Meet the SpringSource Team

Written by: Kirstin Schafer, Psy.D., Angela Derrick, Ph.D. & Susan McClanahan, Ph.D.

Meet the SpringSource Team

Meet the SpringSource Team

At SpringSource, we are GROWING!  We have immediate openings and are available to take on new clients. 

As has been well-documented during the pandemic, there are highly elevated numbers of individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, among other mental health concerns (Czeisler, M. É. et al., 2020.) Vulnerable groups, including racial and ethnic minorities, appear to have been hit the hardest due in part to disparities in care for medical and mental health conditions (McKnight-Eily et al., 2021.) There is a significant need for quality mental health services to address these issues right here in Chicago. SpringSource is increasing access to care by creating openings with qualified clinicians and providing options for bi-lingual, Spanish-speaking therapists. 

We thought you might like to get to know our clinicians a bit, so read on for a brief interview as our therapists share their thoughts on current mental health needs and the impact of the pandemic, as well as how they think about quality therapy in 2021.

What is one of the most common topics you hear in therapy right now?

Hannah:  The need to feel safe and unconditionally supported within ourselves, in our relationships, at home, and at school/work.

Ximena: Romantic and friendship relationship issues, job concerns and problems with coworkers/bosses, anxiety due to short- and long-term life decisions/changes in life.

Brad: Anxiety, searching for a purpose, feeling bored and lonely

Fernanda: A common struggle today has to do with the fact that social and interpersonal systems have created the idea that humans should be idealizing productivity, achievements and competition that represent unrealistic standards instead of normalizing human behavior and individuality.

Angela: Concern about re-engaging with the world and relationships as covid restrictions lift and we have more choices again.

Susan: Longings for intimacy and connection.  Feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities, fears, perfectionism, unrealistic standards, and self-judgment.

What changes have you seen in your clients since the onset of pandemic?

Hannah: The accessibility of remote work has made it more challenging for some to “leave work at work” at the end of the day, particularly as some employers’ demands seem to have increased.

Ximena: For some, anxiety and depression along with feelings of loneliness and hopelessness.  For others, a moment of reconnection with themselves, where they have allowed themselves to rediscover their more essential interests and to learn something new. 

Brad: Engaging more with social media and feeling more isolated and lonely, and increased anxiety and OCD symptoms (often due to COVID and becoming sick or fear of becoming sick)

Fernanda: I’ve witnessed more uncertainty and people having negative emotional responses to sudden changes.  On the other hand, I’ve also seen people with increased awareness about their mental health and working on becoming the best version of themselves.

Angela: During the quiet that the pandemic allowed for, I’ve seen some amazing growth, such as people taking risks to try new things, develop good habits, reduce maladaptive coping, and come more fully into themselves and their identities. 

Susan:  Increased self-reflection, focus on core values, appreciated for family and friends, searching for meaning and joy as opposed to status.

What do you wish people understood about therapy?

Hannah: Usually in therapy we’re working on “unlearning” unhelpful patterns that have been present for months, years, or maybe for most of a client’s life. It can be challenging to find patience during this process because these small changes may seem minor in the moment – but the beauty of the journey is that small things add up to lasting growth and recovery.

Ximena: That it can be an amazing way to get to know ourselves, a journey to our inner world.  Therapy may be a path that can lead to self-acceptance, a more regulated lifestyles, impacting every single relationship and role we carry out in our daily life. 

Brad: It takes time, work and a commitment.  It is a process and I am partnering with you to help. 

Fernanda: Therapy is about creating a vulnerable, comfortable, safe space to heal, grow, learn and change; once a client passes the initial fears it changes their inner and outer world, creating a healthier place they always carry around with themselves. 

Angela: Relationships, such as with the therapist, are healing tools in and of themselves. 

Susan: Entering therapy requires courage, vulnerability, and collaboration. Your therapist is there to support and guide you, to help you move towards a rich and vibrant life. 

Hannah: I do my best to weave a consideration of the ways the intersecting aspects of my own and my clients’ identities influence our worldviews into all aspects of the therapy process. I am aware that my own sociocultural background has shaped my perspective, and it is critical that I question the lens through which I view the world in order to accurately empathize with my clients.

Ximena: Understanding intersectionality is essential, without pretending I know it all or that I can relate to the other person’s situation completely, always from a place of radical acceptance.

Fernanda: My approach is to always have an open, receptive, validating environment where the client can show who they truly are and develop a safe space for themselves.

Angela: I maintain an awareness of my various forms of privilege, acknowledge that I am always learning, and accept gracefully that I will make mistakes despite my best efforts and therein lie opportunities for growth. 

Susan: The therapeutic stance should be non-judgmental and accepting.  The work of therapy helps you connect with who you truly are and what all human beings have in common.  

What is teletherapy like for you as a therapist?

Hannah: Technical issues aside, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to deliver teletherapy. It increases access to care, and in many ways is more flexible than in-person services. 

Ximena: I like it as an option for some clients, since it’s practical and it may facilitate their engagement in therapy. However, in-person encounters will always give me the chance to get a better picture of the person I’m working with, at least during the intake sessions.

Brad: I find it challenging that I do not get to see an entire person’s body to see body language; it makes it harder to read the client. I like that I often get to see my clients in their home environment and even meet their pet(s).

Fernanda: It also represents a challenge and adventure, going to new lengths to build rapport and a relationship with the other through technology, it includes helping the client create a safe place in their own homes.

Angela: I am invited into my client’s lives in a new way that is informative to the therapy and also allows for a different kind of connection.  I have several clients I have never met in person, and we have developed strong connections despite of this.

How do you think about self-care and what are your personal strategies for wellness?

Hannah: I view self-care as a “practice” with strategies I can implement daily to promote my wellness in the long-term. I integrate regular mindfulness meditation and joyful movement and am intentional about sleeping well and nourishing and hydrating my body. Self-care for me also includes connecting with my loved ones on a consistent basis, as well as spending time in nature.

Ximena: The concept of self-care has been romanticized lately, it goes beyond taking a bubble bath (which can be a nice way to pamper ourselves of course!) Self-care is making decisions that will have a positive impact in my life.  It has to do with recognizing what I need and having the energy to respond effectively. 

Brad: Self-care is a vital part of our overall health. My personal strategies are to get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet (“there are no good or bad foods, just ineffective portion sizes”), get some movement in daily, take care of myself if I am not feeling well, engage with self-care, take time for mindfulness/meditation daily, and know my limits to maintain work/life balance.

Fernanda: Self-care is about nurturing the most important relationship humans have, themselves. My personal strategy always starts with self-check-in to acknowledge my needs and stay open to hearing the answer which can be resting a whole day, cooking, painting, seeing an old friend, meditating or just having a free, non-planned day. 

Angela: For me, self-care is about living the kind of life I don’t need a break from.  By maintaining good habits and boundaries, I don’t have to think so hard about how to fit in everything I need and want to do.

Susan: Self -care helps me fuel myself so that I have optimal energy to help others in their journey.  Nature, joyful movement, dogs, babies, gardening, decorating, meditation, music – all of these things help me to feel happy, relaxed and connected to myself and others.  

References:

Czeisler, M. É., Lane, R. I., Petrosky E., Wiley, J. F., Christensen, A., Njai, R., Weaver, M. D., Robbins, R., Facer-Childs, E. R., Barger, L. K., Czeisler, C. A., Howard, M. E., & Rajaratnam, S. M. (2020). Mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020. Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)69, 1049–1057. http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6932a1external icon

McKnight-Eily, L. R., Okoro, C. A., Strine, T. W., Verlenden, J., Hollis, N. D., Njai, R., Mitchell, E. W., Board, A., Puddy, R., & Thomas, C. (2021). Racial and ethnic disparities in the prevalence of stress and worry, mental health conditions, and increased substance use among adults during the COVID-19 pandemic — United States, April and May 2020. MMWR Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report,70, 162–166. http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7005a3external icon.