Our Therapists

Dori J. Mages, MSW, LCSW

Dori Mages, MSW, LCSW

Dori, a licensed clinical social worker, is the founder of North Shore Family Services.  She earned her Master of Social Work from The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Jane Addams College of Social Work in 1997. She also has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dori has been utilizing effective strategies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy), and play therapy with children, teens, parents, and families since 1994. She has worked in various areas of social work including: foster care, schools, hospitals, and private practice.  Dori earned her Type 73 school social work certification in 1997 and has worked with children of all needs in the public schools for 7 years, so she understands the 504 and IEP process.  She collaborates with school staff and other professionals/therapists working with her clients to provide the most beneficial services. Dori has appeared on ABC and NBC news as an expert discussing therapeutic topics and articles she has written. She earned the coveted title of Amazon best selling author for her chapter in the third book in the Amazon Best Selling Series, Overcoming Mediocrity: Strong Women.

As a wife and mother of three, she understands the challenges and rewards of raising children and is compassionate about helping children and families navigate the difficult times. Dori strives to give children, teens, parents, and families the tools they will need to improve their quality of life long after therapy ends.

Dori is a professional speaker who offers presentations to businesses, professional groups, parent organizations, school-based programs, continuing education, and in-services. She speaks on topics related to building better relationships and productivity within the workplace and home. Some examples of topics she presents:

For businesses, schools, professional groups, and business owners, Dori speaks about: effectively marketing your small business, from pajamas to power suits: networking made easy, having difficult conversations, productivity, motivation, and hiring and keeping the best employees for your company.

For parents, children, teens, families, and parenting groups, Dori offers presentations on bullying: how to spot it and what to do, appropriate consequences for kids and teens, addressing behavioral concerns, stress and the middle schooler/high schooler, helping your child manage school work and time management, social skills training, and much more.

Courtney Baumann, MA, LPC, NCC

Courtney is a Licensed Professional Counselor who earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She also earned a Bachelor of Sciences in forensic psychology from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA. Courtney has worked with children, teens, young adults, and their families in the health care, private practice, residential, and inpatient hospitalization settings.

Courtney approaches therapy with an openness and a sense-of-humor that allows clients the space to grow in a meaningful and intentional way. She holds the belief that every human experiences pain and that every human is deserving of a meaningful life. Courtney promotes the existence of a safe non-judgmental environment while working, collaboratively, with clients. She knows that therapy is hard work and is constantly moved by the courage her clients show during the therapeutic process. She is humbled by the opportunity to walk alongside her clients on their way towards meaningful change, and is committed to creating a safe, collaborative, and compassionate space. Courtney utilizes an integrated approach compromised of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that aims to improve relationships that one has with their thoughts and feelings, while identifying any behaviors the client may view as problematic. She also utilizes techniques that engage clients interests, called “Geek Therapy”, which involves the use of comics, video games, fiction books, games, and movies.

Courtney specializes in children,adolescents, young adults, and families. She also has extensive experience working with clients who struggle with depression, anxiety, self-harm, self-esteem, mood disorders, eating disorders, gender-issues, grief, and complex and relational trauma. Courtney utilizes some DBT techniques for clients who require extra attention on regulating their mood, strengthening relationships, and utilizing relaxation and mindfulness techniques during moments of distress. 

Allison Bozovsky, MS, AMFT

Allison received her Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at The Family Institute at Northwestern University and earned a dual Bachelor of Arts degree from Ball State University. Allison enjoys the challenges and variety of offering individual, couple, and family therapy to children, teens, and adults. She has been working in the mental and behavioral health field since 2009 in various outpatient and inpatient settings and has extensive experience working with children and their families through AmeriCorps and Peace Corps volunteer work prior to receiving her master’s degree.  

With children and teens, Allison empowers her clients to learn tools to overcome struggles with depression, anxiety, emotional regulation, attention/behavioral issues, trauma, self-esteem, and gender or identity. Allison also believes that family work can often strengthen one member’s success with these struggles. Allison tailors her work to her clients’ needs and utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Solution-Focused Therapy, and play therapy to help her clients achieve their goals.

With adults and couples, Allison has experience enriching and empowering dating, premarital, and married couples. She helps couples with relationship enrichment, intimacy issues, conflict resolution, family of origin conflict, parenting issues, and infidelity. She can assist in giving tools to enhance intimacy, foster healthy communication and conflict, as well as work on identifying and changing the patterns that get couples stuck in a negative cycle. Allison has training in integrating Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), Gottman Method Couples Therapy, and Psychodynamic theories while working with couples. 

Allison knows how difficult the decision is to start therapy and believes it takes immense courage. She would be honored to have the opportunity to receive trust on helping with that journey. When Allison is not working with clients, she enjoys being outdoors, traveling, spending time with her cat, watching sports, attending fitness classes, reading, and cooking.

Lisa Brickert, MSW, LCSW

Lisa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who earned her master’s degree from The Ohio State University.  She grew up in Libertyville and is thrilled to return to her hometown after 15 years of clinical experience in a variety of settings, including home-based case management, schools, outpatient mental health, and hospitals.

Lisa has provided treatment in clinical settings for children, teens, adults, and families who struggle with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, trauma, stress, gender identity issues, self-esteem issues, impulsivity, defiance, and attention deficits.  Lisa has worked in the schools implementing programs and services to individual students and groups to enhance coping skills and academic performance and has worked in crisis teams assessing for suicidality as well as crisis management.  She uses CBT, DBT, Solution-focused therapy, play therapy (for younger clients) and EMDR to help her clients and their families reach their goals.  Lisa is also trained to work with and assess adolescents for substance use, if this is a concern.  She provides a non-judgmental, client-centered environment assisting clients to reach their personal goals of therapy.  She believes in utilizing a team effort to help families become empowered and work through stressful times. 

Lisa loves to work with all ages to help them find the tools to be happy, healthy and successful in life – whatever that means to that person.  Everyone is different and has different goals for success. Lisa believes that her clients need to first and foremost develop a trusting relationship with their therapist. She knows how difficult it is to be vulnerable, so Lisa creates a safe place to work on self-improvement.  When Lisa isn’t with clients, she enjoys playing ice hockey, going to baseball games, and spending time with her family.  

Theresa Buch, MS, LPC

Theresa is a Licensed Professional Counselor who earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from The Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Washington, D.C. She also earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a Minor in Community Health Education from Illinois State University. Since 2013 Theresa has worked with children, teens, adults, and their families in the school, community mental health, and residential settings.

Theresa has experience in working with trauma survivors, clients struggling with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, impulsivity, defiant behavior, and low-self-esteem issues. She utilizes evidenced-based treatments drawing from the Internal Family Systems Model, DBT, CBT, Mindfulness-based therapies, and overall works from a psychodynamic lens. She emphasizes an integrative and collaborative approach to therapy depending on a client’s unique needs and goals.

Theresa believes that change occurs through a caring and trusting therapeutic relationship cultivated by empathy, respect, and understanding. Whether addressing daily life issues or more severe psychological concerns she focuses on increasing clients’ self-awareness, facilitating personal growth, and fostering enrichment in relationships.

In her free time, Theresa enjoys riding her bike around Chicago, trying new restaurants with friends, and cooking with her family.

Emily Goldman, MA, LCSW

Emily Ptacek Goldman, MA, LCSWEmily is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who earned her Master’s degree from the University Of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and her BA in Psychology from Graceland University.  She has provided therapy and case management services with children, teens, adults and families since 2001.  In 2010, Emily earned a Certificate in Global Mental Health from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital.   

With Emily, her clients overcome barriers and meet self-identified goals, focusing on finding and utilizing their unique strengths and internal resiliency.  She has worked extensively with clients struggling with depression, anxiety, medical complexities, trauma/PTSD, and emotional regulation issues.  She also assists families experiencing conflict with improving communication and cohesion.  Emily utilizes a strengths-based approach with her clients, offering strategies to her clients using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), DBT, psychodynamic theory, and behavioral techniques.

Amber Johnson, MSW, LCSW

Amber Johnson MSW, LCSW North Shore Family ServicesAmber is a licensed clinical social worker who earned her Master of Social Work degree from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Applied Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Amber has six years of experience working with children, teens, young adults and their families in a variety of settings, including residential, juvenile probation and outpatient therapy.

Prior to joining North Shore Family Services, Amber spent three years assisting families with coping with the aftermath of significant trauma, attention issues, anxiety, depression, impulsivity, life-changes and relational issues. Utilizing a person-centered approach to therapy, Amber works to empower her clients through including them in every aspect of their healing and growth. Amber’s toolbox of treatment modalities include: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), strength- based approaches, Reality Therapy and Play Therapy. When working with children, Amber incorporates the parent(s) through providing psycho-education and family sessions to ensure that the whole family is on the same page. She understands that no two individuals are the same and tailors her therapeutic style to best fit the needs of her clients.

“I believe that we are all our own expert; as such, my role as a therapist is to be an assistant in the process of change. In my office you will receive empathy, compassion, and respect as we work together towards that change. ”

In her spare time Amber enjoys spending time with her family and friends, painting, reading, traveling, and exploring new cuisines.

Haley Jossel, MA, LMFT

NSFS Haley picHaley earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in psychology from Indiana University. Since 2009, Haley has worked with children,  teens, and families in healthcare, schools, private practice, and community mental health settings.

She specializes in helping children and teens with anxiety, depression, learning and academic difficulties, attentional, behavioral, and relationship struggles. Haley recognizes that school or home struggles may create self-esteem problems, family conflict, or other stress for the child, teen, and family.  She is passionate about helping children and adolescents find new solutions and acquire new skills, to empower them to be successful with family, in school, and with peers. Haley uses a collaborative and warm approach with her clients, advocating for positive change and self-empowerment. For Haley, there is nothing more rewarding than witnessing the transformation that occurs when clients feel supported and confident to tackle their problems.

Haley is also trained in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and prides herself on her ability to address marital distress and the underlying issues within the relationship. She helps couples who are struggling to cope with life-cycle transitions, including parenting issues, family of origin conflict, infidelity, and separation or divorce. She guides couples to restore the balance within the relationship. She gives them tools to learn healthy communication and conflict-resolution skills, develop intimacy, and emotional awareness in a safe, non-judgmental environment. When she is not with clients, Haley often attends fitness classes, dines at new restaurants, and spends time with friends and family.

Maria Millett, MSW, LCSW

Maria Millett North Shore Family Services

Maria earned her Masters of Social Work degree from Michigan State University and completed her undergraduate studies at Hope College with a bachelor’s degree in social work. Maria considers herself a lifelong learner and has obtained professional development certifications in mental health first aid, nurturing parenting, clinical social work with families, parent management training, Early Pathways Home-Based Health Services for Young Children, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, and many more.

Maria tailors the techniques and strategies she uses with her clients to fit the specific strengths and needs that are brought into sessions. She helps clients problem-solve through Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Solution Focused Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Play Therapy and other strength-based approaches. She has worked with all ages, specializing in individuals struggling with low self-esteem, life transitions, depression, anxiety, bullying, PTSD, and other behavioral issues.

Dan Rizzardini, MSCP, MBA, LPC

Dan Rizzardini therapist North Shore Family Services

Dan is a licensed clinical psychologist, having earned his Master of Science from Benedictine University.  He has an MBA from Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wabash College. Dan has worked in private practice, in a hospital out-patient setting, and in a publicly funded agency.  Dan is enthusiastic about assisting people achieve balanced and healthy lives.  He believes everyone has inherent strengths and the tenacity to produce positive changes at any stage in their lives. Dan’s experience includes working with depression, anxiety, self-esteem, self-harm, individual trauma, mood disorders, career counseling, domestic violence, and adolescent angst. Dan collaborates with people using a variety of styles that may include Client Centered Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).  Dan believes in careful listening and the inherent strength of the human spirit.

“I believe in meeting people where they are, accepting them and giving them a place to be heard, understood, and respected. I am not out to fix people; rather to help them to find their own paths to happiness.”

As a parent of two grown children, Dan has survived the challenges of child development, a parent’s hopes and worries, and the unescapable pain and joy accompanying the journey. Dan understands that parenthood is the adventure of a lifetime. He has twenty years of experience, working in corporate settings, is past president of an Early Childhood Education company, and has served on numerous boards. He is certified in domestic violence and has worked with children and families for over twenty years.  In addition, Dan has worked with executives regarding career challenges, older adults on retirement, and “what’s next” issues.  He is also experienced leading education and discovery groups, enabling people to benefit from shared experience.

 Sarah Rudek, MA, LPC

Sarah Rudek, MA, LPCSarah is a Licensed Professional Counselor who earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology (Counseling Practice) with a credential in Clinical Child and Family Psychology at Roosevelt University.  She also has a Bachelor’s of Science in psychology with a minor in child development and family studies from Purdue University. Since 2011, Sarah has worked with children, teens, young adults, and families in a variety of settings including day care centers, schools, healthcare, and community mental health.

Sarah’s professional experience spans all ages. Her work with children, teens, and their families includes assisting her clients in tackling emotional, behavioral, and developmental challenges to reach their highest potential. She believes in providing a safe and non-judgmental environment where clients work in a collaborative relationship with their therapist to develop specific skills to achieve a positive outcome.  She works with children and teens who are struggling with depression, anxiety, self-esteem, impulsivity, defiant behavior, attention issues, school refusal, trauma, low frustration tolerance, and emotional regulation.  Sarah often utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT), and play therapy in her sessions.   She is passionate about encouraging children to communicate their emotions while understanding that their family needs to feel heard and be able to leave the session with a solution.  Sarah believes that empowering families to continue to work with their children in stressful situations is a key element in helping families achieve positive outcomes in the therapeutic process.

Sarah is also trained in working with young adults and couples and works collaboratively with them to cope and problem-solve with life-cycle transitions, family conflict, communication problems, infidelity, separation, and divorce. She provides an open, non-judgmental, empathetic, and compassionate setting to allow young adults and couples to feel safe to talk about difficult issues. Sarah strongly believes that anyone who has the motivation and willingness to ask for help shows qualities of bravery and courage, and has her respect. When she is not with clients, Sarah enjoys the city of Chicago, working out, attending sporting events, and spending time with her family and friends.

Samantha Simmons, MA, LPC

Samantha Simmons North Shore Family ServicesSamantha is a Licensed Professional Counselor who earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in addition to her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Dominican University. She has worked with children, adolescents, and adults since 2014 in hospital, community mental health, and private practice settings.

Samantha specializes in working with individuals who suffer from anxiety, depression, trauma, low self-esteem, and who are struggling to cope with life changes. She believes in the flexibility of tailoring her therapeutic style to each individual client, but most frequently uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), in addition to Client Centered Therapy and Motivational Interviewing. Samantha believes that the collaborative approach of the client knowing him or herself the best, along with her professional knowledge, makes for a great therapeutic relationship and outcome of success.

The client-therapist relationship is extremely important to Samantha. Having her clients feel comfortable, understood, listened to, and safe is top priority when meeting new clients. Samantha recognizes and acknowledges the courage it takes to begin the therapeutic journey, and highly appreciates her clients who are willing to allow her to assist on that journey. She helps with providing tools for conflict resolution, relationship issues, communication issues, boundary issues, positive thinking/self-talk coping with anxiety and depression, and more. She believes in the team effort approach between all important parties (teachers, parents, siblings, etc.) for the most successful progress in therapy. Watching her clients grow and progress is one of the many things Samantha loves about her job.

In her free time Samantha loves to spend time with her dog Rocky, enjoys playing with her nieces, watching the Cubs, Bulls, and Bears, and playing board/card games with her friends and family. 

Kendra A. Vargas, MA, LCPC

Kendra headshotKendra is a Licensed Professional Counselor who earned her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with a child/adolescent specialization from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She also holds a Bachelors degree in Dance from Columbia College of Chicago.  Kendra has worked with children, teens, adults, and families in a variety of settings including homes, schools, daycare centers, healthcare settings, and community mental health facilities. 

Kendra employs a variety of approaches based on the individual needs of her clients.  She utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), strength- based approaches, and play therapy in her sessions.  She works with individuals who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, impulsivity, difficulties with attention and focus, behavioral issues, gender identity, self-esteem, stress management, and trauma.  She feels it is important to ensure understanding through psycho-education throughout therapy, and works collaboratively with her clients to facilitate change. Kendra works to build healthy and appropriate coping skills to better manage her clients’ symptoms and stressors. She supports  all her clients  throughout the therapeutic process as they strive toward achieving their desired goals.

When working with children and teens specifically, Kendra feels it is crucial to get on their level and incorporate humor, art, music, play, movement, and any other creative resources to connect with them.  She assists families in exploring and modifying family dynamics, helps them to learn effective ways to communicate, and teaches conflict resolution skills and problem solving skills for interpersonal effectiveness.  Kendra feels honored and privileged  that clients allow her the opportunity to trust her with their inner thoughts and feelings, and to be a part of their journey.  Kendra understands that it can be a difficult decision to start therapy, but  has been told that she is warm, welcoming, supportive, and creates a non-judgemental environment.  When Kendra is not working with her clients, she enjoys cooking, traveling, spending time with friends and family, and “brunching.”

Elyse Wood, MA, LMFT

NSFS Elyse Headshot 2016Elyse earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. She also has her Bachelor of Sciences in psychology from Illinois State University.  Since 2010, Elyse has worked with children, teens, families, and couples in various schools, private practice, and community mental health settings.  

She recognizes that a safe, trusting, and supportive environment is needed for any change to occur, and she creates this with her compassion, warmth, and understanding of her clients’ needs and strengths.  Elyse works with children and teens who are struggling with anxiety, distractibility, impulsivity, depression, trauma, self-esteem, emotional regulation, and school refusal issues.  She actively collaborates with each client to overcome obstacles that mayseem too big, or too hard to manage, and uses the unique qualities and strengths that each client already possesses to produce change and growth.  Elyse loves when she sees clients gain more effective coping skills and build confidence in themselves to face their challenges.

With couples, Elyse is also trained in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and PREPARE-ENRICH and is passionate about empowering couples (dating, premarital, and married) to address areas of hurt, frustration, and disappointments in order to build a happier, healthier, and an overall stronger relationship.  By carefully bridging each partner’s relational concerns, and laying a foundation of trust, Elyse helps couples forgive past mistakes, learn to accept differences, and to understand their partner from a new perspective.  Areas Elyse addresses with couples are: conflict resolution, difference in parenting styles, communication skills, infidelity and forgiveness, premarital counseling, and separation. 

Elyse loves helping clients of all ages to achieve their goals so that they can thrive and find joy in their relationships.  When Elyse is not working, she loves spending her time taking her dog on long walks, spending time with loved ones, and trying new workouts that keep her active.

Julia Woodson, MSW, LCSW

Julia WoodsonJulia earned her Masters of Social Work from Asbury University in Kentucky. While in graduate school, Julia specialized in child and family services. Prior to pursuing her masters, Julia earned her Bachelors in Human Services/Pre-Counseling.

Julia has a background in child and adolescent therapy. The majority of her clinical work is with parents, children, and teens. Julia has been working with children and families since 2012 in transitional living, foster care, schools, private practice and community mental health. Julia has extensive experience working with Academic Achievement, Attention Deficit/ Hyper Activity, Anger Management/ Mood Dysregulation, Anxiety, Grief and Abuse/Trauma.

Julia’s clinical approach is holistic; she acknowledges that therapy is a powerful tool for kids, teens, and families as they navigate through life’s changes and daily challenges. With this in mind, Julia focuses on creating and implementing comprehensive service plans and coping skills that can be used not only in her work with clients in our office, but within school, social, and home settings. Julia desires to bring the parents and family members into the therapeutic relationship as much as possible, with the goal that the child and family grow and work together to build a safe and healthy family unit.

When Julia is not working, she spends her time relaxing by the lake, reading, cooking, attending Pilates classes, and spending quality time with her husband, and poodle.