General Information For the Chicago Practice

When life gets overwhelming, we are here to help. Located on the northside of Chicago, counseling services will provide you with the tools to identify what has been holding you back and assist you in moving forward. Therapy helps you heal from within. Experienced counselors are available now. Contact the practice today.

Specialties and Services We Offer:

Lake Shore Drive in Chicago

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Treatment for Depression & Bipolar disorder

  • We Work with Your Other Providers as a Team
  • Tools to Battle Rumination
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Available

Anxiety Therapy

  • Panic Attacks
  • General Anxiety
  • Social Anxiety or Social Phobia
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Proven Tools That Provide Anxiety Relief
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Develop Insight into the Origins of Your Anxiety

Counseling Options for Recovery from Trauma

  • Rape, Molestation or Other Violent Encounter
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Checking Out and Dissociative Disorders
  • Unexplained Pain Conditions and Somatic Experiences
  • Adult Child of an Alcoholic issues (ACoA)
  • Codependent Relationship Patterns
  • A Childhood that Included Neglect or Physical / Sexual Abuse
  • EMDR Therapy Available

Grief Counseling

  • Difficulty Coping with a Recent Loss (such as career transition, death or divorce)
  • Difficult Break-ups
  • Unresolved Grief and Bereavement

Therapy for Body Image Issues

  • Distorted Body Image
  • Binge Eating Disorder
  • Eating Disorders such as Anorexia or Bulimia

AD/HD or Attention Deficit Disorder Treatment

  • Difficulty with Time or Stress Management

Counseling for Addictions & Compulsions

  • Help for Difficulty with Binge Drinking
  • Self-Medicating Mental Health Symptoms
  • Substance Use Concern or Drug Abuse
  • Alcoholism Recovery
  • 12-step Recovery Support
  • Drinking Problem
  • Binge Eating Disorders
  • Moderation Management for Drinking
  • Internet (aka Cyber) Addictions, or Compulsive Video Game Use
  • Help for Hoarding Behaviors
  • Compulsive Behaviors Found in OCD

LGBTQ Issues

  • Culturally-Competent Care
  • Dealing with Homophobia or Coming out
  • Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Exploration
  • Same-Sex and Queer Couples Therapy Available

Psychotherapy for Chronic Illness & Medical Conditions

  • Coping with Chronic Medical Conditions, Including Autoimmune and HIV Diagnosis
  • Manage Stress More Effectively to Limit Flare-Ups
  • Explore the Mind-Body Connection

Relationship Therapy or Counseling for Family Conflict

  • Couple Therapy Available
  • Improve Communication and Conflict Resolution
  • Inclusive Options for Queer and Same-Sex Couples
  • Family Therapy

Choosing the Right Therapist for You

What style of clinician are you looking for? Many clients find my Chicago practice after feeling frustration at a more “traditional” and passive therapy experience. Listening and empathy in counseling only took them so far. Our clients are looking for an active partner in the change process, with great tools to facilitate desired change. Our highly-experienced, fully licensed and credentialed therapists in Chicago also assist you in developing insights into deeper layers of the self, so that you understand where your struggles started to begin with. Sometimes environmental factors such as dysfunctional family dynamics promote coping strategies that worked well back then, but don’t work so well now. Traumatic experiences can intensify your relationship with negative self-talk and unwanted behaviors. Our psychotherapists want to work alongside you, to help you become your best self.

Chicago, IL at night

Looking for a therapist in Chicago?

We know it seems silly to choose a therapist based on practical concerns (only), but in our experience, the following factors are important in choosing the right therapist for you:

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When is the counselor I want to work with available?

If all other factors line up, but your desired psychotherapist doesn’t work on weekends, and that is the only time you are available for sessions, the relationship is going to be a non-starter.

The same goes for experienced therapists that may only have limited slots available for new clients.

Offering detailed information about your schedule and availability will help a new counselor determine if you’re a good fit.

What kind of health insurance does my therapist accept?

When you’re desperate for help, you may want to get started with the first available therapist. And in some cases, and especially if you know your health insurance plan doesn’t cover many needed services, this makes sense.

Or if you are seeking a specialized and highly sought-after service such as art therapy or EMDR, paying out-of-pocket may be a reasonable investment in your self-care and mental health.

All things being equal however, those hefty insurance premiums you pay every month should benefit YOU.

My practice is in-network with a number of PPO plans, and we take care of everything for you from the first contact, so there are no surprise or hidden fees.

Weekly sessions should fit seamlessly into your schedule, and budget. Finances are a practical consideration in seeking mental health services, and we get that.

Sharing your insurance information with my practice from the first contact will help me determine how to best serve you.

Where is the counselor located?

Choosing a therapist within reasonable driving distance or public transit from your home, school or office is a good idea.

Is my psychotherapist experienced?

Clinicians who seek a degree in the healing arts are almost universally well-meaning. I believe it takes a minimum of 5 year’s experience working in mental health to truly develop a meaningful style, a diverse toolkit, and a philosophy that allows a therapist to actively partner with their clients in a desired change process.

You may want to look for the following letters when seeking a new therapist: LCSW, LCPC, LMFT. These letters mean the clinician has passed all Illinois State licensing boards, and has been practicing in the field of mental health for several years under supervision in order to meet these credentialling standards.

If you see the following letters: LPC, LSW, MFT this means that the clinician has their Master’s degree, but has not yet been in the mental health field long enough to practice independently, or may not have passed the State licensing boards. We recommend finding therapists that are fully licensed and experienced in providing psychotherapy.

(We recognize there are other letters we aren’t commenting on here, for example psychologists. Or additional credentials, such as a CADC.)

Vanessa Ford has been a practicing psychotherapist since 2000. My therapy practice only affiliates with autonomously licensed, fully credentialled clinicians, to provide you with the excellent care you deserve.

Mental Health Services Provided

Individual Therapy

Couples Counseling

Substance Use Issues


Stress & Anxiety

LGBTQ Concerns

My Approach

Vanessa E. Ford and her dog SpicyCounseling and therapy services can help with depression, anxiety, and other emotional health issues, as well as improving communication, relationships, and goal-setting. A good counselor will help you optimize your life.

My personal goal as a therapist is to create a non-judgmental and supportive environment where my clients can begin to develop a sense of insight and control over their lives.

Psychotherapy services are provided in 50-55 minute therapy sessions, usually provided once-weekly in my private office which is located on the north side of Chicago. I usually bring my dog Spicy to sessions.

My therapy approach incorporates aspects of traditional insight-oriented psychodynamic psychotherapy, coupled with cognitive-behavioral counseling techniques.

This two-fold method helps my clients both understand and heal the root of their difficulty, while developing tools for the here-and-now to help combat unwanted behavior and negative, defeatist thought patterns and unhealthy coping strategies.

My approach often results in my clients finding an easier time making and setting life goals over time, and living more of the life they want.

I’ve also found that my background and training in addictions counseling helps my clients (even those clients without compulsive behaviors themselves) understand problematic behavior and relationship cycles better.

Lastly, I’ve found that therapy with a focus on body mindfulness and the mind-body connection helps my clients heal faster.  We can incorporate spiritual ideas and beliefs too, if these principles fit into our mental health counseling work together.

Getting Started Is Easy!

  • My Chicago practice provides you with detailed insurance information prior to your initial appointment.
  • All initial appointment paperwork is handled through a remote electronic system.
  • Preparing for a first therapy appointment may mean jotting down a few goals you have for the session, or letting your new therapist take the lead. You should come out of a first appointment feeling refreshed (or at least unburdened), and with a clearer sense of how a counseling process can benefit you.