I spent several weeks of my summers as a young girl visiting my grandmother in her tiny Ohio river town. The highlight of my time there would be the hours we’d search the stacks of books at the town library. I’d bring bundles back to her house, and they always fit into two categories: novels with female protagonists and psychology texts (usually Freud, but fortunately I’ve grown since then).
I was hungry to understand the world and the people inhabiting it. I found myself simply fascinated by human beings -- their interests and their motivations and their behaviors. I wanted to know why people made the choices they did – especially when they didn’t seem to make logical sense -- and how people could overcome even the most seemingly insurmountable odds.
I came at this hunger for understanding from two angles – the stories that enveloped me and the science that intrigued me. I was hooked, heart and mind.
My questioning soul emerged honestly, encouraged by my family who honored my skepticism of the status quo.
As a second grader I wrote letters to board game manufacturers after noticing a trend on their commercials: the boy players always won. By fourth grade, I was challenging our school board on unequal funding for boys’ and girls’ sports. By high school, I was starting an organization to raise money to support local women in poverty.
I recognized early that the world wasn’t going to change itself, and it was going to require systems to shift.
I also realized that the only way for systems to shift is for enlightened individuals to recognize and honor their own power and direct it in service of the world.
Looking around inside myself, my community, and the world writ large, I recognized that women had internalized a whole host of voices that were keeping them from moving the world forward.
We were bound into the systems that were holding us back from making the real, incredible contributions we were destined to make.
I arrived at college with a commitment to elevating the stories of girls and women around the world. I bravely declared myself a journalism major and reveled in the research and the writing. But I learned a key fact in studying journalism – you have to report the story as it is. Sure, telling and disseminating stories is incredibly powerful. But I found myself longing to get in there, to help shift the narrative, to move the outcome forward.
Midstream, I picked up psychology and women’s studies. I did research on women who had experienced trauma and learned how to work with children with different brains. It invigorated my scientific brain while keeping me rooted in my most sacred calling.
In so many realms of my life, I’d intimately observed how food and weight had kept people trapped in torturous boxes.
I wanted to understand how it could have just so much power, enough to break down families and completely derail an otherwise incredible human being. Graduate school brought the opportunity to treat and research these phenomena. I was hooked again, heart and mind.
Again, however, I didn’t want to just understand. I wanted to create change.
I created and researched the effectiveness of a program designed to help teen girls build resiliency toward the cultural messages they receive about dieting and weight. I also delved into the world of social media to better understand how we could harness its power to support those struggling with mental health issues. And most importantly, I had the opportunity to sit one on one and in groups with people suffering, people who were brave enough to share their stories and the hopes with me.
I spent the following decade or so treating people with eating disorders at every level of severity, from folks on inpatient units to those in individual therapy. As my clinical expertise strengthened, I had the opportunity to create and lead programs around the country dedicated to caring for these brave souls. I directed big teams and huge initiatives and got to see the power of my work impacting lives on a daily basis. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
Except, perhaps, when you have your own little souls to grow and nurture. The births of my kiddos deepened my own commitment to getting this right. I realized that world – now and in the future – is depending on all of our voices to be part of the chorus.
There were too many women caught in cycles of self-abuse, girls being tormented by weight stigma, people overwhelmed by trying to be good enough, and everyone feeling like an imposter, always.
We need those voices more than ever.
In 2018, I decided to transition out of my corporate role to get reconnected to the people whom I was put on this earth to support and amplify. I founded Galia Collaborative as an organization dedicated to helping female-identified people to heal in any of the broken places, grow into the identities that they want to inhabit, and to lead the wave of the future.
Heal. Thrive. Lead.
I work with folks in a variety of ways that at their core all support that same mission of healing, growing, and leading together. I offer both psychological services for those who need them, and growth and leadership development for others. One size never fits all, and I work with people individually, in groups, and through learning resources.
Dr. Ashley Solomon is a licensed clinical psychologist and the founder of Galia Collaborative, an organization dedicated to helping female-identified people heal, grow, and lead. Dr. Solomon completed her pre-doctoral residency at Friends Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, followed by a fellowship in eating disorders at Insight Behavioral Health Centers in Chicago, IL. Dr. Solomon became the Director of Eating Disorders for Insight and Eating Recovery Center, then returned to her hometown of Cincinnati and founded the Eating Recovery Center, Ohio. She additionally oversaw the clinical operations of ERC, The Carolinas, as well as ERC’s innovative telebehavioral health initiatives. Dr. Solomon continues to provide consultation to ERC, in addition to other consultative roles. Her research interests include the role of technology in enhancing care, and she speaks regularly on this and other topics. She is actively engaged in and maintains leadership roles within the Academy for Eating Disorders.
Dr. Solomon is committed to an inclusive, culturally relevant, and evidenced-based approach to working with individuals. She utilizes her many years of experience as both a clinical psychologist and a corporate leader to support individuals in achieving their objectives. She has been trained as a Gaia Women’s Leadership Coach and blends her warmth, science-oriented brain, and real-life wisdom to support female-identified people during challenge points in their lives.
- That recovery is always possible (and often probable with the right care).
- That the future is female.
- That families are the number one resource for healing.
- That life is too short for fat-free ice cream.
- That what science tells us and what your heart says are both truly important.
- That there is no such thing as low motivation, only fear.
- That humans need connection more than anything.
- That the patriarchy is really lame.
- That discovering and living by our values is the key not to happiness, but fulfillment.
- That if our feminism isn’t intersectional, it’s nothing.
- That being good is overrated, and being free is even better.
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