Matthew Spector, MA, AMFT
Get to know me: I am a gay male therapist and fellow human being committed to helping others recognize their own strength. Queer-affirmative, Liberation-minded, and Unlearning-committed, I remind myself every day of how privileged I am to be in a position where “helping others better understand and have compassion for their own experience” is in the job description.
What does affirmative psychotherapy mean to me?
To me, affirmative psychotherapy is a means to access healing by way of confronting the oppressive environment we queer folx grew up in and continue to exist within. Being queer-affirmative means to critically understand the impact growing up and living as a queer person in a heteronormative world has on one’s self-perception and ways of being. I strive to bring that understanding into the therapeutic work with queer folx and emphasize the fact that a person’s queerness—while usually a part of their identity that’s been shamed and devalued—is actually part of what makes them singular, strong, and whole.
Importantly, being truly queer-affirmative requires strong self-understanding on part of the clinician. Therapists—even those of us who identity as queer—have a duty to uncover and deconstruct how growing up in a heterosexist society has impacted our own frame of reference, biases, prejudices, and ways of being. To be “affirmative,” we must be doing the work ourselves before we can help support our clients through their own processes.
An affirmative stance is ACTIVE rather than passive, EMPOWERING rather than merely accepting, and CURIOUS rather than all-knowing. My hope is to help queer folx explore and express their uniquely beautiful identities.
What populations do I work with? What is my level of expertise (friendly, knowledgeable, expert) for each of the populations I work with?
I believe that psychology’s traditional “individualist” approach to mental health–rooted in the unequal power dynamic of the medical model where “person in need” seeks help from “expert provider”–is another white supremacist mechanism designed to maintain dominance over the most oppressed bodies in our society, ones which are Black, Brown, Indigenous, queer, and femme-identified. Because of this, I do not label myself as an “expert.”
With that said, as a therapist, I consider issues regarding identity development, sexuality, and oppression to be areas of focus. I often work with the following populations:
- Individuals of all ages who identify across the LGBTQIA+ continuum
- Adolescents and young adults who identify as transgender, gender-nonconforming, and non-binary
- Individuals struggling with toxic shame & low self-worth, and with perfectionistic tendencies
- Individuals living with HIV
- Individuals dealing with past and current traumatic experiences
- Individuals looking to dismantle oppressive social forces that have harmed them based on one or multiple parts of their identities
- Individuals dealing with burnout, grief, anxiety, and depression
What is my approach to healing?
My approach, first and foremost, is to always aim to provide an unconditionally accepting, empathetic space to explore what it is that may be causing distress. This welcoming and nonjudgmental environment is the cornerstone of my work.
I believe therapy is a way to heal. I view it as a collaborative effort between client and therapist, an intricate dance between supporting and confronting the world as one experiences it. It is an invitation to reflect, consider, and possibly move away from ways of being that are no longer in one’s best interest, and instead discover a new liberating path forward. It also creates the potential to begin to see oneself in a more positive light, to develop self-compassion and empathy toward one’s entire self. Being part of a consistent therapeutic practice, short- or long term, can help deepen one’s relationship to oneself and provide empowerment to feel better equipped to engage with life’s challenges as they arise.
I consider myself to be a Liberation-minded psychotherapist. What this means is that I strive to explore the ways in which we absorb oppression, and uncover how that oppression affects our self-concept and existence in the world. At times, I task myself with supporting and encouraging my clients to actively engage in transforming the social oppression in which we are all immersed, helping them cultivate the liberatory power they hold inside. I believe in the importance of exploring, in order to do this, how we are affected by the white supremacist, heteronormative, patriarchal, capitalist society in which we live.
What issues am I most skilled at addressing as a mental health professional?
Mental health concerns related to the oppressive effects of existing in a binary and heteronormative society such as: low self-worth, toxic shame, trauma-related symptoms, self-defeating thoughts, self-doubt, and people-pleasing/perfectionistic thinking and behaviors.
EDUCATION & LICENSE
Education: Master of Arts, Clinical Psychology
Years in Practice: 1.5
School: Antioch University Los Angeles
Year Graduated: 2020
License # and State: California Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT) #119644
Training Experience: LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Psychology Specialization, Antioch University Los Angeles Master’s in Clinical Psychology program
Fee Range: My standard fee is $120 for a 50-minute session. I also offer sliding scale rates based on financial need.
Accepted Payment Methods: Cash, check, credit card
Accepted Insurance Plans: N/A