CAMFT – CALPCC and the future of mental health in California

By David Joel Miller

If you are not a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) or a Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) you may not have heard about the commotion going on here in California.

CAMFT has for a very long time been the primary voice of MFT’s both in California and Nationally. CAMFT membership exceeds 30,000 MFTs, far more than the membership of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

While California was an early adopter of the MFT profession it was the last state to adopt the licensing of Professional Clinical Counselors.

CALPCC has become the state-wide organization for the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors. This new sister profession is off to a dramatic start.

Some of you may be aware that I hold both licenses. I elected to become dually licensed because I feel that there are differences in the things that the two specialties do and personally I have times when I practice both professions.

Since I have two licensees I am a member of both CALPCC and CAMFT. I also have been honored to serve on the board of directors for CALPCC.

Now that there are three mental health licenses (LCSW’s MFT’s and LPCC’s) here in California we are still sorting things out. (Four if you count the registration and certification of Substance abuse counselors.)

Both the LMFT’s and the LPCC’s face challenges ahead.

MFT’s were founded on system theory and the requisite skill set includes couples or marriage counseling. Some but not all LPCC’s are trained to do marriage counseling. The challenge for MFT’s consists of maintaining that there is something different about what they do. This becomes a particular challenge as more and more MFT’s are working in county agencies with individual clients rather than seeing couples and families.

LPCC’s have specialized training that some, but not all MFT’s received, particularly in the areas of career counseling and substance abuse work. LPCC’s also have skills in working with nonverbal clients. Because LPCC’s are the newest profession there has been a reluctance to open jobs, especially in the public, governmental sector for LPCC’s even when their skill set might be a better match than an MFT’s.

Recently CAMFT’s board of directors proposed changing their bylaws so that all mental health professionals could become members. This would leave MFT’s with no organization to represent their interests and two competing organizations for LPCC’s.

Now a group of CAMFT members has succeeded in triggering a vote on the CAMFT bylaws to return CAMFT to an MFT only organization.

No less than H. Dan Smith, two-time CAMFT president, has sent out a letter in support of retaining the old bylaws to keep CAMFT an MFT only organization.

Personally, I think this is a good idea.

If you are an MFT, MFT student or intern, and plan to continue to practice Marriage and Family therapy as a specialty then I believe you should vote for the old bylaws and become or stay a member of CAMFT.

If you consider yourself a counselor and are a counseling student, PCCI (intern) or a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) then I encourage you to join and support CALPCC. You might also want to like CALPCC on FaceBook.

If you are one of that group that now holds both licenses I believe you owe it to yourself to continue membership in both groups.

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CALPCC board meeting – Professional Clinical Counseling

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Just returned from the CALPCC board meeting. http://calpcc.org/

CALPCC stands for California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors. It is an honor and privilege to be able to hang out with a group of people who are so concerned about the future of the Counseling profession.

The things we talked about will affect those who work in the field and those who receive services from Professional Counselors everywhere. I try to balance posts on the counselorssoapbox.com blog between things that are of interest to clients, people in recovery from whatever challenge you have, and those who consider themselves professionals. Some people fit into multiple categories.

Today a quick summary and then in the future I plan to write some posts about things I learned and thoughts I have had as a result of this meeting. Today just the highlights of my thoughts, and while I can’t speak on behalf of the organization or the board, as always I have plenty of thoughts of my own.

CALPCC’s primary mission is to further the profession of Clinical Counseling here in California. Many of our board members are very active at the National level and beyond.

I see a difference between the processes of counseling, therapy, and coaching. My students know that while I am licensed as both a Marriage and Family Therapist and a Professional Clinical Counselor I see those functions as two different things and describe myself as a counselor first and a therapist second.

One size does not fit all

There are some disturbing trends in mental health treatment these days.

The first step for most clients is to get them on meds. If they need them that is all well and good, but sometimes the meds cause harm.  In this era of “there is a pill for everything,” it is hard to convince those who pay that clients might benefit more from some counseling than from a meds only approach.

Meds can only do so much, to help a person to have a life worth living; they may need some help learning new skills, like living without drugs or setting and accomplishing goals.

It is estimated that California will need an additional 5,000 mental health clinicians by the year 2019. Many of those clinicians will be working with the poor, the unemployed and the addicted.

Professional Clinical Counselors are uniquely qualified to fill that need. They are trained in 13 separate “core areas.” Including career counseling – getting a job, addiction counseling, and many have extra training in working with non-verbal clients or those whose primary learning styles is a mode other than words.

As more Clinical counselors get their license some are asking about the prospects of going into private practice. I am working on a power point and a longer article on the topic of counselors in private practice. That old Business Administration degree keeps calling to me. If that topic interests you, send me an email or other communication and I will put you on a list to get the link or the article when it is finished. The same goes if you are interested in the book that is in progress.

If you are interested in the role of Professional Clinical Counselors consider visiting the CALPCC website. (Links to CALPCC.org or counselorssoapbox.com are always appreciated.)

If you are a student, trainee or intern, consider becoming a member. The Unlicensed rate is a paltry $30 and includes some perks like accesses to the member’s only page, info on job opportunities and a discount on your liability insurance. That discount alone will pay for the membership or come real close.

CALPCC is a small but growing group. Most of the work is done by the members and volunteers, not paid professional staff. So when you join, consider volunteering to help and serving on a committee. Member input and participation in CALPCC is welcomed.

At this time the job openings for LPCC’s and PCCI interns are thin. CALPCC is working on getting more government and insurance positions open to LPCC’s. I believe that as more people know the things that LPCC’s can do the more job openings there will be. (Yes Mental Health Directors and other employers, LPCC’s are trained to and may see children.)

I know there are some behemoth counseling organizations who advocate for all mental health professionals, but if you are or plan to become a Clinical Counselor or another professional counselor then you owe it to yourself to join a group that advocates for Professional Clinical Counselors, particularly if you live here in California.

As you might guess I am a bit tired from the long drive and the writing schedule for the counselorssoapbox.com blog is behind schedule. It is a long drive from Fresno California to almost anywhere. If you find any typos that did not get corrected in the proofing, be kind, please.

Please – please, leave a comment or question. Those responses help me know if the things I am writing are useful and what other topics you would like to see posts about.

Length of time together in failed relationships or marriages

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

How long do relationships last?

End of Marriage

How long before the relationship fails?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

We counselors and especially those of us that are Marriage and Family Therapists, see lots of relationships that are troubled and at risk of ending. Some marriage counselors take the approach that they are “divorce busters” and seek to keep a couple staying together at any cost.  There are counselors that will align with one or the other person in a relationship and encourage them to put themselves first and the relationship second.

Personally, I try to stay neutral and help the two individuals find the solution that is best for both of them.

What are some of the factors that keep people together in their primary relationship and what forces them apart? Much of this material comes from a researcher and presenter on couples issues named John Gottman.

1. What was their intention when they got together?

Couples get together for all the wrong reasons and stay together for bad reasons also. Many couples find that they like dating, sometimes all they were looking for was fun, a good time or some casual sex. Once sex becomes part of the relationship it alters things, people who would have moved on and let that one go, they know they are not compatible, may stay together after they start having sex.

Being in a primary sexual relationship precludes finding someone else, at least someone for more than casual sex. No one likes falling in love with someone who is sleeping with another partner.

2. Everything changes with the pregnancy.

Pregnancy happens whether we plan on it or not. Sometimes birth control fails, sometimes we forget to use it or over time it becomes less critical.

It is one relationship when it is all fun, dating and having sex, but it is a whole other thing once the prospect of a child comes into things.  Someone who was good with a causal relationship before suddenly wants a commitment. After all, you are having a child together.

Whether the pregnancy is terminated or the decision is made to have the child everything is different after the pregnancy. Some couples decide to get married because of the pregnancy some do not. Either way, you and the relationship is changed forever.

It does not appear from my experience that the marriage license is the key factor here. The important thing is, does the couple decide that they want to be together as life partners or are they only doing this because they are trapped by a pregnancy.

3. The first year after the birth of the first child can be traumatic.

Couples that are not married have a high risk of breaking up during that first year after the birth of the first child.

Couples that do get married still find the relationship changes, often in ways, they did not expect and want. It takes a lot of work to create and maintain a relationship after a child enters the picture, especially if a long-term relationship was not what you wanted in the first place.

4. How long did the couple know each other before they made the commitment?

Couples that have known each other, dated and had common experiences, for two to five years before getting into a long-term relationship are more likely to have a successful relationship.

Couples who date only briefly sometimes workout, but they are at extra risk. In the early stages of a relationship, we all want to be liked and put our best foot forward. You can’t keep that appearance up forever and after a few years the real you and the real them leak out. Couples who move through the dating stage and establish a long-term relationship to rapidly often find they are in a relationship they wish they had not entered.

If you have been dating for over five years and are still not feeling ready to make a commitment to a long-term relationship, then there is something in your gut telling you this is not the right thing.

Sometimes our reluctance is about the other person and sometimes it is about us. We find that two emotionally unhealthy people do not make for a good relationship. If you have issues, you need to work on yourself before you get into a relationship.

That does not mean that if you suffer from a mental or emotional illness that you should not be in a relationship. What it does suggest is that you need to work on yourself and your recovery before entering that relationship. No one else can fix you. Recovery is an inside job.

5. Has there been a history of angry fights, abuse or domestic violence?

Couples whose relationship is characterized by lots of fighting, little if any repair efforts and abuse and violence often end during the first five years. This bulge in failed relationships at five years is also influenced by substance abuse and other addictions.

6. Many marriages or long-term relationships fail at the 20 to 25-year point.

These relationships stay together because of the children, the influence of family or economic reasons. Then one day, often around the time that the oldest child is about to graduate from high school, the couple looks at each other and can’t remember why they liked each other in the first place.

These relationships do not fail because of anger or hatred, they just fizzle out. Suddenly one or both parties wake up and realize the feeling of love was lost a long time ago.

They have failed to maintain the relationship and now they have nothing in common.

7. Relationships that triangulate in a third-party or substance.

Added to these relationship issues is the ever-present possibility of affairs, emotional or sexual. Those relationships end because someone or something else pries one of the parties away from their primary relationship. One of the worst affairs is the drug-threesome caused by someone falling in love with a drug of choice and leaving their partner to follow that addiction.

There you have some of the more common reasons that relationships fail and people separate, break up or divorce.

Breaking up is almost always painful, even when you know you want out. The trick is to learn to be happy as an individual and then that happiness has a chance of spilling over into the relationship.

Here is wishing you a happy life, with or without that romantic relationship.

David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The question why? – In therapy

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

The question why in therapy.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Does it help to know why?

More than half the time in most therapy sessions is spent on the question why? Most of the time the focus of the why question, is not on the client but on some other person in their life. Clients spend a good deal of time asking me why their partner did this or that, why did their parent do something and so on.

It would be reassuring to know why. Most of us think if we just knew “why” then we could prevent something bad happening. The great illusion of most relationships is that we can somehow control the behavior of others. Most of the time we can’t control the others in our life, and except for teaching our children good behavior, controlling others is probably not healthy.

The questions we should be asking are not about others. More helpful questions are the ones we ask about ourselves. What do I really want out of life, what are my values? How much am I willing to invest in reaching my goals? Can I accept this situation? What am I willing to do to change?

Sometimes we focus on others to avoid looking at ourselves. It is easy to upset yourself about things happening in the next apartment, across the street, or across the country.  Looking at what is happening in your own life is more productive. It is also more challenging.

People like to vent about their partner, their boss or their children. It would be easy to devote a lot of therapy time to talking about others. Conversations between friends often turn to talking about others. We call that practice gossiping. It is easy to do. We may even think that by discussing others, we can gain some insight into the situation, some way to improve our outcomes.

One thing we tell clients in therapy is that it is not productive to talk about people who are not in the room. Taking about your conflicts with your partner may make you feel better, temporarily, but it won’t change the situation. There are two ways to improve this relationship situation, get the other person in the therapy room or change yourself.

Marriage, Child and Family Therapist’s work from a “systems” perspective, to change a family situation it helps to get all the people involved in the room. Often the “identified patient” is not the one with the problem. Let’s look at some examples of this situation.

Mother comes in with her teenage child. The child has a severe weight problem. The child has become depressed as a result of being overweight. Despite mom’s best efforts to put this teen on a diet, make them exercise; the teen continues to gain weight. The teen comes to therapy; they don’t want to talk about their weight. What is on their mind is the way their parents have been fighting and every time they go to visit Grandma, she runs mom down the whole visit.

Turns out that because of the marital conflict, every time dad takes this teen out they stop somewhere for something to eat. Dad always says “don’t tell your mother, she is way too hard on you,” which the teen tries to respect.

When the teen visits grandma, she does the same thing, makes excuses for why the teen does not need to lose weight and rewards the teen with food treats. Grandma does not like her daughter-in-law and gets even with her by being the teens “friend” and sabotaging the mother’s plans for the teen to lose weight.

Working with the teen around weight loss may not be very effective. One approach is to get the whole family together at once and talk about how they are all colluding to use the teen’s weight as a way to try to control or get even with other family members.

Sometimes we can’t get the whole family to therapy. We have to work with the teen on what they really want. If the teen is impacted by this weight issue, we may need to help them to learn how to say no to dad and grandma’s efforts to sabotage their diet. Some teens can’t resist the family dance and are stuck.

Boys escape this family dance by joining the military or running away from home. Girls try to escape by getting pregnant, moving in with a man or some other way of having to leave the family. Both genders may also use drugs and alcohol to escape the intolerable conflicts.

Another situation that results in a lot of talk about a person who is not in the room is the spouse of the alcoholic or addict. They are likely to want to spend a lot of time on how to make their partner stop or on what they did to make them drink and use.

The spouse did nothing to make their partner abuse substances.  A bad relationship may have contributed, but it is not the cause. People drink and use to change the way they feel. Eventually, they lose the ability to cope without the substances. Some people can use and drink a little or even drink a lot and then stop when they want. Other people find that when they try to stop, they can’t. We consider this an example of the disease of addiction.

There is not much the non-using partner can do to stop the other person’s substance abuse.  They have a choice. End the relationship, say that this is more than you signed on for and you are done, or you can accept that the other person is the way they are and go on from there. Spending time talking about the person who is not in the room is not helpful here either.

Do you spend a lot of time asking why others do what they do? How much time have you spent in looking at yourself? What do you really want? What can you accept or not accept?

Don’t waste time on the why; work on the “what and how” of the changes you need to make to have a happy future.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The question why? – In therapy

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

The question why in therapy.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Does it help to know why?

More than half the time in most therapy sessions is spent on the question why? Most of the time the focus of the why question, is not on the client but on some other person in their life. Clients spend a good deal of time asking me why their partner did this or that, why did their parent do something and so on.

It would be reassuring to know why. Most of us think if we just knew why then we could prevent something bad happening. The great illusion of most relationships is that we can somehow control the behavior of others. Most of the time we can’t control the others in our life, and except for teaching our children good behavior, controlling others is probably not healthy.

The questions we should be asking are not about others. More helpful questions are the ones we ask about ourselves. What do I really want out of life, what are my values? How much am I willing to invest in reaching my goals? Can I accept this situation? What am I willing to do to change?

Sometimes we focus on others to avoid looking at ourselves. It is easy to upset yourself about things happening in the next apartment, across the street, or across the country. Looking at what is happening in your own life is more productive. It is also more challenging.

People like to vent about their partner, their boss or their children. It would be easy to devote a lot of therapy time to talking about others. Conversations between friends often turn to talking about others. We call that practice gossiping. It is easy to do. We may even think that by discussing others we can gain some insight into the situation, some way to improve our outcomes.

One thing we tell clients in therapy is that it is not productive to talk about people who are not in the room. Taking about your conflicts with your partner may make you feel better, temporarily, but it won’t change the situation. There are two ways to improve this relationship situation, get the other person in the therapy room or change yourself.

Marriage, Child and Family Therapist’s work from a “systems” perspective, to change a family situation it helps to get all the people involved in the room. Often the “identified patient” is not the one with the problem. Let’s look at some examples of this situation.

Mother comes in with her teenage child. The child has a severe weight problem. The child has become depressed as a result of being overweight. Despite mom’s best efforts to put this teen on a diet, make them exercise; the teen continues to gain weight. The teen comes to therapy; they don’t want to talk about their weight. What is on their mind is the way their parents have been fighting and every time they go to visit grandma, she runs mom down the whole visit.

Turns out that because of the marital conflict, every time dad takes this teen out they stop somewhere for something to eat. Dad always says “don’t tell your mother, she is way too hard on you,” which the teen tries to respect.

When the teen visits grandma she does the same thing, makes excuses for why the teen does not need to lose weight and rewards the teen with food treats. Grandma does not like her daughter-in-law and gets even with her by being the teens “friend” and sabotaging the mother’s plans for the teen to lose weight.

Working with the teen around weight loss may not be very effective. One approach is to get the whole family together at once and talk about how they are all colluding to use the teen’s weight as a way to try to control or get even with other family members.

Sometimes we can’t get the whole family to therapy. We have to work with the teen on what they really want. If the teen is impacted by this weight issue we may need to help them to learn how to say no to dad and grandma’s efforts to sabotage their diet. Some teens can’t resist the family dance and are stuck.

Boys escape this family dance by joining the military or running away from home. Girls try to escape by getting pregnant, moving in with a man or some other way of having to leave the family. Both genders may also use drugs and alcohol to escape the intolerable conflicts.

Another situation that results in a lot of talk about a person who is not in the room is the spouse of the alcoholic or addict. They are likely to want to spend a lot of time on how to make their partner stop or on what they did to make them drink and use.

The spouse did nothing to make their partner abuse substances.  A bad relationship may have contributed but it is not the cause. People drink and use to change the way they feel, eventually they lose the ability to cope without the substances. Some people can use and drink a little or even drink a lot and then stop when they want. Other people find that when they try to stop they can’t. We consider this an example of the disease of addiction.

There is not much the non-using partner can do to stop the other person’s substance abuse.  They have a choice. End the relationship, say that this is more than they signed on for and they are done, or they can accept that the other person is the way they are and go on from there. Spending time talking about the person who is not in the room is not helpful here either.

Do you spend a lot of time asking why others do what they do? How much time have you spent in looking at yourself? What do you really want? What can you accept or not accept?

Don’t waste time on the why; work on the “what and how” of the changes you need to make to have a happy future.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.