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Insights from JustAnswer Therapist: Q&A with Jennifer Kelman, LCSW

An exclusive interview by Stephanie E.

Image courtesy of Jennifer Kelman | Maria Stavreva, Getty Images

Welcome to an exclusive interview with Jennifer Kelman, a distinguished mental health expert on JustAnswer (, offering online support since 2012. With over 30 years of experience as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Kelman brings a wealth of expertise to her work, particularly in the areas of relationships, parenting, and children's mental health.

Beyond her contributions to JustAnswer, Kelman maintains a thriving private practice and has garnered widespread recognition for her lectures and appearances on news and television programs, addressing a diverse range of issues including relationships, parenting, body image, eating disorders, and children's mental health. Join us as we delve into her insights and experiences in the field of mental health and counseling.

Entrepreneur Exclusives (Q1): Thank you for taking the time to speak with us here at She's SINGLE; we are delighted to learn more about your expertise. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and what inspired your career choice?

Jennifer Kelman: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a helper. From my days as a child playing tennis and trying to help others learn and perfect their game, to volunteering at a local children’s hospital when I was a teenager, I've always been drawn to assisting others. My parents offered a weekly allowance of $2, but only if I did volunteer work.

At the time, I felt annoyed by that, but once I got into the playroom and began working with children who were hospitalized, I forgot all about the allowance and felt fulfilled by the smiles on the children’s faces when I arrived to spend time and play. It was during those times that my career was born. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

The amazing thing is that the same Children’s hospital where I volunteered as a teenager was my first place of employment after graduate school. I remember walking back to that same playroom and remembering how it all began.

Entrepreneur Exclusives (Q2): As a Mental Health Expert for JustAnswer, what are some similarities or differences that you've noticed when it comes to males versus female inquiries on love? Is there a vast difference?

Jennifer Kelman: Working on JustAnswer is an incredible experience, and I get to touch the lives of many people since its incredible platform can reach so many. Some come for a quick bit of help, while others have been coming to me since I began working on the platform in 2012. There are some differences between men and women and their needs around love and relationships. The most frequent types of questions I receive from men are that they have been unfaithful, their relationship has ended, but they want their girlfriend back. This is a difficult road, but the couple can find their way back if they are both willing to do the tough work around infidelity.

Women who come to JustAnswer tend to want to connect quickly with a new person and want to know how to navigate that path if the other person isn’t quite ready. I offer the suggestion to let things develop naturally without pushing and trying to force things. I try to impress on them that the best relationships are the ones that “allow” for autonomy within connection.

Meaning that both people need to have their own passions and their own time in order to thrive in the connection. When there is a struggle in a relationship, it can often be due to one person wanting more time together and less autonomy. Communication is also key, and more women come to JustAnswer feeling somewhat frustrated by their partner and their ability to communicate. The healthiest relationships are the ones where both people can be heard and understood while being vulnerable and open.

How do you navigate the challenges of relationship breakups?

After a break-up, most people coming to JustAnswer have a desire to reconnect with their ex and are looking for a way to make that happen. That isn’t so easy, and I suggest that the issues that led to the break-up need to be addressed and communication needs to be improved, but only if the other person is on the same page. If they are not, the most difficult thing for the client to hear is that they must give some space and time to allow all to process and see how they feel after some time apart. Most don’t want to be told to sit back and just let things be, but in most cases, that is the best one can do. Pushing rarely allows one to reconnect.

How can couples effectively communicate their needs and expectations in a relationship?

Without healthy communication, there is no relationship. Healthy communication is where both people can express themselves without fear of retaliation or denial. Some things may be tough to hear, but it is crucial to sit through it, be vulnerable, and validate your partner's experience. Not all needs can be met by a partner, and relationships struggle when all the eggs are placed in that one basket.

Image Credit: Jennifer Kelman, LCSW & children, Jordyn & Kyle

Do you feel that couples can rebuild after infidelity? If so, what advice would you give to help get things moving along?

I have worked with many couples, both on JustAnswer and in my private practice, helping them navigate the difficult road after infidelity, and I do believe trust can be rebuilt. It takes a lot of work. I have found that the couples that make it through are the ones where the person who was unfaithful is able to sit through the muck and be open to hearing how their partner feels – and not just in the short term, but for however long it takes.

There is an analogy that I created to help couples understand how long the trauma and feelings of betrayal can last. I have named it “Why is the Sky Blue?” I ask the person who has been unfaithful to imagine that they have a child, and they take daily walks with that child. Each walk, the child asks, “Why is the sky blue?” You come up with an answer, maybe scientific, maybe imaginative, and you comfort the child with patience and love as they ask.

The next day rolls around, and on the walk, the child asks, “Why is the sky blue?” Perhaps the same answer is given, or maybe something new, but either way, you provide patience and love while giving the answer. The next day, same question, same answer, with the same amount of patience. Now, a few months go by, and there are different conversations during the walk without any questions as to why the sky is blue. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, months later, the child asks, “Why is the sky blue?” At that moment, you do not erupt with frustration and anger but instead respond with patience and love.

This is what happens after a betrayal. There may be many questions, feelings, and worries at the start, and they may quiet down for a bit, but then, seemingly out of nowhere, the questions, feelings, and worries arise again. The couples that do best are the ones where the unfaithful partner can accept, tolerate, and respond with openness, patience, and love no matter when or how long after the infidelity the questions arise.

Rushing the partner or erupting in frustration and anger for them being triggered and wanting to know everything all over again, even if it is the same question, cannot happen if there is any chance of rebuilding. Grief takes time, and that cannot be rushed, so if you wouldn’t erupt toward a child for asking the same thing over and over, one cannot erupt and rush things along. The person who was unfaithful MUST be able to sit in that muck for as long as it takes, and perhaps it never fully goes away, and things will always need to be spoken about.

Entrepreneur Exclusives (Q3): Have you ever received a question that immediately made you feel empathy for the client? If so, can you share some of the story and what advice was offered?

Jennifer Kelman: When clients come to me and are ready to be open and vulnerable, I feel grateful for their trust. When they wind their way through their “stories,” I am always touched and filled with empathy. The clients who work hard and want to make changes for themselves are the ones that touch me deeply, and my empathy is oozing. I am always touched by trauma histories and how a client has moved through it and is now thriving. I am moved when someone comes to JustAnswer with the desire to learn something about themselves and comes back to share their growth after making a change from the work we did together on the platform.

Entrepreneur Exclusives (Q4): When it comes to counseling, do you ever feel like it's jaded your perspective on love or other areas of your life? If so, how do you overcome those feelings? If not, do you have advice for other clinical specialists who may experience this?

Jennifer Kelman: I have great boundaries and have been able to not let the experiences of others cloud or jade my view of things. The clients’ experiences are theirs and not mine, so thankfully it has not crept into my ways of thinking about my own life. If other clinicians find this happening, I would advise that they get some peer support or their own counseling to see what is being triggered.

We all come with our own history, and it is possible, as therapists, to get reminded of that history and let those feelings impact us. Our work is to keep good boundaries and work through what may be coming up. I feel grateful for the work I have done for myself, which allows me to help my clients best.

Entrepreneur Exclusives (Q5): There are many films that depict the work of clinical social workers (Precious, Case 39, I am Sam); do you have a favorite? If so, did the film showcase the profession correctly? Have you ever seen a film that shows social clinical work as a profession and it is wrongly depicted?

Jennifer Kelman: Films often depict therapists in a kooky, nutty kind of way. The therapist seems disorganized with their own chaotic life. While that may be true of some, it is a poor generalized representation. My favorite depiction of a therapist and therapist-client relationship is in the film “Good Will Hunting.” Robin Williams had incredible boundaries and created an environment for Matt Damon to feel safe, vulnerable, and cared for. This allowed him to open up and heal. There is healing in connection, and that is what this film depicted.

Entrepreneur Exclusives (Q6): Can you tell us a little about the platform JustAnswer?

Jennifer Kelman: JustAnswer is a platform that connects people with live therapists, doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, mechanics, and other verified and vetted experts for real-time, online professional help. Featuring more than 12,000 experts across 150 categories, JustAnswer has helped millions of customers across 196 countries since 2003. For more information, visit

Entrepreneur Exclusives (Q7): Oftentimes people say you should never go back to an ex. Why do you think many of us are prone to return to past relationships versus completely detaching and moving on? Isn't it best to have a clean slate?

Jennifer Kelman: People long for the familiar and sometimes feel daunted by getting back out there to find someone new. It may feel easier to return to what is known, even if things weren’t good. Unless the issues that created the disconnect are worked through, then most likely couples will bump into the same issues. There might be a honeymoon phase initially after reconnection, but without some therapeutic work, the same issues will creep in.

Entrepreneur Exclusives (Q8): What are some of your hobbies?

Jennifer Kelman: I am a mom with 14-year-old twins, and my greatest joys come when we are together as a family. I have coached their baseball and softball teams since they were young. We are also avid Pickleball players and love family time on the court. Of course, we "fight" on the court, but that is replaced by crazy laughter and great fun. I love my career and could not imagine doing anything else. I am a helper/coach by nature—that’s the good news and bad news all rolled into one.

Entrepreneur Exclusives (Q9): Do you see yourself remaining in this profession, or will you eventually branch out and explore other avenues?

Jennifer Kelman: I love this profession, and I am always looking for ways to enhance what I do. I have participated in podcasts and TV shows on many important issues, especially those facing teens today.

Relationships are also within my wheelhouse, and I love working with those who want to learn and grow.

My next goal is to package some of my knowledge and put together an online course. While technology is not my specialty, people are, so if I can get the hang of how to package it all, then here I come. Is there anyone out there who wants to help? :-)

Entrepreneur Exclusives (Q10): Lastly, can you share your thoughts on how societal norms and pressures influence relationship dynamics? This could be a mother to a child (women who are told to have children before the age of 35 and will have children even though they are not financially ready to do so).

Jennifer Kelman: Societal norms and pressures are everywhere, and it is our job to push back against them and carve a path that feels right for every individual. Rarely are we happy when we follow a path that is prescribed for us but never feels natural. If you meet someone who wants to put you in a box based on a societal norm and that doesn’t feel right, then see that red flag, advocate for yourself, and get out if need be.

Young women are being bombarded on social media about how to look, how to act, and how to get a man. I am not a fan of social media and its influence on the young mind. Just be who you are and subscribe to your own norms based on what feels right for you! That is healthy living and healthy boundaries.


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