Specialty Areas

Sometimes people have depression and don’t even realize it. This is because there are many different kinds of depression. Some people feel sad when they are depressed, while others may just feel “numb,” and still others feel irritable.

As a licensed psychologist, I can help you understand any symptoms that you are having and work together with you to help you get better. It is also possible that you may be suffering from other difficulties in addition to depression, such as anxiety, attention deficit disorder or post-traumatic stress. As part of my standard practice, I will do a thorough evaluation to assess you for any other difficulties that may be contributing to your problems.

There are many ways in which depression can be effectively treated. Psychotherapy is very helpful for depression. In cases where you may be having more severe symptoms or symptoms that interfere with your ability to function effectively, we might consider a referral for psychotropic medication as well.

Here are some of the ways that psychotherapy can help depression. First, many depressed people develop a lifestyle that helps to maintain their depression. We will examine your lifestyle and help you consider changes that will lift your mood. Second, many depressed people struggle with perfectionism, rumination, self-criticism and other problematic thoughts. We will explore those together and I will help you gain some tools to transform these thoughts. Third, many depressed people have some difficulty with their personal relationships. I will provide you with an opportunity to explore any relationship issues that are of importance to you.

To learn more, check out these links:

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more at 773-859-1822 or e-mail me.

Anxiety can affect people in different ways. Some people feel anxious, nervous, tense, stressed, or “on edge” most of the time. Others suffer from distressing panic attacks that seem to come out of nowhere. Some people fear certain situations, such as social events.

Here are some of the signs of anxiety and stress that you may be noticing:

  • Physical signs of stress, such as headaches, neckaches, or backaches.
  • Physical problems worsening due to the negative impact of stress, through the mind-body connection.
  • Worrying or ruminating off and on, which interferes with concentration during the day, and sleep at night.
  • Feeling crabby or irritable. Often, one’s loved ones bear the brunt of this.
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Feeling tired or fatigued much of the time.
  • Acute episodes of intense panicky feelings, accompanied by physical symptoms. People sometimes go to the ER during these periods, thinking that they are having a heart attack.

During our first meeting, I will thoroughly assess the anxiety and stress that you are having. We will then discuss how your anxiety can be effectively treated. There are ways to manage your anxiety effectively so that you can enjoy a healthy productive life. We will develop a personalized plan for you to help manage your anxiety based on the particular anxiety problems that you are having. Your plan may include exercise, relaxation or meditation exercises, stress management, and training in self-talk techniques.

To learn more, check out these links:

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more at 773-859-1822 or e-mail me.

A recent study by researchers at Harvard found that 4% of American adults continue to suffer from symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many of these people have no idea that ADHD is causing many of their problems.

Note that, despite the name, individuals can have ADHD with or without hyperactivity. Most people with ADHD have an average to high level of intelligence. In fact, people with high intelligence often suffer more when they have ADHD, because it may never have been diagnosed in childhood. When you were a child, your teachers and parents may have seen that you did well in some subjects, and so they did not identify the ADHD, instead saying things like “You need to try harder” or “you’re lazy.”

Here are some signs that you may be suffering from ADHD:

  • Your relationship partner often complains that you’re not listening
  • People have often told you that you are an underachiever in school
  • Your grades in school were uneven, with good grades in classes that you liked, and poor grades in subjects that you found dull
  • You have great difficulty finishing boring and tedious tasks
  • You are easily distracted and have difficulty completing tasks
  • You feel like a failure, or you have low self-esteem
  • You struggle with time management skills and lose track of details
  • Your personal finances are disorganized
  • You frequently lose track of personal items or appointments
  • You tend to blurt things out in social situations, then regret it
  • You feel restless and squirmy during long meetings, especially when bored

Of course, there are many other potential reasons for any of these difficulties, so a careful examination by a trained professional is necessary for an accurate diagnosis. You might be interested in filling out this questionnaire before your appointment if you wonder if you have ADHD. Again, note that even if your responses on this questionnaire are suggestive of ADHD, other emotional problems could be causing the symptoms, so we should carefully examine potential alternatives when we meet.

ADHD can be effectively treated through a combination of psychotherapy and/or medications. Often people with ADHD have emotional difficulties, such as anxiety or depression, as well. We can work together to make an accurate diagnosis, help you with self-understanding, and problem-solve to increase your productivity and coping skills.

To learn more, check out these links:

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more at 773-859-1822 or e-mail me.

Why Should I Choose a Psychologist Instead of a Coach for Help with ADHD?

Sometimes people wonder which type of professional would be most helpful to them in making progress with the life challenges that come with adult ADHD.

  1. Qualifications: Psychologists are highly trained mental health professionals who possess many years of accredited training, doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, and licenses from the state. No one can legally call himself or herself a “psychologist” without these credentials. Anyone can call himself or herself a “coach” with no training or qualifications whatsoever.
  2. Affordability: Psychologists are licensed healthcare professionals. As such, your health insurance will cover your psychotherapy sessions for ADHD, as it would for any other mental health concern. You would pay the entire fee for a coach with no insurance reimbursement possible because they are not licensed healthcare professionals.
  3. One-stop Comprehensive Care: Most people with ADHD have additional emotional and mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, heavy drinking or others. Psychologists are trained to effectively treat all these conditions.
  4. Effective Care: Psychologists are trained as social scientists and understand how to interpret the latest mental health research to help you most effectively with your ADHD.

Many people have depression that occurs primarily in the winter months. You may notice depression coming on in October, November or over the holidays. Then you do not feel better until the spring. In February or March, usually your mood starts to improve, and you may feel quite energetic during the summer. This is the typical pattern of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), although other patterns do occur, but much more rarely.

Winter depression (or seasonal affective disorder) is commonly accompanied by the following difficulties:

  • You may be bothered by intense carbohydrate cravings (sugary or salty snacks). Unlike most people, those with SAD tend to feel more energetic after eating carbs, rather than more lethargic or sleepy.
  • You feel profoundly fatigued much of the time, which causes your lifestyle to be less healthy during the winter. You may exercise less because of the fatigue. You might feel too tired to see friends and they feel resentful and neglected. Your relationship may suffer because of your lower energy level and sex drive.
  • You have a desire for increased sleep. You may find yourself going to bed as early as 8pm, and wanting to sleep considerably more than 8 hours. However, your sleep may not be restful and you might be troubled by frequent awakenings.

If you call, we will discuss effective treatments for SAD, so you can feel better and live a healthier life in the winter. State of the art treatment involves regular use of a specialized high intensity light. Additional treatments that may help your functioning include increasing your exercise level and intensity, psychotropic medication, support in maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the winter and psychotherapy to reduce stress and provide support.

To learn more, check out these links:

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more at 773-859-1822 or e-mail me.

Chronic medical problems are stressful. Medical problems drain a person’s energy and time. This stress can lead to sadness, irritability, apathy and/or anxiety. Some medical problems (like seizure disorder and endocrine problems) have a physiological impact that increases the risk of emotional problems. People who have chronic pain often limit their activities, and then feel even more depressed. Depression among medical patients is often underrecognized and undertreated. Many people who had a past history of emotional problems, find some of these problems recurring under the stress of medical issues.

My goal when working with people who have medical problems is to help them live the most satisfying life possible, within whatever limitations they have. We will work on the emotional distress that is related to your medical problems. We will help you live with the struggles of your current life and work on stress management. There can be serious adjustment and acceptance issues relating to many medical problems. There are significant stressors involved with the complications of getting medical health care in the U.S. today. As needed, I will refer you to other professionals who can assist in improving your physical functioning and comfort.

Due to the mind-body connection, improvement of your emotional state can sometimes even help you feel better physically as well. I will collaborate with your physicians and inform them of your progress periodically so that we can work as a team to help you feel better.

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more at 773-859-1822 or e-mail me.

I often work with people who struggle with relationship problems. You may have difficulties figuring out how to deal with challenging relatives. You may be struggling with establishing a healthier relationship with your spouse. You may have difficulty managing your children’s behavior while maintaining a good relationship with them. You may feel that sometimes you are too passive or too aggressive with others. You may feel distant and unconnected with others. I work with all of these relationship challenges and many more.

People often have a stereotype of the “suffering artist,” thinking that artists may need to be suffering to produce good work. It is true that artists can often use their difficult experiences in life to inform and enhance their work. However, it is untrue that suffering produced great work. In fact, emotional suffering often produces artistic blocks, lack of creative motivation, burnout, lack of concentration, and other cognitive and emotional states that are not conducive to conceptualizing, producing and finishing creative work.

As a writer, visual artist, performance artist or theater professional, you need to be functioning at your emotional best. Maintaining your stamina is key in completing your creative tasks. Maintaining your energy level is essential for you to keep motivated.

As an artist, you have chosen a challenging journey. A career in the arts can be accompanied by periods of stress, financial difficulty, self-doubt, and worry. It may be time-consuming and expensive to pursue your craft. You may need to maintain a day job that may lack in fulfillment and may not pay so well.

As a writer, you may suffer from self-doubt, from being overly critical of your own writing or from writers’ block. We will address these issues so that you are more productive and are more able to enjoy your creative process.

Assisting you with your emotional challenges will help free you up to recommit yourself to your creative goals.

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more at 773-859-1822 or e-mail me.

Helping professionals (such as teachers, police, firefighters and others) and health care providers (psychologists, physicians, nurses, and others) dedicate their professional lives to helping others. However, the unique responsibilities of these professions can lead to stress and emotional reactions. Psychotherapy can help.

Acute stressors faced by helping professionals

  • Being overwhelmed by the problems of others
  • Exposure to others’ traumatic experiences
  • Being overworked and understaffed
  • Difficulties coping with the public

Common emotional difficulties

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability and anger
  • Trying to “tough it out”
  • Burnout
  • Compassion fatigue: not being able to sympathize with clients or the public because of emotional exhaustion
  • Vicarious traumatization: feeling traumatized because of hearing about the traumas of others.

Unique responsibilities and stressors of health care professionals

  • Life or death decisions
  • High level of responsibility for patient care
  • High job stress
  • Difficult patients and coworkers
  • Administrative hassles

Dr. Willer’s qualifications

  • Specializing in the difficulties of helping professionals and health care professionals
  • Mentored psychology trainees for many years
  • Knowledge of the developmental issues of younger professionals, as well as the personal and career concerns of mid-career health care providers
  • Extensive experience treating post-traumatic stress and related conditions
  • Extensive experience collaborating with various health care professionals

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more at 773-859-1822 or e-mail me.

Graduate school is emotionally and intellectually challenging. You may not have had an idea how emotionally demanding doctoral programs would be when you applied. Most people struggle with at least some aspects of the graduate school experience. Time management can be a problem. Reserving time to work on research and dissertation is often challenging. There is a temptation to take on research assistant and teaching assistant positions, but then these chew up time that could be devoted to progressing with your Ph.D. Sometimes, you may need more support than you are getting from professors, advisors, supervisors or dissertation chairs. Staying on track with theses and dissertations is often problematic. Avoidance, lack of motivation and procrastination are common problems. When this happens, you may get upset at yourself and feel sad or anxious. You may have even felt like an impostor. It is usually a rude shock to go from being at the top of your class in your undergraduate studies to having graduate school classmates who are as smart and hard-working as you are. Having any work-life balance can be difficult because of limited time. Your relationships, diet and exercise may wither. Considerable writing is involved in graduate studies from term papers to academic papers to your dissertation. You may have challenges with writing, causing angst and making this essential part of the academic experience aversive. We will address all of these issues in psychotherapy.