Archive for March, 2018


March 20th, 2018

It’s been fourteen years since I’ve collaborated face-to-face with my coach, and I’ve just returned from Asheville, North Carolina after a very productive and revitalizing two-day intensive with Sandra “Sam” Foster, PhD. As I’ve mentioned, Sam is on the faculty of the College of Executive Coaching where I became a certified coach in 2002. I’ve been seeking her wisdom and support on and off since then, and once again, it felt like an opportune moment to spend some high-quality time together as we explored the next leg of my professional journey.

The outcome of my coaching experience with Sam is always similar—I return inspired, refreshed and grounded. Coaching is partially about goal-setting, values clarification and accountability, but it’s also an existential and sometimes spiritual collaboration, as I choose to re-visit my purpose and mission within my practice and related to my upcoming book project.

Through powerful questions and honest conversations, I was able to distinguish between my Wanna do’s and my Supposed to’s. It became evident to me that they blend at times, but my supposed to’s often feel heavy and obligatory where my wanna do’s create ease and lightness. Because I have a lot of interests both professionally and personally—a high-quality problem— I can sometimes stretch myself too thin. And this leaves me with less focus and attention available for my higher priorities.

I also went into the weekend with the hope of mapping out the next ten years of my professional life infused with some personal intentions as well. Although ten years turned out to be too much of a stretch, I did map out the next five years and feel relief and hope as I now see where my true priorities lie, and how I can keep my sanity and balance intact along the way.

As I anticipate the unfolding of my current book project in 2019, I felt compelled to examine my heart’s desire for my home life, my professional life and beyond. As a result, it reminds me to keep self-care in the forefront no matter what. Coaching has always provided me with a touchstone for what matters most to me—also known as values—and this past weekend steered me in that direction seamlessly.

As a result of my soul-searching discussions with Sam, I now feel more freedom and clarity to say Yes, No, or Maybe to the limitless menu of options in front of me. Not that anything has to happen, but simply what could happen—a reminder Sam has shared with me since we first met in 2001.
It also became clear to me that all future choices and decisions have to originate from Love and Ease. As a result of Sam’s reflections and provocative questions, I now know that love and ease will be a litmus test as I venture back into my practice this week and beyond. Expert coaching infused with the wisdom of Positive Psychology is truly the gift that keeps giving as Sam continues to walk beside me in this uncharted territory.

coaching and positive psychology

March 13th, 2018

In 2001 I completed an 18-month coach training program which helped turn the course of my clinical career. In the 90′s I was trained very traditionally as a psychodynamically-oriented, family systems informed therapist. At the time I found the training and the clinical work very challenging and helpful to my clients, but something changed inside of me.

I had been working part-time in private practice and part-time for a local health management organization, and little by little, I was feeling more burnt out. I knew I needed to leave the HMO but didn’t know exactly how or when to do it. I saw an announcement for a 1-day seminar on the principles of coaching given by a Southern California psychologist, and the light bulb went on. Coaching encompassed theories including Rogers, Adler, and Maslow, and it focused on strengths and resources rather than deficits. This newly-coined theory called Positive Psychology was a breath of fresh air that didn’t replace my former theoretical orientation but complemented it seamlessly.

I then met Sandra “Sam” Foster, PhD who taught a class on Peak Performance, and immediately I felt that Sam was speaking my language in an inspirational and clinically-sound way. I asked Sam if she would be my coach which was part of the requirements of the program, and her influence has stayed with me to this day. Not only did she believe in me in ways I couldn’t believe in myself, but she helped me open creative doors that I never imagined. In 2004 she helped me envision a workbook which became a reality years later (“From Now On: Seven Keys to Purposeful Recovery”).

This weekend I’m fortunate enough to be traveling to Asheville, North Carolina to work with Sam once again as I give shape and voice to my current book project (more details to follow!) In my 27-year career I’ve been blessed with a few fantastic mentors including Sam. And in turn, I also get to give back what I’ve been given.

open house

March 9th, 2018

It’s been 10 years since we moved into our professional home that I now call the “Overland Suite”, and what a great excuse to bring together friends, family and colleagues to celebrate a decade in our terrific healing space. Our Open House will take place on Sunday April 15th at 11am, and we welcome all of you to come on over for a bagel and coffee as well as wonderful camaraderie. We’re located at 2550 Overland Avenue, Suite 100 in Los Angeles (90064) just three blocks south of Pico near the Westside Pavilion. No need to RSVP–I do hope you can join us.

2018 Annual Group Therapy Conference (4/27 & 4/28)

March 7th, 2018

On Friday April 27th and Saturday April 28th, the Group Psychotherapy Association of Los Angeles (GPALA) will be hosting its Spring Conference at the American Jewish University on Mulholland Drive. I will be a small group leader throughout the weekend event as we explore ethnic and racial identities and differences, and I want to personally invite all therapists to consider joining us. Here is the full description of the 2018 conference:

Callin’ In Race: Finding Words, Finding Courage in Group

Presented by Christine Schmidt and Rudy Lucas

Course Description:

Racism in the United States is uniquely structured in such a way that inequities based on the spurious notion of visible ethnic/racial difference are woven into the fabric of our society. Racism impacts our relationships, often beyond our awareness. Internalized racial oppression heightens our differences, yet we yearn for connection with others to heal personal and societal ills. As social beings, we are drawn to groups whether in therapeutic settings or communities.

This conference will offer group leaders an opportunity to learn how our racial identities are consciously and unconsciously transformed through personal interactions. Group leaders nourish responsive groups by being able to identify and respond to colorblindness, racially encoded dog whistle language and micro-aggressions with honesty and openness. Once limiting racial taboos are spoken aloud they lose their toxicity. As we expand our skills about racial dynamics, we confidently foster cohesion in groups by making space for every member to be visible and heard.

Each person attending the Conference participates in a small group experience that meets three times over the course of the two days and is led by an experienced senior member of GPALA. The purpose of this activity is to provide everyone an in vivo group experience, reminding us of our clients’ position as group members and to expose us to a different style of group facilitation.