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.

Critical Thinking Skills: Tools Your Daughter Needs for College

Female student being bullied by other group of studentsCritical thinking can be traced to the Socratic method of Ancient Greece.  It is a process of asking questions to trigger a deeper level of thinking and understanding. It is an important skill that everyone should develop, and should be considered a part of formal education. It is imperative that your daughter develop and strengthen her critical thinking skills to ensure that she does not make emotion-based decisions that will undermine her prospects for success in college, life, and future careers. Your daughter must also learn how to understand and skillfully navigate the emotional dynamics in social and dating relationships, so as to make wise and healthy decisions for herself and others.

Information technologies and social media enable us to communicate with others in ways that are exciting, challenging… and potentially dangerous.  Our girls are growing up in a world where a single impulsive or ill-considered posting on Facebook or Twitter can be shared instantaneously and broadly, with serious and detrimental consequences for one’s career and personal well-being. Many teenagers that I have counseled do not fully grasp the long-term and potentially harmful consequences of social media communications. They do not understand that the photos, comments and personal information that they post and share with friends online may be viewed by college admissions officers, future employers and others, thereby putting their reputations, relationships and future employment prospects at risk.

How Critical Thinking Skills Can Save a Girl’s Life 

Critical thinking skills can be life-saving. Many of today’s parents are fearful that their daughter will be tempted to drink and drive or drive and text, thereby jeopardizing her own safety and the safety of others. It’s not enough to tell your daughter not to text and drive or not to get in the car with someone who has been drinking. Today’s teenage girls need to (1) know their options, (2) practice speaking up for themselves in uncomfortable, difficult or dangerous situations, and (3) have the confidence and discernment to speak up and when necessary, remove themselves from dangerous situations.  This is where critical thinking skills can be applied.

Does your daughter know what to do if she were at a party where she felt uncomfortable due to some type of illegal, inappropriate, or harmful activity taking place? She needs to develop discernment and street smarts to deal with such situations, as well as the confidence to speak up and take appropriate action on her own behalf.

Role Playing Reinforces Critical Thinking Skills

Often times a teen girl has not learned or practiced the phrases and language that will help her speak up confidently or walk away from a potentially dangerous situation. In difficult or uncomfortable situations, your daughter may be paralyzed by feelings of guilt or confusion that impede her critical thinking capacity and ability to act wisely and confidently.  This is where role playing can help. During role playing, girls can practice speaking up for themselves and embed key phrases into her subconscious so she can better access the language she will need when the occasion calls for it.

Most teenage girls are not able to think through or anticipate all the possible short-term and long-term outcomes and consequences of her own activity or the activity of those around her. Girls often harbor unconscious emotions and fears that can easily become obstacles, keeping them from making good decisions.

These are the types of conversations and discussions that parents need to have with their daughters before they set off for college — and not just once!  When I work with teenage girls I will often do role playing to help them develop and strengthen their critical thinking skills.  Knowing what to say is not enough.  Your daughter must be able to speak up confidently in difficult situations.  This is especially important if your daughter has a people-pleaser personality type.

Next Steps: Preparing Your Daughter for the Emotional Demands of College 

  • If you haven’t already done so, initiate a conversation with your daughter about the topics discussed above.  Be casual and friendly; nothing turns a teen off more than making a big deal out of something.
  • Be a calm and supportive presence in your daughter’s life. Avoid being critical or judgmental.  You want to be the person she turns to when she needs help.
  • If your daughter already struggles with anxiety or depression, don’t assume these symptoms will go away on their own. Seek out professional and compassionate help before she leaves for college.
  • Enroll your daughter in a course or seminar that will help foster these very important tools. There are many worthwhile programs available and will be beneficial during her development into adulthood.

Even though your teenage daughter may be eager to break free of your supervision and involvement in her life, you still have an important role to play in supporting and guiding her decision making. Girls heading off to college are most likely experiencing a mixture of excitement and anxiety about what’s to come.  Whether she acknowledges it or not, she still needs your love, guidance and support. Make sure your daughter is well equipped to handle life’s difficult moments; they are meant to be speed bumps — not road blocks.

Remember, you don’t have to do all of this alone. I have been a counselor to girls and teenagers for over 20+ years. It would be my pleasure to play a part in empowering your daughter with critical-thinking skills. Reach out to me via email or phone to schedule an appointment.


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

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.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Redirecting Parental Concern Over Teen Social Media Use and College

In this guest post by Alan Katzman, parents are encouraged to redirect their concerns over teen social media use by asking not what their teens are doing online but rather what they are not doing online. (April 2, 2014)

Many articles have been written warning about social media’s growing impact on college admission and scholarship grant decisions. Citing stereotypical adolescent social media use, these articles share a predilection towards negative outcomes. The prevailing advice generally favors taking social media off the table by locking it down and going into hiding during the college application process. This perspective and the prevailing analysis are dated, misplaced and inevitably lead to outcomes diametrically opposed to the initial purpose.

College admissions officers have neither the time nor the interest to search social media simply to find reasons to reject qualified applicants. At best, temporarily shutting down a social media profile or using a fictitious name during the college application process will only raise suspicions when that applicant cannot be found. If and when colleges look, logic dictates they look because they want to learn more about the applicant, opening the door of opportunity for the applicant to standout from other qualified applicants.

Moreover, college interactions with applicant’ social media are no longer a one way street. Admissions officers and other members of the college community have become passive recipients of applicant social media courtesy of everyday social interactions. These social interactions may take the form of an applicant friending or following a college on Facebook, tweeting a request for information to the admissions office, requesting to connect with a college official on LinkedIn, posting a comment to a school’s Instagram or YouTube account, or simply by using a hashtag that is tracked by a college admissions office.  As a result, college administrators are routinely receiving full access to applicant digital DNA by way of these social media communications. Again, opportunity presents itself.

While housekeeping remains an essential preliminary task for social media readiness, the unfortunate reality is that once posted, social media activities are permanent and discoverable. Shares, tags, screenshots and reposts make deleting one’s own prior activities something of a crapshoot. Nevertheless, some degree of care should be taken to mitigate the chances that your teen’s social media postings contain any compromising posts before commencing online interactions with colleges.

Parents should look beyond their concern over typical teenage party photos and focus their attention on activities that might reflect aggressive, violent or antisocial behaviors and tendencies. These are the posts that pose the greatest threat to the college community and therefore to the applicant as well. General posts of teenagers having fun will likely be tolerated by most college officials but it is always important to know your audience. For example, Brigham Young University will certainly have different tolerance levels than New York University and a student applying for pre-law will be subject to different standards than a student applying for performing arts.

Rather than dwelling on the potential negatives, parents should work with their teen to unlock the positive powers of social media by helping them build a well-rounded, robust and easy to find online presence reflecting an accurate depiction of their talents, activities and accomplishments.  What surprises many teens is discovering how far removed their existing social media persona is from the person they are and how they would want others to perceive them so they should be open and receptive to these suggestions. Not only will these efforts benefit your teen when seen by college officials but they will also negate the impact of any pre-existing adolescent activities.

Teens tend to use Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr for their friend to friend social media activities, so parents can suggest using other social media platforms to build out their enhanced presence so as to not interfere with their teen’s closely guarded social activities.

Here are three simple examples:

  • LinkedIn: Last year, LinkedIn lowered its minimum profile age to 13 years while also introducing their University Pages. University Pages offer teens a way to engage with current students, alumni, faculty and staff of the colleges they are interested in attending. Once you have helped your teen complete their LinkedIn profile, they can select the colleges they would like to follow. This way they can keep track of conversations and issues relating to that institution and, in time, learn how to engage in conversations by commenting on discussions or connecting with people affiliated with that college. Having a LinkedIn presence is also helpful for increasing the chances of being found by colleges and other recruiters.
  • Google+:  A pre-condition to Google+ is having a Gmail account. This requirement presents the perfect opportunity for your teen to obtain a proper Gmail address for responsible future correspondence. Work with your teen to generate an email address that is as close to his/her name as possible (if the name is already taken then try adding a geographical suffix such as firstname.lastnameNYC@gmail.com or some other descriptive derivative). Once the Gmail address is secured, click on the G+ icon within Gmail and complete the Google+ “About” profile page. The Google+ “About” page template is very easy to use and provides your teen with the opportunity to tell their story in their own words. It also provides a place to add links to all of your teen’s other social media profiles, personal websites and blogs.
  • Twitter: Yes Twitter. Most teens approach Twitter solely as a site to interact with their friends –  140 characters at a time. This usage is all wrong. Both parent and teen can learn together that Twitter is an extremely powerful networking tool that builds influence and awareness over time. Have your teen start fresh by coming up with a Twitter handle that incorporates their name or some recognizable derivative thereof and write a serious profile description. Search for people who share your teen’s interests or who are experts in their field of interest. Regularly review postings and help your teen retweet and add comments as appropriate.

What each of these three social platforms have in common and what sets them apart from other major social media platforms used by teens is that they are not built on existing friendships. These platforms provide a means to find and be found by people you don’t currently know but who share common interests. Whether it’s participating in group discussions on LinkedIn, finding a Community to join on Google+ or following the tweets and engaging with a fresh group of liked minded people on Twitter, these platforms provide a positive environment for exchanging ideas and creating one’s discoverable personal brand. Over time, your teen can build a following and a presence based on the merit of his or her contributions. Most importantly, these platforms tend to rank very favorably and high on Google Search increasing the chances that this will be the information that colleges will see. Also, when building out their presence, teens should be encouraged to not be shy or humble about posting and linking their accomplishments as college admission standards remain ultra-competitive.

These platform examples are not intended to be exclusive by any means. Creative types may be drawn to Pinterest. Facebook contains many underutilized options to segregate personal from professional content while Instagram, YouTube and personal blogs can also play an important role in nurturing a positive and visible online presence.

Today, the ability to proactively manage social media to accurately reflect your persona, skills and attributes is becoming an important life skill. Parents who take the time to work with their teens to teach them this powerful yet all too often unrealized side of social media will be doing them a great service.


Social Assurity LLC logo

Alan Katzman is the founder and managing member of Social Assurity LLC delivering personalized social media management services focusing on maximizing social media profiles to effectively stand out when colleges and employers take a look. Find more information at http://socialassurity.com/.

Is Your Daughter Prepared for College and Beyond… Emotionally?

Serious young college girl using tablet PC with blurred students sitting in the parkSo your daughter is heading to college this fall.  Congratulations!

For parents and high school seniors alike, this is an emotionally charged and bittersweet time.  It is a time to remember and reflect on your teenager’s personal, academic, athletic and extracurricular achievements and milestones from grade school through high school. You recently celebrated her graduation with an eye towards her emerging independence and transition into young adulthood.

This can also be a time of mourning for you, knowing you must come to grips with letting go of a beloved child in whom you have invested so much: so much time, so much hope, so much energy, so much attention, and so much worry.

You deserve to be recognized and commended for all you have done to prepare your daughter for college, and to promote and develop her self-reliance and independence. You have spent many hours together with her researching and evaluating college choices, visiting college campuses, and ensuring that college applications were completed and submitted on time.

Now that these tasks are behind you, you have yet another important role and mission as a parent:  ensuring that your daughter is emotionally prepared for college.

Emotional Intelligence:  A Critical Yet Underdeveloped Skill 

Today’s children are growing up in an incredibly fast-paced world that allows little time for introspection or the opportunity to gain self-knowledge.  Our graduating seniors appear mature, sophisticated and adult in many ways, but they have not been well-schooled in identifying, understanding and managing the emotions that govern their decision making.

In my professional experience counseling teenagers and their parents over the past 20+ years, I have observed that many outwardly-successful and accomplished high school girls are clueless when it comes to understanding and taking care of the emotional dynamics in their lives. This is troubling, because it is human nature for emotions to drive our actions and choices in life. Emotions, more than logic, often dictate the friends we choose, the people we date and marry, the way we spend our leisure and the careers we pursue.

Equally worrisome is that many parents do not know how to teach the crucial skills of emotional intelligence to their daughters.  There are many reasons why this is so:

  • Many — if not most — adults have never been educated in how to recognize and care for their own emotional needs. How can they teach a skill to their children that they have never learned or put into practice themselves? 
  • Our schools do not make emotional intelligence part of the regular curricula. Our children are encouraged and expected to excel academically and athletically, but they are not offered any regular, consistent or on-going instruction in the emotional dimensions of their lives.  They are not taught how to recognize and deal with difficult emotions, how to set boundaries to protect themselves in demanding or dangerous relationships, or how to apply critical thinking skills to social and dating relationships. 
  • Our society communicates a double standard.  We are taught to believe that displays of emotion are acceptable in women but a sign of weakness in men. How ridiculous!  The truth is that emotions are a sign of being human. Understanding, managing and learning how to communicate one’s emotions is a sign of higher intelligence, not a sign of weakness!  This is what is commonly referred to as emotional intelligence. 

How Emotional Intelligence Can Improve the Quality of Your Teenage Daughter’s Life

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotional and social world. To succeed in college and in life, your daughter will need to know how to handle:

  • Disappointments
  • Break-ups
  • Academic struggles
  • Difficult social situations & difficult personality types
  • Technology traps

Possible Obstacles to Developing Emotional Intelligence 

  • Fragile self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Insecurity

When your daughter arrives at college, she will be thrust into a maze of challenging new social situations, dating relationships, temptations, distractions and technology traps. Before sending her off into this brave new world, I encourage you to set aside time this summer to discuss and equip her with emotional intelligence skills she will need to protect her well-being and ensure her success in college and in life.

If you feel that your daughter will benefit from speaking with a counselor to develop her emotional intelligence skills – or if you would like to learn how to guide her – please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413 to arrange an appointment.


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

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.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Self-Esteem Influences All Areas of Your Life

portrait of buoyant girlI find it interesting — yet sad — that many women and girls I work with in my counseling sessions have an expectation that their self-esteem should be higher; and if it is not, then they feel shame (a silent emotional killer for women and girls).  In our culture we have created an unrealistic standard for women – that we should be super woman and overly confident, and to admit ‘less than’ is often seen as failure.

Failure?  Failure is such a harsh word and yet it is one that women and girls often embrace too quickly.  Allowing negative, false labels to stick to you is one way to send your self-esteem spiraling downward.

Low self-esteem could mean that you have experienced (perceived or real) an emotionally traumatic situation, relationship or childhood.  There are many possible causes of low self-esteem.  You are a member of the human race, after all, and on your own path.  

It’s time to spread the message that it’s okay to embrace and admit that your self-esteem is not where you would like it to be.

Thankfully it is now widely accepted that having good physical health is important and should be actively pursued.  Yet why don’t we have the same expectation for emotional health?

For example, why is the negative stigma about counseling still hanging around?  You know the one I’m talking about “If you go to counseling then there must be something wrong with you”.  Even if you don’t feel this way, chances are that someone you are close to does.

Counseling is an opportunity to pursue a greater understanding of your emotional self and your relationships.  Isn’t that a good thing?  Of course it is!

So how do you create healthy self-esteem?  I can tell you what doesn’t work — ignoring or denying the issue.  Denial never solves anything! It’s best to dive in.  Do some research.  Go see a counselor.  Talk to your trusted friends.   Just don’t keep it a secret to fester and magnify.

See, self-esteem influences all areas of your life.  For women this means your marriage, your family and your work.  For girls this means your choices in friends, activities and academic performance.

Healthy self-esteem is an essential component of emotional well-being. 
Emotional well-being is what we should all strive for.

Our lives are more likely to flourish if we have a healthy emotional life… and self-esteem is an indicator of our emotional health.  

Sharing your healthy self-esteem with others is a wonderful gift to give them and the world.

If you would like more information on how to create healthy self-esteem or if you would like to work with me as your personal coach, please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I am here to help!


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

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.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

So how’s your self-esteem?

Woman studying reflectionSo how is your self-esteem?

Answering this question feels almost too personal – as if you were being asked your age or weight or about the most embarrassing moment in your life.  Right now your self-esteem could be high, low, fragile or something in between and it might not be something you want to say out loud.

I define self-esteem as the way you feel about yourself combined with your capability to think clearly, make good decisions and create a rewarding life. 

No one has 100% self-esteem all of the time.  Self-esteem is not ‘all or nothing’.  The truth is that it exists on a continuum and it can (and often does) change throughout your life.  However, it should be something that you are aware of, connected to and actively track so you can make adjustments as needed.

Self-esteem is often misunderstood.  Many mistake arrogance and over-confidence for self-esteem.  In reality, an attitude of superiority and exaggerated self-esteem are actually masking low self-esteem.  Healthy, authentic self-esteem is never ego based.  A person with healthy self-esteem never feels the need to brag or make themselves look better than someone else.  Healthy self-esteem (which is what we all should be striving for) is empowering and it is within your reach. 

In order to gain some insight about your self-esteem, listen closely to your self-talk — your internal dialogue.  Is it negative or positive?

  • I’m so tired today; I don’t feel like doing anything. OR Gosh, I’m tired but I know that once I get moving I will feel better.
  • I don’t like going into a room full of people and having to speak to total strangers. OR  I’m uncomfortable entering a room of people I don’t know yet, but I know I will meet two or three people and end up really enjoying myself; I always do!
  • My cup of tea has too much; I hope I don’t spill it! OR  My cup of tea is filled to the rim so I will be careful with it.

If your thoughts tend to be negative, then this is definitely affecting your self-esteem in a harmful way.  And yes, it is possible to change your thinking.  It requires awareness, persistence and a desire to change.

I teach women and girls how to create healthy self-esteem in their lives and how to foster it in their children.  It’s not something you are born with.  It is something you create.

If you would like more information on how to create healthy self-esteem or if you would like to work with me as your personal coach, please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I am here to help!


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

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.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Moving on After Divorce

Troubled woman comforted by her friendWhy is it so difficult to move on after divorce?  Well, this may seem obvious but there are many women who feel that the expectation is to move on – and to do it quickly.

However, the separating of two people in a marriage is usually a lengthy process.  The legal aspect takes considerable time and could take longer if there are children involved.  But the emotional side takes significantly more time to heal – long after a divorce is legally final.

The biggest myth is that once a divorce is final, then a woman should be ready to move on.  Not so fast!  The heart takes time to heal and that’s going to be different for everyone.  There are many factors to consider such as the depth of the relationship, support, children, personality type, and the isolation factor.

When I was growing up I remember hearing that people would divorce due to “irreconcilable differences”.  I never really understood that phrase.  As a counselor and after going through my own divorce, I now understand that “irreconcilable differences” is a catch-all phrase which can mean anything from abuse to feeling annoyed with the other person.

What does divorce mean to you?  It is important to explore this question.  Herein lays possible hidden emotional obstacles to ‘moving on’.  Does your marriage ending mean:

  • You failed?
  • You will be seen as a failure?
  • Your children will be permanently scarred and will never forgive you?
  • You have let down your parents or someone else?
  • You have let down yourself because you believe you didn’t try enough?
  • You will be losing your best friend?
  • No one will ever love you again?
  • There was only ONE relationship for you and he just walked out that door?
  • You are doomed to a life of unhappiness?

This is where speaking with a counselor to help you work with your mind (essentially your thoughts) can speed up the healing process to allow you to move on quicker.  It’s especially important to move on if your emotional pain is keeping you from living your life or being a good and present parent.

It’s normal to feel stuck for a while!  However, when these feeling do not leave then you can be headed for more serious issues with anxiety and depression.
If you would like to have a personal counselor/coach through this difficult process, or know someone else who would, then please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I am here to help!

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

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.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Stop Making the Same Mistake

StopAs a counselor and empowerment coach to women and girls, clients come to me with problems in their relationships. More often than not, these ladies feel as if they are the root cause of difficulties with their partners. They can’t put their finger on it, but hope I’ll be able to point it out.

So I question them to help bring clarity to the situation – to help them find the answers.  I have found during my 25+ years of counseling females, that yes, women and girls both have a tendency to make the same mistake over and over again. Their mom’s did it, their sister’s do it, their best friend’s do it… so most of them assume this is normal and acceptable. However, it’s not!

Once they realize where they have gone astray, I offer advice on how to correct course.

It’s the same advice over and over again, so I created a Special Report aptly titled “The Single Worst Mistake Women Make in Their Relationships… and What to Do NOW to Fix It!”

To get your copy, please click this link.

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

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.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Relationships are Complicated; So are Divorces

worried womanDivorce is never easy.  It involves a lot of emotional pain.  It exposes hidden insecurities.  It brings up a whole host of questions for which there seem to be no answers.  It stirs up a wide range of negative and scary feelings.

Unfortunately, it also leads to isolation — or at least, perceived isolation.

Countless women are hesitant to reach out for help or to lean on a friend during this difficult time.  I hear this often in my practice “I don’t want to be a burden to my friends”, “They shouldn’t have to hear this”, or “I need to deal with this on my own”.  These statements sadden me because this means that women are choosing isolation when support, guidance and a listening friend are just what they need most.

As a counselor, many women who come to see me are very unclear about the issues disrupting their marriages or they are unsure of how to address them if they have been identified.  I work with my clients to first help them understand and validate their feelings about themselves, their partner and their relationship.  Then we dig deeper to see what’s really causing the discord.

It may be a personal issue, a concern with their spouse or communication breakdown. Once the source is identified, then we come up with a plan on how to proceed.  Relationships are complicated; so are divorces.

I hear a lot of women say that their marriage ending represents the loss of their dreams for the future – their vision of having an intact family or summer vacations at the beach or growing old together.

The end of a relationship is like a death but it’s not a permanent loss of your dreams.  Yet, according to some of my clients, they feel that divorce may be worse than death because they still have to see and interact with the other person but they no longer are with them.

It is important to grieve the end of any relationship.  There are productive ways of grieving and non-productive.

I help women grieve in a healthy way allowing emotions to flow, channeling them in a beneficial manner and escorting those emotions right out of their head.  Grief often comes in waves, but like all waves they swell, come on shore to break, and then they are gone.

If you would like to have a personal counselor/coach through this difficult process, or know someone else who would, then please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I am here to help!

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

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.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Connecting to Your Intuition

Woman on a dockI’ve heard many people – men and women – say that they don’t believe they have an intuition… but everyone does! The problem is that many have been raised or socialized in a way which did not facilitate a connection to their gut feelings. Plain and simple.

In our society we place a great deal of emphasis on the connection to the mind. This is reinforced in traditional schools. It’s all about how smart we are, instead of HOW we are smart. Some people have a higher level of emotional intelligence. Others are more academic and have more book knowledge. One is not truly better than the other. They are different yet equally important!

Connecting with your intuition is vital to your emotional well-being. If you believe you have lost the ability to distinguish when your intuition is speaking, it is possible to reconnect.

How to Connect to Your Intuition

  • Silence the mental chatter. You will need to quiet your mind — the constant mental chatter that many of us experience. In order to do this, you may need to learn how to quiet it through meditation or a relaxing activity. Silence is golden and it’s also an essential component of connecting to intuition.
  • Distract your mind. Engage in something you really enjoy which will keep you in the present moment and better able to hear your intuition. You should do this anyway as it helps increase creativity as well as productivity.
  • Pay attention – inwardly. Your body is speaking to you. Some aches and pains or upset tummies are not caused by illness.
  • Distinguish fear from intuition. Fear of a new situation or change may simply be your reluctance to come out of your comfort zone.

One last tip: Practice. Practice. Practice. Once you get into the habit of listening to your inner voice (not the voices in your head), intuition will come to you more freely and you’ll find that the choices you make in your life are better ones.

If you would like more help improving your self esteem and connecting to your intuition, or know someone else who does, then please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I would love to help!

 


Michelle Kelley BA, MSW, LCSW Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

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.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Intuition is Real, Not Imagined

Beautiful woman thinkingIntuition is the calm, small voice inside of you that speaks up at unexpected times.  It is the ability to “just know” about a person, situation or decision without having to investigate.  We have all experienced a hunch about something or someone; that’s our intuition.

Some people call it “a sixth sense”, but either way, intuition is real, not imagined.  We are born with it and it is our gift to claim.  However, we have become so reliant on facts or logical thinking to make decisions that we often block our quiet, inner voice.  When was the last time you listened to your intuition… or did not?  What was the outcome?

How Your Intuition Speaks to You

  • You had a sense of fear or danger about a situation.
  • You had a nagging sense that you need to do something like go to the doctor or take a different route to work.
  • You felt very uncomfortable around someone you just met but couldn’t pinpoint a reason.
  • You had a “vision” that was reminiscent of déjà vu but you knew it was yet to be.
  • You feel as though you are not doing what you are meant to do in life.

It has been said that women have an edge when it comes to reading people or being a good judge of character. This, in part, may be due to being socialized differently than men.  Women and girls may hear the advice “listen to your gut” more often than men.  Certainly girls and women are asked more frequently how they feel about something (usually by another female) and this encourages them to dig deeper and search for their connection to intuition even if they don’t realize it.

Furthermore, for women, learning to connect with intuition is directly linked to healthy self-esteem.
  See, when a woman ignores her intuition there is an emotional price to pay. Have you ever second-guessed yourself about a decision, didn’t go with your instinct and then regretted it?  Think back to multiple choice questions on an exam and how your first guess was usually the correct one but you changed your mind after over thinking it. Or you had a suspicion your boyfriend or husband was cheating on you, but you “let it go” only to find out later it was true.  We all have had these experiences!  They should be reminding you to stop and think the next time you have a gut feeling about something.

If you would like more help improving your self esteem and connecting to your intuition, or know someone else who does, then please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I would love to help!

 


Michelle Kelley BA, MSW, LCSW Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

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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I just wanted to say THANK YOU. I left your office so inspired today.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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Retired Arlington County Teacher
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