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.

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.  

Lisa Marie Carlson, MSW, LCSW

NSFS Lisa Marie picLisa Marie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who earned her both her Master of Social Work and Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since 2005, Lisa Marie has been working with children, teens, parents, and families in schools, hospitals, and community counseling centers. She works with kids, teens, and adults, specializing in anxiety (whether due to everyday stressors or trauma), mood disorders, social and behavioral issues, coping skills deficiencies, and school-related issues. Lisa Marie uses a mix of cognitive-behavioral, talk, and play (for the younger kids) therapy. She strongly believes that focusing on positive and healthy interactions is the key to improving disruptive and unhelpful behaviors and thoughts. She helps empower families by teaching them strategies on how to: become attuned to their struggling child’s emotions, improve communication skills, and develop routines to increase success at home and school.

Lisa Marie lives in Chicago and spends her free time enjoying cultural activities and walking and biking the Lake Shore path.

Elyse Dombrowski, 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.

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.

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.

Katy Robb, MSW, LCSW

North Shore Family Services Katy RobbKaty earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan, and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Michigan State University. Since 2012, Katy has been working with children, youth, parents, and families in residential, community-based, and home-based settings.

Katy specializes in helping children and families work together to address a variety of difficulties as a team, such as anger, depression/anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity, oppositional defiance, trauma, parenting, and self-injury. Using a variety of evidence-based approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy, Katy empowers families to identify specific goals, and supports families by developing effective coping skills unique to each individual.  Katy utilizes her energetic and approachable personality to make therapy fun and relaxing for all ages.

Additionally, Katy has completed a 60-hour training course in an evidenced-based intervention called Parent Management Training-Oregon Model (PMTO). Katy utilizes techniques from this approach to support and empower parents with strengthening parenting skills, and promoting the social skills of children and youth.

Katy is passionate about helping her clients reach their goals, and when she is not working, Katy can be found engaging in any number of outdoor-related activities, reading, or spending time with her friends and family.

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.

Mehnaz Siddiqui, MA, LCPC

Mehnaz Siddiqui North Shore Family Services therapist

Mehnaz earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since 2009, Mehnaz has worked with children, teens, and families in various settings including daycare, healthcare, schools, and community mental health.

She specializes in helping children and teens with anxiety, depression, trauma, learning and academic difficulties, attentional, behavioral, and relational struggles. Mehnaz recognizes that it is crucial to build a safe, warm, non-judgmental, and supportive environment for each client and to work collaboratively towards goal achievement. Mehnaz utilizes a blend of therapeutic approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), solution-focused therapy, and play therapy to help clients reach emotional balance, cognitive clarity, and find a sense of purpose.  She aims to be a culturally competent clinician focused on fostering growth, personal change, and self-empowerment. Mehnaz loves nothing more than knowing that a client and family are able to find new solutions and acquire new skills to achieve positive outcomes through therapy.  

Mehnaz is highly trained with working with young adults, couples, and parents in providing them the tools they need to appropriately cope, problem-solve, and achieve emotional awareness. She provides a warm, open, non-judgmental environment to work collaboratively on various issues including life-cycle transitions, family conflict, differences in parenting styles, communication problems, separation, and divorce. Mehnaz believes that by using strength-based approaches and by empowering individuals and couples, they will be able to achieve more satisfaction in their lives and relationships.

Mehnaz loves helping clients of all ages and embraces and acknowledges cultural diversity. When she is not working with clients, Mehnaz enjoys traveling, trying out new restaurants, and spending time with her family and friends.

Kendra A. Vargas, MA, LPC

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.”

Julia Woodson, MSW, LSW

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 two-year old poodle.