I was born and raised in Schiller Park, Illinois. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I left my childhood home. Throughout my years in school, I was certain I would be a hairstylist until I stumbled upon a book, Dibs in Search of Self written by Virginia Axline. This book inspired me to take an introductory course to psychology and the rest is history! I continued on to complete my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Elmhurst College. During my undergraduate years, I was the teacher’s assistant for statistics. This experience helped emphasize the importance of data collection and analysis both in research and treatment. Directly following my graduation, I began working as a paraprofessional at a therapeutic day school and residential treatment facility. This invaluable experience highlighted my passion for working with children, adolescents, and families. Shortly after, I began my graduate program at Benedictine University where I focused on a subspecialty in children and adolescents. This coursework emphasized play therapy, behavior modification, child and adolescent development, family systems as well as art therapy.
While I attended graduate school to become a therapist, I did take an interest in clinical program development and staff development. I worked as a director at a residential treatment facility where my focus remained the safety, growth, and development of both the residents and the staff. After four years of promoting new initiatives, attending leadership conferences, and streamlining processes, I missed providing direct services. While my administrative experience sharpened my skills, I am happy to be back in my clinical realm where I can meet clients where they are at and help them identify goals that are not only of value to them, but also manageable. Each client has their own unique story and my job is to adjust to what the client needs utilizing an integrated approach of evidenced based practices.
Areas of Specialty
I specialize in working with children and adolescents with ASD, ADHD, DMDD, behavioral challenges, or emotional regulation difficulties. I have experience working with complex families as well as couples.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs an individual’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined as a “spectrum” due to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and deficits. For instance, an individual may be nonverbal and struggle with expressive communication while another individual may be verbal yet struggle with receptive communication. With such a wide spectrum, my course of treatment remains an integrated approach that is strength based. This tends to include a behavioral plan and parent coaching to transfer skills within the home. Individual therapy may include: behavior modification, social skills training, CBT or DBT pending the individuals level of cognitive functioning and area of deficit. The idea is to build upon already existing strengths and promote adaptive behaviors to improve overall functioning.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a brain disorder that presents as an on-going pattern of inattention or hyperactivity/impulsivity that impairs day to day functioning. Symptoms include but are not limited to: lack of follow through with daily tasks, frequently losing items, easily distracted, unorganized, constantly fidgeting, always “on the go”, or talking nonstop. Symptoms would inhibit one’s ability to complete tasks at school, home or work. When working with individuals with ADHD, I utilize both a behavioral approach as well as CBT to assist clients in creating new, healthy habits that can be utilized across environments.
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
This is a childhood condition that presents in the form of extreme irritability, anger, and frequent, intense temper outbursts. These outbursts would occur more than three times per week and would occur in more than on environment. Due to the intensity of the outbursts, I do collaborate with both the family and the school to ensure that a consistent behavioral plan can be put in place that is manageable for all involved. This includes parent input as well as on-going parent training. For DMDD, I develop a behavior plan emphasizing consequences that the individual finds motivating while also implementing CBT practices. The comprehensive approach allows consistency and practice of new skills across environments to help reduce the frequency and intensity of the outbursts. These new skills will provide relief to the family as well as an improvement in functioning.
Other Areas of Clinical Focus
In addition to my specialty areas listed above, I already provide services in the following areas:
– Anger Management
– Eating Disorders
– Trauma Focused
– Adjustment Disorders
Certificates and Professional Affiliations
-National Certified Counselor (NCC)