Timothy Kelly is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Aurora, CO specializing in ADHD, anxiety, depression, trauma, and work stress. We asked Timothy more about his work with clients and his guiding philosophies on therapy.
Timothy’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
My journey into becoming a therapist was a slow gradual fall, until I found myself head first on "the couch." I always new I wanted to help others from a young age, and sought out social work as my first career. I originally worked in healthcare doing psychosocial assessments, but quickly found myself interested in mental health at the end of my graduate schooling. Since then I've continued to craft a career focused on helping others find healing for themselves.
What was your previous work before going into private practice?
I started my private practice in its fullest form when I moved out to Colorado in July 2021. Before that while I lived in New Jersey, I worked in a mental health intensive outpatient program for 3 years, did in home family/child counseling for 3 years, as well as per diem as a crisis clinician in the emergency room for 6 months leading up to the move to Colorado. I still work part-time in a local emergency room doing crisis assessments.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I'm a nature loving poetic. I love hanging outside in the woods for 2-3 hours when I can escape for that long. It's usually 15-30 minutes outside in my backyard with my dog though, who is full of energy! I'll go for the occasional hike or go stand up paddle boarding on Cherry Creek Reservoir when I get the chance. All of this outdoor space leaves for lots of thinking, which is where I capture my poetry.
Timothy’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
I approach therapy not as an expert in my clients, but rather as a guide. My clients know themselves very well; they can identify all the problems and things they're having trouble with. Each session they choose what part of themselves to focus on, and I help the guide a new way of living with this part of themselves. I'm a firm believe that there is "no bad part" but that every Part has an intended purpose with an unhealthy response.
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
The people that I work best with are what I call curiously lost. These are 23-30 something adults in the working world trying to figure out what life means, and how it needs to be fulfilling for them. These humans definitely want to look back at the past and wonder how they got to where they are now, but also want a new way forward. Maybe they've finally figured out they're neurodivergent, or that they've finally come to terms with their depression or anxiety and are seeking treatment on their own for the first time. I love bringing people to the direction they've always sought out.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in working with neurodivergent professionals?
I've come to know this population well, both in my own work and with the clients I currently serve. These professionals often feeling like all of those virtual meetings are soul sucking dementors and that work is just the place they don't belong. They soon discover that it's not just work, but that they've lost direction in life and aren't quite sure where they are. This is a place of confusion and fear. As a guide for the neurodivergent professional, we work to find out how you got lost in the first place, what it means to live a life worth living, and what we need to do to get there.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in helping clients recover from past trauma(s)?
Trauma is something everyone deals with, and many of my clients come with "smaller" traumas that we work through in talk therapy. Others come with those "big T" traumas, single events that change the course of their lives. Through trauma journaling, we work just as all other trauma therapies work: exposure to reminders of the trauma with a relaxed body and building a narrative of what happened. Instead of saying it out loud, my clients journal about it through a guided process. From their, my clients either feel better or we continue on with talk therapy to keep building upon what was discovered.
Can you tell us about your specialty in Forest Therapy?
Forest Therapy is not doing therapy in the forest. Rather, it's letting the forest be the therapist. Nature has been a major center of our lives for a long time, until we've become more industrialized and living in sub-urban/urban communities. This practice helps rebuild your relationship with the forest, and in turn rebuilding your relationship to the world. This practice harvests benefits of improved physical mental & physical wellness. Those who practice this often find the healing within themselves, and I as the guide simply open the door to the forest.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
When I first meet clients, I ask nearly all of them the same question: If a Miracle were to happen, what would be different? To be clear, I'm not a miracle maker. What makes this work worth it, however is when when my clients start to see that difference and change in 3, 6, 9 months down the road. Therapy certainly helps with the short term problems, but helping guide others as close to their miracle is what makes my work rewarding.
Therapy sessions with Timothy
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
Our first session focuses on the problems AND the miracle you dream of. I give you a bunch of paperwork in advance (the only homework you get) so we can keep that way our first session can be more detailed oriented. Near the end of the session, I'll ask you about your "Miracle Day" and what would happen if it magically came true the night before. From there, we work on taking the steps towards the miracle day. That might mean doing new things, or undoing some of the stuff from the past.
How long do clients typically see you for?
I work with clients on a weekly basis for the first three months. From there we continue weekly until things are so great that you have nothing to bring to session anymore, and no amount of questions can help us fortify you for the future. This usually happens between 6 months and a year of working together. We'll move to every other week until you feel so confident that you can do this without me. We'll have a little "graduation" ceremony and reflect on the awesome progress you made.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
If you have a lot of time and are looking into something thought provoking, I recommend the Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker. It changes your entire perspective on stories written and produced. If you are more of the fantasy kinda person, my favorite book series has always been Pendragon: Journal of an Adventure through Time and Space by D. J. MacHale.
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
Generally speaking the only thing I might ask of you in between sessions is to pay attention to yourself and the part of you we focused on in the previous session. If you love to journal and write I can certainly give you writing prompts to continue the exploration in between sessions. I've never been a huge fan of homework.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
Every three months we review what we've been up to. I'll write a treatment plan with the goals you would like to achieve in our first session, and every three months we stop to see what's different and how much closer we're getting to the miracle day. If I notice something significantly changing in between those periods, we do impromptu check ins to make sure we are still on the right track. I'll use some standard measuring scales as well that many are familiar with.
How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?
Imagine the feeling of lost in the woods after losing the trail, and the sun is setting. Is that how everyday feels? Then you should absolutely reach out. Even if you've just noticed you are lost, and still feel like you can get yourself unstuck, reach out to start therapy. There is no sense in trying to get yourself back on course if you don't even remember how you got lost. Practically this looks like a lot of late night thinking, pressure in the daily grind, and just wondering what it means to live a meaningful life.
How can I prepare for our first session?
The only thing you need to bring to therapy is a healthy sense of curiosity and a tiny bit of hope. From there we can work to get you to a place where the hope can grow and the curiosity feeds itself. If you like to take notes, you can bring a journal to make some along the way. I'll do the same thing in our sessions too.
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
If you are asking that question, or saying to yourself "I have no idea what I'm going to tell Tim today" those are usually indicators that we are starting to get to the point where that discussion should be had. Sometimes you'll surprise yourself with how much you need to talk about, but we'll always have an ongoing conversation surrounding this.
Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?
One of the best ways to help change your relationships is change how you interact for them, and take responsibility for the parts of you that are brought to the table. Imagine that you and this other human are two parts to the same machine. If you change how you work in the machine, it changes how the whole machine operates. This often means healthier relationships, and general satisfaction with others.
What advice would you share with therapy seekers?
Don't settle for a "good enough" therapist. That goes for if you are working with me too. You deserve the a well seasoned and focused guide, like those fancy Patagonia hiking pants you found on the REI Garage Sale. You deserve buying those at full price.
Visit Timothy’s profile to watch his introductory video, read more about him, and book an initial call!