At Polaris, we pride ourselves on having some of the best trained, compassionate and personable counselors in the area. In addition to having experience in all our core counseling areas, each counselor has their own area of clinical expertise, ensuring workable solutions based on real world situations and needs. Furthermore, each of our counselors is equally as passionate as the next about helping you!
Feel free to learn more about our counselors and click on our bio’s below! You will get a snapshot of each counselor’s professional experience and personal interests, a list of their favorite book recommendations and testimonials from their clients.
Need more information? Don’t worry. At Polaris, we understand that starting counseling can be a scary experience. Before your first session, your counselor will call to introduce him/herself to you, confirm the time that you will be meeting and will answer any questions. Don’t be shy, we expect you to have questions. Ask away!
Stacy Schmidt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with about about a decade of experience working with children, adolescents, and their families. With a passion for Children and Adolescents, Stacy has spent most of her career working with Children, Adolescents and their families. Stacy received her Master’s Degree at Illinois State University, with a concentration in School Social Work. Most of Stacy’s career has been spent working in the community, schools, hospitals, and private practice settings.
Stacy has experience with diagnosable disorders, mental illness, trauma, interpersonal relationship conflicts, grief and loss, adoption, as well as the every day challenges that we all face. Stacy focuses on assisting people in a supportive approach utilizing a variety of methods including Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Client Centered Therapy, Solution Focused, Psychotherapy and Play Therapy. Stacy enjoys focusing on an individual or family’s strengths and building from there. Stacy’s professional experience and dedication to her clients will provide you with a comfortable and safe environment to work together to explore concerns influencing your quality of life.
Stacy enjoys spending time with her family and her friends. Stacy has two cats who always leave her with a story to tell. Stacy is a proud Aunt of 3 who she gets to spoil as often as possible. Stacy enjoys reading, listening to music, and traveling as often as possible. Stacy is a dedicated Cubs fan!
What people are saying about Stacy:
"Stacy is a talented therapist that I feel safe and comfortable talking to about anything and everything."
Stacy's Recommended Readings:
Born For Love - Maia Szalavitz & Bruce D. Perry
The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog - Bruce D. Perry & Maia Szalavitz
The 5 Love Languages of Children - Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
Parenting with Love and Logic - Foster Cline and Jim Fay
Parenting Teens with Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood - Foster Cline and Jim Fay
The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in Healing of Trauma - Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
Co-Dependent No More - Melody Beattie
The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz
I Hate You-Dont Leave Me - Jerold J. Kreisman
Reviving Ophelia: Saving The Selves of Adolescent Girls - Mary Pipher PhD
Ophelia's Mom: Women Speak out About Loving and Letting Go of Their Adolescent Daughters - Nina Shandler, ED. DD
Carmen Adams is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience working with individuals, children, adolescents, families and couples. Carmen has always been interested in human development over the life span. Diagnosable disorders, mental illness, life transitions, stress, trauma, difficult situations or experiences can interrupt life in a negative way. The therapeutic relationship can foster hope and healing toward a more meaningful and healthier life experience.
Zachary Simms is a Master’s level clinician and a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with experience working with a variety of clinical issues, including but not limited to, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, PTSD and trauma, abuse and neglect, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Zachary's experience includes, working with children, teens, adults, couples and families, to help improve coping skills, learn stress management techniques and take control of the issues that brought them into treatment. Zachary's insight-oriented, practical approach to working with clients has helped motivate even the most ambivalent and treatment-resistant clients to achieve better clinical outcomes and an improved quality of life! He believes that understanding the needs of his clients are key in creating a thoughtful, personalized approach to help them transition from where they are, to where they want to be.
Jaclyn is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has a passion for working with children, adolescents, young adults and their families. In addition to working at Polaris, Jaclyn currently works as a school social worker in an elementary school setting. She also has previous experience working in a residential treatment environment with women and adolescent girls struggling with substance abuse, eating disorders, trauma, and co-occurring disorders.
Her work focuses on navigating issues, such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, trauma, stress, self-esteem, family conflict and difficult life adjustments. Jaclyn also has a unique understanding of the school environment in which she uses to support children and adolescents with school issues and behavior concerns. Jaclyn aims to help clients increase their self-awareness, self-management, interpersonal and decision making skills through a blend of evidenced based theoretical approaches. She builds a unique relationship with each client and develops a personalized approach. Jaclyn values the importance of helping clients understand their thoughts, feelings and perceptions in order to make positive changes. She looks forward to helping clients identify their goals and gain the tools to achieve those goals.
Jaclyn earned a Master's Degree in Social Work from Aurora University with concentration in School Based Social Work. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Illinois State University with a focus on child welfare. Jaclyn enjoys yoga, hiking, kayaking and cuddling with her Pembroke Welsh Corgi dog, Milo.
What people are saying about Jaclyn:
"Jaclyn was a HUGE help to my son. She worked with him to help express his feelings and feel better about himself. I could see his self-confidence change after he began therapy. He was better able to handle the daily frustrations that would previously cause him to melt down. It also helped his relationships with teammates on his baseball team. Before working with Jaclyn, he would become angry or cry when something wasn’t going his way on the field. He learned coping strategies and self-talk statements to use in the moment. Learning these skills, plus the overall increase in his positive self-esteem made such a huge difference."
Jaclyn's Recommended Readings:
What Do You Do With a Problem? - Kobi Yamada
Unstoppable Me!: 10 Ways to Soar Through Life - Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, Kristina Tracy
The 7 Habits of Happy Kids - Sean Covey
It's Hard To Be a Verb! - Julia Cook and Carrie Hartman
My Mouth Is a Volcano! - Julia Cook and Carrie Hartman
Just As You Are: A Teen’s Guide to Self-Acceptance and Lasting Self-Esteem (The Instant Help Solutions Series) - Michelle Skeen PsyD, Kelly Skeen
Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration - Meera Lee Patel
The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When The World Overwhelms Them - Elaine N. Aron Ph.D.
The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults - Frances E. Jensen and Amy Ellis Nutt
Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child - Ross W. Greene Ph.D.
Amy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with extensive work with children, teenagers, individuals and families. Amy feels that seeking therapy shows tremendous inner strength and character. She feels it is an honor to walk with people in part of their journey of life where they may need some extra support or a fresh perspective on various situations. Life is not always a smooth road, and at times are slowed down by a speedbump or come to a crossroad, unsure of what direction to take. Therapy can be a place to seek support, work through difficult emotions in a safe space, and learn new ways to conquer the ‘bumpier’ parts of life. Amy uses a variety of approaches unique to each person. Through the use of empathetic listening, strengths-based, behavioral and solution-focused therapy, Amy will help people realize their own power to make the changes they seek to find their authentic selves and inner peace. Whether a person is seeking someone to listen without feeling judged, uncover strength to overcome fears, to improve relationships or help being able to look in the mirror and take pride in themselves, Amy can offer support.
Prior to working with Polaris Counseling, Amy has worked with people in a variety of environments. She worked in a hospital as a Medical Social Worker, assessing mental health needs for people in crisis. She also worked in a non-profit family counseling agency providing individual, couples and group therapy. In this agency, she co-led a group for men convicted of domestic violence and court mandated to therapy. Amy has also worked in schools with students and families to provide emotional support when needed, speak in classrooms on topics, such as, bullying, anger management, respectful communication and many other issues kids face today. Amy has worked with children, teenagers, families and couples in child welfare agencies to provide support in foster care, adoption, child abuse and neglect and trauma. In working with children and teens, Amy has learned the importance of working with both the parents and the family as a whole to assure positive changes are made and maintained moving forward.
Amy graduated from Aurora University with a Masters degree in Social Work, with an emphasis on psychology and clinical therapy. Amy feels very blessed to have a supportive husband, her own four beautiful children and two stepchildren, who all keep her entertained daily with their humor and vibrant personalities. The family also love playing and cuddling with their sweet Goldador (half Labrador/Half Golden Retriever), who will eventually be trained as a therapy dog. When not working, Amy can be found on soccer fields with three kids in club soccer or at a dance studio with her youngest daughter. She also loves the stage, whether it is acting or directing children in community theater or watching Broadway plays. Amy has found the stage to build people’s confidence, conquer fears and find their authentic selves.
What people are saying about Amy:
"There was no one like Amy for our family. She would include my husband and I with the children who were foster children. We were always treated like a family, a whole unit. Amy helped us bond and feel like a family. She helped my husband and I communicate better, which also helped us be better parents. Amy would listen to me and be able to help me to see that I have qualities to love about myself, which helped me to be able to enjoy life more and be more positive. Amy is a wonderful therapist and is truly her calling in life."
Amy's Recommended Readings:
The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk - Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
The Five Love Languages of Children – Gary Chapman and D. Ross CampbellThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families - Stephen R. Covey
I Hate You--Don't Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality - Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus
Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day – Jamie Lee Curtis
Maybe Days: A book for children in foster care – Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright
Barbara Giordan MSW, LCSW received her Masters degree from the University of Connecticut. She is licensed in two states and has over twenty years of experience in the mental health field. Barb has worked in an inpatient hospital, a day school program and several private practice settings, including a Christian counseling center. She has also lectured extensively in teaching hospitals as well as local community agencies on a variety of topics which have included, the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse, depression, traumatic brain injuries, and childhood development.
Dr. Monica Roberts
Dr. Roberts is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and educational psychologist. Monica received her Master’s Degree in Counseling from St. Xavier University in Chicago and her Doctorate degree in Educational Psychology at National Louis University.
Dr. Roberts uses an eclectic approach to therapy that encompasses a multitude of techniques that are tailored to each of her client's specific needs. Dr. Roberts’ theoretical orientations include Adlerian therapy, DBT, ACT, CBT, and trauma focused approaches. Dr. Roberts wants to help her clients understand their own unique perspectives, create their own goals for their life and empower them to work on realistic steps towards those goals. She has a wide range of experience working with children, adolescents, adults, families and groups.
Carmen Adams (en español)
Carmen Adams es una Trabajadora Social Clínica licenciada con más de 20 años de experiencia trabajando con adultos, niños, adolescentes, familias y parejas. Carmen siempre ha estado interesada en el desarrollo humano a través de la vida, así como, los trastornos diagnosticables, las enfermedades mentales, las transiciones en la vida, el estrés, el trauma, las situaciones difíciles o las experiencias puedan afectar la vida de una manera negativa. La relación terapéutica puede fomentar la esperanza y la sanación ayudando a tener experiencias de vida más significativas y más saludables.
Shannon Aldridge is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with extensive experience in working with individuals, couples, children and families. Through the use of psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioral and family systems theories she works with clients to fully explore their struggles, re-establish balance and empower them to maintain healthy relationships. Shannon also possesses a passion for and an understanding of Christian counseling needs.
Kiersten Amport is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with experience working with individuals, children, adolescents, and families. Kiersten focuses on building a strong client relationship while employing a variety of therapeutic approaches to best support each individual client. She practices a client-centered and strengths-based approach while utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectal Behavioral Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy. Kiersten implements a holistic approach to empower clients and help them gain the tools needed to endure the ups and downs of life while maintaining balance and peace.
Marilyn Andrew is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has extensive experience working with children, adolescents, couples, families and adults struggling with Depression, Anxiety, Attention Deficit, Oppositional Defiant, trauma histories, and Adjustment Disorders.
She has worked in agency and community based settings and uses a variety of cognitive behavioral, play therapy, relational therapy, and solution focused treatment starting where the client is. Additionally, Marilyn has worked with foster children to help stabilize their placements, has supervised Master's level interns, and has worked with adults and families in a non-profit mental health agency.
Lisa Banner is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. For the last ten plus years, Lisa has worked with groups, individuals, adults, children, adolescents, and families. She is here to support, introduce new life tools, and help her clients heal from and overcome difficult situations. She has an extensive background working with depression, anxiety, self-injury, bipolar, ADD/ADHD, grief, addictions, and cognitive deficits. To identify obstacles and support change she uses cognitive behavioral theories. “We all have struggles. Sometimes asking for help is the hardest thing we do.”
Elizabeth Dubiel is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a licensed educator/counselor with professional experience working with individuals, groups, couples, and families. Elizabeth believes that positive change occurs through the process of combining the existing strengths of her clients with new strategies and supports. Her goal is to ensure that each session is preventative, proactive, and empowering, and wants her clients to walk away from each session with tools they can use immediately to help make things more manageable. Helping families and improving individual lives is her passion.
Lauren Sax-Hanninen is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who brings more than a decade of experience to her work with children, adolescents, parents and families. Her approach to treatment helps clients consider their current thoughts and behaviors in order to assess whether these choices positively or negatively affect their quality of life. She also utilizes coping skills training, problem-solving and relaxation strategies in her sessions to help clients bring themselves to a more peaceful center. Her goal is to make therapy a place where clients can learn skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Debbie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida. She has provided counseling services to individuals, couples, adolescents and families since 1991, and is a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family therapy since 2000.
She provides therapy for adult children of alcoholic families, blended families, codependency, communication problems, couples/marriage, depression/anxiety, family counseling, infidelity, parenting issues, self-esteem, and stress management. She is an active, directive, cognitive-behavioral, solution-focused therapist who has worked successfully with diverse cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations and religions.
Dr. Rosa Salas
Rosa Salas, LMFT, PhD is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with experience in working with individuals and couples. Rosa works with individuals who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations with compassion and empathizes with her clients, giving her full attention to understand their circumstances, values, and goals. Her treatment orientation includes Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Christian Counseling, and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), while utilizing a holistic approach according to the individual needs of the client.
Dra. Rosa Salas (en español)
Rosa E. Salas, Lmft, PhD es una terapeuta matrimonial y familiar licenciada con experiencia de trabajo con individuos y parejas. Rosa trabaja con personas que están enfrentando situaciones estresantes y difíciles con compasión y empatía hacia sus clientes, brindándoles toda su atención para entender sus circunstancias, valores y objetivos. Su orientación de tratamiento incluye terapia cognitivo-conductual, terapia centrada en soluciones, consejería cristiana y reprocesamiento de desensbilización del movimiento ocular (EMDR), mientras al mismo tiempo utiliza un enfoque holístico de acuerdo con las necesidades individuales del cliente.
Dr. Antonio Salvat
Antonio Salvat, Psy.D., LMFT has a doctorate in clinical psychology and is a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist. He specializes in individual, couples, and family therapy with adolescents and adults of various backgrounds and sexual orientations. Dr. Salvat has worked with people struggling with depression, anxiety, Asperger’s Syndrome (autism spectrum), Borderline Personality Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, thought disorders, emotional disorders, sexuality and gender, co-dependency, boundary issues, and general life problems.
James Smithers is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and is the Founder and President of Polaris Counseling. For over a decade, his passion for helping others has led him to become a counselor, consultant and advocate. As a father of a blended family of five children, and an experienced clinician, James knows how physical, emotional and socioeconomic factors can impact even the strongest of individuals, couples and families. James founded Polaris Counseling to give special attention to the unique needs of his clients in a warm, friendly and supportive environment.
Erin Staley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has dedicated her career to empowering children, adolescents, adults, and families to see the strength that already exists within them through validation, support, and guidance. She utilizes a reality based approach focusing on the here and now, helping to prepare her clients for a healthier future through acceptance and self-determination.