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.

Are You Too Nice?

If only they knew what you were really thinking, but instead what comes out is:

  • Sure, I’ll be glad to.
  • Yeah, I’ll be there.
  • Yes, that’s fine.

Do you have trouble saying “no” to people and their demands in your life without feeling guilty?  If so, you are not alone.

Women seem to struggle more than men when it comes to people-pleasing and setting firm boundaries.  I realize that many women were raised to be sugar, spice and everything nice.   Unfortunately, when women try to live up to such an unrealistic standard, they can succumb to depression and anxiety as well as a high level of frustration.

But we knew that already, didn’t we?

As a counselor, I teach women and girls how to hold boundaries in their life and relationships.  I also give them permission to do so — without feeling guilty or selfish.

Healthy boundaries are essential for healthy self-esteem.  If you struggle with boundary-setting, there is a good chance your daughter will, too!  Remember, she is looking to you as a role model.

Here are some examples of holding boundaries:

  • •No, I can’t help out this time – maybe next time.
  • •No.  Actually, I have already made plans for next weekend.
  • •No, I’m not comfortable with having a bunch of people over to my house.

Remember, “no” is a complete sentence especially when setting boundaries with difficult people.  You do not owe anyone an explanation for why you say “no” to their request and you are not responsible for someone else’s emotional state.  You are only responsible for your own.

If you need more help setting and maintaining your boundaries, or know someone else who does, then please contact me via email or phone to arrange an appointment.

 


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.

Anxiety is Common and Treatable

Do you suffer from chronic, acute or even mild anxiety? If so, then you might find some comfort in knowing that you have plenty of company. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America tells us that 40 million Americans age 18 and over suffer from some kind of anxiety issue. That’s about one-fifth of the entire adult population! Unfortunately, only about one-third of sufferers seek help — even though it is a highly treatable condition.

In light of those stats, anxiety is the most common issue that brings a person into counseling. Although seeking help can be embarrassing, it is the first step towards getting better and taking back control of your life. Given the vast number of people who suffer from anxiety in our society, you are clearly not alone and there is no shame in seeking professional help.

One of the ways we make ourselves anxious is with negative self-talk — a habit of telling ourselves the worst will happen. As a counselor I always ask my clients to think about what they are thinking about — a strange concept at first. Our emotions, in part, come from our thoughts. It behooves all of us to be very mindful of what is going on inside of our heads. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest that you keep a journal or somehow track your thoughts. Are they negative, positive or a mixed bag? Negative, destructive or fearful thoughts can affect you emotionally and physically. Fortunately, it is possible to change your thoughts through persistence and dedication which can be powerful and life changing. And it all starts with being mindful.

Now that we have established that anxiety is common and treatable, let’s address some frequently asked questions.

Who can get anxiety?

Anyone at all – even children. With anxiety at epidemic levels among children, it is important that they learn how to push through their fears and worries to build resiliency and independence. Anxiety does not discriminate, but some people are more susceptible and prone to feeling anxious than others. There is also a possible genetic component that comes into play.

What causes anxiety?

Possible causes of anxiety can include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Fearful, intrusive thoughts, negative self-talk
  • Environmental factors
  • Medical factors
  • Genetics
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Substance Abuse

What are some common types of anxiety?

  • Social anxiety — Fear of being scrutinized and judged by others
  • Separation anxiety — Fear of separating from home or loves ones
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) — Unreasonable thoughts and fears that can lead to repetitive behaviors and intrusive thoughts
  • Panic Attacks — Uncontrollable feelings of imminent danger or doom; feeling a need to escape; heart palpitations; sweaty palms; shallow breathing
  • Phobias — Intense, irrational fear or aversion to something (such as germs, spiders, storms)

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety symptoms range from mild to severe and can include but, again, are not limited to:

  • Feeling scared
  • Having a sense of impending danger or panic
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating

Who’s in control?

You are! That’s the good news.

Anxiety is not a sign of instability and it does not mean you are crazy. It means you are human and are most likely dealing with an emotional issue!

If you feel as though anxiety or panic attacks are interfering with your life and relationships, you should start by consulting with your doctor or a mental health professional. Anxiety rarely gets better without treatment and it may even intensify if you do not seek help.

Anxiety is very treatable with early intervention. Most of the time it can be treated successfully through talk therapy. This is a process whereby a counselor guides you towards developing an understanding and awareness of the underlying thoughts that trigger anxiety, and then coaches you in relaxation and developing coping strategies.

What are some coping strategies?

  • Identify stressors and possible triggers
  • Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk
  • Control breathing — take slower, measured breaths
  • Eat healthy and exercise regularly
  • Consult with a doctor or counselor

It is possible to train your brain to stay calm and to learn how to break the worrying habit.

You do not have to struggle with anxiety forever, yet learning to release anxiety does not happen overnight. Like anything worth doing in life, you will need a strong desire to change, a healthy dose of patience, a good teacher and mindfulness practice.

If you or someone you know would benefit from counseling, then please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413.

 


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.

Dating Advice for Girls

young, dating coupleMany girls desperately want to hear the words “I Love You” from the person they are dating.  I get it.  That’s normal.  It’s nice to feel loved and to hear those words spoken.  But there is so much more to a healthy relationship.

Actions speak louder than words.  This is the best advice I can give to a girl as she begins to explore the dating world.  What he does is more important than what he says.  Do his actions make you feel loved?  How does he treat you around his friends?  Does he respect you?

Watch his actions carefully.  Pay attention to how he treats his friends, his enemies, strangers and his family.  This information is an indicator of the future — of how he will treat you when the romance and newness fades away.

The following are some tips to keep in mind as you date:

  • Take it slow.  A relationship that is allowed to slowly evolve is more likely to be a quality relationship.  The ones not worth the wait will leave or you may choose to move on.
  • Eyes wide open.  Keeping your eyes wide open in a relationship means that you won’t be blinded to some possible warning signs of a controlling or abusive personality type.
  • Hold onto your friends and your life.  Yes, the tendency is to want to be with only him 24/7, but if you do you are likely to burn out quickly.
  • Relationships need room and air to flourish.  Guys like the anticipation of seeing someone they like.  This intensifies their attraction to you.  So don’t rob him (and yourself) of this experience.
  • Lastly, keep the relationship in perspective with your life.  What are your goals and future plans?  Stay true to your own path in life.  If someone is worth the wait, they will not want you to stop following your dreams and career goals.

Dating is a time to learn about other people as well as yourself.  This is an important time in your life and it should also be fun.  Yes, there will be bumps and heartache along the way — so expect it.  Decide how you want to deal with it when it inevitably arrives.  Being proactive and thinking ahead will strengthen your resiliency.

This is your life! Don’t settle for less than you deserve!

 

If you know a girl who would benefit from dating advice from an experienced life coach, then please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413.

 


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.

Happy Singles Awareness Day: It’s All About Perception

When Valentine’s Day Hurts Or Happy Singles Awareness Day: It’s All About Perception

What do you do when you are alone on Valentine’s Day or if you don’t have that someone special to celebrate with?

The temptation might be to feel less than or unloved. Sadly, females fall prey to feeling like this on Valentine’s Day more than males. Does society place more emphasis on women being in a relationship? Possibly. The real question is, how much emphasis do you place on being in a relationship?

The reality is that you will not always be in a romantic relationship on every Valentine’s Day throughout your entire life… and that is okay! Does your relationship status really matter that much in the scale of your happiness level? If so, think about why it matters so much to you.

Valentine’s Day is also known as Singles Awareness Day :-).  It’s true! Some people observe it the day before or the day after to avoid the hype, but they still celebrate being single.

No matter what, I want you to get through Valentine’s Day feeling good about yourself. Here are some tips to help you cope with the possible anxiety of not being in a relationship on that day.

  • Keep the day in perspective.
  • Love your singleness – after all, there are some real benefits to being single if you can allow yourself to see them.
  • Be happy with yourself.  Not only is this good for you but it also makes you more attractive to someone else.
  • Treat yourself.  You don’t have to wait for someone else to buy you something nice!
  • Treat someone else you care about – such as a parent, child or friend.  That way you will take the focus off of you and how you are feeling.

On the other hand, if you are celebrating with a special someone this Valentine’s Day, remember that they (and you) are special every day.  Chocolates, flowers and acknowledging your love for them should not be limited to one day of the year.

Let me know what you are doing to celebrate the one you should love the most–yourself.

 


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.

Are these signs of dating abuse?

Are these signs of dating abuse?

The following is a list of some of the more common signs of dating abuse:

  • Explosive temper
  • Constantly putting you down
  • Making false accusations
  • Severe mood swings
  • Extreme jealousy
  • Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  • Repeatedly pressuring you to have sex
  • Isolating you from family or friends
  • Telling you what to do

Answer: Yes, this is dating abuse. Also known as emotional abuse.

Dating abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over someone. Relationships exist on a spectrum. Sometimes it can be very difficult to detect when a relationship crosses the line — to unhealthy or abusive. The above warning signs will give you an indication if your relationship is heading in the right direction. If you have any concerns, seek out a trusted adult or professional to confide in. This is NOT your fault. It is a personality pattern and the person is UNLIKELY to change, though you may see a temporary change in behavior. Time will tell.

 


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.

Developing Emotional Intelligence in Girls is Life Saving

I define emotional intelligence as the ability to recognize, understand and deal with your emotions. How many of us can effectively do this — not as many as I would like. One reason you may not know how to do this is because you were never taught this skill. Developing emotional intelligence occurs over a lifetime. We never stop learning and growing and getting stronger. If you do have a level of emotional intelligence it is most likely because you have worked for it. We all have to work for it but it is worth it. The result is an increased level of confidence, peace of mind and success in life.

An emotional foundation is crucial to the happiness and success of girls. Being emotionally sound does not imply that you never get upset, hurt, angry or cry. Experiencing a range of emotions makes you “normal”. It’s what we do with our emotions, how we handle them, how we let them handle us, and how we communicate them that will define one’s level of emotional intelligence.

A girl who knows and accepts that she is not perfect and is able to talk about it without feeling “less than” is a girl who is heading in the right direction. We must teach girls to question their beliefs of what makes someone better than someone else or what makes someone popular. By the way, popular is way over-rated. Being authentic is what is cool.

We need to start talking about the importance of developing emotional intelligence in girls. Learning will look different for different people. Some possible paths include: counseling, self-help material or talking with a wiser person. Developing a curiosity about this is where it starts. Actually, I see a lot of girls who start to develop emotional intelligence after experiencing a great deal of emotional pain. Sometimes pain is a motivator but not always. Some girls just stay in their pain, blame themselves and create a life of frustrations and unhappiness. I want to help girls avoid this trap.


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.

Soft Abuse

Soft abuse sounds confusing. It’s an oxymoron. Abuse is not soft. Exactly! Soft abuse is any type of verbal, psychological or emotional abuse. In a relationship soft abuse may look like this…

1. Explosive temper
2. Extreme jealousy
3. Possessiveness
4. Repeated pressure to have sex
5. Put down, belittling, minimizing
6. Checking your cell phone without permission
7. Making false accusations

Soft abuse will kill a relationship. Everyone is clear that physical and sexual abuse are not to be tolerated, but emotional abuse… well, we are not there yet. The reality is that females are more likely to put up with bad and abusive behavior in a relationship. We are more likely to make excuses and give someone the benefit of the doubt or a hundred chances to change. We teach others how to treat us. If we allow it, we will get more.

Because of the insidious nature of this type of abuse, it can be hard to detect. The effects of soft abuse are far reaching and long lasting.

In my work I see so many girls who cling to the picture of the guy they “used” to know meaning he used to be nice, different. Why is it so hard for a female to accept that some people will change during the course of a relationship. A person’s true colors come out over time. This is not so uncommon. The test is to WAIT and not jump into a relationship (heart, soul and body).

It’s time to start talking about this type of abuse – SOFT ABUSE. It’s real and it’s real difficult to wrap your mind around. It’s difficult to talk about. It’s difficult to deal with. Let’s start talking, dealing with and accepting that soft abuse needs to be stamped out. By the way, the abuser is never the one to change. Change must come from the victims and it will look a little like this: “STOP IT!”

What is your daughter’s leadership style?

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, as well as all different personality types. We tend to think of leaders as outgoing and vocal. Throughout history we have seen leaders who are more vocal and those who are more quiet. One is not better than the other. Since we live in an extroverted American society, it would appear that the extroverts tend to be seen as having more leadership qualities. Yet Bill Gates and Rosa Parks were two well-known introverts – leaders in their own right.

Most parents want their daughters to exhibit leadership qualities (fast talking and quick decision-making are just two examples that come to mind). The girl who has more of an introverted personality type will likely present as shy, reserved or slow to speak. That’s because we introverts like to think before we speak. If a girl who is naturally introverted is forced to fit into an extroverted world, group or behavior then this is likely to cause her some distress. Actually, it can cause her a lot of distress which can lead to anxiety and depression. I always help girls and their parents to understand and embrace their natural personality type (introverted or extroverted). Only then can a girl feel in her place of personal power and begin to embrace her own form of leadership.

Introverts need to carve out time for thinking and recharging their batteries. Extroverts need time to connect socially to energize themselves. Leaders can be loud or they can be quiet natured. We want our daughters to be leaders in their own right, in their own way. Also, being a leader does not mean being the president or head honcho of a business. It means that you stand up for what you believe in, or in Rosa Parks case, sit down for what you believe in. Let’s look at our daughters through a different lens. They will tell us what type of leader they are likely to be.

This was written by the parent of an extroverted future leader as well as an introverted future leader. As for me, I am a bit of a mix but I lean more toward introversion.


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.

Raising Confidence in Girls

Throughout my many years of counseling I have done a lot of informal research on GIRLS & CONFIDENCE. Many girls in today’s world have a type of superficial sophistication as a result of exposure to music, media and the culture around them. Deep down inside, however, many girls struggle with feelings of insecurity and doubt. They can be afraid to admit it and certainly scared to talk about it as if talking about it gives “it” more power over them.

I wish I could get the secret out – other girls are insecure also. It’s normal to feel insecure, uncertain and confused at times. One of my teen clients recently told me that it feels so much better to get it out of your head so you can look at it (what’s bothering you) and deal with it. Dealing with it involves talking it out with someone who is experienced, trained or very gifted in knowing how to help you to:

1. See your situation clearly
2. Challenge old beliefs
3. Embrace new possibilities
4. Help you to create action steps for lasting empowerment

GIRLS JUST WANT TO FEEL GOOD… ON THE INSIDE!

Fair Play in Girls’ Sports : Too Much Unnecessary Roughness

We need to have ZERO tolerance for rough play or unfair play in sports. Fair play is a rising challenge in the face of today’s pressures to win and be the best. Traditional values of youth sports programs include emphasizing the importance of physical fitness and sportsmanship conduct. The goal is to help children develop discipline, commitment, teamwork and leadership skills and HAVE FUN. Playing a sport should provide a child with a positive experience. The emphasis should be on FAIR PLAY not competitive success. A priority should be placed on safety, health and the overall welfare of a child. This should come before winning or before the reputation of a school, organization, coach or parent.

There needs to be CLEAR GUIDELINES for ensuring safety (both physical and emotional) as well as stiff penalties for violating these guidelines. These guidelines need to be spelled out clearly to all referees, coaches, players and parents. They include acting respectfully to others and being held accountable for their words and actions. I personally have witnessed many an unkind and unfair action (aggressive playing gone too far) by a player on a field or court. I am further astonished to witness that the adults involved either do not see the action, choose not to see the action or see the action but do not know how to handle it so they ignore it. I have also witnessed coaches and parents who degrade, criticize, belittle and yell at the players (negative motivation). What happened to modeling good behavior?

Girl bullying is a huge problem in today’s world. It is alive and thriving in the sports world. It’s best to just acknowledge it and deal with it. This means raising awareness and educating players and adults on how to recognize “unfair play” and how to deal with it effectively.

Team sports have the power to boost self-esteem. This leads to the discussion of positive and negative motivation. Negative motivation from a parent or coach involves intimidation, criticism and/or the use of guilt. Positive motivation involves communicating positively, focusing on strengths and providing incentives for improvement.

Let’s change the culture of youth sports to one of FUN, LEARNING, and GROWING. Is the goal of youth sports to develop professional athletes? No, it’s not!

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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.
...
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.
...
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.
...
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.
...
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.
...
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?
...
Stephanie W.

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