Kelly Priest

Kelly Priest

Social Learning Specialist

Kelly Priest & Associates


My road in life has taken me all over.
In college, the Strong Interest Inventory suggested I be a lawyer, reporter, psychologist, or clergy.
I majored in journalism and worked as a copy editor. I thought that was safer than going into psych.
I didn't love it.
I started volunteering in juvenile court and thought law school might be a good path for me.
I left after my first week of law school and decided to pursue a master's degree instead.
After completing my degree, I spent some time working in the child maltreatment field.
When my child was diagnosed with autism, I saw an opportunity to help.
I created a job that combines my unique perspective and my clinical knowledge.
Keep following my journey


High School
Randolph School
Communication, General
The University of Alabama
Clinical Psychology
Alabama A & M University


Social Learning Specialist

I teach adults how to help children with social learning while respecting their mental health needs.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Helping People

Day to Day

At school, I work with teachers on social learning curricula. I might create a lesson plan on figuring out the size of a social problem on a scale from 1 to 5. I'll look in on a student in PE, then do a parent presentation on our social learning approach. At lunch, I might observe some kids' play interactions while I play Duck, Duck, Goose with them. Later, in my private practice, I'll run a small group for kids with social learning challenges, then facilitate an autism parent education group.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

To be effective in any profession, but especially the helping professions, you have to be competent multiculturally. Expanding my understanding of the dynamics of race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and more has given me a healthier and more holistic view of neurodiversity. Good multicultural education has informed my work in ways I never expected. I've also done some additional coursework in behavioral studies, Social Thinking conferences, etc. It's ongoing.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

While in college, take classes in psychology, education, ethics, and multiculturalism. Get relevant work experience, and travel too. I wouldn't discourage a doctoral degree, but only if it doesn't put you into too much debt. I make as much or more than some of my colleagues with doctorates, so it depends on what you want to do. You could get to where I am with a master's degree and life experience, but to do well, you'll also need an entrepreneurial mindset and skills.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

Communication, General
Clinical Psychology


The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"To get a job in psychology you'll have to get your Ph.D., which is practically impossible. If you don't get a PhD, you'll make no money and you'll be changing bedpans in a psych ward."

Challenges I Overcame

Learning Issues