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, couples and families. With a passion for Children and Adolescents, Stacy has spent most of her career working with Children, Adolescents and their families. More recently, she has enjoyed working with couples struggling with a variety of different interpersonal and relationship issues. 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.
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.
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.
Alison Clark is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with several years of experience working with adolescents, adults, couples and families. Alison has developed a special niche in the way that she counsels and empowers people going through a transitional period in their lives, whether it be anxiety, depression, an addiction or a family member coping with someone who struggles with addiction. Alison is a highly integrative social worker with experience in a wide range of issues in adults as well as young adults, especially divorce, grief and loss.
Tamara Gasior is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who has experience working with children, adolescents, young adults, adults experiencing mental health challenges, couples, families and geriatrics. She has a background in ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, Depression, OCD, Trauma issues, Self-Esteem issues, ODD, Adjustments Disorders and Executive Functioning challenges.
Jason Cole a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) with over 26 years of experience in the mental health field. He has worked with adolescents, adults, couples and families in a variety of settings, including community mental health centers, private practice counseling, residential, crisis services, and inpatient. In addition to working in private practice, Jason is also a clinical therapist working on the adult unit at Linden Oaks hospital. Jason received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and received his Master’s degree in Community Mental Health from Roosevelt University.
Emily Sliwa is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) with over 20 years of experience working with a variety of populations in various settings. She has an extensive background working with children, adolescents, geriatrics, families and couples. Emily has worked with individuals struggling with Anxiety, Depression, Attention Deficit Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, trauma histories, grief/loss, people with disabilities, Autism, and Adjustment Disorders. She feels that taking the initial step to seek out therapy takes extraordinary courage; therefore, she strives to develop a safe space that is comfortable and supportive and works extremely hard to build rapport with her clients.
Renee Pollock is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) with over a decade of experience working with children, adolescents, adults, and their families. Renee has spent most of her career working in both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric settings, including an adolescent residential treatment center. In the acute inpatient setting she specialized in assessment and referrals and is knowledgeable about many community resources that can provide additional support. Renee received her Masters degree in from Benedictine University with a concentration in child psychology.
Erin Las is a Licensed Social Worker, who has experience working with children, adolescents, young adults, and adults. She has a background in ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Depression, Trauma Issues, Self-Esteem, ODD, Adjustment Disorders, Anger Management, and Executive Functioning challenges. Erin is also a Gottman Level 1 trained couples counselor.
Dr. Joanne Barian
Dr. Joanne Barian (Dr. Jo!) has a doctoral degree in Holistic Psychotherapy and Wellness, and a masters degree in Social Work. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) that specializes in a variety of different areas including, but not limited to; teens, adults, couples, and families struggling with addictions, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, grief and loss, abuse, trauma, PTSD, self-harm and eating disorders, as well as LGBTQ+, and transgender related issues.
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.
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 over fifteen years, Lisa has worked with groups, individuals, adults, children, adolescents, and families. She is here to support her clients, introduce new life tools, offer new perspectives, and help her clients heal, grow, and overcome challenging situations. Lisa has an extensive background working with depression, anxiety, self-injury, bipolar, ADD/ADHD, grief, addictions, executive functioning, divorce, blended families, parenting issues, women's issues, and transitional life changes. To effectively identify, support growth, and create positive change, Lisa uses a collective approach utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and introduces her clients to Mindfulness. “We all have struggles. Sometimes asking for help is the hardest thing we do.”
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.