Amanda Stemen, MS, LCSW                             Creator and Owner of FUNdaMENTALs

                                      Amanda Stemen, MS, LCSW
                            Creator and Owner of FUNdaMENTALs

Hi and welcome to FUNdaMENTALs! As a psychotherapist, coach, and consultant I assist individuals, couples, families, and groups to reconnect with their inner selves and others in order to reach their highest potential.

What I’m Passionate About

Little did I know but FUNdaMENTALs was in the works from the day my parents strapped me to their backs as an infant to go cross-country skiing.  Since then I’ve spent as much of my life as I possibly can in the outdoors and have always felt a sense of peace, grounding, and renewal from nature. In addition to my passion for nature I’ve also been drawn to creative pursuits, physical activity, and play as a whole. Whether it’s board games, surfing, writing, or a myriad of other activities there’s nothing I love more than having a good time in which I also find myself growing as a person.

As I recognized how transformative these activities were for me and others I began to officially study the benefits of green space, play, creativity, and physical activity. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Psychology with minors in Outdoor Recreation and Athletic Coaching from Central Michigan University. I then quite literally became a "Master of Fun" earning a Master of Science in Recreation Administration with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation from California State University Long Beach. And because I love learning so much I also earned a Master of Social Welfare (MSW) from UCLA. While in school I held a number of research and teaching positions that involved examining these ideas from many different points of view. It was during this time that I also became more aware of the concept of mindfulness and incorporated it into my life overall.

My Professional Background

I'm extremely blessed to have been able to combine all of my passions with my professional experience to create FUNdaMENTALs. Prior to becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I worked in the fields of community recreation, education, and non-profit management. I was a teacher (elementary special education and university), counselor at a wilderness program for at-risk youth, researcher, and ran a number of after-school, recreation and sports, tutoring, and mentoring programs. I also have a PACE athletic coaching certification and have coached many different sports, including cross-country, track-and-field, soccer, basketball, flag football, and baseball.

While in graduate school for my MSW I received my clinical training through an internship with Harbor UCLA Medical Center’s distinguished Adult Cognitive Behavior Therapy/Dialectical Behavior Therapy outpatient clinic and wellness program. I then completed an externship with UCLA’s highly respected Counseling and Psychological Services program where I also received some training in sports psychology. Upon graduation with my MSW I completed my clinical hours for licensure through the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health as a clinician for inmates in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, which is the largest mental health facility in the world. I also contracted with different mental health facilities and addiction treatment centers to provide individual and group therapy as a primary and art/creative therapist.

Through these opportunities I gained significant experience working with people experiencing depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, grief and loss, ADHD, psychosis, relational issues, and stress management/quality of life issues. I also became certified in a number of evidence based therapies, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), and Seeking Safety. In addition I received extensive training in co-occurring disorders, motivational interviewing, and crisis management.

Why Work With Me

I truly love what I do and I'm really good at it. I have decades of experience in facilitating healing and growth through activities and the outdoors. Beginning in middle school as a baby-sitter, my skills and abilities have substantially developed over the years, much due to extensive training in recreational therapy. Recreational therapy is the process of using activity-based interventions to address the needs of individuals with illnesses and disabilities to promote mental and physical health, recovery, and well-being. I don't just sell this to others; I often practice what I preach. Some of my favorite health-boosting activities are running marathons, surfing, practicing yoga, hiking mountain tops, camping, playing sports, writing, painting, and overall adventuring. 

I’m easy to talk to and I like to use humor when appropriate. In addition I’m intelligent, open-minded, curious, respectful, and collaborative. I really want to get to know you, hear your story, and work with you to create whatever it is you want to create.

And I really do get it. Even though I haven’t had your exact life experiences I know how you feel because I’ve felt all the same emotions throughout my own life challenges and adventures. I’ve struggled and I’ve succeeded and will continue to do so throughout my life as that’s the human experience. Overall I’m here to support you in finding your own way through life’s adventures.

My approach is also quite different. It can feel unnatural and even scary to sit in an enclosed room telling a stranger your deepest, darkest secrets. Activities allow a more natural way to build a therapeutic relationship. It’s also through unabashed play and creative expression that one can truly explore and come to know all parts of themselves.

As well, the benefits of being in the outdoors, physical activity, and play are well documented. Simply being outdoors literally heals the brain. That’s without doing anything else. Sitting in the grass under a tree will make you feel better.

Often, though, when we’re outdoors we’re engaging in some form of play and physical activity. FUNdaMENTALs takes advantage of these modalities on their own or in combination to promote numerous research-backed benefits: increased physical development and health, emotional development, including releasing emotions from trauma, improved mood, lower stress levels, and increased confidence and self-esteem, brain(cognitive) development, including creativity, independence, decision making, ability to focus, goal setting, flexibility, judgment, and reasoning, and social skill development.

Imagine all this in combination with some solid talk therapy and there isn’t anything you can’t overcome!

Still, the outdoors isn't for you? No problem. I can hang indoors too. I have office space. And I also conduct online sessions.

Who I Can Help

In a nutshell, anyone. As humans we all desire love and fear not being loved, which manifests itself into any number of reasons to seek help from a professional. I believe in a compassionate, holistic, and personal approach to healing and growth, which has been effective in helping people of all demographics accomplish their goals and move forward in life. Really, who couldn’t use a little more sunlight, greenery, movement, play, and empathy in their lives.

That being said this type of therapy tends to attract those who are looking for something outside the box. Individuals in which traditional therapy hasn’t helped them in the ways they’d hoped it would. It’s also extremely helpful for those who are already active, into the outdoors, highly creative, feel like they don’t fit in, have a hard time connecting with themselves and others, struggle with depression and/or anxiety, and have difficulty sitting still, such as those with ADHD.

Also, for those who don't have more serious mental health concerns I offer coaching services, as well as consulting options for businesses, non-profits, and other organizations.