Welcome to Fresh Air Counseling and thank you for choosing to learn more about me and my approach to counseling and psychotherapy! My name is Kelly Jerome and I realize how much courage it can take to even consider finding a therapist let alone the challenge in finding a good fit. Because I believe you are the expert in your own life, my goals are to provide you support, compassion, and guidance as we collaborate to determine and practice the strategies best suited to your strengths. Though I may not always understand your exact experience, my desire is to offer you empathy and help you find the best tools to alleviate distress and begin to live a more rich, meaningful life. The one you deserve.
You may wonder why it is so important to me to help you in the first place. Let’s just say my first love and academic interest way back in high school was psychology class. Growing up in a chaotic home environment and seeing family members struggle with depression, anxiety, and substance use, psychology classes made me feel like I could actually TALK about these issues in a way that was never allowed or accepted in my childhood. Hello, Stigma with a capital S! I had so many questions, felt alone, and wondered why everyone else’s homes seemed so different from mine. Through textbooks and class lectures, I learned that mental health and emotional challenges have been studied for decades and weren’t isolated phenomena. There were others out there in the world who had families like mine, and there were forms of psychotherapy that could help people like my dear family members (and me!). Eureka. I believe the notion of a career helping others, offering compassion and some sense of normalcy and support, began to blossom. And then like many teens without a lot of direction and cultural capital with regard to education, I decided to live life a little, learn from a few not-so-healthy relationships, earn some money, and move around a bit. Fast forward through some interesting job trajectories and I found myself ready to finish my undergraduate degrees in psychology, sociology, and human services as a non-traditional student while working full-time in banking. That was fun. Not.
Knowing a BA in psychology and AA in Human Services wouldn’t truly get me on the path I desired, I moved from beautiful Northwest Indiana with my newish partner to lovelier NC. We set up our homestead, and I pursed my graduate education at UNC in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, a masters degree that would not only allow me to work with folks seeking support with mental health issues, but also offered additional specialization in working with individuals with disabilities and other potential challenges to access. This was very important and spoke to my sociology background and deep interest in social justice and health inequality. Learning about and understanding the true challenges to access in our physical and mental healthcare systems, and barriers to educational and employment opportunities greatly influenced the type of clinical practice I hoped to pursue. My own personal experiences and the tremendous financial and emotional stress of performing well academically and professionally while maintaining interpersonal relationships has also informed my perspective when relating to my clients.
Today, as a Board Certified Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate, I reflect on the ways therapy might have helped me growing up, perhaps normalizing my situation or offering me some coping strategies. I am fortunate to have discovered its many benefits as a young adult and periodically through the years when faced with losses, life transitions, or abundant stress and anxiety. I recognize the value of counseling and psychotherapy as opportunities to heal from past wounds, to manage current difficulties, to live in the here and now rather than the then and there, and to contribute and to develop as a human. As a child, I turned to beloved pets for comfort when finances were obviously tight, family conflict arose, and tensions were at an overall high in our home. Girl Scouts and outdoor adventures with others who didn’t “match” me like my school peers exposed me to both the catharsis of nature and the diversity and connection I had been missing otherwise. My education is an ongoing effort to not only provide the best and most evidence-based treatments for my clients, but also to explore new ways to bring nature and animals into the therapy room. I recently earned my Animal-Assisted Therapy Interventionist credential and am excited as I witness the healing power of equine-facilitated psychotherapy for clients with trauma, depression, and anxiety. I hope you’ll decide to join me and we can grow a little together! Contact Fresh Air Counseling to begin our connection. I look forward to hearing from you.
To learn more, feel free to check out my curriculum vitae.
- American Counseling Association division: Association for Adult Development and Aging
- Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (through IATP)
- Animal-Assisted Therapy Interventionist Level II (through Animal-Assisted Therapy of the Triangle)
- National Certified Counselor (through NBCC)
- CRC (Certified Rehabilitation Counselor)
- Member of ACBS (Association for Behavioral and Contextual Science)