My name is Kelly Stephens and I am a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) providing services to individuals, couples, and families. I believe it takes courage and strength to seek out therapy, and the therapist-client relationship is foundational to effective therapy. Finding a therapist with whom you connect and trust is incredibly important. If a therapeutic relationship can grow to become a safe place to open up and become vulnerable, I believe the process of therapy can provide life-altering positive change.
I have a passion for helping individuals, couples, and families transition to new phases of life. One of the biggest life stage transitions is the addition of a new baby. A newly expanded family introduces new or altered parenting roles, and impacts the lives of siblings. Research shows that marital satisfaction declines after the birth of a child. Relationships with in-laws, extended family, and friends are also impacted. I enjoy helping clients better comprehend these changes, process emotions, and manage even the positive stress that comes with expanding a family. Other complex and difficult life transitions include separation, divorce, and the loss of loved ones. I have experience and a passion for helping clients with the healing process for these different types of loss, while lowering levels of anxiety to create a healthier atmosphere for the family as a whole.
I have advanced training through Postpartum Support International to treat perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. I believe that mom’s mental health and wellbeing is too often pushed aside. Research shows that creating a secure attachment between the primary caregiver and newborn from birth through the first two years of life impacts how the child will relate and attach to others into adulthood. I am passionate about reducing the stigma of seeking help for perinatal mood disorders, such as postpartum anxiety. I am also extremely passionate about helping mothers, their spouses, and their families who are struggling with infertility, pregnancy loss, transition to parenthood, and the newfound identity of becoming a parent.
Through my internships in Behavioral Health at Atlanta Medical Center and the Family Therapy Center at Piedmont Hospital, I worked with numerous clients of all ages, genders, and demographic backgrounds suffering from sexual trauma, depression, anxiety, and panic. The symptoms clients feel can become overwhelming. Appetite, sleep, mood, the ability to enjoy things, and our relationships can all suffer. Feeling “stuck”, or paralyzed in daily life, is a common complaint I hear from clients in the first session of therapy. I enjoy helping clients better understand the soft emotions driving these feelings, often linked in some way to childhood experiences. I also focus on processing past trauma at a pace comfortable to the client for optimal healing. My goal is always centered on creating new personal and systemic growth, enabling the individual, couple, or family to develop healthier coping skills to feel better.
I use a combination of Marriage and Family Therapy based theories in my therapeutic approach including Bowen theory, Satir experiential theory, and attachment theory. I believe that helping individuals and couple/ family systems reduce anxiety will improve the way they feel and function. I have training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), which is an empirically-supported approach to couples’ therapy. Relationships and marriage can become incredibly tough. Because our learned patterns of relational interaction, conflict resolution, and inner world experiences are engrained within us from an early age, we operate through familiar thoughts and behaviors – some of which may be outside of our awareness. Therapy can have a positive impact by helping clients identify where healthy patterns can replace dysfunctional ones. I enjoy helping couples experiencing relational distress repair injuries, and strengthen their intimacy and trust. I also enjoy working with families in session to create healthier functioning family systems through experiential based theory interventions.
I hold a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing degree from Miami University of Ohio, and a Masters of Marriage and Family Therapy degree from Mercer University School of Medicine. I have 10 years of corporate world experience working for a market research firm in the consumer packaged goods industry. I managed contractual partnerships and consulted with various clients including Coca-Cola North America, Novartis, and Rubbermaid, before resigning to stay at home after my daughter was born.
I am currently working on becoming a fully licensed MFT in the state of Georgia through The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. I am a clinical member of The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, the Georgia Chapter of Marriage and Family Therapy, and Postpartum Support International.
Outside of work, I am a mother of three elementary aged children, a big shedding dog, three chickens, a hamster, and a beta fish. I have learned the importance of ongoing, routine self-care to nourish and refuel the soul. I try (sometimes more successfully than others) to find that sweet spot in the delicate balance of family, self and work to reach personal fulfillment.