Today we’d like to introduce you to David Marsten and Laurie Markham.
Miracle Mile Community Practice (MMCP) began with a goal of providing affordable counseling to individuals, couples, and families, and intensive training and supervision in narrative therapy to Masters level students in Psychology. After 18 years in the community we are still going strong with a team of 12 interns and trainees providing psychotherapy services to the local community. Our co-directors, David Marsten and Laurie Markham, are internationally recognized teachers. With the recent publication of their book, Narrative Therapy in Wonderland, their teaching calendar has filled up.
In 2017, in addition to local requests, they were invited to present in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Barcelona, Trondheim, Copenhagen, and Mumbai. They return home from each journey enriched, with an increased awareness of the diversity of life and family life.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We started out modestly, in 1998, our inaugural year, with a staff of one. Given that we have never sought out funding from outside sources, and instead relied on client fees alone to sustain us, it was not easy to cover expenses early on. With a commitment to providing affordable counseling, many clients paid as little as $25 a session. It took time to build our reputation and grow our staff of volunteer counselors and reach a break-even point.
Miracle Mile Community Practice – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We are set apart by our interest in narrative therapy. Unlike approaches that home in on problem stories alone, narrative keeps an eye out for hints of counterstories–clues that would lead to rich understandings of people’s lives. Many traditional approaches treat people for their deficits, believing it is the professional’s job to deliver tools and teach skills from an expert stance. Such expert traditions often include such practices as modeling, psycho-education, assessment, and diagnosis… Narrative avoids all these conventional practices, believing instead, that if we listen for it, we are bound to catch wind of people’s own virtues and talents for living. Narrative also keeps a wary eye out for the grand narratives we all internalize (e.g., it’s important to forgive, to learn to trust, to let go and move on, to get your anger out, to love yourself before you can love another, to establish boundaries, to assert yourself, to individuate, to maximize your potential, etc.). There is more to be had from life beyond these one-size-fits-all prescriptions. Narrative is more creative than prescriptive and approaches therapeutic practice as art rather than (social) science.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Undoubtedly, it is the establishment and growth of MMCP and the knowledge that we are providing a community service and making therapy accessible to people who might not otherwise be able to afford it. The publication and reception of our book is a close second.
- Therapy is offered on a sliding scale basis. Our full fee per hour is $90 per session. We slide down from there with flexibility based on household income and taking into consideration financial pressures people are dealing with. Every effort is made to arrive at a comfortable fee.
- Address: Main office: 7461 Beverly Blvd., #405 Los Angeles, CA 90036
Second office: 512 Main Street, El Segundo, CA 90245
- Website: www.mmcpla.org
- Phone: 323-939-6355
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com