Dr Ameerah Mattar joins The BodyMatters Team

Please join us in welcoming Dr Ameerah Mattar to the BodyMatters Team!

Dr Ameerah Mattar is one of BodyMatters’ shining stars. She is SO passionate about eating disorders treatment that she recently moved from Queensland to join our team! With her distinguished clinical skills, expertise and genuine empathy, we are proud to welcome Dr Ameerah to our team!

We thought you might like to meet Dr Ameerah, so we asked her to tell us a bit about herself. Find out why she chose to work with BodyMatters and what sparked her passion for eating disorders!

NICKNAME:  I don’t really have one – I guess people couldn’t think of a way to abbreviate my name

QUALIFICATIONS: Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Psychology), Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) in Psychology, Member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and the APS Clinical College

ACHIEVEMENTS: It was definitely fantastic to complete my doctorate and finally be able to call myself a clinical psychologist.

WHY DID YOU PURSUE PSYCHOLOGY? I have always been fascinated by human behaviour (I recall that even as a child, I would occasionally ‘test’ my friends with self-devised mini questionnaires, where I described hypothetical social situations and got them to select their responses to these!). I also loved reading stories of people with mental health conditions. However, it was probably the experience of going through a significant life event as a teenager that contributed to my personal growth as an individual and my desire to pursue a career in the helping profession. This led to my decision to study and forge a career in psychology, given that it would enable me to focus on my interest in mental health issues, as well as contribute to the lives of those experiencing life challenges.

WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN EATING DISORDERS? When I was in primary school, I happened to come across a book that was about a young girl who had anorexia. Although I did not completely understand the complexities of eating disorders at that time, the story drew me in, given that food is a basic human need and that we all have a relationship with it (unlike substances such as alcohol or drugs). In particular, it made me curious about why some people were more vulnerable to developing eating-related issues than others, and the struggles and challenges they experienced as a result. My interest in eating disorders gradually grew over the years, as I started to read more about them and became intrigued by the complexities surrounding these conditions. I also felt that there could be greater provision of support and treatment options for people with eating disorders, in addition to efforts towards promoting the education and prevention of such issues. This, in turn, led to my decision to specialise in the area of eating disorders.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE BODYMATTERS? One of the things that stood out for me about BodyMatters was their health-based, as opposed to weight-based, approach to addressing eating disorders. It was a refreshingly different perspective that I was keen on, particularly because it promotes a non-judgmental and holistic view of health that encompasses all aspects of the client’s life. I also liked that it recognises that size is not the most accurate predictor of a person’s health, or the presence of disordered eating and body image disturbances. In addition, I was struck by Lydia and Sarah’s passion in this area, and their desire to change the societal and cultural factors that contribute to disordered eating and body image issues, including their active advocacy work and education in the community.

YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE: One of my favourite quotes is: “One day at a time – this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering. Happiness is a journey”. Another favourite is: “Don’t compare your life to others, you have no idea what their journey is all about”.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS? I definitely hope to be practising as a psychologist still, and continuing to contribute to the field of eating disorders. I would also love to see more treatment options for people with eating disorders, such as a transitional living house or a treatment centre staffed by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals who specialise in this area.

FAVOURITE SPORTS OR ACTIVITIES:  I absolutely love horse riding (despite a recent dislocated elbow!). I also enjoy group fitness classes, cycling and running.

FAVOURITE HOBBIES OR INTERESTS: I enjoy keeping active, trying out new recipes, and watching a bit of television or listening to music to wind down. I’m also a huge animal lover, and adore cats especially!

WHAT IS YOUR SECRET SKILL? I can do cartwheels and (if I tried really hard) splits!

WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU? People who are willing to follow their passions in life and what they believe in, even if these defy convention, tend to inspire me. I also admire those who are able to overcome personal challenges and adversity, and not let these deter them from doing things they love or living their lives to the fullest. Lastly, my parents, who have achieved so much and continue to live their lives with energy and passion, have been great role models.

WHO WERE YOUR CHILDHOOD HEROES? I didn’t have many childhood heroes, but I enjoyed watching certain sports (in particular, I was always in awe of the elite gymnasts and equestrian riders).

3 THINGS YOU WOULD TAKE TO A DESERT ISLAND: My laptop (with Internet) for entertainment, one of my cats for company, and a boat in case I want to get off the island!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE INDULGENCE? I love a bit of self-pampering, especially massages!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MOVIE? I enjoyed Black Swan, A Beautiful Mind and Avatar. I also still find Love Actually hilarious, even though I’ve watched it several times.

FAVOURITE PLACE TO TRAVEL? I loved Italy and Spain for their rich culture and history, beautiful scenery and architecture, and lively streets. Closer to home, Cairns and Port Douglas were absolutely beautiful. I would also love to visit Greece, Morocco and Turkey.

IF YOU DIDN’T CHOOSE PSYCHOLOGY, WHAT OTHER PROFESSION WOULD YOU CHOOSE? I’m a massive animal lover, so I would probably be a vet or work in animal welfare/conservation.

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