Amanda Martinez (Intern Therapist)

Amanda Martinez (she/her/hers) is an intern at The Center for Growth from January 16th, 2024 to May 2025. She is currently enrolled in Temple University’s Master of Social Work program. Amanda is dedicated to promoting social justice and uplifting the underserved. At The Center for Growth, Amanda looks forward to joining clients on a collaborative journey that promotes safety, self-love, and wellbeing. Amanda takes special interest in trauma therapy, nature therapy, and therapy geared towards children and teens.

Early Life and Background:

Amanda was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey and lived in the South Jersey area until she was twelve years old. She moved to Puerto Rico where she lived on and off until 2011, when she relocated to Philadelphia. Amanda’s experience living on the island influenced her love of nature, culture, and fueled her desire to help others in need. Witnessing social injustices and disparities, coupled with her own experience as a second-generation Puerto Rican American, sparked her interest in identity, intersectionality, and systemic oppression. Inspired by her Grandmother, who was actively involved in community service, Amanda developed a deep sense of empathy and a desire to positively affect change. She believes no one is an outside observer of nature and understands that our environment and the way we react to it deeply informs how we live.

Amanda currently resides in Philadelphia with her daughter, partner, and cat. When she’s not typing feverishly at her computer she is playing with her daughter, walking in the woods, listening to music, or searching for treasure at the thrift store.

Education and Professional Development:

Amanda graduated magna cum laude from The Community College of Philadelphia’s Liberal Arts Social/Behavioral Science program. She then transferred to Temple where she would complete her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, where she immersed herself in courses that explored the interplay between poverty, racism, and social inequality. Amanda felt strongly compelled to deepen her understanding of mental health and its intersection with social justice. With that, she began pursuing her Master of Social Work degree at Temple during the Fall of 2021 with a focus on trauma informed therapy.

During her academic career, Amanda interned as a flower farmer and was employed at a local flower shop. She regards this time as integral to her journey towards social work as she experienced the psychological, cognitive, and affective benefits firsthand. Finally, Amanda has served as a childcare provider for over ten years, working with infants to children aged nine. She regards children with the utmost care and believes in the importance of creating strong attachments during her role as a caretaker.

Therapeutic and Theoretical Approaches

Nature Based Therapy

Amanda believes that individuals are increasingly seeking solace and healing. One way to do that is by harnessing the healing power of the outdoors. Amanda believes that even when we are not outside, we can invoke the tranquility and beauty of nature. This can be done using mindful techniques such as visualization to help us connect with the natural world around us. Amanda’s time as a flower farmer and florist enforced the benefits of working with the Earth, which has been shown to have numerous therapeutic benefits such as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, improving cognitive function, and fostering a sense of accomplishment. Amanda weaves this knowledge into traditional therapy by providing individuals with the information they need to get out there and establish a tangible connection to the cycle of life and growth. By using nature-related metaphors and activities within the therapy room, Amanda hopes to help clients recognize the interconnectedness between individuals and the natural world, emphasizing the importance of nurturing that relationship for holistic well-being.

Trauma Informed Therapy

Amanda holds immense value in the stories and experiences of marginalized folks. Trauma-informed care is an essential approach that acknowledges and addresses the unique experiences and needs of individuals who have experienced trauma within the context of systemic racism, discrimination, and historical trauma. Amanda uses trauma informed therapy to recognize and respect the cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences of those who identify as Black, Native, or other people of color. She understands the impact that systemic racism and discrimination can have on wellbeing while recognizing her own privilege within these systems; Amanda continuously educates herself and engages in self-reflection to identify and challenge her own biases. Amanda believes that trauma informed care can be used to create a safe and inclusive environment where individuals feel respected, heard, and validated. Amanda aims to help empower individuals during the decision-making process of their lives by honoring their autonomy. Amanda believes trauma informed therapy, in collaboration with her clients, can help them recognize their strengths, resilience, and ability to heal.

Spirituality Based Therapy

Amanda believes one’s spirituality can play a significant role in mental health, as spirituality can help provide individuals with a sense of meaning and purpose. For those interested in exploring what this can look like, Amanda offers a safe, nonjudgemental place to help the individual make sense of their experiences. Amanda understands that spiritual beliefs and practices can serve as a source of comfort, hope, and resilience during challenging times. They can provide individuals with a sense of strength and support. Newfound strength and support builds the confidence a client needs during difficult times. For those who desire to connect to something larger than themselves (such as a higher power, nature, or community), exploring spirituality can serve as an insightful, effective approach. This sense of connection can provide individuals with a support system and a sense of belonging. By exploring and aligning therapy goals with one's spiritual values, Amanda hopes to help clients experience a sense of congruence and integrity in areas of their lives they feel lacked or lacked harmony. Additionally, Amanda believes in the power of mindfulness. These practices can be helpful in therapy to cultivate present-moment awareness, reduce stress, enhance self-compassion, and promote overall well-being.

Amanda is dedicated to respecting an individual's beliefs and values while maintaining an open and nonjudgmental approach. Amanda actively explores her own biases and limitations surrounding spirituality to provide a safe and inclusive space for clients to explore and integrate their spiritual beliefs into their therapeutic journey.

Critical Race Theory

Critical race theory (CRT) helps to better understand how race intersects with social, political, and economic structures to perpetuate systemic racism and inequality. Amanda believes CRT can serve as a useful tool when applied to therapy, as it allows therapist and client to observe the way power and privilege influence the experiences and outcomes of marginalized populations. By including an intersectional lens that recognizes how race intersects with other social identities, such as gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, Amanda works towards understanding a client's unique experience. This experience can be shaped by the complex interplay of various identities within systems of oppression. Addressing the impact of systemic racism on an individual’s health, while simultaneously centering marginalized voices, helps create an inclusive space where clients can feel empowered. When a client feels empowered, they share their experiences and concerns without judgement. Incorporating CRT into therapy proves a powerful method Amanda uses to help clients empower themselves. It also proves effective while challenging systemic racism within the therapeutic context and beyond.

Cognitive Development Theory

Working with children has given Amanda an empathetic approach to the unique needs of a child. Largely informed by her work over the last decade, and with her own experience as a new mom, Amanda employs cognitive development therapy when working with adolescents and children. By seeing the world through the eyes of a child, Amanda can correlate behaviors and actions by considering the world through a child’s point of view. By meeting a child where they are, instead of imposing the expectations that adult may have as to where they might be, Amanda is able to better understand how the child perceives and reacts to the world around them. Amanda works with children in their pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal operational cognitive development stages to help their caretakers understand behaviors that they may not initially understand. For example, caretakers attending therapy sessions may learn how to use modeling techniques to help assist children in learning new behaviors. These modeling techniques, when working with children, help client parents and caretakers who are struggling to understand their children (or who simply want to know how to better relate to their little ones) do so in a way that is effective and meaningful.

Attachment Theory

Amanda uses attachment theory to better understand and address emotional and behavioral disturbances in children (and adults). In regard to children specifically, it can allow her to explore a child's early relationships and attachments; by examining how these early bonds may influence current behaviors, Amanda gains insight into her client's relational dynamics. She believes this can help foster secure and healthy attachments and heal old ones. Through a combination of play therapy, communication exercises, and family involvement, Amanda works to strengthen attachment bonds, supporting the child's emotional well-being and development alongside their parents and caretakers.

Amanda Martinez (Intern Therapist)’s Latest TIPs:

Caring for the Caretaker
Caring for the Caretaker image

Caring for the Caretaker: While On the Job: Nanny Edition

We all know caring for the caretaker, or self-care for those in caretaking positions, can feel daunting …