I enjoy working with the wide variety of people who come to see me on the North side of Chicago. My practice is in Lincoln Square, but also I work with people from some of the most diverse neighborhoods of Chicago, including Uptown, Edgewater, North Center, Ravenswood, Albany Park and Andersonville. I am an LGBT ally.
After earning my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, I came to Chicago in 1991 to work with our nation’s veterans for 13 years. During that time, I supervised psychology doctoral students in their final internship training experience. In 2004, I started my private practice in Uptown, and have since moved the practice to Lincoln Square. I also regularly give invited seminars for mental health trainees at Northwestern University and University of Chicago. I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the state of Illinois (License Number 071-004606). I have outlined some of my other qualifications below:
- Could It Be Adult ADHD?: A Clinician’s Guide to Recognition, Assessment and Treatment (2017), published by Oxford University Press.
- The Beginning Psychotherapist’s Companion, 2nd ed. (2014), Oxford University Press
- Peer-reviewed journal articles
- Topics of presentations at state & national professional meetings include:
- Women’s mental health and trauma issues
- Education of mental health professionals
- Experienced with:
- Various ethnic/racial backgrounds: African-American, Asian-American, Native American, White, among others
- Differing religious backgrounds: Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and others—as well as experience working with individuals who are not religious.
- LGBT clients
- Facilitator of diversity training program for 6 years
- American Psychological Association
- Illinois Psychological Association
- American Professional Society of ADHD and Related Disorders
- Author’s Guild
My Treatment Philosophy
My first goal is to fully assess your history and problems. Often people suffer from problems that have been undiagnosed and unrecognized for years. When these problems are recognized and appropriately treated, people can make significant gains.
My second goal is to help you feel better. I want you to be able to sleep soundly, feel less anxious and depressed and/or cope better with your day-to-day problems. So we will focus on alleviating your distress until you are feeling better.
If you choose, you can then continue in longer-term therapy. Sometimes people feel that they are under stress and need continuing support. Sometimes they want to work on long-standing issues. Sometimes people have difficulty relating to others or struggle with relationship patterns that recur. Sometimes people want more time to consolidate their gains and to feel secure that they will continue to feel better. Sometimes people just want to be in therapy for personal growth. Any of these are good reasons for longer-term therapy.
Sometimes people ask me what my theoretical orientation is. This question addresses the fact that there are different schools of psychotherapy which advocate different treatment methods. My approach is integrative, so my goal is to apply the most helpful aspects of each school to different aspects of your treatment. Here are some of the schools that have influenced me, and how I might use their techniques in your treatment:
- Behavioral: These interventions are often helpful for clients who are distressed and need more structure in their lives and better sleep.
- Cognitive: The teachings of this school are especially helpful for long-standing depression and anxiety.
- Buddhist philosophy influence: Techniques and insights from Buddhist philosophy have had a strong influence on psychology in recent years. The teachings of this school are helpful for clients who need to accept and work productively with difficult family situations, clients who struggle with self-criticism and those who struggle with rumination.
- Psychodynamic: The insights of this school are particularly helpful for working with clients who have interpersonal challenges.
Please feel free to ask me any other questions that you might have about treatment.
Health Insurance Basics
There are a number of questions that you need to ask in order to understand how much you pay and how much your insurance company pays. As of October 2008, federal law forbids discrimination based on mental health status by mandating that mental and physical health issues have equivalent health insurance benefits. To learn more, check out this fact sheet from NAMI. If you have an individual policy, or you work for an employer with 50 employees or fewer, this federal law may not apply to your policy. In this case, there may be state law that mandates equivalent coverage for some diagnoses (there is in Illinois) or there may not. The state law that applies is for the state in which the policy was issued, not the state you live in. We can discuss this issue further and help you sort it out when we meet.
Below is a list of questions to help you understand your mental health benefits. You should be able to find the answers in your benefit brochure or by calling the member services number on your card. You may want to print out this page to use when calling for information on benefits.
Note that these are questions for a PPO policy. A PPO is a preferred provider organization. That means that you can go see any health care practitioner you want and the policy will pay for some of it after the deductible has been met. But there will be a higher level of benefits when I am contracted with your insurance company (commonly called in-network) and a lower level of benefits if I am not contracted with your insurance company (out-of-network). If you do not have Blue Cross or Medicare, you should ask these questions specifying that you are asking about an out-of-network provider.
I have provided a note after each question to explain its importance, in case you are newer to health insurance benefits.
1 | Who covers the mental health benefits for this policy?
(Note: Strangely, the physical health and mental health benefits for your policy may be covered by different insurance companies. In that case, you’d need to get the name and number of the company that provides the mental health services and ask them the questions below instead.)
2 | What is my deductible amount? Does the deductible apply to my mental health visits? If so, how much of the deductible have I already met?
(Note: A deductible is a monetary amount that you have to pay out of pocket every year before your insurance kicks in at all. This varies a lot. It can be a smallish amount, like $100, or it can run into the thousands, depending on the policy. The insurance company may apply this amount to my bill, if so, you would need to pay me the deductible amount due.)
3 | What is my copay OR coinsurance for mental health sessions?
(Note: A copay is a fixed dollar amount that you pay to the health care professional for each session. Under federal law, the mental health copay should be the same as what you pay your primary care physician. Or you may have coinsurance instead of a copay. In that case, you would pay a fixed percentage of the fee. If you have coinsurance, let me know what the percentage is and I can tell you what the corresponding dollar amount is. This coinsurance fee will not vary between psychologists in the Chicago area because the payment rate is set by the insurance company.)
4 | Are there any limits on the number of sessions I can have per year?
(Note: Due to the recent federal law, most policies can no longer limit mental health sessions.)
5 | Do I need preauthorization? How do I get that?
(Note: Due to federal law changes, preauthorization is now rare. However, a few policies still do not let you get mental health treatment directly when you feel that you need it. They have a procedure where you need to get approval from your plan to seek this treatment. If they require preauthorization, start the process yourself if you can, or let me know if I need to do something.)
Insurance & Payment
Health insurance can be very complex and difficult to understand if you are not experienced with it. If you would like a detailed explanation of how health insurance works for mental health issues, and a list of questions to ask your insurance company so that you can understand your benefits, click on the ‘Health Insurance Basics’ tab above.
I accept some forms of insurance. When I am contracted with a company, I will bill your insurance for their portion of the bill. Please pay your copayment at the time of each session by cash or check.
- Blue Cross/Blue Shield PPO: I am a preferred provider for Blue Cross/Blue Shield PPO. If you have a policy from Illinois Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO, I will be happy to verify your benefits and determine what your costs for treatment will be. You would only be responsible for the deductable or copayment; I will bill your insurance carrier for their share of your psychotherapy bill. I will contact BCBS to find out this information for you and we will discuss it.
- Blue Choice policies offered by Illinois Blue Cross Blue Shield under ACA/Obamacare: I am not a provider for Blue Choice policies. However, Blue Cross Blue Shield may be willing to pay part of my fee. Contact them for further information on coverage.
- Blue Cross/Blue Shield HMO: I am not an HMO provider. However, in recent years, Blue Cross Blue Shield has been reimbursing more of the session fee for HMO clients who see a BCBS PPO preferred provider like me. I know this is complicated. Call the member services number on your insurance card for further information on reimbursement if you have BCBS HMO.
- Medicare: I am a Medicare provider. Medicare requires that you pay a 20% coinsurance amount for each session. The exact amount fluctuates over time due to unpredictable changes on the federal level. However, the amount is likely to remain near $20 per session (although the first session will be slightly higher). Supplemental policies usually pay for this, if you have one. If you cannot afford the coinsurance, and you need to use your Medicaid for the coinsurance amount, please contact an outpatient clinic of a major hospital instead (Illinois state law prohibits me from accepting Medicaid).
- Other PPOs: Other PPOs should cover the majority of the cost of psychotherapy. However, I would be considered an “out-of-network provider.” You can call your PPO and check on the benefits. For more information on what to ask, click here. When I am out-of-network, I would be happy to bill your insurance on your behalf, so you would just have to pay me any outstanding balance, but I do require that you keep credit card on file with me when I do this. Or you can pay out-of-pocket and obtain a receipt, if needed, your choice.
- Other HMOs: I do not contract with any HMO plans, so I would be considered an “out-of-network provider.” If you have HMO plan that is not Blue Cross Blue Shield, it is not likely that you would be eligible for any reimbursement for my services. Reimbursement is only likely if you see someone that the plan has a contract with. If you have an HMO plan, you may wish to seek treatment with someone within your program’s network to minimize your costs. Or you can pay out-of-pocket. Also see Flex Plans below.
Other Payment Options
- Reduced Fees: For lower income individuals, I provide a limited number of lower fee appointments. I also provide some reduced fee services to health care trainees. Please call to see if I have openings at the current time. Other reduced fee options for treatment are available on the Mental Health Links page of this site.
- Flex Plan or Medical Savings Plan: If your employer has a tax-free medical savings plan, it is likely that this plan can reimburse you for any psychotherapy bills that you pay out-of-pocket (up to the amount that you have put in the plan for the fiscal year). Check with your employer for details.
- Out-of-Pocket Payment: My out-of-pocket fee is $225 for the initial assessment meeting. After that, the fee is $150 for a 45 minute individual psychotherapy session and $180 for a 55 minute psychotherapy session. Cash or check is preferred, but credit card payment is available. A small convenience fee is charged for credit card use.
Address & Contact Info:
2334 W. Lawrence Ave,
Chicago, IL, 60625
My office is in the building at the northeast corner of Lawrence Avenue and Western Avenue. There is a Walgreens on the first floor of the building.
Within 1-2 blocks of these:
- CTA Brown Line, Western stop
- 81 Lawrence Bus
- 49 Western Bus
- 49B North Western Bus
- 11 Lincoln Bus
There is street paid parking right in front of the building on Lawrence Avenue. There is more street paid parking on Claremont (about 2330 W). Claremont is the first street east of Western Avenue and it only goes north from Lawrence Ave (if you’re coming from the lake, you will see Claremont on the right just before you get to Western). Be careful, because after the first 1/2 block of Claremont, it changes to restricted neighborhood permit parking 24 hours. There is usually lots of paid parking in these two locations available during daytime hours. There is more paid parking available at the south end of the Lincoln Square shopping district in a large lot at Leland and Lincoln.
The closest free parking is on Ainslie Avenue, which is parallel to Lawrence Avenue, one block north. You can also try Oakley Avenue, south of Lawrence, one block to the west. Note that the parking on Oakley north of Lawrence Ave is restricted neighborhood permit parking 24 hours–so be careful not to park there. Oakley Avenue is at 2300 West.
There is a buzzer entry system. You may do either of the following:
- Use the code: press the button in 3 short buzzes for Suite 212, Willer & Associates. I will know it is you by the code and will buzz you directly in.
- Buzz once and identify yourself carefully to maintain your confidentiality. Keep in mind that what you say can be heard in the therapy office, and there may be another client present, so please don’t say your full name in order to protect your confidentiality. For example, say: “This is Dr Willer’s four o’clock client.”
Office & Waiting Room
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I consider coming for psychotherapy?
Most people struggle with emotional difficulties at some time. Getting psychotherapy helps to reduce the length of time that you suffer with these problems. Also, many people find that as they mature, they identify certain problematic relationship patterns, with their family, coworkers, friends and partners. Psychotherapy can help you forge new ways of relating to others and to yourself.
But does therapy work?
Yes. Many decades of scientific research has proven definitively that psychotherapy is effective in treating emotional difficulties of all types.
Can’t I work it out alone?
Perhaps you can. However, if your difficulties have gone on for more than a month or two, it is likely that you will feel better much faster with psychotherapy. Also, therapy reduces the chances of your emotional problems becoming long-lasting.
What is a psychologist?
People are often confused about the different types of mental health professionals. I am a psychologist. Psychologists have a doctoral degree in clinical psychology (not medicine). Although there are many career paths for psychologists, most of them specialize in providing psychotherapy. Psychologists have advanced training in assessing, diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. Since there is so much to know about mental health treatment, many of us have areas of expertise, as well as certain groups that we do not treat (for example, I do not work with children or teenagers).
What are the other mental health professionals?
In a nutshell, here are some other mental health professionals that you might learn about:
- Licensed counselors have a Masters degree in psychology (this is a less advanced degree than a psychologist has).
- Social workers have a Masters degree in social work.
- Marriage and family therapists have a Masters degree in marriage and family therapy.
- Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors (M.D. or D.O. doctoral degree) who specialize in mental illness. Most of them prescribe psychotropic medication and do not do psychotherapy.
What about medications?
Many people have negative feelings about taking medications for their emotional problems. Whether medicine is necessary really depends on a person’s level of distress. If you are coping ok with your daily demands and getting some decent sleep, chances are you can work on your problems without medications. After I get a good understanding of your situation, we can discuss whether medicine would be helpful. I would be happy to explore any reservations you may have about medications with you.
What concerns should I have about getting mental health care?
You should never go to see anyone who advertises themselves as a “psychotherapist” and who does not have a license as a mental health professional. The term “psychotherapist” is not regulated by law, and thus, untrained people can call themselves “psychotherapists” with no penalty. For your own protection and to obtain appropriate care, insist on being treated by a licensed mental health professional. The only exception to this is that it is ok to see a psychotherapist who is a student in a graduate training program, and who is being closely supervised by a licensed mental health professional.
Is it a good idea to make appointments to meet several different therapists before deciding who I will work with?
No, this is not a good idea for several reasons. First, most therapists have a lot of information available about their practices on their websites, like I do. You can use this information in your decision-making process. Second, you can do some thinking and research about what is important to you in a therapist and prepare a list of questions that you can ask over the phone. This will help you make a wise choice about who to make an appointment with. Third, depending on the complexity of your situation, a good psychotherapist will spend the first one, two or three sessions gaining information about you, so you may not be able to get a good sense of whether psychotherapy with this individual is helpful until you’ve been working together for at least 2 or 3 months. If you don’t feel that you are being helped as much as you need after that time, you will know a lot more about what works and doesn’t work for you in therapy, and you will know what to look for next time.
What if I have a problem that you don’t treat?
Please feel free to call me anyway. I would be happy to make a referral to someone who can help you.
What are your office hours?
I am in the office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I do not have any evening or weekend hours.