121. An American Therapist in Paris: A Therapist’s Journey into Global Mental Health Innovation! with Colleen Kelly

121. An American Therapist in Paris: A Therapist’s Journey into Global Mental Health Innovation! with Colleen Kelly

In this episode of the Traveling Therapist podcast, Kym Tolson chats with Colleen Kelly, a therapist whose career has taken her from American Indian reservations to the heart of Paris. Colleen shares her unique journey of integrating her therapy practice with her love for travel, detailing how she transitioned into roles that blend mental health, marketing, and technology. Throughout the conversation, she provides a wealth of insight into the challenges and rewards of moving a therapy practice across continents and explores innovative ways therapists can expand their professional roles.

Colleen's personal story illustrates the potential for therapists to diversify their careers beyond traditional settings. She discusses the importance of adaptability, the use of digital platforms to enhance practice, and practical tips for therapists considering an international move, including the critical role of immigration lawyers and leveraging technology in mental health.

Key Points:

  • Colleen Kelly discusses her transition from working on American Indian reservations to establishing a life and career in Paris, highlighting the broad opportunities available to therapists.
  • She delves into how her career has expanded into marketing and technology, showcasing the evolving nature of mental health professions.
  • Colleen offers valuable advice for therapists considering a move abroad, such as the importance of legal guidance and embracing digital advancements in therapy.

Connect with Colleen Kelly:

Director International Marketing and Technology Development 

HapTech Holdings





(33) 06 07 11 97 23


Connect with me:

Instagram: @thetravelingtherapist_kym

The Traveling Therapist Membership:


Revolutionize Your Private Practice with AI Course:


Signup to learn more about life as Traveling Therapist:


The Traveling Therapist Facebook Group: 


Bill Like A Boss Insurance Billing Community:


Subscribe to the Podcast:

Apple iTunes | Spotify | Google Podcast | Stitcher | Amazon | Castbox



Hi, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Travelling therapist podcast. Super excited today to have Colleen Kelly with us. She is a member of the traveling therapist, Facebook group and super helpful. She's always offering suggestions and helpful content to the new members who are trying to become traveling therapist. So I was really excited when she agreed to come on and do an episode with us because she has a very interesting story that I think a lot of the listeners are going to be thrilled to hear about. So Colleen, welcome. And I love if you would start out with just talking about how you went from being a traditional therapist to a traveling therapist.


Yes. Okay. So my background story was originally growing up and my dad worked on American Indian reservations in New York state. So I, when I got my master's at Antioch, I worked for five years on Indian Reservation. So I worked all over from North Dakota, South Dakota down through California, I worked for the Southern California Indian Center. And then after that, I ended up making a big switch and working at Thomas's Malibu. So yeah, many years I was the Director of the Family Program, very traditional life at the time, actually, I hired my best friend who's Dr. Reza nabavi. And then we opened up resolutions after in Santa Monica. So we had an office in Santa Monica, and the IOP thing oh, there, he's doing amazing. And very traditional. And then I started working online when my husband and I I'm actually 31 year sober in AAA 30 years. Congratulations. You. Yeah, like, I guess when very, very similar souls we came to, we traveled constantly. It was my it's, it was just my obsession. So I go to Hawaii all the time. I have two daughters. Now. They're 21 and 23, which is crazy. But we grew up traveling all over California, just out of Tahiti once a year, Hawaii many times, Pacific Western Hawaii, so many times you're in Hawaii, and I. So I've been a MFT licensed MFT for 28 years. And ego I can tell you the whole time. Like when I first got licensed and my babies were tiny. And I put in that little sounds of sparse DD and sat in my office. I was like, No way. This is no way what I'm meant to do. So yes, launch along with Yeah, along with being a therapist, I've always been a therapist. I've also always done marketing and branding for treatment centers. So I Interesting. Yeah, I must have toured, I think about I think 240 treatment centers in the US and became a placement expert. So if someone needs any type of mental health, eating disorder, substance abuse, whatever it is, I can help place them and arrange that. So I've done that whole time along with being a therapist. And then we would come here my daughters and my husband I every summer for vacation. If parents it was two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, and we cry when leaving, and the girls were like, wow.


Oh, God, like I don't know


how you move here. And then once honestly, Can you swear on the podcast? Yeah,


you can say whatever you want.


We're standing by the sand when, like eight years ago, and he goes, we should we could just move here. I said, John, it would be so hard he goes, or we could just say fuck it and do it. And I said, You know what? Yeah, yeah. And it was August and we moved in September, we got an immigration Oh,


I just like in a month, you were like, fuck it. And then we were vacationing


and I got and I said, okay, and I got an apartment. And John came back in September, and we were there a couple more months wrapping up school to so that they could go they moved at 14 and 16. God bless them. Oh, my gosh, the hard time. Like how is France learn the language and they did it. But we went to an immigration lawyer and my cousin was like, I was born here at the American Hospital. And he's like, yeah, there's no 14th amendment, like no one cares. So we do what everyone did. We did a work. We have worked thesis. Okay. Here's this little different than mine. So we got an immigration lawyer, and I highly recommend it. The okay. I don't know, if every country is like this in France. It's like a phonebook of paperwork. I've heard


this yes about other countries do that, like get a lawyer


so much. It saves you so much time and like not missing one because they kind of like, they want you to miss that one form to say, come back. So you want to go with everything. And my lawyer comes with me to the prefecture I'm actually going in a couple of weeks ago, when we moved here and I originally opened an office, different countries have different rules for being a therapist, but France is very there's no regulation unless you're a psychologist. Okay? If W MFT anything, you just come here and open. But you have to get a work visa and not but the clinical side site so is a UK. So I came here and I had a little tiny private practice and office here just working with expats not good enough to work in French at the time. And I also was really lucky to hook up with Castle Craig Hospital in UK, BEST Treatment Center literally in Europe, in Scotland. And they also have smarter more castle in Ireland. And they have an outpatient Amsterdam and Sweden where it was last week. Oh my gosh. Well, I do a lot for them. I did there. Actually, this is really cool. I feel like I'm going to be speaking too much. It's fine.


Go ahead. I normally I would ask questions. For now,


we find ourselves. But they're having a big they have a reunion every June with like hundreds of people and they asked me to be the keynote speaker this year. So I'm going to be the oh, that I've worked there at Castle Craig. I've worked at their outpatient catch. And I just love that rehab. So I placed a lot of people there. And so that's my life was coming to France and starting out and either UK is very easy to I've worked a lot in the UK. Everything here. It's amazing. It's like an hour away. It's like or an hour, two hours on a flight. It's so great. We mean the girls traveled constantly. And there was a thing called icad before which was like speaker series like a conference that traveled all over before COVID. And I was lucky that Sam Quinlan asked me to be a keynote speaker and I went to like every major city in Europe at the time I was. Yeah, I was great. I spoke about the transgenerational grief from genocide in the American Indian, Northern Irish and Palestinian community. And that was my time. Yes. That is such a great opportunity right before COVID. So a year of traveling doing that. And that's what has So Craig, I worked was working for them at that point that was working for them. And I was repping as a marketer, Cirque Lodge in Utah and visions as Assistant Program. Yeah. So yeah, so I was repping them as a marketer. And before I moved to speaking Hawaii, I got to do the marketing for Pacific quest in Hawaii one year ago to Hawaii every month, and my only job was to bring five therapists with us such a dream so much. Yeah, I've always liked to blend like the marketing too. And the branding. Yeah. With being a therapist. So then we moved to France, and we're here and I'm seeing clients and my friend. I don't know if you know Dr. Steve Danziger. He's one of the biggest EMDR people. Yeah, I think I've heard that. Yeah, they've written seven books together. Jamie's I think, like the head of emdria, or something big and emdria thieve, who I knew from New York City in the 90s, who I knew as CVD with long hair as a punk rock drummer, we got sober. Lilian, wow. It's been a while you market my company. I was like, What is it, and I'm in Paris. He's like, I want to expand to Europe. So it's called start again, associates and start again, we go into a treatment center, and we train the whole staff and EMDR on the sorry that all the therapists in EMDR, get them certified. And we trained the staff in trauma, resilience and mindfulness, and then certify them as a trauma, same thing we've done and from speaking at icad, a really great guy named Patty Creedon, who's Irish saw me and reached out to me and I hooked up with him and I introduced him to Steve is now based in Ireland at the Dundalk Institute of Technology and the REIT in an incubator program for five years with things like Amazon health and a whole bunch of really cool programs. And the reason we're there, I'm trying to like fit everything into give you the other things start again has is we own we have 16 patents for a technology, which is a haptic technology. That is it started out being like subwoofers in sneakers, and you pair us you pair the music with your Bluetooth iPhone or whatever you're listening to Bluetooth wireless, and it plays a full body. So you could get up to your music or gaming or a movie or anything. It's just like,


is it like a binaural beat or something that's just playing in the background?


Do you could easily do that?


A anything you want to stream anything? Yeah,


if you do. You if you play music, it's like you're at a concert like your chest is pounding. It's an all yourself. So tech is really growing now. That's my main focus now. Yours I'm kind of leaving. I have like 10 clients left. I'm trying to wind down on the whole therapy. Yes, I understand. That half tech is my baby. And I have a contract with the Veterans Association in the VA in America. We're doing for their funding for study. is on Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, PTSD and anxiety. And so far we've been, it's proven extremely, extremely helpful in those. So there's health care information.


Yeah, yes,


get we've had it for two years now we've taken it out of sneakers, and we've made insoles with it. So you can put in any shoe. And we've made floorboards. So any treatment center can have a floorboard. And we've made thin thin floorboards. So they're using it. One of our South Korean investors is using it in theaters and movie theaters and spas. for it, so you could do a total immersive experience, even as the floors are Yeah, so it's really big in gaming, healthcare, entertainment. Yeah.


So that's so passion now, from the mental health perspective, or the impeachment perspective. How does that How did that work? Like, maybe explain that to me, so it's like putting insoles and advice through your body,


exactly. Mental rehab, I would suggest the floorboards because you don't want to have a bunch of shoes like a bowling alley. So they could just Yeah, their shoes, just put it. They can use it for grounding for resourcing for EMDR, or all kinds of things.


That is fascinating. Break up, you can


play you to a beautiful day, and sneakers and see played and he came in next week. And he's like, I had the best week of my life every time I heard beautiful, like so it's really like a complete immersion. Really great with Health Care application aiding, actually with the anxiety and PTSD and old timers. And yeah, so that's what I do now. So that's my baby now is hap tech and started again. And we have a third feature, which is our nonprofit with a 501 C three PC. AND, OR and it's called trauma 2030. And we are working cross border in Ireland with people affected by the troubles. And our goal is to work all over the world with thought leaders, governments mental health using a trauma informed language. Our next thing is as well remotely into Gaza and Palestine because I used to do a lot with us. I'm in the Syrian Medical Association work a lot in the Middle East. So yeah, so we have the nonprofit branch also. Yeah. And fascinating. So the last thing I'm doing is I


like me, it's like


yeah, what it's great to diversify the one marketing. Your marketing contract I'm doing right now is with a place in southern Spain in Marbella called Asgard. Sober Living, and it's these Icelandic guys. Asgard is the where the gods live in Norse mythology. And it's a at secondary tier at aftercare, sober living, which is just amazing on the beach in Marbella. And we're having great luck there. So I get to go to Iceland, and I was just in Sweden for them. And I get to go down to southern Spain and go swimming. It's an amazing place. Yeah, I


guess what a what an amazing life with so I'm really grateful. My goal was suppressible like,


that was my favorite thing in life. And so everything I've done, I've been like, How can I do this? Traveling? Yes, what possible?


So I'm just I'm so I want to talk about the Paris thing a little bit too. But I'm super curious just about like, marketing for facilities. You know, I I am a certified substance abuse counselor. I had been worked inpatient, outpatient, yeah, many years now, and just private practice. But you know, I had wonderful connections with different people, marketing people, slash therapists, and all these facilities. And I always wondered, like, how do they get these jobs? Because if, you know, it feels like they would just travel from facility to facility. And they also helped always helped me coordinate treatment options for whoever I was working with at the time that needed to go in. Yes. But I'm just curious, like, for therapists, listening, is this a viable option of a therapist maybe wants to get out of the direct care but want to be involved in treatment and and get to travel and share about, you know, residential facilities? Is that something that therapists can? Do? They really,


absolutely can. I think the only thing you need is somewhat of a business background. And also the sense of being really outgoing. Like I said to my husband was, I want a job where I get paid to have dinner with people and he's like, Well, honey, I don't know if that exists. And it's like, I thought you're like, yes, it does.


I guess I found it doing this


and you find programs you really believe in and I don't have to Yeah, no hurt Garvey from America from California to he's like, the marketing guru for about 40 years. He's like the most amazing wow. And he works for pch, and visions right now. He's worked everywhere. And he said to me many many years ago, he said you're a marketer, too, because I was an actor in a past life. I went to NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Mike, outgoing and I was like, No, I don't think so. But he trained me and he and Keith Berman from circle lodge arts. They're so full of integrity. No matter where any of us work, if someone called us and they belong somewhere else, we put them somewhere else. That's the marketer is you serve the client first, the clients best, and you will always work. And you know, people will trust you, because you're not like trying to put them in your place. And so that's how you get so many referrals and so many, because they know I'm always in the best place. And I know oop, America, Asia, like just where that is Thailand. Yeah. So the main thing is, like, lead with integrity. Know, everyone. And yeah, you definitely do it.


You could totally do it. Yeah. I mean, some of the people I can't even think of their names right now. I would mention them to you probably know, we have people I worked with, but that was so long ago. Now. That seems like Yeah, but they helped me so much. You know, just Yeah, patient therapist specializing in in, you know, substance use disorders or whatever. Just like, Hey, I've got this person, they've got this insurance, you know, yes. Yeah, help me get help me get them there and help me get them like, you know, connected to intake and get them going. You know, so the whole people like you that that were right there to help me along the way. So I love that. Yeah. So just going back to the parents thing for a minute. Yeah, it sounded like you said your husband was born there. So does he have dual citizenship or no? American? It means nothing. Okay. 14th amendment?


Yeah, there was no Gotcha. He's in the same position as me. But we are both applying for citizenship now. Because you as soon as we came, we want to be residents, and we pay taxes as soon as we got here. Okay. Okay. After five years, and we're here now seven, you can apply for citizenship. But the new thing is you have to be I don't know if every country has this. There's different levels of language. A one eight, D one? Oh, yeah. Yeah. They just changed it made it harder ufpb to Oh, so I'm gonna really study this year and we'll apply for citizenship. It will like everything take forever. So that's my goal is citizenship are for both of us French citizenship


by Can you just stay as long as you have that work for you?


Because keep renewing them. I have another appointment. John just got he just passed the b1 exam and got tenure citizenship. I'm not I can't pass the b1 exam yet. But you know, I mean, I live my life in French speaking French, but I can't pass the b1 written. So I have four year four year residency visa does work. If


he's a citizen now and you're married, that doesn't just like grandpa,


no. President he has tenure residency. So both applying for the Yeah, but no, unless he was born French otherwise, like his mom has Irish residency that doesn't do anything for us. Yeah,


yes. Gotcha. So as far as your business entities go, just as a therapist, are you just strictly seeing clients in France and in Europe? Are you seeing clients back in the United States? No.


I gave up on that. Because I make more just seeing my clients in California. My entry and so I'm like, Wait, what am I doing? So yeah, so I just see. See clients mostly in California, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia. Middle East. That's because


yeah, that those places pay better. I'm assuming is that is that there?


Well, yeah. The high end. Yeah, yeah. I got used to working. I mean, promises really set me up. I have them to die that


have Yeah, they're very, I mean, Italy. I mean, everybody make promises. Yeah. Oh, my God.


I went from the Indian reservations, which was the best time I like to promises, which is really funny. That is amazing. That is the same. You realize, okay, we're all on the same page. Yeah, yes.


Absolutely. Yep. Yeah. So amazing. So as far as like taxes go, do you have an address that you maintain in California and you have to pay taxes to California or


like Ramadan bliss, because I'm really lucky. We own our place. We own a so he's renting from us. And but you get an expat section, you still pay tax, but you'll get it back and we just mostly not double pay. You don't double pay at first. But you'll get it back. You don't you don't have to worry about double paying tax. But we have a thing in the US we use and we have an accountant in France, so you do have to double count to make sure everything is you know, done. Yeah, so it's art smart. Yep. And in all the work you do in I guess Europe and in the speaking and all that stuff, is that considered only taxable in France? Or is that your business? Okay,


cool. I


try to make everything go into my French accounts. I want to show them you know that you want me here?


Yeah, look, I'm bringing it. Yeah. So everything


goes into French account. Yeah, yeah. And a few things I still do. Like I still work for Reza, my best friend. I do things for him. The American but it's not that much and I get the tax back anyway. So it's fine. So interesting.


Yeah. So I'm trying to think of there anything I haven't asked you about that, that somebody might want to know a therapist that they do want to move to France?


I think on the group's I see, I mean, like anything, of course, you see a lot of misinformation. But there's a lot, it's a lot easier, they will think if you get a really good portfolio together, you're going to need to show the country you want to move to that you are bringing your business there, but you are not going to click off their system. You're not going to take a job from Spanish, German, French person, you're bringing a business and you can do it. You just have to show you make find out that country. How much do they need you to make a month and then move you're gonna make it and again, an immigration lawyer. I can't even tell you it's so worth it. We've been here six years, we still use them. He's going with the we go the prefecture and they are yelling in French and each other I could never do that. And it works out. Yeah. Wow. We have them. Yeah. It's so amazing.


Yes. Now your daughter's so when you moved there? I'm assuming they were still in school. Did you? How did that work? I'm just curious for people that might want to bring their kids like it was


I mean, you just told them in French school and it was really hard. They haven't had to pay. I can't remember what the program is called. But it's like you. They slowly integrate into French in the public school system. And they teach you slower and you kind of like integrate into main classes. Maeve, we found a great bilingual school and youngest who's like perfect French, like off the chart, like she goes to immigration. And she talks to them and they stick with your passport. And then they go You're American and Asian X I'm like damn, but he took the back the baccalaureate, international baccalaureate, she got Libya and she did amazing. And she went to a bilingual school in INSEAD right. I Paris. I remember at the time she goes, Do you know what bilingual means? And I was like, what do you what I thought was like half English, half French. She goes, Yeah, every single class is in French. Every class I take is in French. There's two extra classes in English to help people learn English and I was like, oh, sorry.


Wow, you're like, sorry.


I look up to them so much.


They must be amazing.


The French is amazing. Yeah. Wow. Really good. I sadly have got to catch up.


This is my travel. I would be in trouble if I had to learn a new language.


This age I'm telling ya. Yeah, but we just travel I can't I was the best thing we ever did. We like it's so like, every summer we spent a month down the Riviera. We spent like in con or in the sand like I get to I've been to Iceland five times. It's just I can't I love it here so much every day I'm like John said the best thing he goes you know, it'll still be life will move here. It will still have problems. But we'll be surrounded by Paris while we have Yes.


I walked around like making weight makes it way better. Yeah. So


much. Yeah. We go to the fixture and I say to them I go Jim the fans come see said they own person. I love France as if it was a person and they're like


they're like, Okay, lady, like, Okay,


do you have this form like Jesus? Oh, that's, I love to hear like, I'm still a tourist. I do. Yeah.


I love. I love when you post pictures in the traveling therapists group. You're like, oh, I can't believe I live here are these beautiful pictures at Paris? That's like, Yeah, I can't either. It's


great. But we're never going back. I've packed so few times. I even well, I shouldn't say it's all right. I love America. I'm kidding. But I say to my kids, I want to make a tick tock is a joke like me getting off the plane. And a little tick tock seeing the American flag when I visit and just oh my god. I'm kidding. I love America. But like I just I do not ever want to go back. I love France so much in the EU and


ever made really. It's so cool to just be able to just country have really yeah, they're just got all y'all need.


Yeah, we go to Italy all the time. And you remember that? Call me by your name. I was really great movie. My daughter saw it very LGBTQ amazing movie. They were like, I want grandma. It's a little town in Italy in the middle of nowhere. We last summer we went we spent a week in Chroma and went everywhere that they shot. Call me


that. Oh God. That is amazing.


It's amazing. Yeah.


I love it. Oh, gosh. Well, thank you so much for sharing all this your inspiration around the speaking in the marketing and these other products you're developing like Yes, really. I hopefully is going to inspire people listening to Nick you're just you could branch out don't have to just be a


science now. I was like 510 All the sudden Yeah. Yeah. I can relate


mine are slowly drifting, not letting anyone.


Yeah. And I also being in our own therapy, I've never not been in therapy. It's so important. Yes,


yes. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. And making that work. I mean, I guess being being grounded there in Paris, you're able to probably see somebody or maybe, where's your therapist? How do you manage that? It just curious. USA.


I have the weirdest hours. Yeah, I'll like send out an email. And so we'll be right back because it's time stamped like, is it two sets of 3am? I'm like, embarrassed.


That's how my nails are two hours.


I see people sometimes it's 7am. Or I'll have a meeting at midnight. Yeah,


I hear you. I hear you. Gosh, thank you so much. So people wanted to reach out to you to talk to you work with you. How would they find you?


I gave you all my little my website. All my little contacts here. They could see more about haptic or Asgard. I


give you all the websites. Yeah. I'll put them in the show notes. And anybody can reach out to me. I'll tell


you how to move here to Europe.


Excellent. Yeah, that's Yeah. And you're in the Facebook group, if anybody listening is in there. Yeah. Yeah. She's super helpful when people ask questions about thank you so much for making it work. Thank you for taking the time.


Thank you.

Listen to the Previous Episode

@2021 The Traveling Therapist
Privacy Policy - Terms of Service - 
Site Map