness, and cultivating a more balanced, fulfilling and joyful way of life; one that is sustainable over the long haul.

    The Twelve Steps invite us to look closely at our thoughts, feelings, motives, beliefs, attitudes, dreams, fantasies, and conduct, and to discuss these with another human being, in the interest of freeing ourselves from the bonds of suffering, and living happy and productive lives.These elements comprise a process of becoming more aware of how we actually live, moment by moment, and finding a fuller and freer way of living; an invitation to deeper awareness and connection. Psychotherapy is, in my view, a similar and, in some instances, nearly identical process. The containers and interventions may differ but, ultimately, the goal and the essence are the same.

    Particular concerns:

    Many people in Twelve Step programs arrive at a point in their recovery where therapy becomes an key part of the process. For many, this is a troubling and challenging dilemma. The prospect of trusting someone who may not be in recovery with intimate, shameful, painful feelings and experiences, may feel risky at best and life-threatening at worst; particularly after one establishes trust, sometimes exclusively, with sponsor(s) and friends in recovery.

    Many, if not most addicts - and by addicts, I mean all types of addicts: food addicts, sex and love addicts, debt and spending addicts, gambling addicts, drug addicts, alcoholics, relationship addicts, codependents, come into recovery realizing their lives are in serious, even perilous danger. The realization and acceptance of this fact, is, ideally, the foundation of recovery. It's what makes one willing, as the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” (aka “the Big Book”) says, “to go to any length,” (p. 58) to recover. If our life is on the line, we are more likely to try things that our fears, defenses, and habitual patterns would have us resist or outright refuse to try. For many addicts, anything that feels like it may topple the apple cart of recovery, or “sobriety,” in the largest sense of the word, feels life-threatening. Therapy may very well fall into this category.

    For many addicts, keeping things simple and routine is extremely valuable in avoiding slips and lapses that can prove Psychotherapy and the Twelve Steps: Addressing Some of the Unique Concerns of Clients in 12-Step Recovery cont'd.

    quite dangerous. Entering therapy to work on issues that have long plagued them, even in sobriety, can feel like walking a tight rope with death on either side. “What if my therapist and my sponsor don't agree? What if my therapist suggests I do something that the program would discourage? What if I get triggered by something my therapist says and relapse? How can I trust a therapist anda sponsor and a Higher Power? I don't want to upset the apple cart; I've been sober – or abstinent – too long.” A well-informed, aware therapist can offer a quality of aid and

    support that can make this journey less treacherous – both literallyand emotionally – for a client in recovery. A firm knowledge and understanding of the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Step recovery process as it is commonly practiced can provide the therapist with a greater ability to support the client's recovery, while doing the therapeutic work that can foster the growth and development the client so desperately needs.

    Some practical suggestions:

    Here are some practical suggestions for improving your effectiveness when working with clients in 12-Step Recovery:

    Attend open 12-Step meetings, particularly in the fellowships to which your clients belong.

    Read AA literature and literature from other fellowships; specifically:

        Alcoholics Anonymous ('the Big Book')

        The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (AA)

        The Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous

        Co-Dependents Anonymous (the CODA 'Big Book' )

        How Al-Anon Works

        Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (S.L.A.A. 'Basic Text').

    Ask how many meetings your client is attending. Ask if that's enough. Ask how long it's been since they spoke with their sponsor and how often they speak. Take an interest in their relationship with their sponsor and the others they attend meetings with.

    Take an interest in their recovery and how it's going for them. Ask them what step they are on and how they are progressing. Inquire about their relationship with God or Spirituality or a Higher Power; this is an essential element of the recovery process and one that often poses difficulties along the way.

    Familiarize yourself with the Twelve Steps so that you can relate directly to your clients' experience and understand what they are talking about.

    In many ways, working with clients in Twelve Step Recovery is like working with any other cultural difference: the more we can learn about it - from our clients, our own research, consultation and immersion - the better equipped we are to help them.

    Reference cited:

    Alcoholics Anonymous. (2002). Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, 4th Edition. New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services.

    Al-Anon Family Groups. (2008). How Al-Anon Works. New York, NY: Al-Anon Family Groups.

    Alcoholics Anonymous. (1981). The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services.

    Anonymous. (2012). Co-Dependents Anonymous, 1st Edition. New York, NY: CoDA Resource Publishing.

    Anonymous. (1993). The Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous, 1st Edition. Rio Rancho, NM: Overeaters Anonymous, Incorporated.

    Augustine Fellowship. (1986). Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous: The Basic Text for the Augustine Fellowship. San Antonio, TX: The Augustine Fellowship.

    Peter received his Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology, with a Transpersonal Focus and a Specialization in Child and Adolescent Therapy, from John F. Kennedy University. He is also Certified by the Kripalu Yoga Institute in Lenox, MA as a Holistic Health Counselor / Educator. He was originally trained in the Humanistic Client-Centered and Gestalt methods, gradually incorporating a myriad of other methods and approaches, 25 years of Zen Buddhist practice, and his training in Holistic Health Counseling and Education into his practice as a Psychotherapist. He also completed 12 units of Early Childhood Education at Merritt College and taught preschool for three years. Peter specializes in working with people in 12-Step Recovery, those who have survived the suicide of a loved one, adolescents and their families, and spiritual and existential dilemmas. He lives by the lake in Oakland and has an office in South Central Berkeley.
  • May 10, 2013 6:48 AM | Admin EBCAMFT
    Happy May! The Board is excited to announce that we have brought back the EB CAMFT Mentoring Program. Laura Friedeberg has taken on the role of Program Chair and will be happy to provide information to anyone interested in participating as a Mentor or Mentee. We are excited to facilitate more support for our pre-licensed and newly licensed members, and to provide the opportunity for our more seasoned members to share their wisdom and knowledge as they give back to the profession. The Board is also hoping to host another Chapter Social in June and would like to provide a venue, east of the Caldecott Tunnel. Please contact us if you have any ideas of a suitable place for us to mingle. As we have been discussing over the past few months, the Board is focusing on ways to enhance our CEU program. Sandy McQuillin has fought hard to keep this program afloat and has dedicated much time and energy into the Wednesday and Saturday functions. Sandy has decided to step away from the program starting in June and we want voice our great appreciation for all her hard work and dedication to the program. As we prepare for the transition, we are seeking Chapter volunteers who would be interested in stepping in and helping us manage the Wednesday and Saturday CEU presentations. Please contact us if you are interested. As part of our ongoing efforts to provide more chapter meetings, socials and gatherings, we are offering free memberships to those who sign up through our Volunteer Program. The details will continue to unfold and will mostly likely require a commitment to 3 events per calendar year. Participating in the Volunteer Program will grant full membership benefits for those who might be unable to make the financial commitment of joining our Chapter. Thanks so much for the ongoing comments and feedback, please continue to reach out to us so we can better serve our members. Drop me a line anytime at

  • May 10, 2013 6:47 AM | Admin EBCAMFT
    “In every art, beginners start with models of those who have practiced the same art before them.  And it is not only a matter of looking at the drawings, paintings, musical compositions, and poems that have been and are being created; it is a matter of being drawn into the individual work of art, of realizing that it has been made by a real human being, and trying to discover the secret of its creation.”
                                                                                           -Ruth Whitman

    My ambition in re-introducing this meaningful program is to advance connection between folks who believe that community and engaging in social responsibility is transforming and cultivates a more compassionate organization.  Additionally, this mindset offers multiple benefits to the participants.

    In the process of developing the relationship, both mentor and mentee are also practicing authenticity, an invaluable therapeutic skill that will invite both parties to feel comfortable with vulnerability and thus, increased confidence.  My hope is that this newly found confidence carries over into intimate relationships, friendships, work relationships and ultimately therapeutic relationships.  Authentic connectedness is the key to healthier relationships, better health, and the reduction of burdening symptoms and disease.

    This unique professional relationship can further self-compassion which assists in increased meaning and purpose for both.

    In Victor Frankl M.D., Man's Search for Meaning, he discusses his experience as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate.  In an attempt to find meaning in this horror, he developed Logotherapy which focuses on meaning as the catalyst for powerful change.

    Just as Frankl’s focus in his circumstance helped him survive, finding meaning in your relationships and lives can help you get through difficult times.  Bringing in science, your choices can promote neural changes.  Being happier will strengthen your Amygdala and increase Oxytocin associated with trust and safety.

    While considering involvement in this opportunity, ask yourself the following questions:

    -What really matters to you in life?

    -How can I role model/participate in a meaningful relationship?

    -How does being a trainee/intern/licensed psychotherapist create meaning for you?

    -How do you currently impact purpose?

    -How can we cultivate leaders?

    In my professional mentoring roles, having experienced suffering and not always “fitting in”,  has contributed to my ability to have compassion for others.  I am less judgemental, have less fear, and over time, have developed a greater sense of identity.  Had I been mentored as a pre-licensed or newly licensed clinician, I believe it would have nurtured my personal and professional development in profound ways.  It would have likely impacted my involvement in my community sooner, allowed me to discover talents while staying true to self, receive valuable feedback and resources, and the opportunity to practice skills relevant to professional and personal goals.

    In mentor roles, I have benefited from mentees by giving to others which in turn, gives me pleasure.  It allows me to honor boundaries, and most importantly, build valuable relationships and connectedness.

    Reminder: Mentoring is not providing coaching or clinical supervision to mentees.

    I invite you to get involved in this program not only for yourself and your match but to challenge the culture of East Bay CAMFT.

    Laura Friedeberg, LMFT, Mentoring Program Chair

    Unriddling Relationship Loss with Compassion: The Foundation for Emotional Freedom

    Laura Friedeberg completed her Masters’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University.  She currently works with the criminal justice culture and provides clinical supervision to MFT trainees and interns.  Additionally,  she has marked experience working with adolescents and in private practice.  Look for Laura’s new practice in Albany (where she resides with her partner) toward the latter part of 2013.  She specializes in working with adults, adolescents, graduate students, and groups who have experienced profound loss in relationships.  Compassion and mindfulness underlie her work.
  • May 10, 2013 6:46 AM | Admin EBCAMFT

    Q: Please tell us about your preferred theoretical stance and any particular population with whom you enjoy working.

    After getting licensed I spent some time at the Mental Research Institute to focus more on strategic family therapy.  I found in my intern work with children and adolescents that my clients had far better outcomes if I had access to as many people as possible within the family system.  I also work to address symptoms that each member of the family is struggling with, and get each individual’s unique perspective on what is the family’s current difficulties.

    In my private practice I work with children and adolescents through family therapy.  I do not see children or adolescents individually; I require the family’s participation in every session.  I am also a home based family therapist, in which I travel to my client’s homes and provide therapy in the comfort of their own environment.  This method provides multiple benefits. One, it allows me to observe the family in a normal and familiar environment.  With young children this means that I am getting closer to baseline behaviors than if they were to be in a foreign or new environment, which may cause hesitation or lack of acting out.  There were many times in my agency based work that I heard mother’s tell me, “They don’t act like this at home. I wish you could see them there!”

    Second, it takes away one stress and barrier to therapy. Sometimes it is difficult to make and attend therapy, particularly if there are many children in the family.  I also found that when I was operating an office through agency based work, it was difficult to get a paternal figure into therapy.  Traveling to the home has given me access to many members of a system that I may not have access to on a regular basis.

    Q: Where did you complete your internships and traineeship? Where did you attend graduate school for Psychology?
    I graduated from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles in 2008. I was a trainee for Jewish Family Services in their school based program in Malibu, working with middle and high school students. After graduation I began working at an outpatient DMH clinic in south Los Angeles, providing therapy to children and families.  I also worked with Green Dot Public Schools, providing school based therapy to underserved populations throughout Los Angeles.  When my family moved back to the Bay Area I returned to work at Seneca Center in their school based intensive day treatment program as a classroom therapist.

    Q: What work experience outside of therapy do you feel informs your work as a clinician?
    Before I went to graduate school, I worked for several years as a classroom counselor in a non public school for children with severe emotional disorders.  I primarily used behavior modification techniques, but also worked to develop relationships with the students to affect change though positive and healthy interactions.  I think back to my time often when working with particularly young children, helping parents contain behaviors but also working with them to foster a loving relationship with their kids.

    Q: How would you like to collaborate with other clinicians?
    Since I don’t see client’s individually, I like having access to clinicians to refer family members that may be in need of more individual work to compliment the family work I do.  Also, sometimes an individual will enter therapy, and it becomes apparent that some family work might be of benefit.  Family therapy is an excellent compliment to the insight that comes from individual work.  Working with school counselors, pre-school teachers, and other members of a child’s system has been invaluable in providing the necessary collateral work to paint a larger picture and give context to behavior.

    Q: Are you focused on developing or maintaining a private practice; or do you prefer agency-based work?
    I am focused right now on developing my private practice and am actively accepting referrals for families that might benefit from therapy.  I have also had the privilege of apprenticing with Dr. Bruce Linton in Berkeley and his long standing Father’s Forum program. I am now facilitating a men’s group for new dads with children ages 0-1.  The group meets in North Berkeley, and is currently accepting new members.

    I can be found on the web at:

    Information on the Father’s Forum can be found at:

East Bay Chapter, CA Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
P.O Box 6278 Albany, CA 94706

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