This article is based on an interview with Adele Brookman by therapist/writer Sheila Koren, LMFT.
Adele Brookman has been advocating and promoting fun, effective forms of networking since before networking was a popular concept in the common vernacular.
When I first met Adele, over 30 years ago, it was at the birthday picnic of a mutual friend wherein she, true to form, reached out and engaged me (new then to SF) in conversation about common interests and values. We’ve been friends and colleagues ever since.
The “Hi!” Tea she organizes and convenes the second Wednesday of each month at noon to 1:30 for about three years now, is in a pleasant Inner Sunset district café appropriately named Mellow Mellow. It is the current manifestation of Adele’s decades long service to our community, bringing therapists and allied professionals together for mutual support, professional enhancement, and as is always the case with Adele, laughter and fun.
Adele sees the monthly “Hi!” Tea (which is actually more of a lunch) as an outgrowth of the Fun Lunches once organized for our local CAMFT chapter members by Sara Alexander on Sacramento Street, and Ami Hartley, also in the Inner Sunset. Adele gives a nod as well to long-time chapter member, Wilma Bass, who encouraged her to move forward with the concept. Adele is pleased to report that “Hi!” Tea ongoingly enjoys great popularity and success.
Near the beginning of Adele’s psychotherapeutic career (she’s been licensed in CA since 1982 and was in the mental health field before that in PA), she specialized in the concept of “caring for the caregiver,” as well as leading many a self-care, self-nurturing and replenishing workshop for women who’d lost their mothers, and people with difficult family relations learning to survive the holidays.
Among Adele’s more widely recognized contributions to the field of anxiety treatment is a quote from her article, “Psychercise: A Replenishing Mind/Body Fitness Program,” which can be found on her website. It has been cited in ‘O’ Magazine, in Leonard Frank’s Webster’s Quotationary and many other publications, inspirational calendars, and websites. It reads: “Use your imagination not to scare yourself to death, but to inspire yourself to life.”
Adele says it’s been validating to learn over time that new discoveries in neuroscience support her long held belief that the “best antidote to stress lies in our connections with others.” That was the impetus for her many groups and workshops, and it was also the catalyst for creating this career-nurturing event, “Hi!” Tea.
Each month attendance varies in size. Sometimes it’s as few as six people, sometimes it’s as many as 20. Adele feels that “each size group you get is wonderful in its own way. When large, you get to make your presence known to a greater number of people, spread the word about what you do, and the ambiance can be lively and energetic. When small, the group has a sweet intimacy that’s lovely and special, with a deeper level of sharing.”
The gatherings follow a structure: Introduction by Adele with instructions on ordering and paying (she encourages people to support the café which has been a great support to the tea—and which has reasonably priced, tasty and healthy fare, including an array of delectable teas we usually share), followed by check-ins, updates and business card and flyer distributions. Everyone has a chance to be heard and to share what we want known about ourselves, our specialities, need for or to rent office space, workshop offerings,etc. There’s a second go-around to give people a chance to say anything they forgot in the first round. After that, it’s free-form shmoozing, or as Adele jokes, “therapists gone wild!”
Adele encourages people to also share things they are grateful for, as gratitude groups are now among her own repertoire of special offerings.
The range of professionals attending varies month to month also, but always complementary: from semi-retired and seasoned therapists to those just out of school, and combined with the occasional MDs, RNs,
Clergy, Acupuncturists, Body Workers, Practice Developers and Outreach Workers from treatment programs and special schools.
Unlike the queens associated with British High Teas, Adele has put a lot of hard work into convening her “Hi!” Tea over the years. She deserves a royal salute for continuing to bring folk together in meaningful, supportive and enjoyable ways, always creative and always fun. I was reminded recently of the value of the teas, when asked by a client for a particular kind of referral. Although I am in a consult group, attend SFCAMFT meetings, and read the Listserv daily, the first thought that came to mind was “Hi!” Tea and of the therapist who’d ongoingly stated with enthusiasm, her love of working with the population I needed a referral for. So the tea provides not just fun connectedness, but can have practice growing benefits as well.
Sheila Koren, LMFT, is a therapist/writer in the Outer Richmond district of SF. Her website is www.sheilakoren.com.