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Kelley Gunter      

Best-Selling Author, Mental Health Advocate Addressing Trauma, Addiction & Eating Disorders

Kelley Gunter is an internationally acclaimed inspirational speaker, compassionate life coach, and a number one best-selling author. Her compelling memoir, "You Have Such a Pretty Face," explores Gunter’s painful journey to find peace and self-worth after enduring a childhood riddled with trauma and sexual abuse. Following a remarkable 243-pound weight loss and the 20-year maintenance of that loss, Gunter discovered that unhealed trauma from the past would continue to create destruction in the form of life-altering cross-addictions.

Mired in her own suffering and unable to reach out for help, Gunter’s career followed the path of a wounded warrior. She graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in counseling, both of which she used in her 30-year career as a licensed social worker. Gunter’s education enabled her to aid others on their own journeys toward peace, but it wasn’t until 2016 — when an untreated gambling addiction caused her to lose everything — that she was able to begin her own true healing process.

Sober now for over six years, Gunter is speaking and writing full time, and remains refreshingly candid about the trauma-induced cross-addictions that wreaked havoc on her life and forced her to her knees. Armed with personal experience and vast therapeutic knowledge, Gunter is able to apply both to the creation of her written and spoken work. To further her education and expertise, Gunter is now pursuing her doctoral degree in counseling and traumatology.

Gunter’s powerful speaking is infused with the kind of wisdom that’s only learned from hitting rock bottom and living to tell the tale. In this, she’s uniquely equipped to connect to others, relying on equal parts professional insight and an endless wellspring of empathy. Listeners will find that her message isn’t simply a pretty speech tied off with a bow, but rather an open invitation for conversation, growth, and understanding.

In speaking, coaching, and writing, Gunter addresses the painful reality that weight loss alone doesn’t heal the traumas that contributed to the weight gain in the first place, nor does it address the high likelihood that cross addictions can and may arise in weight loss patients who don’t acknowledge their trauma. Gunter asserts that the root of addiction lies in shame, and she works to undo the stigma surrounding trauma by opening up about her own life-long feelings of shame, which once strangled the hope from her existence. Gunter also acknowledges that without her strong faith in God, she wouldn’t be here today.

Gunter’s repertoire for speaking is widely varied and includes topics such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), suicide, weight loss, addictions, trauma, sexual abuse, motivation, and faith. She has spoken to audiences large and small, both live and virtually in a variety of media styles.

Speech Topics

Maintaining Sobriety Through the Aftershocks of Childhood Sexual Abuse – A Survivor’s Perspective

Sexual abuse is like an earthquake that happens in a child’s life.
When an earthquake hits there is the initial destruction, but later, after the earthquake, there are aftershocks that hit. Aftershocks can be just as hazardous as the main quake itself. In fact, aftershocks can sometimes be so strong, that they’re stronger than the main quake. If we are comparing sexual abuse to an earthquake, the resulting trauma that remains from that abuse, sends shock waves throughout the entirety of the survivor’s life. Some of those aftershocks are just as powerful and damaging as the original abuse. Maintaining sobriety can be incredibly difficult while dealing with resurfacing trauma and all of it’s complexities. Learning to navigate through those obstacles, while maintaining sobriety, is the focus of this presentation.

The Cemetery of My Soul - Healing from Trauma

As a speaker in any format, Kelley Gunter wields her personal story to discuss the topic of the trauma that resulted from a childhood riddled with sexual abuse, and how when left undisclosed and thus untreated, that trauma became the catalyst for a life riddled with addiction, self-destruction, and mistakes. This presentation delves into the process of how victims can use the worst of life as a catalyst for healing and how professionals can better understand the role trauma plays in impaired consequential thinking, impulsivity, and ultimately how the brain was formed differently because of that trauma. Gunter's unique blend of clinical expertise and first-hand experience allows her to serve as a powerhouse advocate for trauma recovery and healing. This presentation is unique as Gunter is a speaker who can truly connect to her audience and educate them in the same breath. Perfect for survivors and professionals seeking to better understand them.

Conversations in the darkness: A Discussion of Suicide

As a shift clinical supervisor on the National Suicide Hotline, Gunter utilizes a combination of personal experience and clinical expertise to walk the audience through a frank discussion of what has become a national crisis: suicide. Having taken thousands of calls as a crisis intervention specialist before becoming a clinical supervisor, Gunter explores the myths and facts regarding suicide, (most of what you've always thought, may not be accurate), why the numbers are increasing yearly, and important topics that survivors and clinicians may want to consider including effective safety plans, least invasive techniques, and the growing trend of "SWATTING" through the hotline and 988. The darkness of depression and hopelessness can be all-consuming. How do we lead the hurting out of it?

Wisecracks and Wisdom From the Homecoming Queen of Crazy Town: A journey into self-worth and self-love

This presentation focuses on developing self-worth and self-love as we journey through the hardships life hurls our way. We are never quite the same after we endure trauma, betrayal, or loss. As we grow and survive those things, we develop a new existence afterward. We will explore the hurts we experience and the sometimes-surprising responses we encounter from the people we love, and the world around us. There are lessons to be learned from exploring the people we lose along the way.

This workshop is real, genuine and explores the truth of how we live when we don't think we are enough and how others can begin to change as we discover that worth. I discuss the highs, the lows, and all of the in-betweens in this emotional journey.

Attendees never fail to say that they recognized themselves and their behaviors in ways they never had before. Empowering and thought provoking, Gunter explores the clinical reasons why many struggle with low self-worth, how to begin to build it, and puts it all together with the wit her audiences have come to expect.

Healing from Childhood Trauma, Addiction, and Recovery: Are they sometimes at odds?

This session focuses on the complexities of healing from trauma and also walking the path of recovery from addiction. Many times, survivors of childhood trauma first disclose their abuse when they are in treatment for addiction. The problem is that while these two entities often coexist, their individual treatments focus on opposing core principles.

Adult survivors of childhood trauma are taught during their healing process that they are not to blame for whatever abuse they suffered as a child---the abuse was not their fault and unlearning those erroneous beliefs plays a powerful role in the healing process. In recovery and the 12-Step programs, though, individuals are taught to take responsibility for their mistakes and the choices they made and make amends if possible. Attempting to walk on both sides of this difficult street, can leave individuals feeling more stressed and hopeless regarding their situation.

This session focuses on navigating both of these journey's simultaneously. This powerful topic will speak to individuals who are healing and walking the recovery lifestyle and also professionals who are looking for a new perspective on recovery and healing.

Kelley merges genuine compassion, sharp clinical insights, and a vibrant sense of humor to create a one-of-a-kind lesson about life’s hardships, and its beauties. Having walked this journey herself, Gunter provides a personal look into surviving the unthinkable and maintaining sobriety, and also utilizes her thirty years of post-masters degree clinical experience to provide professional insight and expertise.

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