- Alumni Story
Amalya Lewin (Heilicher ’05) is an outpatient therapist, who for the last two years served LGBTQ+ youth for the St. Paul nonprofit RECLAIM. She deeply values providing accessible care to clients with intersecting marginalized identities and/or patients who have been historically oppressed.
This summer she started at Park Nicollet, where she continues her outpatient therapy with some of the same patients but also new clients. She loves listening to people and forming long-term relationships.
“I’m really passionate about providing care to people who have marginalized identities,” Amalya said. “I want to try to co-create with my clients a safe space where people can be their authentic selves and feel supported, validated, and affirmed in who they are.”
Amalya earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago after receiving a bachelor of arts in psychology and gender studies at Lawrence University.
She is also a licensed independent clinical social worker.
Prior to her work as a therapist, Amalya worked in homeless services and case management as well as crisis stabilization. This community work goes back to what she learned at Heilicher.
“There was a huge emphasis on tikkun olam [repairing the world] and trying to repair and heal and give back,” Amalya said. “That’s just been instilled in me from such a young age.”
She recalled being encouraged inside and outside of school to volunteer.
“I remember very early going to the Sholom Home, and there was a lot of emphasis on community care. That’s something that I’ve really held, along with the importance of caring and giving to community, especially the communities that we’re a part of,” she said. “So that, I think, is one of the biggest reasons I feel a connection between my early education and the career that I am in now and who I am now.”
Others in Amalya’s Heilicher class also work as social workers or in the mental health field, or in adjacent fields such as public policy.
Heilicher’s emphasis on tikkun olam and community care is enduring, and the school is also adding more focus on emotional literacy, something Amalya works on with her young clients. “I think a lot of the work that I do is trying to help young people understand their emotions and understand other people’s emotions,” she said. “Some people come to therapy already having a really good grasp of their emotions, and sometimes that has to do with education, with the environment at home, with the kinds of stuff they’re absorbing within their own peer community network.”
She said emotional literacy is important in feeling connected to oneself and their world. It’s a process, and Amalya believes everyone should always be working to understand themselves and the people in their lives better.
“Therapy is a great way to increase emotional literacy, and I also think it’s not the only space where that can or should happen. Education is a really important part in that, and caregivers and one’s family and community of friends can assist with that.”
The emotional literacy she learned at Heilicher and from her community helped her adjust to public middle school and develop a community there. It also helped her understand herself and others.
At Heilicher, “there was a really big emphasis on understanding ourselves, understanding our classmates, and also really connecting to and understanding the communities that we are a part of, that we volunteer in and show up for,” she said. “And so I think that all of that helped increase my ability to understand my own emotions and attune to the emotions of others.”
Amalya will keep working with patients on emotional literacy and other needs. Her next goal is to supervise and support others with intersecting marginalized identities once she is settled at Park Nicollet.