Dr. Jessica interviewed Kelley Kitley, a licensed clinical social worker.
When did you first start working as a therapist?
I’ve always considered myself someone who has been interested in social justice issues, and I volunteered in my community in Chicago with underserved populations. I received a BSW and MSW from The Jane Addams College of Social Work. I opened Serendipitous Psychotherapy five years ago, but prior to that, I worked in child welfare, the school system, and in residential treatment.
What inspired you to become a therapist?
At the age of 16, I started therapy for an eating disorder. It was a transformative and reparative relationship with a therapist. After my treatment was completed, I remember saying to myself that someday I too want to become a therapist and help people overcome obstacles similar to what I endured.
How would you say your approach differs from other therapists?
I’m a cognitive-behavioral therapist, so when I work with clients I focus on restructuring distorted thinking, changing behaviors, and challenging core beliefs that might need some readjustment to help my clients thrive. I use a direct yet gentle approach to help my clients achieve the goals they have set while working with me.
I see you specialize in women’s mental health. How do you think women, in particular, have been affected by COVID-19?
We are in a mental health crisis. There’s been a huge increase in reported cases of depression, anxiety, drug overdoses, and suicide. Women, in particular, may be feeling an increase in stress during the pandemic as they try to work from home while simultaneously managing the emotional labor of the household and kids. It’s extremely important for anyone who is struggling to reach out for help. Mental Health America offers free online screening tools.
What type of changes in mental health do you think will occur coming out of the current health and economic crisis?
There’s going to be a high demand for resources! My hope is that policy changes will be made so that people can afford mental health care and that insurance companies will continue to cover teletherapy so people can get the help they need.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My biggest suggestion is to practice living one day at a time. We are flooded with information and life can feel extremely overwhelming right now. There are a lot of unknowns that can increase anxiety. Try to stay in the present moment.
Kelley Kitley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been inspiring clients for the past fifteen years. She’s a sought-after international women’s mental health expert and author of the award-winning bestseller “MY self: An Autobiography of Survival.” Kitley has appeared in hundreds of publications, podcasts, live news, and radio including WGN, NBC, The Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Self, Shape, and as a columnist for Fitness Magazine, Recovery Connection, and Thrive Global. Kelley has shared her experience, strength, and hope on national media outlets such as Dr. Oz, Dr. Drew, TODAY, and Access Live, and as a TEDx speaker.