Therapist Spotlight: Amanda Matousek, MSW, LCSW

Amanda is a psychotherapist at Wildflower. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and her Master’s degree at Loyola University Chicago in Social Work. Amanda has extensive training in evidence-based modalities used in treatment of trauma, mood and anxiety disorders, relational conflict, and other challenges. She works with individuals, couples, and families. Read Amanda’s full bio here.

What inspired you to pursue a career as a psychotherapist?

From a young age, I felt compelled to be a safe person for those who felt misunderstood or stigmatized. I am deeply passionate about growing my understanding of people, communities, and groups in order to be empathetic, compassionate, and competent towards the diverse struggles they are faced with. I feel that this stems from my own personal experience of having a brother with mental and physical disabilities. I felt an urge to make sure he was always treated respectfully and fairly by others.

As a psychotherapist, what part of your job is most satisfying?

I find the therapeutic process most rewarding when I am able to guide my clients by helping them build insight into what has left them feeling stuck. It is very exciting when clients have the moment of, “I’ve never thought of it like that before, that makes a lot of sense now!” I feel incredibly fortunate to be a witness to the resiliency of people as they navigate the very difficult parts of life. I enjoy being able to see and celebrate progress with my clients.

How would you describe your therapeutic approach?

I would describe my therapeutic approach as multifaceted and collaborative. I enjoy pulling from different therapeutic modalities to best meet the unique needs of each client. I also find value in providing time to allow clients to openly speak to their experiences and emotions in a non-judgemental and empathetic space, while making room when appropriate for humor and lightheartedness.

Why do you believe that psychotherapy can help?

I believe psychotherapy is a great way for each of us to care for ourselves, no matter how “small” we may perceive our problems to be. It can be a challenge to find places in our world that allow us to just be ourselves and be free to express anything that may be on our minds and in our hearts. Therapy offers this space. When people are able to feel truly understood, it allows for transformative growth. Therapy guides us in learning new ways to handle difficult situations, manage difficult feelings, and ultimately understand ourselves better in order to live life in a way that feels meaningful.

What are some of your specialties and what drew you to them?

The treatment of trauma has become one of my primary areas of focus. I was initially interested in further understanding how traumatic or distressing experiences impact people’s thought processes, behavior, and overall health. I was always curious to understand the root causes for why people do what they do. I wanted to know how to help individuals learn new ways to resolve pain from the past in order to feel more empowered, safe, content, and at peace in the future. This interest of mine led me to begin volunteering in college at a domestic violence and rape crisis shelter for women and children. I went on to work with individuals who struggled with homelessness, eating disorders, and mood and anxiety disorders. I found in many cases, trauma was a factor in the stories I heard. I am diligent about continuing my education in the area of trauma through books and training. I recently began training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR,) an evidence-based method for treating trauma.

What is one thing about psychotherapy you wish everyone knew?

I wish that everyone knew that going to therapy does not mean something is wrong with you or that you are weak. It is okay to ask for help or support despite messages that often tell us otherwise. Additionally, therapy does not have to be something you start on once things get “bad” or worse. Therapy can be a great tool to learn more about yourself, build deeper connections with others, or allow you to better manage difficult situations or emotions.

What is your motto or personal mantra?

One motto I use for myself is, “This is a bad feeling and it will not feel this bad forever.” I like to remind myself that emotions do have a lifespan. Though a situation or experience that is painful will never be seen as better or good, I try to remember that the emotion itself will not feel as intense forever.

What are your favorite self-care activities?

I enjoy taking my dog for long walks and being appreciative of the outdoor views along the way. I also love sitting with a warm cup of tea or taking a hot bath with essential oils such as eucalyptus or peppermint. I find laughter to be another great self care activity whether it is alone with a funny movie or with friends and family.