Psychotherapist

stellaPhilosophy and Values

“Once a person is determined to help themselves, there is nothing that can stop them.” —Nelson Mandela

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” —Brene Brown

Each of us does the best we can with the histories and resources we have. Our experiences and relationships shape us and influence how we think about ourselves, the people in our lives, and the world around us. Sometimes we are left feeling hopeful and nourished and other times we feel stuck, depleted, anxious, sad, confused and/or overwhelmed. I believe that each of us can draw on an inner resilience to confront, manage, and transcend the challenges that face us. With a safe space and support, each of us can grow, change, and achieve our full potential.

Therapy is a unique journey that can provide us with a deep understanding of ourselves, as well as insight into our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Through the therapeutic process, we can experience ourselves in new ways and develop more flexible and expansive ways of thinking, feeling, and being. We can learn to harness our strengths, build resilience and change patterns that are not working for us. Therapy can help us improve our relationships, guide us in making healthy choices, empower us, and support us in living more authentic and fulfilling lives.

Training and Experience

I became interested in being a therapist after representing disadvantaged teens in the juvenile justice system. As their attorney, I advocated for my clients and helped them and their families navigate a system that often traumatized and marginalized them. Despite my efforts, I realized early on that my clients needed much more than legal help to tackle the many challenges they faced. Most of my clients lacked the support they needed to manage conflict, adversity, difficult relationships, and major life stressors, which landed them in the justice system. I advocated for my clients in their schools and with mental health service providers. I helped secure resources and fostered discussions with my clients and their families about their problems and struggles. Through our work together I realized how transformative a supportive relationship could be in someone’s life and how meaningful and inspiring it was for me to be part of that process of growth and change. I decided to return to school to pursue a Master’s degree in social work so that I could focus my efforts on helping others through therapy.

During my Master’s degree program I had the privilege of working as a graduate social work intern in two very different settings. My first experience was working at the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School in Hyde Park where I had the opportunity to counsel 11-17 year old boys who struggled with significant emotional and behavioral challenges in the therapeutic milieu of a residential dormitory and in group therapy. As a second-year intern, I worked as a psychotherapist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s psychiatric outpatient clinic (SMHC) where I counseled adult clients (18-65 years old) in individual therapy and co-facilitated group therapy. I had the opportunity to work with a culturally and socioeconomically diverse group of clients as part of an interdisciplinary team consisting of social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and advanced practice nurses.

After earning a Masters degree in clinical social work, I began work as a psychotherapist at Live Oak, receiving extensive training through Live Oak’s post-graduate training program. I also completed the fellowship program at Chicago Counseling Associates (CCA) where I was trained in client-centered therapy.

Before working as a therapist, I practiced law as a commercial litigation attorney. I also have served as general counsel and manager for a small corporation, which I co-founded.

Psychotherapy

“I am the captain of my soul.” —Nelson Mandela

Therapy is a collaborative and interactive process. My job is to bring knowledge, training, and experience to our work, but I recognize that you are the expert in your life. You know what is not working for you and what you would like to gain from therapy. I approach each therapeutic encounter with an open mind, recognizing that to help effectively I need to listen, learn, and understand your experience in the world. Appreciating that each of us is unique, with a distinct story and background, you and I will work together to create a therapeutic experience that fits for you.

My approach to therapy is integrative and pragmatic which means that I draw from various theories and interventions (psychodynamic, relational, client-centered, CBT, DBT, mindfulness, systems, creative/expressive) depending on what works for each individual client in each individualized circumstance. I think about development, neuroscience, experiences of trauma, and how multiple and intersecting identities, cultures, and systems influence us. Always looking for new ways of helping, I think creatively, flexibly, and dynamically. I welcome feedback and want to know when something feels right or when we need to change how we are working together.

Range of Focus and Interest
  • Individuals, Couples, and Families
  • Adolescents and Adults
  • Relationship Issues
  • Depression, Stress, Anxiety
  • Anger/Rage
  • Behavioral Change
  • Affirmative Practice with LGBTQ Individuals
  • Affirmative Practice with Trans-identified Individuals
  • Building Resilience and Inner Strength
  • Early Childhood Trauma and Attachment
  • Life and Career Transitions
  • Self Esteem, Confidence, and Identity
  • Multicultural Identities
  • Parenting challenges
  • Empowerment
  • Trauma-informed Practice and Trauma Recovery
  • Creative-Expressive Therapy
  • Psychosis
Degrees and Licensure

LSW (Licensed Social Worker), Illinois.
AM in Clinical Social Work, University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.
JD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law; Managing Editor of The North Carolina Law Review.
BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Additional Training

Post Graduate Trainee, Live Oak (2015-16)
Barbara Temaner Brodley Post Graduate Fellow, Chicago Counseling Associates (2015-16)
Adult Psychotherapy Program, Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis (2016 – )

Associations

National Association of Social Workers
International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology
Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration


Contact Information
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Lakeview Office
1300 W. Belmont, Suite 400, Chicago, IL 60657

Evanston Office
1740 Ridge Ave., Suite 218, Evanston, IL 60201

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773-880-1310 ext. 7790