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  January 2015

Newsletter Editors:  Outgoing - Heather Blessing
Incoming - Karen Ulep & Margaret Greenough

Letter from the Board

January 1, 2015

Dear SVC-CAMFT Member,

Happy New Year!

The Leadership Conference of 2014 was very inspiring to many of us. We came back with fresh ideas and incorporated as many as we could this past year. Our Sacramento Valley Chapter of CAMFT Chapter now comes to a close. Our story has been written for this year and our chapter is done. We are now handing the pen and paper to our new board, a very dedicated, vibrant, and enthusiastic group. Let’s give them all our support.

We have set ourselves an ambitious agenda for the coming year of 2015! We look forward to increasing the number of participants at the Leadership Conference in February. We hope to focus on building our membership and tapping into the remarkable diversity in our therapeutic community. We are implementing a stronger social media presence and increasing our modes of communication with our partners.

Though we are very appreciative to Sierra Vista Hospital for all their support in 2014, our meetings have been moved to a more central location beginning on January 16, 2015. We will be meeting at Heritage Oaks Hospital. We have a new schedule with dynamic and knowledgeable speakers from John Daley of Recovery Happens to Jennifer Lombardi, Executive Director of the Eating Recovery Center. We have a new Legislative Program Chair which seems only appropriate as we are the “Capitol” chapter of CAMFT. Please see our new SVC-CAMFT logo which includes the Capitol Building. We will work as a group to increase the Club 3000 events. We believe it is important to expand our presence to support MFT trainees and interns. Again, we will sponsor a Law and Ethics training and in addition an additional seminar on Trauma and the Brain.

We look forward to working with all of our members in making 2015 a year of growth for all of us.


Ann Leber, LMFT


Jill P. Lawler, LMFT


  This issue:
· Letter From the Board
· Legal Beagle
· Don't forget to renew your membership!

· Election Results
· Welcome 2015 Board
· In Memory of Chad
·  General Membership Meeting
·  Presentation Summary
· Upcoming Meeting
· Upcoming Board Meetings

· Interview with a Therapist
· Special Feature·
· Letters to the Editor

· Psyched about Books and Movies

· Advertising and Announcements

· Advertising Policy for the Newsletter


Ann Leber, LMFT

Patricia St. James, LMFT

Past President:
Jill  Lawler, LMFT

Becky Counter, LMFT

Beverly Baldwin, MFT Intern


Darlene Davis, LMFT

Program Co-Chairs:
Carol Delzer, LMFT
Kari Deitrich, Trainee

Hospitality Co-Chairs:
Joshlynn Prakash, MFT Intern
Carol Mahr, LMFT
Nazia Khan, MFT Intern
Alexis Clemons, Trainee

Club 3000 Co-Chairs:
Sterling Evison, LMFT
Anna Garcia, Trainee

Volunteer Co-Chairs:
Maria Wheeler, LMFT
Amita Khare, Trainee

Membership Co-Chairs:

Jenna Bell, MFT Intern
Michael Tablit, Trainee

Sponsorship Co-Chairs:
Rebecca Kneppel, MFT Intern
Sara Coffill, MFT Intern

Newsletter Editors:
Margret Greenough, LMFT
Karen Ulep
, MFT Intern

Legislative Chair:

Jen Huber, Intern

Communication Specialist
Karen Ulep, Intern


Legal_BeagleLegal Beagle

dectective.pngWelcome to the section of the SVC-CAMFT newsletter, Legal Beagle written by Darlene Davis, LMFT. The chapter thought it would be helpful to keep you updated on new laws, legislative pursuits or actions, as well as ongoing legal and ethical dilemmas we all face in our career as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Interns, and Trainees. Please feel free to ask questions that you have and I will do my best to investigate and post your answer in the newsletter. Please note that articles are based on information from CAMFT and/or the BBS and have been researched to the best of my ability. This is not meant to be legal advice.  Please contact CAMFT or Board of Behavioral Sciences for any legal matters you need assistance for.

There has been much happening in the last few months. I have listed the topics below with some explanation and/or comments that I thought might be useful. 2015 is going to be an interesting year of change for our profession!!

·      Employed Supervisors in a Private Practice or For Profit Agency: Historically, CAMFT has been told by the BBS that supervisors in private practice settings must be an employee for the agency. We interpreted that to mean, had to be a W-2 employee as opposed to an independent contractor. Last month, CAMFT received word from the BBS that the licensing unit does not go into that level of detail on the supervisor's employment. So, supervisors don't need to be W-2 employees. They do however, have to be regularly conducting business in the same setting as supervisee. In a for-profit corporation situation, still need to be working at a site "full-time." Non-profit agencies can hire independent contractors and can work at a site other than the same site as the supervisee.

·                        At the next board meeting, the BBS will consider whether to set forth legislation in 2015 that would restructure the hour requirements for MFT licensing in order to simplify the requirements for licensure. CAMFT and AAMFT worked together to propose this streamlined process to the BBS. The hope is that it will make the laws related to the licensing process easier for pre-licensees to understand and that the changes will result in a drastic reduction in the amount of time it takes to process exam eligibility applications. His is great news for interns and trainees!

·      On November 3rd, the Department of Health Care Services began accepting applications from LMFTs and LCSWs who are interested in enrolling as Fee-For-Service Medi-Cal Providers (without a county contract). On CAMFT's website, there is an article which includes information about how to apply.

·      Legislative Counsel's interpretation of the Tarasoff statute:

o   CAMFT recently received Legislative Counsel's interpretation of the Tarasoff statute. Legislative Counsel believes WI 8105(c) states that a therapist has a 'duty' to report a patient when a PATIENT COMMUNICATES a serious threat of violence against an identifiable victim. This is important to pay attention to. This takes away our ability to assess what intent is implied by the client. The interpretation is that we have a ‘duty’ to report as soon as the words are spoken.

o   Labor Law Case: The Labor Board recently found against the UC San Francisco, in favor of a post­ doctoral psychology intern who filed a claim with the labor commissioner for wages and liquidated damages. The intern had accepted a job as an intern to provide individual counseling to faculty and staff at UCSF. She asserted that she performed the duties of a regular employee and that UCSF misclassified her position as an intern instead of an employee. She claimed she should have been paid at least a minimum wage for every hour instead of having been paid a monthly stipend for her work. The Labor Board agreed. UCSF had to pay a total of $14,126.67. This is important for those agencies or supervisors that pay interns a different wage than they would an employee doing a job that another employee was doing.

On-Demand Continuing Education: On-Demand Continuing Education Courses

CAMFT's newly formed On-Demand Videos currently offer the following:

  • Three one-hour Legal and Ethical videos that offer 1 CE hour each
  • A 6-hour L & E "What Does the Law Expect of Me, Part I"
  • A 6-hour DSM-5 video that offers 6 CE hours
  • A newly added 6-hour Advanced DSM-5 that offers 6 CE hours
  • Supervision I, II & III videos offering 6 hours of Supervision each.

Click On-Demand to earn CE’s online.

Stay tuned!  Coming soon, CAMFT will be filming at the 2014 Fall Symposium and will be adding several 1-3 hour law and ethics videos covering issues most commonly asked by members such as child abuse or minor consent!   Also, CAMFT will be recording a learning video on ACA/Medi­ Cal, an interesting yet complex topic that is relevant in today's climate.



Darlene Davis, LMFT Executive Director HOPE; Healthy Outcomes for Personal Enrichment MFT Stipend Coordinator for Greater Sacramento Instructor of University of Phoenix www.darlenedavismft.com www.hope-counselingcenter.org



Go to Our Website http://www.svc-camft.org/join
And RENEW now so you don't miss out!

electionElection Results

    We received 52 ballots - 3 paper and 49 electronic

this is a 22% participation rate.

 Position - Elected Candidate
 President-Elect - Patricia St. James, LMFT
 President - Ann Leber, LMFT
 Secretary - Becky Counter, LMFT
 Treasurer - Beverly Baldwin, MFT Intern


To Our 2015 Board of Directors!!!

President:   Ann Leber, LMFT    President-Elect:  Patricia St. James, LMFT

Past President: Jill  Lawler, LMFT    Secretary:  Becky Counter, LMFT

Treasurer:  Beverly Baldwin, MFT Intern  Members-At-Large:  Darlene Davis, LMFT

Program Co-Chairs:  Carol Delzer, LMFT  Kari Deitrich, Trainee

Hospitality Co-Chairs:  Joshlynn Prakash, MFT Intern Carol Mahr, LMFT 
Nazia Khan, MFT Intern  Alexis Clemons, Trainee

Club 3000 Co-Chairs:  Sterling Evison, LMFT  Anna Garcia, Trainee

Volunteer Co-Chairs:  Maria Wheeler, LMFT   Amita Khare, Trainee

Membership Co-Chairs:  Jenna Bell, MFT Intern  Michael Tablit, Trainee

Sponsorship Co-Chairs:  Rebecca Kneppel, MFT Intern  Sara Coffill, MFT Intern

Newsletter Editors:  Margret Greenough, LMFT  Karen Ulep, MFT Intern

IT:  Jen Huber, Intern     Communication Specialist  Karen Ulep, Intern


In Memory ofchad

D. Chadwick Thompson, MA, LMFT, LPCC

Most of us knew him by Chad.  He served as SVC-CAMFT's President in 2013 and was serving as Past President this year.  A couple of weeks ago, Chad passed away suddenly at his home in his sleep.  He will be missed.

I had the opportunity to be his intern the past 2 years and the shock is still strong.  Chad was passionate, animated and honestly more full of life than anyone I knew.  He was the kind of guy that would not only give you the shirt of his back if you needed it, but would find out why you needed it and try to fix the reason you were in need.  He cared very much about everyone.

I met Chad as he was getting ready to take on the President role.  It was just over 2 years ago.  I offered to stuff envelopes for a mailing and when it came up that I could not buy the envelopes and then expense it because I had been unemployed for so long I had no money or credit cards to use, he made sure to get the supplies to me and told me "unemployed?  Call me at the office tomorrow".  I called and he asked if I could come in the next day.  I did and he looked at my resume, asked a couple of questions and then started talking about when I could start being his intern?  He was actually worried about my financial situation and found odd jobs he could pay me for before I got enough clients to start making enough. 

He helped people navigate the crazy social security disability system and advocated for his patients.  He also advocated for MFTs to get better rates through insurance and was very passionate about leveling the playing field for insurance reimbursement. 

He also was very gentle and caring.  I had a really hard day with a client that I had to 5150 and after he helped me with that and processed it with me, he showed me some funny videos to make me laugh. 

He was an amazing man who we lost too soon, I guess his heart just got too big to keep going.  He touched many lives and as I am sure you can attest if you met him, he was almost bigger than life.

written by Heather Blessing, MFT Intern
ps.  I completed my 3000 hours under his supervision so some of his experience will live on.

  General_MeetingAnnual General Membership Meeting Announcement

Please Join us for our 2015 Annual General Membership Meeting
Friday, January 16, 2015 from 9:00am - 9:30am
(just before our Monthly Breakfast Training)
At our NEW location - Heritage Oaks Hospital

4250 Auburn Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95841

Friday, January 16, 2015
9:00 AM
Heritage Oaks Hospital - 4250 Auburn Blvd.  Sacramento, CA 95841

Item I.             Call To Order

Item II.            Past-President \ President Welcome and Annual Report
Item III.           Treasurer Annual Report

Item IV.           Committee Report(s)

Item V.            Old Business
                             1) Announcement of Election Results

                             2) Presentation of New Board Members
 ITEM VI.         New Business

                             1)  Other

Item VII.          Open Forum
Item VIII.         Call to Close


  Presentation_SummaryPresentation Summary

We did not have a presentation in December -
but look for our January Presentation Summary in our February Newsletter


monthly_meetingJanuary Meeting Information

Attachment & Addiction (2 CEUs)
by Jon Daily

Topic: Attachment & Addiction
Presenter: Jon Daily
Date:  Friday, January 16, 2015 
Time: 9:30 AM to 12:00PM

Heritage Oaks Hospital

4250 Auburn Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95841


Workshop Information:

**Special Bonus** Jon is going to bring a complimentary copy of his new book for each person at this training!

The Interpersonal Neurobiology of Attachment and Addiction.  Jon Daily, LCSW, CADC II the founder & Clinical Director for Recovery Happens Counseling Services will be our January speaker.  Jon specializes in groundbreaking outpatient treatment for youth, adolescents, adults, and the families. The co-author of “How to Help Your Child Become Drug Free, and author of “Adolescent and Young Adult Addiction: The Pathological Relationship to Intoxication and the Interpersonal Neurobiology Underpinnings.” Jon has trained nurses, medical professionals, and has taught at UC Davis, and currently teaches at University of San Francisco.  Jon has impeccable credentials and a sterling reputation for being a leading authority on treating and understanding addiction. 


  •        Learn how addiction is more than “hooked” but a pathological relationship to intoxication and is both “a consequence of and a solution for failed relationships.”
  •        Learn that the substance being abused is an illusion that contributes to biases, discrimination and pitfalls for clinicians and the systems around the addict.
  •        Lear how to connect with clients in the “here and now” and teach them how new attachments can activate their own dopamine and opiate systems.
  •       Learn an approach for breaking down denial and increasing motivation for sobriety and wellness.
  •        Most importantly you will learn that the experience of this lecture is immediately applicable through case examples and it will validate and stretch you professionally.

Includes continental breakfast and 2 CEUs

Register and pay online, register online and pay at the door, or register via email and pay with cash/check at the door: info@sacramentovalleycamft.org

Early registration ends Tuesday, January 13th
Early registration rates*:
2015 Licensed Member of SVC-CAMFT, AAMFT-Sacramento, and all local chapters of CAMFT: $20
2015 Pre-Licensed Member of SVC-CAMFT, AAMFT-Sacramento, and all local chapters of CAMFT: $15
Non-Member: $30

*Add $5 for late or "at-door" registration

For information on joining SVC-CAMFT or renewing your membership for 2015 please email: info@sacramentovalleycamft.org

More Upcoming Meeting Information

 Month Topic Speaker Location
 February 20
 Eating Disorders
 Jennifer Lombardi
 Heritage Oaks
 March 20
 Psycho-pharmacology John Preston
 Heritage Oaks
 April 17
 Domestic Violence
 Margaux Helm
 Heritage Oaks
 May 15
 "Hot Flash Women" raising Adolescents
 Marti McClellan
 Heritage Oaks
 June 19
 LGBT Community Needs
 LGBT Panel
 Hertiage Oaks
 July 18
 Law and Ethics Seminar
 David Jenson/CAMFT
 September 18
 Cultural Diversity
 Tonia Elliott-Walker
 Heritage Oaks
 October 16
 Addiction/Mindfulness Steve Brugge
 Heritage Oaks

Board_MeetingsUpcoming Board Meetings
Board Meetings are FREE for anyone to attend BUT you MUST register so we have an accurate headcount.
To Register click on the board meeting(s) you wish to attend.

Friday January 16, 2015 - 12:30PM - 2:30 - Location:  TBD
Topics: New Board, planning Board Retreat, Chapter Leadership Conference

Sunday, March 22, 2015 - 11:00AM - 1:00PM - Location:  WEAVE - 1900 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95811
Sunday, May 17, 2015 - 11:00AM - 1:00PM - Location:  WEAVE - 1900 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95811

Sunday, June 28, 2015 - 11:00AM - 1:00PM - Location:  WEAVE - 1900 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95811

Sunday, August 23, 2015 - 11:00AM - 1:00PM - Location:  WEAVE - 1900 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95811

Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 11:00AM - 1:00PM - Location:  WEAVE - 1900 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95811
Sunday, December 6, 2015 - 11:00AM - 1:00PM - Location:  WEAVE - 1900 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95811

interviewInterview with a Therapist

We were lucky enough to get an intervew with Laura C. Strom, LMFT, LPCC -
CAMFT President-Elect!

Q:  Please state your name

A:  Laura Christine Strom

Q:  What type of license/s do you hold?

A:  LMFT MFT 49174, Oct. 14, 2010

      LPCC LPC 149, Sept. 28, 2012

      Certified Rehabilitation Counselor CRC 00113822, Sept. 30, 2012


Q:  How long have you been licensed?

A:  4 years


Q:  Where do you work?

A:  Self employed


Q:  Is it private practice or an agency?

A:  Private practice

Q:  What client population/s do you work with?

A:  Individuals, ages 5 and up


Q:  What type/s of therapy do you utilize in your mental health work?

A:  Stanford Cue-Centered Treatment

      Jungian Sandplay


Q:  Which, if any, certification/s or specialization/s do you have?

A:  Certified Rehabilitation Counseling

      National Suicidologist

     Rehabilitation Counseling Credential

     Counseling of Late Deafened and Hard-of-Hearing Persons Credential

     School Counseling Credential

     MFCC with Gerontological Emphasis

Q:  Is there any further information about yourself that you’d like to provide?

A:  I served as Redwood Empire CAMFT’s President in 2014 and I am currently President-Elect of CAMFT and will become President on June 1, 2015. 

I spent five years working at Stanford, three years on a clinical research trial testing Stanford Cue-Centered Treatment. It is a 15-18 session intervention we did with youth who had been through trauma, many of whom had posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The intervention had great results with youth having a 65% drop in posttraumatic symptoms very rapidly (within a few sessions).

Q:  What made you decide upon a career in the mental health profession?

A:  MFTs made a huge difference in the lives of my family when we underwent a crisis when my children were small. When I had a chance to go back to school in my 40s and pursue a second career, this was the only one I wanted. 

Q:  Which client populations or particular types of mental health issues have been the most challenging for you to work with?

A:  Perpetrators are a population with which I know I cannot work. 


Q:  How have you dealt with clients with poor boundaries?

A:  When clients have poor boundaries, it is particularly important to have good clear ones. Get consultation! 

Q:  What advice would you give for a pre-licensed mental health professional contemplating private practice versus other workplace options?

A:  Private practice is a lot of hard work, much of which is unpaid. It includes attending social networking functions, so if you’re naturally shy, you need to think twice about private practice. You need to be able to speak in public and to strangers comfortably. It can be lonely, too.

Working for an agency gives you a lot of support, usually, and a team to care for your clients should you need a break, fall ill, etc. It also provides perks like health insurance, vacation pay and retirement benefits.

It generally makes a lot of sense to get a job, and then slowly start into a part-time private practice on the side, since it takes a while for your practice to build up and get full.

Q:  How do you feel about personal therapy being optional for psychotherapists?

A:  Personal therapy should not be optional for people in our field. If you have not had at least a couple of years of your own therapy, you have no business sitting in that chair listening to clients.

Q:  Which personal attributes do you believe are most important for a therapist to possess?

A:  Acceptance and being non-judgmental are very important qualities for a therapist to have. You need to be able to hear about things you might consider wrong, or disapprove of, but not show it and be open to it being right for your client. I think one of the worst things I hear about are therapists whose religious beliefs cause them to disapprove of LGBTQ people, but who are not open about that with clients (or even themselves). This can lead to clients, particularly young ones, having a terrible experience of therapy when they have been brave enough to talk about their sexuality, and the therapist expresses disapproval, even in small subtle ways.

Q:  What are the most prominent skills that you think are essential for a pre-licensed therapist to focus on developing?

A:  Build your confidence. You have a gift or you would not be pursuing this career. You may feel like a second-class citizen because you do not yet have a license. Let go of that, and act like a mental health professional - because you are! People will treat you with respect when you are confident. You do not need to know everything. You can always say you need to research something and get back later. Then you can ask peers, professors, supervisors you trust, read books, etc. Be confident. You can do this.

Q:  Which mental health-related books have been your personal favorites or been most influential for you?

A:  Rather than a book, I am going to share about a great video from the 80s that can really help parents with young children. It’s called “Strong Kids, Safe Kids” and stars Henry Winkler as The Fonz. It is available on YouTube. The movie is for parents and children to watch together, and will help kids be able to talk about child sexual abuse and if it has happened to them, and help parents be prepared to hear about it. The URL is http://youtu.be/b_IrS1it0WU.

Q:  Are there any tools (e.g., particular assessments, games, etc.) that you find particularly effective for use in therapy?

A:  I use the Feelings Thermometer by Aureen Wagner with every client, adults and kids alike. You can find a copy on my website.

Q:  What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?

A:  Starting a private practice with no money or reserve fund was very challenging. Fortunately, I was able to do some trading to not pay rent for a few months.

Q:  What have you found to be the most fulfilling and meaningful aspects of your career?

A:  The work with the clients is extremely fulfilling, especially as they improve. It is very meaningful to receive praise and referrals for your work.


Q:  Did you have a mentor or a particular person that influenced your growth as a therapist?

A:  I had three supervisors, and all of them were very influential and helped me get solid in my skills.

Q:  If so, what did you learn from that person and how did he or she contribute to your development as a mental health professional?

A:  I am thinking of my first supervisor, who supervised me while I was a student and trainee. He taught me to trust my instincts, and was extremely supportive. If anything came up, he was quickly reached with a phone call. He shared some of his own experiences with me that helped me understand the importance of self care, and having supportive colleagues. I felt he was a wonderful supervisor at the time, and now in retrospect, I know he was. He treated me professionally, and with kindness and courtesy. I was lucky to have him. 

Q:  What were the factors involved in the process of creating your own therapeutic style?

A:  The biggest factor involved in creating my own therapeutic style was having experienced my own therapy, and with more than one therapist. It helped me understand what felt comfortable and right, what worked and did not work for me. If I had not had that, I would have been at a distinct disadvantage.


Q:  How have you maintained the balance between your career and personal life and how have you managed to foster your own self-care?

A:  Those who know me realize this is a struggle for me because I am a workaholic. This is a second career for me, and I was self employed in the first one, too. People who have not been self employed often say, “Oh, you’re self employed - how wonderful! You get to set your own hours.” I respond, “Yes, all of them.” When you are self employed there is virtually no time when you are not thinking about some aspect of your business, your clients, marketing, etc.

Nonetheless, I do realize that I need time away from work to recharge, and I take it from time to time, even though it means I am not earning money. Time in nature is particularly helpful.   

Q:  What do you know now that wish you knew before you became a licensed therapist?

A:  Being a therapist is all about holding sacred space. I knew how to hold sacred space for clients long before I became licensed. It really is true that the most important thing that heals is the relationship between you and your client. Do not waste your time worrying about what intervention you should/should not use next, just hold that sacred space. That is the greatest gift you are giving.  

Q:  What additional advice would you give to a pre-licensed therapist?

A:  After you graduate do not take an internship where you do not get paid. At the beginning of my grad school, there was a presentation that stressed every person who had a gerontological emphasis on their degree got hired right after graduation. I made up my mind to do that, and it worked like a charm. I was immediately hired for virtually the same salary as my professors made. I took a care/case management job. I paid privately for supervision which I could afford because I made a good salary.

Take care/case management positions if offered because it will make you competitive with social workers. You learn a lot about disabilities and accommodations, something that will help you in every possible situation. These jobs require you to travel, go into people’s homes or facilities, and you will quickly discover that you cannot possibly accurately assess a client in your office. The only place to accurately assess a client is in their home.

Consider adding any specializations your department offers. I always encourage people to get a rehabilitation counseling credential if offered. With the aging population, you will be well served by knowing all you can about disabilities and the interplay between technology and accommodations.

Interview by: Sterling Evison, LMFT
SVC-CAMFT Club 3000 Co-Chair

Special_FeatureSpecial Feature

We are in a crisis which calls for a paradigm shift
by Jon Daily

Here are 2 shifts that need to happen now. Please pass this on

PDF version

Teen and young adult drug use is a growing epidemic and the way we have thought about teen drug use and when to refer to treatment certainly needs to be rethought. The view from many professionals working in law enforcement, school systems, health systems, mental health systems and even parents is flawed and outdated with regard to understanding the illness of teen drug use and when to refer to treatment.  Many of these systems have views that are overly minimizing and hold prejudice about the severity of consequences which occur from one drug to the next.  In addition, the magnitude and intensity of drug use that must be exceeded before these systems makes a referral to counseling is held far too high to allow for a more effective intervention; a paradigm shift has to occur.
I remember when my friend, one of my mentors and colleagues talked about educating therapists in the 80’s that teen drug users needed to be drug tested.  He was scorned by the industry yet had the courage to push on with his clinical truth. He was shifting their paradigm. What David Gust was offering in his talks was not the norm and certainly felt uncomfortable for all too even think about getting on board with it.  His argument was that teen drug users lie, it is their way to keep the relationship to intoxication undetected and ongoing.  Clinicians thought that drug testing would create an injury to the therapeutic relationship and the parent/ child relationship. David’s implicit point was that when a teen is actively using then their primary relationship is to intoxication and not to therapists and parents.  Further, people with a relationship to intoxication lie, con and manipulate to protect and cover up their relationship to intoxication as it just goes with the illness. However, drug testing does not lie when drug testing protocol is done properly.  Today, drug testing is the norm, however, the practice and implementation of this tool started as an uncomfortable leap in the mindset of many.
In the mid 90’s when I was working at a psychiatric hospital, a colleague and I spent 2 years talking to the staff about why drug testing should be a mandatory part of the process when a teen was admitted to the hospital.  After two years of discussion it is an automatic practice there to this day, but it started with many false starts and hasty retreats by the doctors and administration.
In the early 90’s and prior, it was thought that drug users could not be helped unless they “hit bottom” and wanted to be helped.  Many families when they would call a therapist to get help for their drug using teen would be told that “unless your teenager wants help, I can help him.”  Today, it is widely recognized that it goes against the diagnosis for drug users, let alone teen drug users, to see their problem and that again in, David Gust’s words, “it is the role of the clinician working with the family to lift the bottom for the drug user…” Today, for most this is recognized as common practice, though sadly many parents and professionals still subscribe to the old belief. And sadly, despite treatments there are many drug users who will have to hit bottom on their own if treatment doesn’t work at that time. Though treatment certainly helps the drug user who continues on in their drug use to see it as a problem sooner than those who never got treatment because they become more aware and connected to the reality that when new consequences from their drug use occur it is because of their drug use... It is simply harder for them to deny when compared to their point of view pre-treatment.
So many paradigm shifts have occurred by persistent leaders in the industry, yet we are still seeing a growing epidemic of teen drug use. 
Today more paradigm shifts are needed.
While many shifts are still needed at the macro levels of understanding this issue, educating clinicians and other systems about this issue, here are 2 which can occur and need to occur now by anyone working with teens:
Paradigm Shift 1 we have to see the illness as a “pathological relationship to intoxication” and realize that teens are not hooked on marijuana or alcohol or heroin.
We are more effective when we understand that the name of the drug teens are using is irrelevant because teens are not at all hooked on “marijuana”, “alcohol” and “heroin.” Teens are hooked on intoxication and our own bias that one drug is worse than the other significantly gets in the way of  anyone being effective when it comes to identifying and helping teens and slowing or reversing the epidemic of teen drug use (which just goes on to be adult drug use).

To illustrate the point that teens are not hooked on “marijuana,” “alcohol,” “heroin,” and that the real issue is that they are hooked on a “pathological relationship to intoxication,” please help me with the following by helping me to understand which drug my new client is using (think to yourself which drug it is as you read the following):

Yesterday, I met with a young lady named Lisa. Since Lisa started using she has lied to her family about her use. She has taken money from her family to pay for her use. Her siblings have expressed concern to her about her use. Her family has talked to her about it and has set limits in the home by implementing restrictions.  Lisa has also had girlfriends and boyfriends express concern to her about her using by explaining to her how her use has affected their relationship and how they see it effecting her directly.

With regard to school, Lisa has increasingly started to not focus on homework as much, has skipped classes and her grades have been declining. Finally, she is getting a reputation on campus as being a person who uses.

She has had close calls with the law and doesn’t care about sports or music instruction anymore.

My question to use reading the reader is “which substance is Lisa using?”
Is it marijuana, alcohol, “molly”, opiates, meth, stimulants, cocaine, 2CB, 2CI, “wax,” “dabs,” ” budder”, LSD, mushrooms, etc?

When I ask this question to a large room full of seasoned clinicians, they struggle to answer it correctly. The correct answer, “it could be any of the drugs.”  What I have laid out in the case vignette were simply the symptoms of late stage substance abuse and stages within addiction. Yes the symptoms are the same across the board 95% of the time from one drug to the next. We get to caught up in the 5% biological differences.  This case and question help people to see that the symptoms of substance abuse/addiction are the same from one drug to the next so the name of the drug is irrelevant and what needs to be understood is that the issue is the pathological relationship to intoxication. It is Intoxications which is driving Lisa to use despite the symptoms of negative consequences occurring in her life.

What is getting in the way for parents and professionals working with young people is their own “drug bias” which also gets in the way of intervening sooner and more effectively when it is discovered that a young person is using. It is actually this bias when trips people up on my question post case vignette you just read above. To further illuminate the bias, I ask this question to many therapists when I am speaking at trainings and conferences “I want you to take a quiet moment and think about your son or daughter… In this very moment I want you to connect to your gut… Now I want you to hold that connection and connect to what it feels like for you right now when you get a call from the police and they say your child has just been busted at the park with alcohol… What does that feel like? (I invite you to do this while you read as well).  How driven do you feel in the moment to mobilize and take action? Stay connected.  Alright, now you get the same call but the officer says your child has been busted with “Molly” or ecstasy. What is the reaction now?  Again, your child has been busted with heroin. What is your reaction now? You see the visceral difference don’t you? That is the “drug bias” that has to be removed.  A huge paradigm shift is that we have got to lose this bias and see all drugs as harmful. Once a person forms a pathological relationship to intoxication the symptoms and progression will all play out the same.  Certainly, there are differences, but not enough to know which drug my client was using in the vignette given a moment ago.

Finally on the note that teens are not hooked on a particular drug, they are hooked on intoxication, what happens when the addict’s drug of choice is removed? Do they stop using? Are they sober?  When a marijuana user is now being drug tested by parents or the legal system, do they stop seeking intoxication?  Of course not because they were never hooked on marijuana, they were hooked on intoxication it is just that marijuana was their favorite flavor. You know, and they will admit, they will just shift to a different source of intoxication like K2-Spice, Alcohol, opiate pills, etc.  This is the reality. We have to lose the bias, recognize this issue at a deeper more serious way and then we will help them sooner and more effectively.

One caveat that goes with my point hitherto is that drug users don’t hit bottom until the system around them hits bottom.  The system are the parents, teachers, coaches, friends, employers, MD’s and therapists. When the system freaks out and says this is not okay, no more of this, this is painful to know where this could be headed, then the system acts and puts the floor in under  the user going further downhill and progressing in their use.  Sadly, today’s systems are still holding drug of choice biases and making statements like “it is only alcohol,” “it is only marijuana,” “it is the teenage years, a phase… “Certainly this fails to recognize that kids are using 73+% THC compared to 5% in the 80’s, 10-20% in the 90’s, and that most teen related deaths are related to alcohol. This ignorance supports addiction and allows it to progress. This is a system which has not hit bottom.  This is a system that might hold the car keys while a group of teens gets drunk at their house after a Friday night football game.  However, systems react when teens use Oxycontin which has now shifted to heroin. Now we have a system that recognizes a problem and is more motivated to do something about it which in turn makes it so the user has to face the issue of their drug use. Personally, I get frustrated that communities and politicians are freaking out today about the heroin epidemic we are in today with teens and young adults. Why didn’t they freak out on the growing drug problem which has been unfolding for a long time with alcohol and marijuana? They are subscribing to the idea that heroin is the problem, and missing the other drugs and the illness as a whole. This all plays into the next paradigm shift I am hoping for that I think will really help.


Paradigm Shift 2: Referrals to outpatient programs needs to happen the very first time it is discovered that a teen has used.

“It is easier to prevent symptoms than reverse them”

When I lecture and train MD’s, I am usually asked, “When should I refer a drug using teen to outpatient treatment?”  My response is “the very first time it is discovered they have tried alcohol or other drugs.” When I say this, the crowd usually thinks I am being intellectually tricky because this is a huge paradigm shift for most of them.  I tell them that it is easier to prevent symptoms from progressing than it is to reverse them, wouldn’t you agree?”

Then I pose the following (I invite you to consider this too), but first I preface with the fact that 9 times out of 10 when a teen shows up for outpatient treatment they have already been using 2 years longer than the parents knew. And those moments where the school finds that a teen has drugs on them and makes the referral to treatment and the kid insists to the school and parents that it was their first use, well that is just too statistically unlikely.

So I pose the MD’s and other clinicians, wouldn’t you want the following for your child? Your child has just been busted as having used once. They go to an outpatient program or therapist who specializes in working with teens with these issues (certainly CD-IOP might not be the start because then they are in groups with other drug users who might be more progressed), though outpatient is ideal.  In the outpatient process, your child is evaluated to truly examine their history of use, they are educated about the effects of the drugs, on the developing brain, mind, social group, coping and how those parts of the developing person become arrested.  They then explore how their use has already created consequences in their life with regard to family, school, health, mental health, sports, friendships, money, etc.  They are evaluated to determine if there are any underlying issues as well.  Meanwhile, you are also educated about all of these things and learn to develop a home contract and to implement random drug testing. This process then crescendos to a family session or two where your child shares with you his/her entire drug use history and how they see it has created consequences in family, school, money, friendships, etc. Then you as parents share your perception of how it has created consequences too. Then the home contracted is implemented and the family carries it at home from there. What I just described is about 8 sessions. This is an investment of a little bit of time, money and emotion.  Wouldn’t rather have that for your child or a client? It is easier to prevent symptoms than reverse them, but sadly kids are not being referred to treatment until they are in stage 4 of the illness when the referral should have been made at stage .5 or 1.

Please help me to help our youth who are progressing and dying, whose families and communities are being destroyed by this epidemic we are in.. We have to move into at least adopting these simple but yet new ways of thinking to be more effective at dealing with this problem.  Finally, it is also true that we are either a part of the problem or a part of the solution.  Let’s be the latter.
Please pass along…


Jon’s Bio:
Jon Daily, LCSW, CADC II is the founder and clinical director for Recovery Happens Counseling Services and specializes in the outpatient treatment of adolescents, young adults and their families with addictive disorders and dual diagnosis issues. A recipient of numerous awards for his work, Jon is also the co-author of (2006) “How to Help Your Child Become Drug Free,” and (2012) “Adolescent and Young Adult Addiction: The Pathological Relationship to Intoxication and the Interpersonal Neurobiology Underpinnings.” Jon has been an instructor to nurses, medical residents and has taught post-doctoral students for UC Davis. Currently he instructs graduate students for University of San Francisco and is the developer of a chemical dependency track within a Sacramento based psychiatric hospital.  Jon has trained thousands of clinicians working with youth, young adults and adults. He has been a resource in the media over 60 times in his career from local media to the national Today Show.  In addition to teaching, practicing, writing and providing forensic testimony, Jon provides program development, trainings and conference presentations. More information at www.recoveryhappens.com 916-276-0626.


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Psyched about Books and Movies

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Title:  In Quest of the Mythical Mate: A Developmental Approach To Diagnosis And Treatment In Couples Therapy
Brunner/Mazel, Florence, KY
Copyright: 1988
Ellyn Bader & Peter T. Pearson
Heather Blessing, MFT Intern
I was struggling with handling couples in therapy.  One of my supervisors turned me onto this book.  It is easy to read and has great ideas.  The thing I liked the most is the concept of relationship development being much like child development.  It makes it easier to educate the couples I am working with and to be able to have them discuss where they think they are and how it might be causing problems. 

They have a lot of examples on different types of relationships and different ideas and methods to use to help the couples understand why they are having the problems that they are.  This is a really good book for someone who is working with couples and struggling or someone who is looking for new ideas and ways to handle tough couples.


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