Monday, February 7, 2022

Q&A with Amelia Kelley




Amelia Kelley is the author, with Kendall Ann Combs, of the new book What I Wish I Knew: Surviving and Thriving After an Abusive Relationship. Kelley is a psychotherapist, art therapist, yoga and meditation teacher, and trauma recovery trainer. She is based in North Carolina.


Q: How did you and Kendall Ann Combs end up working together on this book?


A: I was featured on Kendall Ann’s podcast, High Heels and Heartache, as an expert in the field of trauma-therapy. At the end of recording an episode, I asked her if she ever thought of writing a book about all of the knowledge she has gained from interviewing experts on her podcast. She loved the idea and from there What I Wish I Knew: Surviving and Thriving After an Abusive Relationship was created in a collaborative effort.


Q: Psychotherapist Stephanie Moulton Sarkis called the book "a must read for survivors, clinicians, and family and friends of those impacted by IPV [intimate partner violence]." Who do you see as the audience for the book?


A: Anyone impacted by an abusive relationship, whether it be the survivor, or someone who supports that person will benefit from reading this book. Based on the fact that 1 in 3 women in the United States will experience some form of abuse in their lifetime, this encompasses a large majority of our country.


This book also serves as an effective tool for clinicians and support professionals who are assisting survivors in leaving their abusive relationship and working towards thriving after. 


The focus on aftercare is crucial as the healing does not end immediately after the relationship is over. Focusing on self-care and resilience after getting out makes it less likely they will return or repeat the cycle in future relationships.


Q: As someone who works with survivors of trauma, what are some of the strategies you use to try to help them?


A: First and foremost, I assess for safety and ensure that they have a plan in place for when they are ready to leave. I will encourage my clients to be as open as possible by offering a non-judgmental approach in helping them.


I reassure them that my role is not to pressure them to make a decision; however, it is to help keep them safe. If they are not ready to leave, we will focus on enhancing their sense of self-worth and availability of personal resources. We focus on their strengths and establishing a general sense of empowerment.


I do ask them, “Am I helping you stay or am I helping you leave?” so that I can honor where they are in their process. “Helping them stay” simply means I will focus less on the leaving process and more on enhancing their general wellness and safety while they remain in the relationship. Doing so makes it more likely they will find the strength to leave as they become more empowered and independent.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: Many things, but mainly that they are not alone. There are so many survivors out there who can relate to their experience and there is no reason to feel shame, which further isolates the survivor.


I hope the readers realize how insidious emotional abuse is and that it can be as harmful as physical forms of abuse and violence. I also hope the readers gain a sense of empowerment about what they deserve in a relationship including their right to safety, love and support.


Finally, I hope those who previously may have judged survivors gain a new level of awareness and understanding about why these relationships evolve the way they do and how difficult it can be to leave.


Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am working on a variety of exciting projects. I have had the privilege of spreading the word about some of the more important topics we cover in our book, issues such as love-bombing, gaslighting, and healthy boundaries with a variety of podcast audiences. 


I am working to create a number of reader groups exploring What I Wish I Knew and helping to distribute the book to agencies that support survivors.


I am also producing a number of new meditation offerings on my Insight Timer channel as well as some live teachings on Highly Sensitive Persons coming up in the Spring. 


I have begun writing my next book exploring how Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP’s) can practice effective assertiveness and boundary setting to improve the health of their relationships, reduce the chance of enduring abuse, and increase the odds of achieving their dreams and goals.


Q: Anything else we should know?

A: The most gratifying part of writing, speaking, and counseling for me are the teachable moments. Anything I learn on my journey as a healer is something I want to share with others.


My favorite moments are when someone says they took an idea from what we explored in session, or from something I wrote, and they applied it in their own life. Even better is when they share this knowledge by teaching someone else.


My goal is to help every person become their own therapist, healer and greatest provider of self-love. The idea of empowerment informs a great deal of the work that I do in counseling, writing, and coaching.  


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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