Teresa Mateus, LCSW, E-RYT 200 is an author, speaker, trauma therapist, professor and the Executive Director and co-founder of The Mystic Soul Project. She has served as a trauma psychotherapist/traumatologist for more than a decade of her career and recently co-created a program for addressing trauma within social movements called TRACC4movements.. She is a graduate of NYU School of Clinical Social Work, Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training, and the Living School at the Center for Action & Contemplation.
Teresa is the author of Going Naked: Camino de Santiago & Life as Pilgrimage, Mending Broken: A Personal Journey Through the Stages of Trauma & Recovery, Sacred Wounds: A Path to Healing From Spiritual Trauma. She has also contributed to a number of collected works, articles, print and podcast interviews, and presentations at various conferences in her areas of expertise at the intersections of trauma/healing, spirituality/mysticism, and action/justice-seeking.
She has two current book projects in progress: one a nonfiction book on trauma in the current social context/social movements, the other a novel (working title) A Brown Girl Becoming.
She lives in Chicago with her two dogs - Gaia and Faith.
AN INFORMAL HELLO...
I always knew I would tell stories. I always knew I would write. Before I knew anything else, and before I even know how the carve out the words onto paper I would tell stories in my head, and when I could write I began writing short novels and plays at the ages of 6, 7, and 8 years of age. There came a point, after I had completed an internship at Avalon Publishing Group in Chelsea (NYC) and I was contemplating graduate school where I had to decide what I would pursue as my primary "profession." What I realized was no matter what I did I would always be a writer, and so I decided I wanted to engage a graduate degree that would let me help trauma survivors, like myself, to heal from the PTSD that I had to navigate in the dark -- because the resources I needed weren't readily available as therapeutic interventions, at the time. So, I did both - and a few years after graduate school the first book I would write would be the hybrid of both passions -- I would tell the story of my (sexual) trauma, PTSD and healing (in Mending Broken) as a way of helping others through their own shadowy places of suffering.
Since then my work and my passion has been to find the spaces of trauma and find the ways we heal - engaging with new ways each day that are both new and ancient, deeply rooted in a spiritual centering and grounding. This led to my work on Sacred Wounds to explore the ways in which the places that should center us can do us the greatest harm. It also led further and deeper into myself to explore the ways in which I have felt locked in or stagnated - a brown girl living much of my life in a white world - which led to my own inner and outer exploration of living in cultural and identity borderlands and begin to deepen my questions of what it means to center and reclaim my own POC (person of color) center in healing, in spirituality and in action in the world. This inner engagement led to outer conversations with others and finding fellow collaborators with which to found and grow the nonprofit that is The Mystic Soul Project, for which I am both co-founder and serve as Executive Director. I adjunct as a professor of Social Work in a BSW program at St.Augustine College in the Chicagoland area which serves Latinx students as the only bilingual college in the Midwest and I have a part-time psychotherapy practice where I work with individuals, couples and families in a variety of trauma-related issues at Womencare Counseling & Training Center.
Each day I continue to dig deeper, search farther, and explore my inner world and the outer life I engage in to understand greater my own spiritual and healing journey, and in that the way to support others on their own journey of healing and wholeness. For now I do that from the Southside of Chicago in my one-bedroom apartment that have come to call my "hermitage in the city" -- a little refuge from the noise of life, and noise of the world, where I can snuggle dogs as a practice of self-care as liberation (a part of our Rule of Life at The Mystic Soul Project).
DEGREES & CERTIFICATIONS
B.A in English Literature with a Minor in Women's Studies (and a focus in Creative Nonfiction Writing), Dec 2006
Masters in Clinical Social Work, New York University, September 2007
Acceptance to The New School's MFA in Creative Nonfiction (although forwent attendance to start work at Dept. of VA with PTSD treatment), August 2007
Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Training, Clinician Focus, Trauma Center, Winter 2008
200 Hr Yoga Teacher Training, Yoga & Inner Peace, Sivananda Tradition, March 2009
Yoga for Vets, Certification, Spring 2010
Traumatic Incident Resolution, TRI Center, Miami, Winter 2011
3-Yrs+ of Clinical Hours in tandem with an Equine Specialist in Equine Facilitated Pyschotherapy, 2011-2015
Outstanding Recent Alumna Award, NYU, 2008 - for Yoga & Creative Arts/Multimedia Programming for Trauma with Combat Veterans and Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma
Dept of VA, Vet Center Services, Award for Yoga, Equine and Creative Arts programming with Combat Vets and Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma, 2013
Rabbi Schalmann Interfaith Leadership Award, Fall 2016
8+ years of experience as a trauma therapist with the Department of Veterans Affairs working with Combat Veterans and Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (in NJ & Florida)
co-founder and program creator of a trauma/addiction intensive outpatient program integrating creative arts, mind/body practices and Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP)
4 years as an Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy provider (EFP)
Experience working with refugees, survivors of torture, co-occuring issues of addiction, eating disorders and trauma/PTSD, combat veterans, activists and community organizers, People of Color-centered care (individuals and communities), international and interracial adoptees, survivors of religious trauma & cults
Experience working with creative and expressive arts (art, writing, photography etc) for healing, embodied care for healing (yoga and movement), mindful and meditative practices for healing, animal-based therapies for healing, intergenerational reclamation and ritual for healing
Crisis Triage provided for immediate post-deployment service members, at Standing Rock for water protectors, in Charlottesville for local organizers immediately post August 12, 2017.
Continued consultation provided for (mental health) clinical service providers and organizations, spiritual and religious organizations, activist and community organizers, spiritual and religious abuse survivors and communities, POC communities
Creation of unique programming for trauma-conscious care, embodied mental health, equine facilitated psychotherapy, trauma-conscious yoga, and more.
Co-creation of a trauma care for social movements and activists training curriculum called TRACC4Movements (trauma response & crisis care for movements).