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Kimberly M. Lee-Okonya, LCSW, LMSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Master of Social Work, Gottman Method Couples Therapy Level 1 , 2 & 3 Trained, Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work & Bringing Baby Home Educator
“Licensed clinician with a life coach approach”
Kimberly M. Lee-Okonya, LCSW, LMSW is a passionate psychotherapist who specializes in healing the mind by using several evidenced based practices. Kim has over 12 years of experience in the field of Psychology. Kim received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with a minor in Child and Family Development from Georgia Southern University and graduated with her Masters in Clinical Social Work from the University of Georgia, graduating in the top of her class at both universities. She is affiliated with several professional organizations including the International Association of Trauma Professionals, National Association of Social Workers, Psi Chi Psychology National Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor society and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
She has a wide range of valuable experience having worked in psychiatric hospitals, medical hospitals, university counseling centers, state agencies, private practice, and infectious disease clinics as well as in primary care settings. Kim primarily works with individuals, couples and groups. Her specialties include working with couples, anxiety, depression, stress management, trauma, relationship issues, identity and minority issues. Kim possesses a multitude of experience working specifically with pregnant women and families and the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities.
Kim has been an ally of the LGBTQ community for decades. She has personal reasons that connects her to this community and she cherishes the relationship that she has developed with the community over the years. She understands some of the struggles this community in particular have faced and continue to face and she stands with the community to face these issues. Ultimately she believes people should be allowed to love who they love…Love wins!
She has worked with the HIV/AIDS community for just over a decade. She is am an advocate of this community and jump at chances to educate others about HIV/AIDS. She has attended conferences all over the country and even with the White House during President Obama’s term to advocate on behalf of the HIV/AIDS community. She assists clients who have been diagnosed since the onset of the virus/ disease, those who are newly diagnosed and those in between to cope with their new diagnosis and assist them with processing, acceptance, disclosure, compliance and simply embracing all parts of who they are.
Kim is trained in Motivational Interviewing, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, The Gottman’s Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work, Bringing Baby Home (these workshops will be offered several times a year starting Winter 2019; for more information visit our services page) and currently being trained in Gottman’s Couples therapy. She utilizes multiple frameworks and modalities in her practice as she understands there is no one size fits all therefore she tailors the methods used to each individual client. However, Solution Focused and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are two of her favorite frameworks to use in therapy. Kim does therapy from a traditional approach however uses life coaching approaches and techniques. Kim uses mindfulness, music, meditation and other relaxation techniques as a part of the therapeutic process. Kim provides feedback, homework (most times to do in between sessions) and tools for clients to use to live an authentic, peaceful, colorful and warm life far beyond the therapeutic process.
Kim knows everyone has a story full of roadblocks, speed bumps, detours, potholes and stop signs. However the beauty of our stories does not lie in the trauma but in how we overcome those traumatic experiences. Kim believes we all deserve peace. And in order to reach the destination of peace and healing we must travel on a journey throughout our life’s events that may have contributed to our current state. After all the saying goes “You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been and how you got there.” Through traveling along this journey it is Kim’s hope you will gain closure, peace and understanding which will lead you to live an authentic and peaceful life. Kim wants this for all of her clients and wants to work with them to achieve this.
Kim believes in helping her clients see their lives in a new perspective, somewhat like looking through a kaleidoscope (remember playing with those paper towel shaped things as a kid?!), and assisting them in utilizing their full potential despite what the former years of life may have looked like. This belief also explains why her logo is a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. As like a caterpillar who lives a rudimentary life and then goes through a transformative period turning them into a creature admired by many for their beauty, grace and gentle nature. Just like the caterpillar if you are willing to do the work to transform your life your future will be brighter than you could ever imagine.
If you are ready to start on your journey of gaining peace, no matter what that looks like or means for you, send us a message or call TODAY to schedule your appointment! The real living begins here…Life Begins Here.
Hello my beautiful souls! Thank you for visiting my page and specifically this page to learn more about me and who I am as an individual. Well a little background is I was born and raised in the great city of Atlanta, GA (Whhhaattt a native…YES! LOL! 🙂 ). I went to school (K-12) within the Fulton County School System and loved track, basketball, music and dance. In the community I serve as a mentor in a Rites of Passage program with youth aged 13-18. I love everything musical, positive, unique, colorful and artsy. I am an ally to the LGBTQ community and want all my clients to feel safe, welcomed and understood. I believe in embracing differences and love, love, LOVE seeing people being true to who they are regardless of who agrees with it or not. After all, we have to live in the moments we are given and make the most of them. Life is too precious not to live it fully and authentically…or at least this is my belief and outlook on life.
What made me choose this career path?
I have always loved to help people by assisting them in solving their issues and in embracing their true self. I remember being a little kid riding with my parent(s) through downtown Atlanta seeing all of the homeless people. I would ask my parent(s), “Why is he homeless? Where is her family?” I would often ask if they would let me out to speak with them…of course, like I imagine most parents would, they told their 8 year old daughter talking to strangers was not allowed. I had my own views about that as well; at that time I did not understand why I could not talk to “strangers”. I truly felt and currently feel like I almost never meet a stranger. I just sincerely enjoy talking to people about their story and life in general. Besides I know everyone just needs someone unbiased and non-judgmental to talk to.
Even in my school aged days, seeing my classmates being picked on or judged because they were different use to infuriate me. Not always fully being aware of the risk, I would stand up for them and often times we would quickly grow to become friends. I made some of my best friends that way many of which I still am friends with today. However some of the people who I would stand up against would suddenly change their opinion of me for the negative. I’ll admit it use to bother me as a teen not to be accepted by my peers (and even as an adult not being accepted can be extremely hard) but over time and with personal growth, I honestly started to care less; I mean who did they think they were to judge people because they did not act or share the same beliefs as they did?! Furthermore, throughout my life I have consistently felt a need to stand up for those who may not otherwise have a voice or an advocate. Now with years of training and experience I teach those individuals to be able to do that very thing for themselves. So it’s safe to say that passion to help people, wanting to understand and to assist them with telling their story and living their best life never left me. My goal is to help others learn how to LIVE with no strings attached and to be free! Free from caring about other people’s thoughts regarding how you live your life, free from wearing a mask in society or around family and friends…free to be your authentic self!
From a young age I understood we as humans are all truly books full of stories. As I grew older I came to understand what it truly meant when people said “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” I believe we all have a story riddled with trials and tribulations as well as triumphs and successes. Life can serve some harsh blows and knock the hell out of us at times. However the importance is not in how we fell down but mostly in how we recover. I have seen some astounding butterfly stories (refer to The Story behind Life Begins Here link for more information about the life of a butterfly) in my day and they have all left me feeling so inspired. I have dedicated my life to assisting people through life’s journey and in writing their own butterfly story. I love witnessing my clients have their ah ha moments and seeing the transformation of their way of thinking begin. If you can transform your mind some amazing unimaginable things are bound to happen for you. We all deserve to live our best life…whatever that looks like for each of us. If you are ready to do the work and start transforming your life I am here to walk alongside of you and to give you the tools you need on your journey. You do not have to go through it alone. You got this!
Another little known fact about me is I am a DONA International trained Birth Doula. To learn more about my passion for birth and how mental health affects the way women birth please visit www.KimTheDoula.com.
What’s In A Name?
Life Begins Here Therapeutic & Counseling Services, LLC came to me after years of examining the life of butterflies. I remember when one of my best childhood friends was abruptly taken away from this earth; after her funeral at the burial site I continuously sobbed but I stopped after wondering why (what seemed at the time like 100) butterflies kept flying into my face. I wanted to scream at them and tell them to leave me alone so I could continue sobbing but then a warm feeling of peace came over me. At that moment I interpreted that feeling as a sign from my friend that although she had left this earthly realm suddenly, she was safe and her soul was happy. From that instant forward I had a new love for the insects and honestly became a little obsessed if I must admit so myself. Butterflies became my first love because of what I believed their life represented.
Go with me mentally if you will and think about the life of a butterfly (Pictures are to the left to assist with your mental imagery). A butterfly starts as a caterpillar roaming the earth on their belly, rarely being noticed, unlikely to be admired and as a result sometimes being smashed and never given a second thought. Many of us as humans can probably relate to that feeling of being unnoticed and over looked. Many people don’t know this but caterpillars (larva) have to grow and shed 5 different layers of skin. During this time the caterpillar has to eat a great deal of food in order to increase their strength to make it to the metamorphosis phase (building the cocoon). Unfortunately many do not make it. Those that do then search for the perfect place isolated away from prey to start this process. They spend hours meticulously preparing a silken anchor-hold where they will spend hours hanging from and transforming. Their life then depends on how well they built their cocoon and are hidden from prey. Which means they have to have faith (the hope for things unseen and the belief that those things will come to fruition) in their decision and move forward with the process. Hours later they emerge as a beautiful butterfly. Most people only see the beauty of these creatures in their later being and do not think about what they had to endure to get to their current state. Just as most of us do when we look at others who appear to have desirable traits and lives.
Just like the butterfly we encounter phases in our life where in order to move forward we had to shed a few layers to better ourselves. Those layers may be people, past baggage or even our own beliefs and fear that may have been or is holding us back from living the life we desire to live. At times in life we have been through and will have to go through periods of isolation during our transformation phase. We must be patient and have faith when we feel lonely, want to give up and are frustrated during this phase. Everyone does not make it through…just as the caterpillars. But those who do, emerge with a new found sense and love for self. A new confidence that no one can take from you again. Many of us, like the butterfly, do not look like what we have been through. And thank goodness because only the Lord knows, right?
So with all that being said, many people feel because of what their life may have looked like in the past or even currently, they can not have or do not deserve the beautiful life and authentic self they aspire to achieve. When in fact, which is evident by the life of a butterfly, it is never too late to live the life YOU want IF you are willing to put in the work and transform your mind! Many of us are alive but are not living. Hence the birth of the name Life Begins Here and my logo. Using myself as an example, I got tired of living for everyone else’s dreams and not my own. Being scared to take that next step and always just playing it safe. I shed those layers, left that negative baggage (i.e. “friends,” jobs, destructive thoughts), went into isolation to focus and strengthen my mind for my transformation and emerged as a new stronger me! Although it is not always easy during this transformation you too can start truly living today! No matter if you have been left hurt from past trauma, still healing wounds from a nasty relationship, have questions about “Why Me?,” suffered abuse (mental, physical or sexual), or you may feel like you have been living a lie your entire life and you’re tired of wearing a mask… your life can truly begin here! Remember it’s not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself…Life Begins Here. Let me help you on your journey to your authentic self, you don’t have to do it alone. What are you waiting for? Call today to schedule your appointment to start your transformation.
During your session we will start to explore the issue(s) that brought you to start on your therapeutic journey. We will eventually delve into the past (with your permission) to truly begin on the road to finding true healing and peace. This includes individuals and couples.
Fees for Services:
For out-of-network insurance a receipt for reimbursement will be provided at your request to submit to the insurance company; in most cases we can also file the claim for you. We cannot guarantee the insurance company will reimburse full, partial, or any of the session fee. However, you are still responsible for the full session fee and no refunds will be provided due to the insurance company not reimbursing you fully, partially or any of the charged fee.
Please note: Insurance benefits are to be submitted to us prior to initial session to verify that client’s benefits includes mental/ behavioral health coverage as all plans vary. Failure to do so may result in client being charged the full session fee of $150.
Paperwork, letter(s) and form completion request including but not limited to short-term disability, school forms, medical reports, letters, etc have an associated fee (if done outside of session time) which is due at time of request. Please allow 7-10 business days for forms to be completed and returned/ faxed.
Bringing Baby Home Workshop Description:
Even the strongest relationships are strained during the transition to parenthood. Lack of sleep, never-ending housework and new fiscal concerns can lead to profound stress and a decline in marital satisfaction — all of which affect baby’s care. Not surprisingly, 67% of new parents experience conflict, disappointment and hurt feelings.
This research-based Bringing Baby Home workshop prepares couples for life with baby and helps them be the best parenting team possible. In a relaxed and supportive environment, parents learn to strengthen their relationship and foster baby’s development during this challenging time. They build on what Dr. Gottman and colleagues found is the best predictor of marital adjustment after baby arrives: the quality of friendship in the marriage. Come learn the skills needed to encourage healthy, supportive family relationships.”
The Seven Principles To Making Marriage Workshop Description:
The Seven Principles workshop, based on The New York Times bestseller The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, was developed from Dr. Gottman’s four decades of research with more than 3,000 couples. Over the years, Drs. John and Julie Gottman have continued to fine-tune their innovative method of disrupting negative behaviors that send marriages onto the rocks.
Showing partners how to work with the small daily moments that make up the heart and soul of any relationship, the Seven Principles workshop will teach couples proven, practical, and effective strategies for making marriage work.
Interested in us conducting a Seven Principles To Making Marriage Work or Bringing Baby Home Workshop for your group? Please email us at Kim@LifeBeginsHereTherapeuticAndCounselingServices.com to receive more information.