Michelle Kelley

Through in-person and phone counseling, workshops and speaking engagements, Michelle Kelley, owner of Girls Stand Strong, teaches girls and women of all ages the skills they need to lead happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. Michelle Kelley's professional expertise, personal insights and proven results will help you end your emotional and social struggles and build a life filled with self-empowerment, self-confidence and the healthy relationships that you deserve.

1-Minute Read: Fun Facts About Feelings

Copy of Fun facts about feelingsAs we close in on Valentine’s Day, I want to share with you some “Fun” Facts About Feelings.

• Feelings can be simple or complex
• Feelings are influenced by our thoughts
• Feelings come in many layers. Often we will experience multiple ones at the same time.
• Feelings are contagious.
• Feelings are not right or wrong. They just exist.

Many females have learned how to suppress their feelings and be ashamed of them. This needs to change.

Identifying, owning and explaining your feelings will lead to greater CONFIDENCE.

Yes, I am sure.

If you are not sure how to go about creating this change for yourself, I would like to help you.


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (540) 316-6362 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: A Strong Sense of Self

1-Minute Read- A strong sense of selfIf you don’t already have it, it’s time to develop your own strong sense of self (aka confidence). Confidence involves embracing your strengths as well as your weaknesses. It also involves developing a sense of yourself without being self-centered.

Yes, you can do this.

Here are some suggestions on how to build a strong YOU!

• Know who you are and what you stand for
• Be okay with others not liking you
• Speak up for what matters to you
• Let go of trying to be perfect
• Own your weaknesses (it’s a strength to do so)
• Be REAL!

I believe in helping our kids to set realistic goals for themselves, too. Be good enough! Try enough! Like yourself enough! Really, enough is good enough.

P.S. This goes against the popular belief that we must strive for excellence… how stressful and unrealistic!


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (540) 316-6362 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: How Do You Cope With Stress?

1-minute-read-how-do-you-cope-with-stressI often hear from my clients (both women and girls) how STRESSED they are feeling. Stress is real and the effects can range from mild to serious. Studies show that chronic stress can have life-long impacts on our health (emotional and physical).

To counteract stress, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to revisit your toolbox for dealing with stress? I think so (especially this time of the year).

Ideally your De-Stress Tool Box should contain a mixture of action steps and mindfulness techniques.

Action Steps usually involve self-care, such as:

Take a walk or have some form of a physical outlet.

Have a cup of tea and take a break (even when you feel like you can’t).

Enjoy a hot bath.

Spend time with friends or by yourself.

Reach out for support / share with a friend.

Mindfulness techniques can include:

Acknowledge when you are feeling stressed and give yourself permission to feel the way you feel.

Watch your self-talk and change the negative to a positive (i.e. “I realize that I am overwhelmed but I know this feeling will not last forever. Let me figure out the first step I need to take to climb this mountain.”)

Ask for help. Use your voice. Don’t try and do it all.

Stress is a part of all of our lives. One way I determine my personal success is by how I handle stress. For me, changing my self-talk has made the most difference. I am also very aware that my daughters watch me to decide either how they want to act in the face of stress or how they do not.

Which do you want to role-model? Get the conversation started!


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (540) 316-6362 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: Worried About a Possible Eating Disorder?

1-minute-read-worried-about-a-possible-eating-disorderMost of us are familiar with Anorexia and Bulimia but there are other, not so obvious, eating disorders as well — binge eating disorder, purge eating disorder, and night eating syndrome.

Some warning signs of possible future problems include:

• Over exercising
• Restricting calories
• Body obsession

The old belief was that somehow parents were to blame for a girl’s eating disorder. Now we know there are so many factors involved that no ONE thing or person can be at fault. Eating issues are often complex and they exist on a spectrum.

A girl’s desire to “fit in” and “look good” is packed with emotion. Girls will often shut down and refuse to talk about this or deny there is an issue. As always, my best advice is to remain calm and stay observant and connected.

Tips for Parents:

• Lose the scale
• Refrain from making comments about her weight
• Talk to her doctor or a counselor to get guidance

This is a growing theme I am seeing in my practice. Growing up Girl is not easy!


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (540) 316-6362 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: To All Girls Who Struggle with Body Image

1-minute-read-girls-struggling-with-body-imageI read that 80% of all girls dislike their bodies. How very sad. Yet girls are not alone in the body-image struggle. Women also struggle.

We are bombarded with images from the advertising media and social media about how we should look (i.e. perfect, 6-pack abs, wrinkle free, thigh gap — and much more). Females get screwed-up messages about their bodies.

Parents who talk to their daughters about diets, health, body image, and media messages will be doing prevention work for future issues. The earlier you start this conversation the better. Middle school is a time when peer pressure to “look good” hits hard.

Girls often see themselves through other’s eyes, not their own. They’re worried about:

– Being judged
– Being compared to airbrushed images
– Being ugly or less than
– Being unlovable

Important messages for girls to hear:

– You are not your body
– Find your own standard of beauty
– You are beautiful (even when you do not feel beautiful)
– Beauty will shine through in smiles, kindness and courage

I started dieting in high school. In college I gained about 20 lbs in my freshman year. I didn’t like my body and there wasn’t even social media back then. It wasn’t until years later when I discovered “healthy eating” that my body image improved.

It’s a journey. Help your daughter get there before you did.


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: Does “Killing Them with Kindness” really work?

1-minute-read-killing-them-with-kindnessWe often hear the phrase “Killing Them with Kindness” as a suggestion when dealing with difficult people. It’s a well-meant suggestion but does it work?

Over the years I have done a lot of research on this topic. My conclusion is no, it does not work – meaning the person realizes the error of their ways, apologizes and backs off.

Whether you are a child and you are being picked on or you are an adult and you are being mistreated, difficult people can be a source of great struggle and emotional pain.

Here are some suggestions that do tend to work when dealing with rude or bullying behavior.

• Hold your head high. Call the person out on their rude/hurtful behavior (a brave thing to do). For example, you could say “I can’t believe you just said that to me” and walk away.

• Try a simple response such as “I don’t care what you think.” I recommend this for kids being picked on.

• Kill them with strength – your inner strength. Remind yourself that you do not deserve to be treated this way. Do not keep quiet or isolate yourself. Share with trusted others. Reach out for support.

Coaching girls and women through difficult relationships and situations is a specialty area of mine. I am here to support you.

 


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: Does Your Child Have an Invisible Struggle?

1-minute-read-does-your-child-have-an-invisible-struggleDoes your child struggle with forgetting to write down assignments, losing their homework, remembering what you just said? If so, your child may have an invisible struggle such as ADD/ADHD, Executive Function Disorder or a processing disorder. These are surprisingly common.

We are all wired differently and some of us just seem to struggle more than others in the above areas. It is your job as a parent to better understand your child so you can be their advocate in school and in life until they eventually learn how to advocate for themselves.

Not all struggles need to be treated with medication. There are a number of tools and strategies your child can learn, you just need to explore your options. The benefits include:

(1) They will perform better in school.
(2) They will have healthier relationships.
(3) They will have more self-confidence.

We are all born with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

If your child is struggling, then so are you! There is no shame in struggling – only frustration and anger. It’s never too late to reach out for help.

 


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: Is your daughter self-harming?

1-Minute Read- Is your daughter self-harming-I know this is a scary thought, but some girls will cut themselves when they feel overwhelmed emotionally (it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the gist of it).

Many girls struggle to deal with negative emotions and these emotions can be a trigger for self-harming. Cutting tends to be the most common form of self-harming behaviors and it is on the rise.

I case you don’t know, cutting is when a person scratches or cuts themselves with a sharp object, breaking the skin and making it bleed. Usually this is done on the arms or the legs.

If you think your daughter might be cutting, my best advice is to stay calm. As a counselor, I have had so many girls share with me that this makes the situation so much worse. They are already struggling and then having to deal with their parents’ strong emotional reaction can complicate the situation.

I do want you to take any form of self-harm seriously. If your daughter is self-harming (or even if you suspect it) please reach out to a professional counselor to get support and guidance. Cutting is a cry for help and it should be addressed as soon as possible.

You will likely need support also. When I work with a girl who is self-harming, I also work with her parents to give them the support and guidance they need (for themselves and their daughter).

Please let me know if I can help you with a concern.


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: Tips for Getting Girls “Emotionally” Ready for School

1 Minute Read Tips for Getting Girls Emotionally Ready for SchoolIt’s that time again! Depending on where you live, the new school year may have just begun or it will be soon. Help your daughter feel ready for school – emotionally – so she can start the year with a sense of confidence and self-awareness.

7 Tips for Getting Girls “Emotionally” Ready for School

1. Ask her how she feels about school starting. Remember that open-ended questions get longer answers.

2. Listen to her. No really, LISTEN to what she says.

•Give it a few minutes before you respond… or don’t respond (that day).
•You will likely need time to process her response.
•It is your job to weed through the “important” answers from the “unimportant” ones.
•Part of what is so helpful to a girl is to hear herself verbalize her feelings.
•Remember, ultimately it will be her job to understand herself, her emotions and her choices.

3. Ask another open-ended question such as “Is there anything that feels scary or yucky about going back to school?” Depending on her age, you get the idea. Keep probing – gently.

4. Validate her feelings. This is VERY, VERY important. Her feelings are never wrong. They just are!

5. Don’t criticize, laugh or minimize her feelings (even if they seem silly to you) as they are likely pretty important to her. If she feels mocked, she will make a mental note to not share with you anymore. You don’t want this to happen.

6. Ask her if there is anything you can do to help her. She might have a suggestion such as being able to go and visit the school before it starts (especially if she is going to a new school). As girls move to middle school and high school, many can feel intimidated by the size of the school and being with so many upper classmates.

7. Keep the conversation going. Circle back to some of the above after a few days to see if anything new has come to her after she’s had an opportunity to think about your questions.

If you hear anything that you find concerning, please feel free to reach out to me. I can help to validate whether or not the issue needs something other than a loving parent’s support.

Whether this is a happy time for you or a sad one, I wish you well on this year’s school journey.

 


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: Helping Girls Deal with Emotional Breakdowns

1-Minute Read- Helping Girls Deal with Emotional BreakdownsEmotional breakdowns can become all too common during the preteen and teen years. We all recognize the signs: tears, anger, blow-ups, heightened sensitivity, running to their rooms and slamming the door.

Whether the cause is hormones, family or relationship issues or fragile self-esteem, we can all agree that they are unpleasant (for everyone). Emotional breakdowns refer to a combination of feelings such as stress, anxiety, overwhelm, exhaustion, and depression.

So what is the best way to help a girl who is having a meltdown? I have asked this question of hundreds of girls and here is what they say:

•Let me be (unless I am hurting myself or someone else).

•I need to get it out.

•Ask me what I need afterward (when I am calm). I will tell you.

•Don’t ask me “why” because most of the time I will not know, and if I do I may not want to talk about it.

•Show me how to handle my emotions by role-modeling this for me.

Parent Tips:

1. Stay calm during your daughter’s breakdown. It will pass. When you can hold onto your “calm place” you are better able to handle any stressful situation.

2.If you slip up (which we all do) it’s okay. Talk to your daughter about your behavior and what you would like to have done differently. (Get it? You are role-modeling here.)

Emotions are scary when you don’t understand them, so please parents work on understanding your own emotions so you can help your children. This is a process which starts with self-reflection and authenticity.


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

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Testimonials

I just wanted to say THANK YOU. I left your office so inspired today.
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AnnaMay
To say Michelle changed our lives would not be an exaggeration. She was very empathetic and non-judgmental... She didn't make our daughter feel badly... She didn't make my husband and myself feel like incompetent parents.
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Linda
I definitely owe my newfound confidence to Michelle. Without her, I don’t know how I would’ve been able to come out of my horrible situation as such a better version of myself.
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Grace
People don't understand Michelle doesn’t just offer advice… which they seem to be afraid of hearing. I convey the message that the decisions you make are ultimately your own but Michelle will help you find clarity and sort through emotions.
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Chris
We felt comfortable knowing that Michelle would be the kind of counselor that would help our daughter see the good in herself, but also question some of her choices and actions.
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Patricia
You have brought back the communication ability that I thought that I lost. You helped her understand what we were feeling and she is such a better person for seeing you.
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Maggie
Michelle, you are so right about [my daughter] and how she thrives off of feelings of accomplishment. All seems to be good now. She amazes me every day with the way she is learning to handle tough situations.
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Cynthia
With Michelle’s guidance, I was able to accomplish in approximately 8 months what I hadn’t been able to over the past 15 years.
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Elizabeth
I am forever grateful for Michelle's help.
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Anne
Thank you, Michelle, for giving me my voice and a new lease on life.
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Nancy
Retired Arlington County Teacher
She helped me focus my attention toward problem-solving issues.
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Laura Clancy, Owner
MuffinToppled® Fitness Coaching
Michelle is the best life coach I ever had.
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Marina
Michelle is an excellent listener and her insights and advice were always right on target.
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Ann
(mother of a teen girl)
She helped me in so many ways!
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Kelly
Michelle Kelly saved my life. What more can I say?
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Stephanie W.

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