During the first year of developing our ideas for the Limen Group, Stacey, Anne and Liz met with over 40 people who we thought might be interested in Limen, want to participate, and/or have ideas to share with us about how to make the project as effective as possible. This was such a fascinating array of people and meetings that we have decided to make a column out of them. In subsequent blogposts we will offer a description of some of our meetings with these individuals, who they are, what they contributed to the development of the project, and how we might want to work with them in the future.
Marsha Botzer, MA (meetings with Stacey, January 15, 2008 and April 7, 2008)
The very first meeting I had, when this idea was just a spark in my head, was with Marsha Botzer. Marsha is a transgender activist, consultant, and speaker who has led and/or been a part of numerous local and national LGBT rights organizations. She founded Ingersoll Gender Center here in Seattle, a meeting and resource center for transgender individuals, as well as WTAP, an organization supporting transgender legal rights. She has been on the board of Equal Rights Washington, The Pride Foundation, and the National LGBT Task Force. She also co-chaired “Obama Pride,” the LGBT branch of Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign.
During our first meeting I told Marsha about my nascent ideas which at that point consisted primarily of integrating political activism/advocacy with psychology. We discussed ways that therapists could get involved in political activism, including testifying in Olympia on relevant legislation, providing clinical and empirical materials to legislators, and organizing grassroots efforts to have other mental health providers call their legislators when relevant bills were being considered. Although I did not have very specific ideas to discuss at this point, her enthusiasm for the overall concept was the first of many positive responses that seemed to provide a confirmatory, “you are going in the right direction with this” kind of feeling. Marsha has been involved in activism for many years, and she knows well the support, determination, and stamina that are required; she seemed to feel that providing this for mental health professionals in an organized way was a good idea.
During our second meeting in April, my ideas were somewhat more formulated. I had expanded my thinking to include integrating political activism into psychotherapy, and had begun to look at Liberation Psychology and the work of a few psychologists around the nation who were beginning to do so. I was still very much focused on LGBT rights, although this would change shortly. At our second meeting Marsha took me to meet Josh Friedes, Advocacy Director for Equal Rights Washington. He too was very enthusiastic about the Limen project, and offered several additional ways (writing op-eds and letters to the editor, asking clients or colleagues to tell their story regarding gay marriage rights using ERW’s on-line story telling tool and/or by testifying in Olympia) that both clients and therapists could get involved.
Marsha’s other profoundly significant contribution to our process was that she suggested having a “mini-retreat” once a core group of interested people was formed. As you all know we had our first retreat in February, and are planning our second and third in May and June. Thank you, Marsha, for this fabulous idea as well as for all of your tremendous support, enthusiasm and wisdom as we have developed this project!