In Alumni Resources, Faculty Voices, Featured, News & Announcements

Faculty in Conversation: Clinical Impacts of the COVID Crisis

The next webinar of the 2020-2021 Counseling Community Webinar Series is a Faculty in Conversation: Clinical Impacts of the COVID Crisis on Thursday, April 22nd from 6:00-8:00pm PT.

We are pleased to host the following faculty and share the topics to be addressed at the Faculty in Conversation: Clinical Impacts of the COVID Crisis webinar:

Jemma Elliot, MA, LMFT, LPCC, is Department Co-Chair and Core Faculty for Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Counseling Psychology Department. Jemma supports administrative, curricular, and developmental aspects of the Counseling Department, as well as teaches in the MA Counseling Psychology Program. Jemma has a clinical focus on adoption and separation trauma and has provided trainings and spoken on panels to advance the understanding of the needs of children and families on the adoption spectrum throughout Los Angeles County. She also has a special interest in working with PTSD from a depth psychological perspective, and in witnessing and hosting the extrasensory gifts and energetic awakenings that often arise in clients after traumatic experiences. Jemma has a great love for the arts and is a long-time advocate for farmed animal and greyhound rescue and rehabilitation.

Topic description:

The unrelenting events of the first year of the new decade have taken a toll—from an unforgivably deadly global pandemic, to natural disasters of historic scope and number, to social and political upheaval in the United States that not only brings into question the collective character and moral stability of our nation but simultaneously threatens the very foundation of our hard-won democratic way of life. And at the center of each of these swirling catastrophes are the women, more specifically, the mothers, who represent a large sector of our population but still, in 2021, receive inferior resources, equity, compensation, and recognition. The threat to the physical, mental, and psychological well-being of our mothers is immediate. The potential for the current crises to create long-term negative impacts on mothers, and to further undermine previous progress to improve systemic inequities, is real. As an educator and clinician, my ethical professional responsibilities focus on awareness of dynamics, trends, and concerns impacting the populations I educate and treat, central among them, the mothers. I am worried about the mothers. We should all be worried about the mothers. In this worry, though, my adherence to the application of a depth psychological frame for complex problems such as these offers an outlet for hope, for broadened perspective, and even for meaning making. In this time of an intensely extreme tension of the opposites, might we, as a whole, be able to hold the possibility of a rise in collective consciousness, a re-framing of the feminine, a re-imagining of the archetype of the mother? Might we, as a collective, see potential for the painful alchemical fire to bring, ultimately, transcendence—transformation of systemic misogyny and the relegation of the feminine—a more conscious awareness of the shadow’s work inthisrealm?

Marilyn Owen, MA, MA, LMFT serves as Adjunct Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute in the Counseling Psychology Department, where she has taught Clinical Practice, Process of Psychotherapy, Community Mental Health, and Geropsychology. She also has a full-time psychotherapy practice in Santa Barbara working with individual adults and couples working through childhood attachment wounds, abuse, and developmental trauma. Marilyn’s clinical approach is grounded in the depth psychological work of Marion Woodman, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, EMDR, and Gestalt—specifically focused on utilizing the images, emotions, and sensations of the body as guides to processing and releasing trauma. With degrees in literature and theatre, she also draws on the Arts and Humanities as additional soul medicine.  Her previous experience includes 15 years working in psychiatric hospitals and child welfare agencies of LA County. Marilyn’s creativity is expressed in her poetry and songwriting, and making music with her partner and best friend as The InVocations–three therapists following their bliss in three-part harmony.

Topic description:

March of 2020 brought a seismic shift in the way we do our business: from the multi-dimensional experience of body-to-body sessions in private offices, to a 2-dimensional electronic interface defined by the dimensions of a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. We all had a crash course in upgrading our technology with wi-fi extenders, newer computers, and expensive headsets. The energetic shift was also significant, as we adjusted to a more intense focus on the faces (now, only inches in front of us) and more intense stress in the collective field around and within us. And yet, for some, it was not as bad as we feared. Amazingly, therapeutic hours continued to be therapeutic. Even from a depth perspective! We got used to the differences, transcended limitations of geography and space, and welcomed some of the perks we might never have imagined before. For all the trauma of the past year, deep, healing work continued to happen in the synapse between human bodies and the screen. Who knew it could be this way??  Millennials, actually, and Gen Y and Z, for whom virtual relating is normal. We might not ever say tele-therapy is better than in person, but it certainly has benefits that make it as-good-as for a significant portion of our clients. What will our practices look like post-COVID? How might this, finally and truly, democratize therapy? Is imaginal and somatic work really effective in a virtual space? What might be lost in this new iteration of our beloved profession? How must we change, in order to continue serving the soul of a rapidly changing world?

Thomas Steffora, MA, LMFT is a practicing psychotherapist in Santa Maria where he focuses on individuals and couples facing mood and anxiety issues, relational problems, and the effects of trauma. Working in close collaboration with medical professionals through his connection with Dignity Health, he also focuses on presentations involving chronic and medically managed conditions, as well as offering wellness support to healthcare workers and organizational response to public health concerns. Thomas is Adjunct Faculty and Research Coordinator with Pacifica Graduate Institute where he instructs on psychopathology, cultural psychology, and imaginal and philosophically informed psychology.

Topic description:

Front-line COVID workers, especially nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, social workers, and spiritual care teams (among others) are just now emerging from what has been near catastrophic conditions. Over the past year I have worked with many of these professionals in early, active, and residual phases of the pandemic facing near-daily Acute Stress/PTSD-level events, complex cultural dynamics both between patients/families and within hospital departments, labor issues, difficult personal/family dynamics, and social/political/media influence on morale and organizational policy. This presentation hopes to offer a systems perspective on how COVID has affected the workers who tended to those in need during this crisis, with particular attention paid to patterns and pathologies that arose, what interventions (both individually and culturally to the workplace) were taken, how archetypal themes emerged, and what we have learned about the need for expanded and adjunctive support for healthcare workers.


The Counseling Community Webinar Series provides an opportunity for students, alums, and faculty to engage in rich and meaningful conversation.  These events will not be recorded.  Please note the Zoom details for the April 22nd webinar:

Faculty in Conversation: Clinical Impacts of the COVID Crisis

Date and Time: April 22, 2021 from 6:00-8:00pm PT
Link: https://zoom.us/j/93423987512?pwd=aTkyVVJTTDJJOVBDdXhSb2c4YXd2dz09

Meeting ID: 934 2398 7512
Passcode: 508272


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