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Aug 19, 2019

Curt and Katie talk about why mass shootings happen. We look at the complexity of the research and how solely blaming mental illness, doesn’t reflect the research and is stigmatizing. We also talk about how to identify risks and what to do to try to prevent violence.  

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Looking at why Mass Shootings happen
  • Defining Mass Shooting
  • The harm that blaming mass shootings on mental illness can cause – stigma, lack of seeking mental health treatment
  • The limitations and complexity of the research
  • The dehumanization of others and the role that it can play in the violence
  • Attribution Model, low self-esteem, moving out to fringe groups, radicalization
  • Developmental factors including parenting, culture, gender, coercion, history of violence
  • The difficulty with learning from sound bites
  • The role of violent media, video games
  • The importance of differentiating correlation from causation
  • The most important factor: access to guns
  • “Aggrieved Entitlement” leading to seeking revenge in a violent way for a perceived or actual victimization
  • Multi-systemic solutions and what therapists can do to address the situation
  • Compassion, listening, and connection as a way to intervene prior to radicalization
  • Seeing from a different perspective than what is “acceptable” for you, to help to build alliance and open opportunities for challenging violent beliefs
  • Clarifying therapy versus threat assessment
  • Fighting Fascism in the world and in the therapy room


Our Generous Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Center For Discovery.
Center For Discovery provides evidence-based treatment for eating disorders, binge eating disorders, mental health, substance use, and co-occurring conditions nationwide. Discovery offers gender inclusive and gender-specific treatment with separate programming for adolescent and adults. Programs have a high staff to client ratio because individualized attention is critical when it comes to providing effective and efficient treatment. Learn more about these clinical programs at Discovery offers free resources including weekly support groups, a recovery app, free evaluations, and treatment scholarships. Learn more about Discovery's Free Weekly Support Groups, for those struggling and loved ones, at Center For Discovery is a preferred provider and in-network with all major insurance companies.

This is episode is also sponsored by Simplified SEO.

Thank you to our generous sponsor, Simplified SEO Consulting. Do you have a beautiful website that just doesn’t rank very well on Google?  Simplified SEO Consulting can help!  Jessica Tappana, LCSW  and a team of SEO Specialists focus exclusively on helping mental health professionals improve their website rankings on Google so you can get in front of more clients!  Jessica’s team goes in depth to edit your website in a way search engines will respond to, while also encouraging you to maintain your own voice and branding. Simplified SEO Consulting offers both SEO training for motivated practice owners who want to learn to manage their own SEO as well as "done for you" services for therapists who are too busy and are ready to hire someone to invest the time into getting their website ranking. Simplified SEO Consulting is offering a FREE 7-day SEO e-mail series to help you learn the basic components that can help you get your website to the top of search engines!  If you're interested in learning more about search engine optimization, you can head over to to sign up!


Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links.

Tons of articles:

Gun Ownership and Attribution Theory

APA Statement on Shootings at Dayton and El Paso

NAMI Statement on Mass Shootings in Texas and Ohio

APA Report on Gun Violence Prevention

SAMHSA Bulletin on Mass Violence

Reading on Fascism

NYT: What Experts Know About Mass Shootings

Washington Post: Mentall Illness, Video Games, and Gun Violence

Why Mental Illness Can’t Predict Mass Shootings

Serious Mental Illness and Mass Shootings

NAMI – Mental Illness and Gun Reporting Laws

Thanks to James Guay, LMFT for sourcing some articles for us!

Relevant Episodes:

On the APA Guidelines for Boys and Men

Episode with Dr. Joel Schwartz


Connect with us!

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Therapy Reimagined 2019


Our consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour


Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is a Board Member at Large for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, a Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Adjunct Faculty at Pepperdine University, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making "dad jokes" and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant. As a helping professional for two decades, she’s navigated the ups and downs of our unique line of work. She’s run her own solo therapy practice, designed innovative clinical programs, built and managed large, thriving teams of service providers, and consulted hundreds of helping professionals on how to build meaningful AND sustainable practices. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt's youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.


Stay in Touch:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Group



Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano