To get a sense of who I am and my experience, I’d like to share with you some of my passions, as well as important aspects of my background:
I love social justice
I am committed to supporting marginalized communities and passionate about providing a safe therapeutic space for those in the LGBTQ and kink communities. Everyone deserves the opportunity to heal from their past as well as gain the empowerment to reach their full potential. As a social worker and psychotherapist, it has been a privilege to serve. One of my proudest moments was receiving the “Ally of the Year” award in 2018 from the Ladies and Gents of the Blue Ridge – Transgender Alliance.
I love the art and science of relationship-building
Besides individuals, I serve couples and people in multi-partner relationships. Each member of any relationship deserves to have their needs honored. Unfortunately we never learn in school the ingredients of successful partnering. Instead, the bulk of our knowledge comes from what we experienced with our parents (plus television and movies). When we enter into an intimate relationship (whether with one other person or multiple partners), we have the chance to either repeat destructive patterns from our past or experience incredible personal growth. These can be difficult waters to navigate, especially if we didn’t have positive relationship role models growing up. I enjoy helping people avoid the common pitfalls that can sink a partnership so that they can focus on what’s really important: traveling the road of life with another.
I love public speaking
I’ve been giving talks and offering workshops since 1997 and once I started I never looked back. Whether it’s a twenty minute presentation or a 3 day retreat at a yoga ashram, I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to best connect with an audience. I’ve spoken at events and conferences in such far-flung places as Thailand, Australia and New Zealand as well across the United states. Based on a presentation I gave in Floyd, Virginia I was invited to join the board of the Health Planning Region III Training Institute, which organizes a yearly mental health symposium at which I have now presented four times.
I love psychology and coaching
I’m licensed as a clinical social worker in Virginia and have been working as a psychotherapist and life coach since 2005. I am fascinated by the science of change and human potential. What can we do in order to become the best possible versions of ourselves? I also have spent a great deal of time assisting people in their recovery from depression, anxiety and trauma. In addition, I have been privileged to serve the transgender community of southwest Virginia as the area’s only dedicated gender therapist for almost fifteen years.
I love Tarot
For the past fifteen years I have been enraptured by these 78 cards. Their imagery and symbolism are profound; each card is a storehouse of wisdom that contains answers to life’s questions. A person could spend their entire life studying these cards, that is how rich they are. I feel privileged to be able to use the tarot as a therapeutic tool, as it typically cuts straight to the heart of the matter to give my clients the information they need to know in order to move forward in their lives.
I love designing and facilitating groups and workshops
For two and a half years I was the Director of Clinical Education at a large private mental health agency in Roanoke. During that time I designed and facilitated a large number of trainings and psychoeducational groups for both clinicians and clients. More recently, I supervised group leaders in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, as well as led groups of my own. These were my toughest crowds – people convicted of a DUI who were then court-ordered to attend 90 minute treatment groups that lasted for either 10 or 18 weeks. They were NOT happy to be there. But I loved the challenge of creating rapport with group members and offering a experience that was meaningful (rather than a waste of everyone’s time). Over the course of 3 years these turned out to be some of the most satisfying groups I have ever led.
At Virginia Western Community College I teach a yearly class called “Group Process” to future social workers. I’ve been doing that since 2011 and it’s one of my favorite courses.
I love learning
After majoring in Classical Studies as an undergraduate at Indiana University I ended up teaching Latin at the University of Hawaii for two years. Paradise, and boy do I miss it, is where I completed two Master’s Degrees (European Languages and Literatures in 1994 and Anthropology in 1997). After a move to Roanoke, Virginia in 2001 I went back to school and received my Master’s in Social Work in 2004.
Always learning something new keeps me young – my current 5 year project is achieving fluency in Spanish (Goal: To offer mental health workshops to my local Latino community)
I love teaching
I’ve been in the classroom since 1992, starting as a university instructor in Latin. Then I moved into teaching English as a second language, and I’ve had the opportunity to do so in a number of exotic locations including Japan (1 year), Thailand (2 years), Australia (6 months), and Hawaii (2 years).
Since 2001 I’ve been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses as an adjunct professor at Hollins University in Roanoke in Gender & Women’s Studies and Sociology.
And since 2010 I have been teaching mental health and psychology courses at Virginia Western Community College, also as a part-time professor.
I love writing
I am the author of several books, including Male Bodies, Women’s Souls: Personal Narratives of Thailand’s Transgendered Youth (Co-authored with LeeRay Costa, 2007); The Tarot Activity Book: A Collection of Creative and Therapeutic Ideas for the Cards (2013; also available in Spanish); Everyone Has a Story: Using the Hero’s Journey and Narrative Therapy to Reframe the Struggle of Mental Illness (2015); and Journaling the Tarot: A Little Book of Big Questions (2018).
In addition, I’m proud to have had my scholarly work about gender in Thailand and Hawai’i published in various peer-reviewed academic journals.
In the end, my mission is twofold:
To learn new things and share those things with others.
To facilitate healing and personal growth.
That’s why I do what I do.
Andymatzner@gmail.com / 540-819-0429