Podcast Series: Amate Institute Boulder

Gina Thorne: Hi everyone, welcome to the Harmony Foundation podcast series and I’m pleased today to be joined with Eva Malanowski, a clinical psychologist with the Amate Institute in Boulder. Welcome.

Dr. Malanowski: Thank you so much and I’m happy to be here, Gina.

Gina Thorne: We are too. We’re really interested in hearing more about the Amate Institute, but before we do that let’s talk a little bit about your background and why and how did you get into the field and doing what you do.

Dr. Malanowski: Okay, sure, I’d be glad to do that. I’m a clinical psychologist, I have over 18 years of experience, much of it has been in helping people recover from trauma. I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, and growing up here I saw so much substance abuse going on. I remember going to a party for a friend of mine to go to rehab, it was a going away to rehab party and we were both at the age of 13, and of course it was a drinking party.

Gina Thorne: That’s interesting, I haven’t heard of one of those. I guess that’s Boulder.

Dr. Malanowski: I know, it’s Boulder. So I have seen alcohol so often used by people suffering from unresolved trauma, unresolved abuse that happened, or traumatic events that they went through, PTSD, war situations, I’ve worked with a lot of veterans. I just knew that this needed to be part of my work, I needed to address this because it’s such a prevalent issue. A lot of the work I’ve done is inpatient work in inpatient hospitals, PTSD units.

Dr. Malanowski: I did work as the Director of the Aspen Counseling Center and I oversaw the IOP program there. I’ve also worked in the prison system where I worked with a lot of men who had sexual and pornography addictions, and they would often use alcohol to deal with the shame and guilt that they felt from what they were doing and why they were there. I have a lot of experience working with both trauma as well as co-occurring mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse.

Gina Thorne: It’s interesting because it sounds like you’ve really covered the full spectrum in working with all populations. It sounds to me like this issue of trauma is not unique to one unique population that it really does go hand in hand for just about anybody that’s struggling with addiction.

Dr. Malanowski: Yes. I would say that’s true. I think 60% of adults at least have had some kind of significant trauma in their life that they’re dealing with. It’s not just having a trauma, it’s what kind of support a person had when they went through the traumatic event. So for one person, and they may have had a very supportive adult in their life that provided them with that love and security that they needed to get through the trauma, somebody else may not have had that. It really depends on not just what happened but the surrounding support that the person had.

Gina Thorne: And the coping skills that they may have whether it’s very small or quite big really does have an impact on how they respond.
Dr. Malanowski: Yes, very true.

Gina Thorne: You launched the Amate Institute Boulder and this was born from the work with Susan Horton.

Dr. Malanowski: Correct, yes.

Gina Thorne: I know you and I spoke about Susan Horton at one point. Trained in, they call the Amate Growth model. Can you describe for listeners what this means as it relates to emotional maturity?

Dr. Malanowski: Yes, I’d be happy to. The Amate Growth Work method is based on the idea that we get stuck in our emotional development due to traumatic situations. Again, where we didn’t have that love and security we needed, some kind of supportive environment to get through that trauma. What happens is the person stops feeling safe enough to go out there and continue to take the risks that are necessary for them to continue to grow, and they kind of retreat.

Dr. Malanowski: If you imagine like a snail in a shell, like they start building a shell around themselves and they retreat into that shell and start basically hiding from the world. So when they’re not going out there and taking those emotional risks, they are no longer growing. Depending on at what point that trauma happened, the stoppage happened, that would be the emotional maturity age that they would be stuck at. That might be the age of six or it might be the age of 13, and then that person continues to try to navigate their life.

Dr. Malanowski: They’re continuing to grow up mentally and physically, but they’re trying to navigate their life from the perspective of an emotional six-year-old or an emotional 13-year-old, and you can see how that doesn’t work so well. As they continue to grow, because they experienced more trauma and more hurt, their shell continues to grow and get harder and harder. The emotional dysfunction comes more apparent the older they get. It might be cute and funny at the age of 20, at the age of 40 it’s-

Gina Thorne: Not so much.

Dr. Malanowski: … not so much.

Gina Thorne: How does that play a part in what you do with treatment or with therapy with folks around Amate? You’ve created sort of this understanding that you’ve got this almost arrested emotional development that happens due to some sort of trauma-based experience. What’s the work that you do to kind of help move them to that level of emotional maturity?

Dr. Malanowski: The process of Amate Growth Work is a three phase program. In the first phase that’s really that part where we helped the emotional self grow up, and it’s a process called inner work where we really get through the subconscious blocks and go to the depth of the, the inner … Can I start over? Sorry.

Gina Thorne: Yes. When you’re talking about the process of your Amate work with clients that have had this sort of arrested development emotionally, what is it that you’re doing with clients to help them move past that?

Dr. Malanowski: In the first phase of Amate Growth Work we’re doing a process called Inner Work. Inner Work is the process of actually helping that inner self, an inner child grow up and it’s a very systematic process, so step-by-step we helped the inner child be able to reconnect. We reconnect with the inner child and we rework those traumatic situations as they come up, so the person actually naturally has the ability to heal themselves.

Dr. Malanowski: I’m more of a catalyst for the work so I’m not doing the work for them. I’m a facilitator, and a catalyst and I help them along with it. We stop phase one of the work when the person actually becomes emotionally the same age as they are biologically. That’s the end of phase one and then we move into the phase two where they’re trying out now their grown up self to go out and take those emotional risks that they really didn’t do before because they had been stuck and they had been living in that shell.

Dr. Malanowski: Now they’re going out into the world trying things out while they continue to have the support of myself in figuring out how to navigate these now adult situations that they hadn’t learned before.

Gina Thorne: It sounds very appropriate that you create this sort of one and two process because once they get to that point where they’re now emotionally at their biological age, it can be scary. I can imagine having them now move into the world at this age that they haven’t really lived out for such a long time.

Dr. Malanowski: Exactly, really that’s just the beginning. Once they’re out there the work really never ends. Then we do have the third phase which is the aftercare, so this is after they’ve gone through some experiences and actually have reached some challenges where they even reach a state of emotional overwhelm, and I teach them a process of complete surrender. They’re also learning how to connect with their inner guidance, so it’s a very spiritually based approach.

Gina Thorne: That’s one thing about you that I’ve really come to enjoy is that you’ve got a very deep sense of spirituality that you incorporate into your practice which is great. I’m gonna skip around a little bit but playing off the idea of the word harmony. What do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Dr. Malanowski: To me, harmony is about balance, and it’s really living a life of balance and peace. I think that happens when you reach emotional maturity, and you’re really listening to that inner guidance that I mentioned. No matter how challenging what the inner guidance leads you to do, you are able to step into that and do it. I think living a life of harmony is also about being in harmony with others around you and your world, and so it’s not just for yourself, but when you’re living an emotionally mature life, you’re thinking about others and you’re thinking about what is my purpose here, and how am I impacting this planet?

Dr. Malanowski: This is what I love about harmony, your center here it’s just in such a beautiful place. I always think of harmony as also harmony with nature, and this place just has such good energy and a wonderful connection to nature. I think when you come up here you just get this wonderful sense of clarity, and the clouds kind of move away and you really start to see, okay, what is my purpose here? Why am I here? What am I really meant to do with my life?

Gina Thorne: Thank you for that, that’s a great response. If someone were listening today and they wanted to access services at the Amate Boulder Institute, how could they get in touch with you?

Dr. Malanowski: They can call me directly at 303-242-7824 and I’d be happy to set up a free consultation with them either by phone or in person.

Gina Thorne: Well, thank you Eva for taking the time to visit us today, it was good to talk with you.

Dr. Malanowski: Thank you so much and I’m happy to be here.

Visit www.amateinstitute.com for more information.