With a focus on supporting health and well being, psychotherapists at Heartwood offer empowering and collaborative approaches that facilitate your natural abilities to heal and grow and live more fully. We are independent practitioners.

We have psychotherapists adept at addressing a wide range of issues including depression, stress, anxiety, trauma, co-dependency, addiction, grief, relationship challenges, making difficult decisions, and parenting. We can help you work though whatever you are up against, move past blocks, feel more balanced, have more ease in decision making and enjoyment in relationships.

We offer a variety of holistic psychotherapy approaches. We provide adult, adolescent, family, couples and group therapy, as well as training and supervision for mental health professionals.

At Heartwood psychotherapists work in a community with other professional health and wellness practitioners, from massage therapists to integrative physicians and we can assist you with any referrals you may want to support you with your health goals.

To learn more about our specialties and approaches, please refer to the psychotherapists’ biographies. When you are ready to schedule an appointment or need more information, please contact an individual therapist directly. We will be happy to answer your questions to help you select a provider who is appropriate for your needs.

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To Schedule Your Appointment
Appointments are made by contacting practitioners directly at the numbers or email addresses listed.

Shani Bensman

Shani is a licensed clinical psychologist. Since graduating from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2012, she has worked with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families struggling through loss and significant illness and pain. She has also worked with individuals managing depression and anxiety and presenting with a history of trauma or personality disorder. Her passion is in working with individuals coping with grief or other forms of loss. She also has extensive experience completing psychological and neuropsychological evaluations for individuals of all ages.

Shani’s approach to psychotherapy is client-centered and client-driven. She views therapy as a collaborative process, and follows the client’s lead in relation to goal-setting and topic of discussion. She will bring in more structured, cognitive-behavioral techniques as warranted based on client’s needs and goals. Overall, Shani views her role as therapist to include listening, empathizing, and brainstorming solutions to daily problems. Outside of her therapeutic work, Shani keeps busy seeing shows and attending events in the city. She also enjoys a quiet night at home with her husband and two cats, Tajar and Tyrion.

Credentials: PsyD

Website | 414.526.9386 | Email

Susan Burland

Susan is a licensed clinical psychologist, with 35 years experience working with adolescents, adults, couples and families dealing with depression, anxiety, trauma and loss, as well as the breadth of difficulties emanating from these problems. In addition, Susan works with illness. pain and fatigue, recognizing the myriad ways the body speaks without words. Her approach to healing is holistic, and incorporates mindfulness meditation and yoga (movement and breathing) into her collaboration with clients.

Susan completed her couple and family therapy training at the Family Institute of Chicago. She is also an advanced psychotherapy candidate at the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis, and is completing her Level 1 training at the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute.

Susan is also available to provide consultation to other mental health professionals.

Credentials: PhD, LCSW

312.593.6767 | Email

Mirel Castle

Mirel is a licensed clinical psychologist. Her experience includes providing psychotherapy to adults and children, family therapy, neurofeedback therapy and child group therapy for those with a wide range of emotional and developmental presentations. She also conducts neuropsychological evaluations as well as assist families with school placements and the IEP process.  In addition, Mirel has been involved in various community-based organizations that provide psychological and psycho-educational services. Mirel’s approach to psychotherapy is relational and supportive so that others embrace their individual journey and growth in a caring manner.

Credentials: Psy.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist

773-831-4090 Email

Eric Cho

Eric is the owner of Improving Life Counseling Inc. and a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) who specializes in working with young, and not so young, adults who are struggling with life transitions and issues of identity. Eric can help you manage the stress, anxiety, depression, anger, and uncertainty that often accompanies major life changes including career/job transitions, family/relationship changes, loss, and traumatic events. Eric will help you manage your self-critical voices and gain meaningful insights into your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions which will help empower you to make the changes you need. Eric’s approach is integrative, holistic, and strengths-based, influenced largely by his multicultural background and experience in expressive arts and improvisational theater.

Eric earned his MA in Counseling Psychology/Drama Therapy from California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA and his BA with a major in Neuroscience & Behavior from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. Eric has specialized training in the Expressive Arts Therapies and EMDR. He has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years and has provided a wide range of clinical services in a variety of settings including hospitals, social service and community mental health organizations, and counseling/psychotherapy clinics. He has served as the former Clinical Director for a holistic group Psychotherapy Practice, Program Coordinator for the CIIS Drama Therapy Program, and Co-Artistic Director of Playback Theater Northwest.

Credentials: LCPC

Email | Website

Michelle Fisher

Michelle is a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years of experience working with adults, young adults and adolescents. Her goal is to create a safe therapeutic environment where clients can feel accepted, heard and understood. Michelle helps her clients find their own strength and insight, which leads to healing, growth and self acceptance. Michelle works with clients from a relational, strength-based, client centered perspective, incorporating mindfulness and meditation.

Michelle’s areas of interest include working with clients experiencing anxiety, depression and/or loss, LGBT clients and young adults. She also specializes in working with clients who are parenting and/or preparing for parenting, as well as clients who are experiencing challenges related to postpartum depression and anxiety, infertility, pregnancy, pregnancy loss and childbirth. Michelle works with individuals, couples, groups and families.

In addition to her private practice, Michelle is a Perinatal Mental Health Clinician at Evanston Hospital and facilitates support groups for women experiencing perinatal depression and anxiety.

Life can present changes and challenges that can become overwhelming. You do not have to navigate these times alone. Michelle truly believes in the resiliency of the human spirit.

Credentials: LCSW

847.284.3134 | Email

Lauren Goffen

Lauren is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience. She holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. In addition to her private psychotherapy practice she worked for ten years in community mental health, provided clinical supervision at Chicago Women’s Health Center and taught at the University of Chicago as a field liaison to first year social work graduate students.

Lauren believes that reaching out for professional support is a sign of strength. Therapy is an opportunity to deepen self-awareness, build more positive relationships, and live a healthy, more fulfilling life. Lauren works with individuals dealing with anxiety and depression, relationship issues, grief and loss, self-esteem and life transitions. Lauren also has expertise in perinatal mental health, supporting women and couples during pregnancy and the postpartum period and in helping women and their partners cope with issues of infertility.

Lauren integrates various techniques in her work with clients with expertise in cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness. In a warm and supportive environment, Lauren uses a collaborative approach, helping clients recognize and utilize their strengths and increase compassion toward themselves to make necessary and lasting changes in their lives.

Credentials: LCSW

Email | (773)505-8901

Mary Jo Graden

Mary Jo has been a licensed clinical social worker for over 20 years. She holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Loyola University of Chicago. In addition to her private psychotherapy practice she has worked in a variety of settings during her career. She worked for a number of years at St. Francis Hospital—Evanston in their community mental health program. In addition she was part of an integrated Fibromyalgia and Muscle Pain Clinic in Chicago and most recently spent six years at the Maggie Daley Women’s Cancer Center at Northwestern University’s Lurie Cancer Center.

She believes connection and collaboration between client and therapist is key in making a better life for clients, using their values as a guide. She works with adults of all ages, teens and couples who are dealing with grief, loss, depression, anxiety, and relationship problems. She has special interest in career identity issues, wellness, sexual intimacy problems, recovery from cancer or other illnesses, LGBQT concerns and other life loss. These are all things that make us fully human but can cause us the most problems in our lives.

Mary Jo has a warm and empathetic style and uses humor and metaphors in the therapy relationship. She utilizes a number of therapies but uses Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a framework. ACT uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to help clients get the life they want.

Credentials: LCSW

312.561.0035 | Email | Website

Fran Hammon

Fran has been a clinical social worker for more than twenty years in the health care field, and is a Reiki practitioner of the Usui method. Fran specializes in helping individuals experiencing health care issues with an emphasis on pain reduction, chronic illness and disability, grief and loss, and anxiety. Fran integrates many therapeutic and healing modalities, such as, mindfulness meditation, body-centered therapy, guided imagery, Focusing, and has a solid foundation in twelve step programs. Fran also uses Tibetan bowls to balance and promote mind-body health. With a collaborative and compassionate approach, Fran embraces a holistic, mind-body philosophy to assist clients to achieve balance and maximum health benefits as one navigates through daily life challenges.

Credentials: LCSW

773.206.8750 | Email

Rainer Huemer

My orientation for psychotherapy is humanistic and experiential. Whether your aim is coping, healing or change and transformation, my goal is to invite all of who you are into the therapeutic relationship and to deepen your experience of yourself in our sessions and ultimately in everyday life. Regardless of the mental health issue you are dealing with or the difficulty you may experience with specific life transitions, together we can work on changing the tone and the quality of your life.

I accept Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO and, based on need, offer sliding scale fees as well.

Credentials: LCSW


David Johnson

David is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with additional training in addictions, hypnotherapy, Gestalt therapy and Self Acceptance Training. He holds a Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Chicago. For over 20 years, David has counseled individuals, couples and groups regarding issues including addictions and recovery work, identity, codependency, self-care, relationship issues, personal growth, and spiritual awareness.  David utilizes a wholistic approach, recognizing that healing needs to take place in the mind, body, spirit and emotions.  Special guided imagery techniques are available for individuals with chronic illness. David has hours available Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings.

Credentials: LCSW

847.475.3017 | Email | Website

Caryl Pripusich

Caryl is a licensed clinical social worker who has been in practice for 30 years. She has worked with special education children in school social work. She has also walked with women and is currently focusing on women 50 and older who want to explore aging, death, and dying. Mindful and conscious aging practices helps us become more present, bear witness, and live one day at a time. She sees individuals, does small groups, and facilitates Labyrinth and Sandtray workshops. As a hospice social worker, Caryl learned a lot about being with dying. She is a member of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe and also takes classes through Tara Brach’s program.

Please call Caryl to find out more about living creatively, soulfully, mindfully, and coming home to Presence. Thank you so much. May your life be joyful today!

Credentials: LCSW

773.242.9058 | Email

Jeannine Salemi

Jeannine Salemi holds an MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Board-Certified Dance/Movement Therapist, and Certified Movement Analyst. She also has extensive training and practice in the facilitation of Authentic Movement, an embodied mindfulness practice. Jeannine has been active in the field for over ten years, serving in the recovery of adults with brain injuries and adults with acute mental illness and addiction. She has also worked extensively with adults with developmental disabilities, including those who are deaf and blind. She has served individuals from a wide variety of cultures, and understands that we all hold stories and beliefs that shape who we are. Even as we come into therapy wanting to change, Jeannine honors that we are still part of the web of culture from which we came. Jeannine holds the space as a compassionate guide for others to rest into their own self-reflection and discover their authentic path to healing and wholeness. Her approach is based on creating genuine interpersonal connection and developing embodied awareness as a way to come more into alignment with our true selves, from which we have more freedom of choice and agency in our lives.

Credentials: MA, LCPC, BC-DMT, GL-CMA

Email | Website | (312)884-1089

Melissa Sanchez

Melissa Sanchez is a dance/movement therapist, meditation teacher and life-long dance artist. Since graduating from Columbia College Chicago, she has worked in community mental health centers throughout the city providing counsel, education in mindfulness meditation, body/mind connective therapy and support in recovery from substance dependence and the effects of chronic mental illness or dis-ease. In addition to her education in dance/movement therapy and counseling, Melissa is the grateful recipient of training in the applications of meditation and mindfulness practices in psychotherapy from the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Massachusetts. Her practice is stemmed in trauma-focused healing as well as providing holistic therapy alongside “diagnosis” related treatment. Melissa’s creative therapeutic approach is rooted in the belief that each individual possesses the power to heal when provided with a safe, trustworthy and unbiased environment. She is a strong proponent of providing access to quality healthcare and healing services to all people regardless of income or socioeconomic background. In addition to her love of therapeutic practices, Melissa continues to dance professionally with Evanston-based enidsmithdance, loves blues and rock music and can often be found giggling with her adorable daughter.

Credentials: LCPC, BC-DMT, GL-CMA

773.547.9545 | Email | Website

Marsha Smith

As a psychotherapist for 25 years, I integrate Mindfulness and Focusing with empathic and practical approaches to help with a variety of psychological and social challenges, including relationships issues, anxiety, depression, parenting, work, loss and grief, and coping well with health issues. I work with adults, couples, adolescents and families. I also teach Focusing and mindfulness, one-to-one and in groups and offer training and supervision for professional healers.  With Focusing and mindfulness skills, you can build your inner ability to deal with stress and frustration with more calm and take  the next steps to creatively solve problems. I’ve found that three sessions, on average, can allow people to acquire the basic skills. Please contact me if you would like to know more and I would be happy to answer your questions.

From comments from a client:  “Marsha has an intuitive sense of how to gently guide me to help myself and find clarity in my thinking. She leads me to insights and ‘solutions’ that I find within myself.  I would recommend her to anyone in need of an advocate of his or her own spirit and inner knowing” -JB

Credentials: MSW, LCSW

847.323.1717 | Email | Website

Lesa Spravka

Lesa has 10 years of counseling experience assisting individuals to move from where they are to where they want to be. She believes the human path is difficult for all of us and that partnering with someone to traverse the terrain is the optimal healing modality.  Lesa does not take insurance but her fees for each 60 minute session are all sliding scale from $30 to $80. First sessions are free so that we can see if we’re a good fit for your healing. Lesa’s availability is Tuesdays at 2:00pm, 3:00pm, 4:00pm, 7:00pm and 8:00pm.

Credentials: LCSW

708.288.8343 | Email | Website