241: Making Room for the Voices of Others with Aileen Kelleher

Today’s guest has wonderful Instagram posts, many of them covering her work with twice-exceptional adults. I’m a fan of hers, and she’s a fan of the podcast, so it’s exciting to introduce her to the Embracing Intensity audience!

Aileen Kelleher
Aileen Kelleher is a licensed clinical social worker, therapist, and coach. Her therapy practice in Chicago specializes in helping gifted and twice-exceptional children build social-emotional skills, self-compassion, and confidence to recover from anxiety, depression, and other mental health difficulties. Her international coaching practice focuses on helping gifted and 2E women harness their talents to help them find fulfillment and fun in their personal, professional, and social lives.


Show Highlights:

  • Why Aileen is intensely passionate about working with 2E people and sharing tools and resources
  • How Aileen’s personal brand of intensity manifests in her passion and her ability to embrace conflict and argumentative engagement; she appears intimidating to others and feels emotions deeply
  • Growing up, Aileen experienced bullying from her peers that put her “on guard” with anxiety and fear where there was the capacity for negative emotions; she also had an early sense of social justice
  • How Aileen identifies now as a 2E person who has anxiety, depression, and some ADHD characteristics
  • In school, Aileen was a student who was eager to please her teachers and experienced solid support from her mother; she struggled to fit in and be accepted with peers
  • How, as she grew older, she began challenging authority, rebelling, and calling out injustice
  • How being from a large, Irish Catholic family trained her to use direct bluntness that not everyone accepts
  • How Aileen learned to tone herself down and tune herself out by escaping in reading books and watching TV; in later life, she numbed herself through substance abuse to “check out” from reality
  • How Aileen experienced her out-of-control intensity through raging at people as a young person and now uses writing, exercise, and art as ways to maintain control
  • How Aileen has learned not to be “the biggest voice” in the room but to lift up and make room for the voices of others in community and collaboration
  • How Aileen uses her fire for good by being helpful and learning all that she can about what she feels passionate about; she has also learned to admit her mistakes and keep going
  • How Aileen helps other 2E adults find meaning, joy, and purpose in their lives
  • How relationships with family and friends have helped Aileen learn to reach out for help and trust herself
  • Why Aileen likes helping others define and find their personal values
  • How ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) helps gifted kids figure out what they care about beyond simply proving how smart they are

Parting words from Aileen: “You are OK just the way you are, even if you feel like you don’t belong in a certain situation. That doesn’t mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with you, and it’s OK to ask for help if you need it. Gifted and 2E can have full and satisfied lives, and the fact that we are different shouldn’t stop us from pursuing what we want–and what everyone else gets to have.”


Find Aileen on Instagram or at www.coaching4gifted.com. Her work with kids is at www.aileenkelleher.com.