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Meet Gwen

Gwen Kelly__Headshot.jpg
East
End

Gwen Kelly
JD, MSW, LSW

they / them / theirs

 Therapist

Specialties:

Gender Identity & Sexuality

Anxiety & Phobias

OCD

ADHD

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Interpersonal Violence (IPV)

Grief & Loss

Infidelity

Narcissistic Abuse

LGBTQIA+

LGBTQIA+ Affirming

   Services Offered:    

  • Individual Therapy

  • Relationship Therapy

  • Telehealth Therapy

    Insurances Accepted:    

  • Aetna

  • Highmark / BCBS

  • Anthem BCBS

  • United Healthcare / Optum

  • UPMC

  • (Cigna in progress)

  • Private Pay

   Ages:   

  • Adults (18+)

Who I Help

I'm a LGBTQIA+ affirming therapist who loves working with adults (ages 18+). I love working with clients experiencing major life transitions, neurodivergent clients (especially those diagnosed or self-diagnosed as adults), OCD, phobias, anxiety disorders, gender identity, sexuality, and alternative relationship structures (i.e. ENM)My lived experiences as a queer, non-binary, polyamorous, and neurodivergent person have greatly shaped me as a person as well as my framework as a therapist.

As a therapist and as a human, I value authenticity and candor above all. I chose to work with Open Space CCW because I got to a point in my life where I could no longer stand to show up as anything but myself—a nonbinary, queer, autistic, polyamorous person in my 40s—and I want to work with people who are ready, or who want to be ready, to show up more thoroughly as themselves. As a therapist, my primary goal is to deeply understand who you are: your personality, your values, your quirks, the weird things you love, the old beliefs and attitudes that you're working to shed. I believe that life is a continual state of transition, and I love to help people learn to appreciate, adapt to, and shape their changing lives and selves.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

As a person who lives with OCD, I particularly enjoy working with others who deal with the same disorder. (Isn't it fun?!)

 

I am trained in, and primarily use, Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) to help identify and reduce the power of obsessions and compulsions in a gentle and collaborative way. Because the entire mechanism of ERP involves intentionally doing things that cause distress, I think it's particularly important to be gradual and careful with it.

 

If you come to me for OCD therapy, we'll first work together to construct your personal OCD map, breaking out your triggers, intrusive thoughts, and compulsions (or things you avoid doing). Then we'll choose a trigger that's particularly troublesome for you and start designing exposures together—starting slow and working up to more difficult things. Along the way, we'll talk about how to manage distress in a way that neither requires you to reject your intrusive thoughts entirely nor inadvertently gives them more power over you.

 

And we'll do all of this while constantly being guided by your values and priorities. This is your life, after all, and you are the expert on what you want and need.

Alternative Relationship Structures

Nearly every polyamorous or ethically non-monogamous (ENM) person has had the experience of wanting someone objective to talk to about their relationships, but dreading having to interview therapists about their experiences with non-monogamous clients and their understanding of the related issues.

 

While no two people practice ENM in exactly the same way, I'm here to tell you: I've been there, as a client trying to tentatively feel out my therapist... and I get it. I understand what it's like to have, not only multiple partners to consider, but metamours and an entire polycule, or poly ecosystem! I know what it's like to have to constantly consider how much to share about your personal life and with whom, and to be told you *must* want, or must *not* want, your relationships to look a certain way.

 

From relationship anarchy to solo poly to closed triads and many other variations, I'm here to help you navigate your relationships in a way that is true to who you are. And if something about your existing relationship structure is not working for you, or feels like it could be better, I'm also here to help you think through and explore what could change. I'll assume nothing about the types of relationships you want or how you want them to interact with each other, and I'll never expect you to apologize for or justify who or how you love. 

Neurodivergence

Autism, ADHD, neurospicy, or my personal favorite term, "twisty-brained"... whatever your particular flavor or flavors of neurodivergence, I am 100% here for it. I know that it is often hard for me to feel like myself when I'm in a new space or situation, and I want us both to do whatever we can to show up for therapy as our most authentic selves, whatever that means for each of us.

 

If we're meeting in person, you'll almost certainly see me sitting in some weird configuration with my left leg under me and a fuzzy blanket on my lap. I might be knitting while we talk, and you can too (or coloring, or playing with hand putty, or whatever takes the edge off for you). I'll probably have at least three different beverages within arm's reach. And while I will occasionally make eye contact with you, it'll usually only be for a second, because I find it incredibly overwhelming. I want therapy to be as comfortable as it can be for you from a sensory and neurological perspective so that we can focus on the work we're doing together.

 

If you think your self-soothing technique of choice might be too weird or "unprofessional" (whatever THAT means) for me, just ask! I bet it isn't. For neurodivergent people, often even more than for neurotypical people, therapy is not one size fits all. While I am, broadly speaking, a cognitive-behavioral therapist, I am not going to stick with therapeutic techniques that don't work for your brain. Your "no, that won't work for me" won't make me defensive—it's an important step in the process of collaboratively finding and testing what *will* work. We'll strategize about how to move through a world built for people who aren't like us in a way that allows you to be gentle with yourself and true to who you are.

What Can You Expect?

I take time to understand as much about a given problem or situation as possible, posing questions along the way that might make you think a different way or might help either of us find a new insight. I am extremely straightforward and direct, but in a way that keeps you leading the way.

I am what's sometimes called a navel-gazer—that is, introspection is a way of life for me, and I'm always reexamining my own experiences and choices through the lens of who I am today. Therapy with me can be very goal-oriented in the traditional sense (e.g., "I want to be able to travel without being paralyzed with fear," "I want to find ways to keep my house cleaner," "I need to decide whether I should leave my partner or not"), but it can also be more oriented toward self-knowledge and self-expression. My experience is that coming to know myself better and understand my needs and boundaries has improved my life immeasurably, and I want the same for my clients (and everyone else in my life).

While I'm definitely an introvert, there's nothing more fulfilling to me than getting to know people and understanding what makes them who they are. And I've had such an incredible journey of my own toward self-understanding and self-acceptance that if I can help other people move in that direction for themselves, I can't think of a better way to spend my time.

 

 When I'm not at Open Space CCW, you may also find me...

Baking bread, listening to Canadian folk music, studying Norwegian, playing piano, hanging out with my partners and my tween, planning my next trip to play a zillion escape rooms (I'm a total fanatic), or making something out of yarn, fabric, or paper.

Call us, send us a message via our contact form below, or email us to get started.

724-777-1433

hello@openspaceccw.com

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