Vanessa E. Ford, LCSW, CADC

Specialized in psychotherapy that is both insight-oriented and goal-directed.

 Vanessa E. Ford, LCSW, CADCVanessa E. Ford is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in the State of Illinois, license number 149-009994.  LCSW, LCPC, and LMFT licensure is governed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Obtaining an LCSW certification requires many steps beyond graduating from a Master’s level program. The process of obtaining an LCSW involves successfully completing several thousand hours in the field post-Masters providing therapeutic services under the direction of a licensed clinician. In addition, you must pass the State’s advanced clinical boards.

In contrast, LSW, LPC & MFT clinicians are considered “pre-licensed” and cannot provide therapy independently. They must be supervised by a licensed clinician in order to provide therapy services.

Ms. Ford has also obtained an additional addictions specialty. She holds an active certification in alcohol and other drug abuse counseling (CADC) in the State of Illinois, certification number 22776.

In order to qualify for her CADC board certificate, Ms. Ford completed an Addictions Studies certification program. She also completed additional fieldwork in an intensive outpatient chemical dependency program as a part of her addictions credential.  Obtaining a CADC requires passing the State boards offered by the Illinois Certification Board, Inc. (formerly the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association, Inc. known as IAODAPCA).

Ms. Ford has completed several advanced fellowship programs through the University of Chicago SSA. The Contextual Behavioral Therapy Fellowship program teaches advanced DBT methods. Completion of this program in 2016-2017 allowed Ms. Ford to expand upon traditional Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment, into more advanced methods of intervention.

The Advanced Psychodynamic Clinical Practice Fellowship Program, completed in 2011-2012, deepened Ms. Ford’s insight-oriented therapy practice.

Vanessa E. Ford successfully completed her commitment through the National Health Services Corp in 2007. Participation in the NHSC required dedicating her practice to serving underserved communities throughout Chicagoland.

Ms. Ford has been fully trained in Eye Movement and Reprocessing / Desensitization therapy, known as EMDR.  This unique and innovative form of treatment targets traumas that may become “locked” in the brain in an unhealthy way when a person is under unusual stress. Trauma experienced can be very damaging to self-esteem, and leads to negative self-talk.

EMDR seeks to “unlock” these traumatic memories and allows clients undergoing this form of treatment to move towards healthy resolution and closure. Ms. Ford has been practicing and perfecting her use of these techniques since 2006.

Ms. Ford became certified in DV (domestic violence) counseling in 2005. Becoming certified in domestic violence counseling advanced Ms. Ford’s understanding of dysfunctional relationship patterns and cycles of violence. These tools can be applied to help understand many relationship dynamics and abuse experiences, not just those in DV situations.

Vanessa E. Ford obtained her Masters of Social Work with a concentration in children and families from Loyola University Chicago’s School of Social Work in 2000.

Loyola’s accredited MSW program is well-known in the field for meeting the highest standards of clinical training. Obtaining a Master’s from this program requires several internship experiences in the field providing direct service under the training of licensed professionals.

Working with child and teen clients has always benefitted Ms. Ford’s work with adult clients. Each one of us starts out life as an innocent child. Difficult or painful experiences during the formative years often lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, immature communication skills, and dysfunctional relationship habits as adults. We so often mimic what we see and experience growing up.

Ms. Ford obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the prestigious University of Chicago, with a concentration in Psychology. She obtained the distinction of General Honors upon graduation and was an active member in the National Honor Society in Psychology Psi Chi while completing her undergraduate work. 


Issues I Can Help You With

  • Insight-oriented Psychotherapy.
  • Work with adults, children, adolescents, couples, and families.
  • 12-step recovery support. Assisting clients in exploring a potential substance or alcohol use concern. Dual-diagnosis treatment. Moderating and managing a drinking problem better, including problems with binge drinking.
  • Mood disorders such as depression or Bipolar disorder.
  • AD/HD. Difficulty with time or stress management.
  • Treating Anxiety Disorders. PTSD. General anxiety. Social anxiety OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Panic attacks. Phobias. Hoarding.
  • Coping with childhood abuse or neglect. ACoA issues.
  • Struggling with internalized homophobia, societal discrimination, and coming out in the LGBTQ community. Sexual orientation or gender identity issues.
  • Unresolved grief or difficulty coping with a recent loss.
  • Body image issues. Binge eating. Eating disorders such as Anorexia or Bulimia.
  • Behavioral addictions and compulsions.
  • Recovery from trauma. EMDR. Healing from abuse.

Education and Training

  • Completed Contextual Behavioral Therapy Fellowship program from the University of Chicago’s SSA in 2017. Learn more
  • Completed an Advanced Psychodynamic Clinical Practice Fellowship Program from the University of Chicago’s SSA in 2012. Learn more
  • Practiced in Moderation Management techniques Learn more
  • Dedicated practice to underserved communities through the successful completion of a commitment through the National Health Services Corp in 2007. Learn more
  • Fully trained in EMDR from the EMDR Institute in 2006. Learn more
  • Certificate of Completion of Domestic Violence Training from Friends of Battered Women & Their Children in 2005.
  • Certified as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) from the State of Illinois since 2002. Check status
  • LCSW in Illinois since 2002. Check status
  • Author of the article “Coming out as Lesbian or Gay: A potential precipitant of crisis in adolescence.” Read more
  • Certificate in Addictions Studies from the City Colleges of Chicago in 2002.
  • Masters of Social Work from Loyola University Chicago in 2000.
  • Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of Chicago with General Honors in 1998.



Prior to starting her private practice, Ms. Ford worked in not-for-profit environments that serve the mental health needs of the community.

Vanessa E. Ford’s dedication to helping clients heal has included managing the substance abuse department at the Midwest’s largest LGBT organization. While working as a staff psychotherapist there, she designed and implemented an intensive outpatient program. She also piloted a program specifically targeting crystal meth addiction in men who have sex with men for the city of Chicago.

Ms. Ford’s background also includes working with clients who are infected/impacted by HIV.

Ms. Ford has extensive experience working with clients who suffer from chemical and behavioral addictions in multiple settings and levels of care.

Vanessa has worked directly providing therapy to child and adolescent Wards of the State, as well as other vulnerable children and families.

Ms. Ford can still be seen offering free lectures to the community on topics such as addiction, sexual compulsion, lesbian and gay issues, and coping with childhood abuse and trauma.

For more detailed information and bio, please visit Ms. Ford’s Facebook page.

You can also read Ms. Ford’s blog of articles on a host of mental health topics here.

Ms. Ford is a Chicago-born native, having grown up in the city proper. She has committed her career to helping the mental health needs of the residents of our strong and beautiful city.