Former addict starts psychotherapy wellness program

In Ocean Pines, a new wellness program for local addicts seeking a different type of therapy.

It's called The Delmarva Free School, a member supported wellness cooperative that provides a pay it forward model for mental health and wellness services.

This means if you're receiving therapy, either sober mentoring, women's empowerment, or classic therapy, Therapist Kelly McMullen will charge you a certain amount.

Although, that price could be lowered if you're in your first five years of recovery.

McMullen, a registered psychotherapist, focuses on the underlying causes rather than just a quick fix solution.

"As a psycho dynamic clinician, I'm taught to look at the big picture. I want to know what's going on in your immediate environment, what's work look like, what do your relationships at work look like, what does home look like, what do your relationships at home look like? Has there been recent loss, has there been trauma, do you have trauma in your childhood? So if you're just treating the symptom that stuffs going to come back again in a different kind of way," explains McMullen.

And she knows firsthand what its like to go through addiction and feel like there's no hope.

She's hoping to change that and give back to the community by using what worked for her to change her life around.

"It was like taking a boot to the gut."

As Kelly McMullen read yet another story in the newspaper about one of her friend's passing away from addiction, she decided she would be the change the community needed.

"I thought God this is just never going to go away and if I'm going to live here I'm going to need to do something with that boot in the gut feeling," says McMullen.

In July of 2016, McMullen started offering free wellness seminars to help those struggling with addiction and she turned those seminars into a business.

Now the Delmarva Free School is a member supported wellness co-op and McMullen is using her expertise as a licensed graduate professional counselor with a focus on psychotherapy to save lives.

In fact it's that type of therapy the one she now offers that saved her life, after her own struggle with addiction.

"I started drinking when I was about 11 or 12, just like a said, it was a normal I had friends that drank with me at that age and I started smoking pot and using LSD when I was 15, 16 and everything else that came along with that."

What started as something to do for fun turned into something she couldn't live without.

"I had figured out that when I touch anything any substance other than alcohol I can't get enough like there's not enough for me and I'll stay up for days to make sure I'm still ingesting. That was my story."

At 22, McMullen was hospitalized for what she calls a very violent and scary episode. It was during that visit she learned she had bipolar disorder, which may have been the turning point until doctors prescribed her with medication that caused her life to spiral out of control.

"Once they gave me prescriptions to treat my mental illness I was like, 'oh hell yeah' I'm off to the races and using whatever I could get my hands on. I had no kind of boundaries with anything," explains McMullen.

And it wasn't until a run in with the law and a court mandated 12-step program that she found her solution.

"I met this guy and started working with him doing meditation and I started working with other people in the recovery community, part of that is CBT, or cognitive behavior therapy," she continues, "You have to reckon with yourself and you have to come to look at your thoughts, look at your behaviors, and beliefs about your worth and your fears."

It was addressing those underlying causes that led her to recovery and ultimately her choice to go to graduate school to become a registered therapist, with a focus on psychotherapy.

It's her own struggles and wellness that has led her here to her own practice that helps others fight and conquer the same struggle.

"The goal is to create lasting wellness at the individual and community level," she exclaims.

If you're interested in learning more about this treatment of the Delmarva Free School you can visit their website.

Categories: Local News, Maryland