Amanda found her life’s calling early, somewhat by accident (or one might say, serendipity). At 14, she volunteered at the Easter Seals camp because it was something to do and a chance to spend time in the mountains. She enjoyed it, and that experience led to another opportunity.
“Two summers later, my mom said I needed a job. She knew Maren [Schreiber, special populations coordinator at Evergreen Parks and Rec] from exercise class,” Amanda recalls. “My mother mentioned my earlier experience working with kids with disabilities and asked if there was something I could do at the Rec Center.” Maren hired her and they not only worked together, they became close friends. Amanda enjoyed the work so much, in her 20s she went to work at a residential camp in Iowa.
“Those early experiences made me passionate about working closely with people, and getting to know individuals — and their families — in meaningful ways, beyond their disabilities or how they immediately present in the world,” Amanda says. She went on to receive her Masters degree in transpersonal counseling psychology from Naropa University. She chose this program because of its emphasis on mindfulness and a holistic approach to counseling. “Considering the whole person, which includes a broad range of factors such as spirituality, culture, trauma, etc., helps determine how someone heals,” Amanda explains.
After graduating she worked in community mental health, serving children of all ages and their families. She was trained in play therapy and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, and got broad experience working with many clients facing diverse challenges. She is delighted to bring that experience to private practice, where she continues to work with children and teens, as well as adults.
Amanda uses play therapy to help kids process trauma, depression and difficult life transitions. “In this kind of therapy, the child is in charge and controls the session,” says Amanda. “They bring me into their world. During the game, they will bring up the issue themselves.” From there, she helps them come through it and get back to where they were before the trauma.
Amanda is also excited to return to her roots, working with children with developmental disabilities through another type of play therapy called AutPlay®. AutPlay® can be used for children with any neurological or developmental disability, such as autism, Down syndrome or ADHD. AutPlay® is directed by the therapist and each session is carefully planned to work on a specific skill or need. Parents are also taught skills to help them work with their child and receive help with parenting or school issues.
[Read more on AutPlay® here.]