Workshop – West Valley Counseling Center

Talk about it. Se habla español.

Date: October 7-9, 2022

Cost: $1250 - Includes tuition, lodging and all meals starting Friday afternoon through Sunday lunch.

Location: Lazy W Ranch,
San Juan Capistrano, CA

To Register: Print the Application Form or use our Instant Online Form

Application and $500.00 deposit can be brought into the office, shared via email to or mailed to:

West Valley Counseling Center
18226 Ventura Blvd. Suite 202
Tarzana, CA 91356

Please register early as space is limited to 25 Participants

If you have questions about the workshop process, please contact Dr. Sharon Burnett at or call at (818) 609-8703.

Approved by CAMFT for 26 Continuing Education Units


About the workshop:

The Life In Transition Workshop, a three-day residential personal growth workshop, addresses the power of connecting mind-body-spirit through teachings, experiential exercises and by sharing our stories.

Created with a trauma-informed treatment philosophy, this workshop recognizes the need to acknowledge, process and make peace with past traumas in order to move through life’s current challenges, an achievement that is essential to building greater resilience as well as allowing a deeper connection to others.

This workshop is inspired by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's groundbreaking “Life, Death, and Transition” Workshops. Dr. Kübler-Ross, who introduced the concept of the “five stages of grief” and was named one of “The Century’s Greatest Minds” by Time Magazine in 1999, argued that every one of us has “unfinished business” that affects our current life. During her workshops, Dr. Kübler-Ross would help participants come to understand how old patterns of behavior, initially developed for sheer survival, were responsible for present judgments, resentments, stress and exhaustion, and she would facilitate processing of obstructive thoughts and feelings through a therapeutic technique called “Externalization.”

Led by Sharon Burnett, PhD., and additional staff trained under this model. Dr. Burnett was a student of Dr. Kübler-Ross. She is a psychotherapist and has staffed and/or led these workshops for more than 30 years. Dr. Burnett brings a richness of experience and personal stories to the workshop, in addition to her deep passion and commitment to this work.


Workshop Schedule

Friday 9AM – 10AM. Registration & room check-in.

All meals will be provided on-site. The retreat center can accommodate most dietary needs. On the application form you can indicate vegan, vegetarian or other dietary needs.

Workshop begins at 10AM Friday morning and continues until Sunday afternoon at 1:30.


FAQs for the Life in Transition Workshop

Can I arrive earlier or leave later?
Absolutely. Lodging for participants arriving Thursday night is available at the retreat center with prior notice. Please indicate your needs on your application form if you are arriving Thursday evening or leaving later that Sunday afternoon.

Are there options for transportation?
Participants traveling locally will have ample parking at Lazy W Ranch. If you are interested in carpooling from Los Angeles, please detail your inquiry on your application. For those traveling from Los Angeles International Airport, the retreat center is about a 75-minute drive from LAX.

How do I prepare for staying at Lazy W Ranch?
The ranch property in San Juan Capistrano provides a rustic sanctuary with a campus of cabins and meeting spaces surrounded by majestic mountains. Participants are encouraged to bring casual and comfortable clothes for warm days and cool nights. The sleeping accommodations are shared cabins, with a limited number of single rooms available. If you need a single cabin, please note this on your application. Participants will bring their own bed linens and pillows per Covid-19 requirements for the location. For more information on the retreat site, please visit

What type of food is served at the workshop?
Healthy and organic meals are served family style and are prepared fresh in-house on a daily basis by Lily, the chef from Aldersgate that served our workshops in previous years. Typical meals include locally grown and organic fruits, vegetables and meats. Vegetarian and vegan can be prepared by request. Please detail any special food allergies or special dietary needs on your application.

How does “Life in Transition” apply to my growth?
Throughout our lives we go through many natural losses or transitions (i.e., leaving the comfort of home to go off into the world, losing a parent, divorce or change in partnership, changing careers, leaving behind the old to move into the new). Sometimes we experience more traumatic losses, the death of a loved one, sexual or physical assault, betrayal by a parent during childhood, and other traumatic events such as the recent pandemic during our lifetime.

When we are not allowed to or unable to grieve these losses in a healthy way, we become stuck in these (unresolved) feelings. As a result, we have difficulty moving on in our lives in a meaningful and connected way.

What exactly happens during the workshop?
Most of this intensive workshop takes place in a group setting, though there is also ample time to work with our trained staff individually. Within the group, we share stories, and do some teaching, which offers a framework for the weekend, and provides some tools to help work through feelings. Both within the group, and individually, participants are given the opportunity to work through unresolved feelings. We also use small groups and art as one method to identify feelings that we may not be consciously aware of. We use the externalization process to work through deep feelings.

What is the externalization process?
Externalization is the process that we use in the workshop to work through previously unconscious emotions that often block our access to healthy relationships with ourselves and with others. Unresolved feelings can occur when we are not able to express our emotions at the time of the loss or trauma. By creating a safe and supportive space to feel and express (externalize) uncomfortable (internalized) feelings, we are more able to connect with our healthy natural feelings and joy.

How does the group honor confidentiality?
Our workshop works intentionally on building physical and emotional safety for everyone involved. Confidentiality, privacy and boundaries are the basis of that safety. From the beginning of the workshop clearly defined rules are established and discussed throughout the weekend. The group agrees to keep what is shared or witnessed in the upmost of confidence. We ask each participant to honor that commitment to confidentiality and privacy throughout the weekend and when they leave the weekend as well.

Our staff stays onsite and are available throughout the weekend to address any issues that may arise during the weekend.

What happens if I don’t feel comfortable in groups?
Many of us don’t feel comfortable in groups, particularly when we need to be vulnerable or talk about difficult emotions. During this weekend workshop, no one is pressured to share in the group at any time. Though it can be a powerful feeling to express what we have felt and experienced and be “seen” without judgment, it is equally powerful to be a witness to others’ pain and find a connection with our own unresolved feelings and losses.

Would I be able to join the workshop if I feel worried about the feelings that may arise during the weekend?
It is understandable that participants may feel concerned about processing grief and loss.The weekend is designed to support a gradual opening up of feelings at a pace that feels is safe, though perhaps not always “comfortable”. After listening to staff and participants talking about their experiences, participants often  feel more confident about being vulnerable with their emotions.
No one is pushed to feel or experience something that they are truly not comfortable expressing.

Why would I need to be in therapy to benefit from this workshop?
While being in therapy prior to the workshop is strongly recommended, it is not a requirement. If you are currently in therapy, one of our staff would be happy to talk with your therapist before and after the workshop.

Who is supporting the participants at the workshop?
All staff are licensed therapists or other professionals who, in addition to their experience working with trauma survivors, are specifically trained in this process.

West Valley Counseling Center
18226 Ventura Blvd. Suite 202
Tarzana, CA 91356

Phone: 818.609.8703