Kelsey Menehan, LICSWTherapist Education
Master’s Degree: The Catholic University of America
Bachelor’s Degree: Kansas State University
Kelsey began her professional life as a writer—first as a cub reporter for a small-town daily newspaper, then as a creator of marketing materials, and eventually as a freelance writer, reporting on people and organizations doing important work in the world. She talked to amazing people: a young street minister reaching out to teen mothers on the South side of Chicago, a seasoned “Mother Teresa” working with desperately poor people in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, doctors working to heal people’s trauma in the aftermath of the war in Kosovo. I often came back thinking, “I don’t want to write about these people. I want to join them!”
That persistent call led Kelsey to enter Social Work school in Washington, DC, and after earning her MSW, she went on to receive post-graduate training at the Family Therapy Practice Center, founded by the late Marianne Walters, one of the early pioneers in feminist-oriented family therapy. Early in her career, she also joined the Center for Mind-Body Medicine as a facilitator of groups that teach techniques for calming the nervous system and increasing self-awareness and emotional flexibility (mindfulness, breath work, meditation, guided imagery, movement).
Kelsey has interwoven a mind-body medicine and a systems approach into all of her work with people, whether at the hospital bedside, in hospice care, in community mental health or in private practice. She continues to supervise clinicians seeking certification in mind-body medicine. She has also received training as a spiritual director through Mercy Center in Burlingame, California. Though spiritual direction is not to be confused with psychotherapy, Kelsey has found that exploring what kinds of spiritual beliefs, stories and practices bring meaning and comfort can be very fruitful.
Along with her clinical work, she has continued to write professionally and has found strong themes emerging regarding mental health and well-being. A detailed report Kelsey wrote for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Weaving a Tapestry of Well-Being in Communities, explored the many ways that well-being can be nurtured “upstream” in the community, well before people encounter the health care system. For Chorus America, the national association representing 2,000 choirs and choruses in North America, she wrote and edited a special issue of their magazine exploring the many ways music and singing contribute to physical and mental well-being—and enhance communities.
A common thread in all her work is story. Kelsey loves to hear people’s stories—and to be able to notice with them not only what happened, but how they make sense of it. They explore together how to weave the threads of their lives, even the dark, knotty ones, together to create a sense of purpose and meaning, and how to connect with others, or as the researchers say, how to “tend and befriend” when challenges come. Life can be hard, bad things do happen, but there is still beauty to be found and a path forward.
Kelsey draws from a number of therapeutic approaches but the ones that resonate for her are mindfulness based cognitive behavior therapy (MB-CBT), narrative therapy, mind-body medicine, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). One little “credo” from ACT that is useful for herself and for the people she accompanies is this:
I am here now
Accepting my feelings and
Noticing my thoughts
While doing what I care about.
- National Association of Social Workers
- Spiritual Directors International
- Anxiety Disorders
- Adjustment Disorders
- Bipolar Disorders
- Depressive Disorders
- Mind-Body Medicine
- Adults: Yes
- Adolescents: Yes
- Children: No