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Pediatric Social Worker

Kelli Knudsen, CSWA, QMHP

Office Location(s):
NW Portland

Licensure: LCSW – Expected 2021
Education: MSW – Portland State University, Portland, OR
Internships: KidSpirit, Corvallis, OR

Care Philosophy

I am passionate about working with youth and their families in times of need and believe in working collaboratively with their providers to support them through some of life’s challenging moments. I work to apply high-quality, patient-centered care and compassion to every youth and family I work with, ensuring I am hearing their needs and delivering appropriate interventions catered to their specific goals. We are all unique, and I feel it’s my duty as a social worker to provide therapeutic interventions and recommendations for care centered on this ideal.”

– Kelli Knudsen, CSWA, QMHP


From a young age, Kelli knew she wanted to work in the mental health field. She was immediately drawn to people’s stories of hardship and triumph, and something about the way she engaged with others invited the exchange of personal narratives. As time went on, Kelli recognized that her strong empathy and listening skills were involved in making these human connections.

Out of college, Kelli worked in a youth residential facility, igniting a passion for helping kids and their families and encouraging her to pursue a Master of Social Work. For a variety of heart-tugging reasons, many youths in the program struggled with trusting adults. Kelli learned that by showing up every day, she gave them hope to trust again. Discoveries like this one, and many more throughout her time there, helped Kelli realize she was in the right line of work and motivated her to keep making a difference. Since then, Kelli has helped many kids and families navigate the complex mental health world and remind them they aren’t alone.

Today Kelli continues to meet people where they’re at and listen to support them in their journeys and build on the strengths they already have in place. She loves providing brief, solution-focused therapeutic services and case management, and finds it very fulfilling to connect kids and families to services that could make a difference in their lives. Even when it feels like you’ve exhausted your options, know that Kelli will work hard to find the services and resources you deserve. She understands how complex and challenging navigating the mental health system can be, and if she can take some of that burden off families and provide interventions to try at home, that’s a huge win!

At Metropolitan Pediatrics, Kelli is excited to work in primary care, her ideal environment for early screening and intervention due to its preventive focus. Historically, she worked in an emergency department with youth and families in active crisis, giving her a true appreciation and passion for addressing early warning signs to mitigate a full mental health crisis. Additionally, the opportunity to screen youth and families early for depression and suicide risk is very important to her. In this role, Kelli looks forward to further normalizing speaking up and asking for help, finding creative solutions for each child and family’s struggles, and working together to problem-solve and practice interventions until something works. She understands and appreciates the courage it takes to come see her and thanks families for being experts in their own lives, sharing their history and insights to explore treatment together.

One of Kelli’s favorite clinical areas of study is Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). She’s invested in learning the effects of childhood trauma on the brain (neurodevelopment) and could watch Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ TED Talk “How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime” on repeat—it gives her goosebumps! Additionally, Kelli is always on the hunt for new books or content on ACEs to expand her skills as a social worker.

On a personal note, Kelli is passionate about cooking. She says it brings her such calmness, and she loves watching people enjoy the food she makes. One day she hopes to create her own cookbook. Outside the kitchen, Kelli’s happy place is anywhere with her family. Together, they enjoy nights in playing dominoes and watching Netflix, or venturing out to the beach or a new restaurant. As you might expect, Kelli is always down to sample new dishes or flavors.

Kelli is an Oregon native who grew up in the Aloha area. As a child, her family fostered many animals, sparking her intense infatuation with pugs. Kelli’s first love was a Pekingese pug name Moe that her family fostered and later adopted. Today her pug Bailey is the apple of her eye. Pugs will always have a special place in Kelli’s heart and in her pug-themed office.

New Patients

Thank you for choosing Metropolitan Pediatrics as your child’s Medical Home! Our physicians and staff are pleased to have the opportunity to build a relationship with you, your child, and family.

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Please AVOID wearing masks with a valve or vent.

These types of masks do not prevent COVID-19 from spreading to

others. If you visit Metropolitan Pediatrics wearing one, we will

provide a disposable mask for you to wear over the valve.

All clinic visitors (age 2+) must wear a face mask or cloth face covering AT ALL TIMES while inside Metropolitan Pediatrics.