Our Team

Melissa Bercier, PhD, LCSW

Founder & President

Melissa Bercier received her Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees in Social Work through Loyola University Chicago.

Melissa Bercier, PhD, LCSW

Founder & President

Melissa Bercier received her Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees in Social Work through Loyola University Chicago and her BA in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Bercier is a Certified Compassion Fatigue Specialist, certified through the Traumatology Institute, and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of IL.

Dr. Bercier made compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress and vicarious trauma her research focus throughout her PhD program, resulting in the first systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions targeting compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress and vicarious trauma in mental health workers.  Helping the helper is a personal, ongoing mission for Dr. Bercier.

Dr. Bercier’s experience in mental health began working in community mental health centers in Chicago. Since then, her experience expanded to psychiatric in-patient treatment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Stone Institute of Psychiatry in Chicago, IL and Montevista Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, NV. Her experience also includes out-patient psychotherapy and group therapy at Alternatives Community Mental Health Center in Anchorage, Alaska.  From 2006 to 2010 she served as the Three Rivers District Chair on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Social Workers-IL (NASW-IL).  From 2010 to 2019, Dr. Bercier worked as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) therapist and affiliate for Perspectives, Ltd. working with various individual, family, and couples’ issues on a brief-treatment basis. As of January of 2018, Dr. Bercier was asked to join the Small Business Council for the United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.  Through this position, Dr. Bercier advocates for entrepreneurs and small business owners as she meets in Washington, D.C. and other areas in the U.S. throughout the year to inform and be informed on policies that directly affect small business.

Dr. Bercier’s life goal has been to destigmatize mental health enrichment and create a more positive and healthy community for all. She believes in being authentic and providing a comfortable and compassionate environment to support Couch Clarity’s clients through meaningful and positive change. Continuing on her path with destigmatizing seeking mental health enrichment, Dr. Bercier created Theralete, therapy for athletes, in 2015. Theralete is a program designed to assist in guiding athletes into a well rounded lifestyle which includes balance of the mind, body, and soul.

Dr. Bercier’s passion with helping the helper is also a large part of her private practice and business model.  Staying true to her PhD research, Dr. Bercier continues to expand her practice continuing to create and offer exciting opportunities for growth and change for her own team. Couch Clarity employees are trained and supervised by Dr. Bercier, allowing for opportunity to run their own Couch Clarity practice.

Callie Oetking, LCSW

Therapist

Everyone is worthy of the opportunity for a supportive, positive and stable relationship in their life and I strive to be that guide for...

Callie Oetking, LCSW

Therapist

Locations:

Everyone is worthy of the opportunity for a supportive, positive and stable relationship in their life and I strive to be that guide for my clients. It is critical for children, adolescents and families to have support in navigating stressors that occur during various stages of life. My goal is for our clients to develop the coping skills, strategies and mindset to move forward and deal with stressors in a positive and productive way. I focus on being partners in your journey by using my empathic and approachable style. I place importance on working together to identify strengths and supports, as well as problem solving through the barriers that are in the way of your personal success and happiness.

I received my Masters in Social Work with a Professional Educator License from University of Illinois in Chicago and am certified as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). I have experience in community counseling and school settings with children, adolescents and families that present with a variety of stressors including anxiety, depression, ADHD, trauma, autism spectrum disorder, communication delays, emotional regulation challenges, and relationship issues. My approach is strengths-based infused with evidence-based interventions that are based in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), social learning theory and solution-focused counseling. I have a wealth of experience navigating the world of special education and educational supports to help children, adolescents and their parents be successful across environments.

Cathy Palubicki, LPC

Therapist & Team Growth Specialist

We all have the strength and power to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives each and every one of us desires. Life is full of...

Cathy Palubicki, LPC

Therapist & Team Growth Specialist

Locations:

We all have the strength and power to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives each and every one of us desires. Life is full of surprises and challenges. It is our perspective that defines how these challenges shape our lives. Positivity can help cultivate our best selves, enhance our personal relationships, and increase our happiness and well-being.

I strive to create a non-judgmental supportive environment. I recognize that each individual is unique and tailor my approaches based on the goals you want to achieve. I use a variety of treatment methods including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), strength based, humanistic, positive psychology, and person-centered.

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. I have experience doing group and individual therapy in an intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization setting as well as private practice. I provide education, counseling, and support using a holistic approach by assessing physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.

My clinical areas of interest include anxiety, depression, life transitions, dating/relationships, self-esteem, stress management, life balance, and teen issues. I would be honored to be a part of your journey to gain some couch clarity!

In addition to my clinical work, I have over six years of experience in Human Resources and Administration working in higher education and community mental health. My approach as an HR professional is to create a workplace culture that is positive and supportive by giving our staff the tools necessary to succeed in their jobs so they are able to maximize their impact in our community.

Chris Schuneman, MA, LPC

Therapist

“I believe that a different therapy must be constructed for each patient because each has a unique story.” – Dr. Irvin D. Yalom This...

Chris Schuneman, MA, LPC

Therapist

Locations:

“I believe that a different therapy must be constructed for each patient because each has a unique story.”

– Dr. Irvin D. Yalom

This quote from Dr. Yalom best exemplifies my therapeutic approach. I do not believe therapy is a one-size-fits-all process. Each client is their own individual and thus should be treated as such.

With my client-centered approach, we will develop goals together to help you overcome life’s many obstacles. Using empathy without judgement, I help guide my clients to reaching these goals. I am experienced in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness, Narrative Therapy, and Positive Psychology, amongst other techniques and modalities.

My clinical areas of interest include anxiety, depression, sleep issues, relationships, stress, career choices, substance abuse disorders, and trauma. I believe in providing a safe and nonjudgmental space where client and therapist can work collaboratively.

I received my Masters of Arts with a specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Adler University. Prior to joining the team at Couch Clarity, I worked in community mental health at Lakeview Pantry on the Northside of Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christi McSweeney, MA, LPC

Therapist

“Not all who wander are lost” is a quote I have loved while walking through my own life’s uncertainty. When you find yourself faced...

Christi McSweeney, MA, LPC

Therapist

Locations:

“Not all who wander are lost” is a quote I have loved while walking through my own life’s uncertainty. When you find yourself faced with an unclear path, talking with a therapist offers comfort, clarity, connection, and guidance.

Counseling involves exploring yourself in a safe space that includes your perceptions and behaviors, and anything else relevant to the healing process. We can all thrive when provided the appropriate environment, so my primary goal is providing the type of safe space that works best for you. I am a strengths-based therapist. I believe that through processing memorable events, trauma, shame, isolation, addiction, and depression/anxiety, personal growth can be achieved. Clients are knowledgeable in their own life and desires.  I find it most productive to support the client’s autonomy through empowerment and understanding.

I have a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Xavier University. My approach is eclectic to account for the unique needs of clients. I strive to offer empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence in every session. My training is based in evidence-based practices including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing. I specialize in existential therapy and reality therapy. I am also a certified yoga instructor and enjoy using mindfulness and somatic therapies.

I look forward to connecting and walking with you on your mental health journey!

Dan Frantz, MS, LCPC, CPT

Therapist & Coach / EMDR Trained

I believe it was Kermit the Frog who put it best, “It’s not easy being green.”  But what do we do with our pain?...

Dan Frantz, MS, LCPC, CPT

Therapist & Coach / EMDR Trained

Locations:

I believe it was Kermit the Frog who put it best, “It’s not easy being green.”  But what do we do with our pain? How do we continue to take care of others and grow more fully into our own potential?

I’m a Strength Coach and a Holistic Coach.  That means I have an integrated approach and I care about your nutrition, fitness, relationships, career, mind, body, and spirit.

I’m an Individual, Couples, Marriage, and Family Therapist.  That means I know how to listen deeply to what’s most important to you.     I won’t be just talking at you or mechanically smiling and nodding with intermittent outbursts of cheerleading.

I used to think that time was our most valuable commodity.  The culmination of lessons I’ve learned with the youth and families I’ve served in over a decade of teaching, counseling, coaching, and care coordination have shown me that time is a blessing, but attention is our most valuable commodity.  Just like a muscle, growth and productive change in any facet of life requires intentional work.  I’m here to help structure that process with you so you can put your attention where it needs to be.

I offer a principled approach in 3 fundamental elements:

Autonomy and Ownership:  This is your sense of purpose and choice throughout.

Competence and Mastery:  Achieving therapeutic goals can feel nebulous.  I’m in your corner to help you consume less noise and generate more clarity, skills, and knowledge.

Connection:  You are not alone.  I am your ally, your Agent of Good Will!  I aim to support you as you establish and nourish the relationships that are most important to you.

As a Therapist and Strength Coach, barbells, kettlebells, relationships, and the most intimate matters of the heart are the tools of my trade.  When used properly, they all promote growth.  I do my best work not because I am awesome, but because IT is awesome.

It’s an honor to serve the community I grew up in.  It’s an honor to support your growth.

Listen.  Trust.  Try.  Grow.  Repeat!

 

Jenni Sefcik, LSW

Therapist

Our journey towards personal growth can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming to manage on our own. We all have our “stuff” that we work...

Jenni Sefcik, LSW

Therapist

Locations:

Our journey towards personal growth can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming to manage on our own. We all have our “stuff” that we work through but often need guidance and support to achieve the growth that we need. It is my honor to walk this growth journey with you, utilizing evidence-based modalities to provide the tools needed to progress on your journey. 

I have engaged in therapeutic work in a variety of settings, including trauma, grief, domestic violence, substance use, anxiety, and depression. This work assisted in my development of an eclectic approach, focused on tailoring treatment to meet each person’s unique needs and incorporating modalities such as mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychoeducation and body work therapies such as yoga, breathwork, walk and talk therapy, and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). 

I have a Master’s in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago and am a Certified Yoga Instructor. I’ve sought out additional training and certifications in groupwork, substance use, and the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics to better formulate an understanding of the critical components impacting one’s current emotional experience as well as individually tailor each treatment. I also have a strong appreciation of therapeutic gardening and its benefits for reducing common anxiety and depressive symptoms.

I feel we have the ability to grow and unlock our full potential if we allow ourselves to invest the time and energy necessary – at Couch Clarity we help you do just that!

Lauren Black, LSW

Therapist

“…rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.” I have always been moved by these words from Brene Brown,...

Lauren Black, LSW

Therapist

Locations:

“…rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.” I have always been moved by these words from Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW.

We often seek therapy yearning for connection and understanding. My goal is to provide a safe space where we can work together as a team to help you process your experiences, validate the emotions attached to these experiences, and discover your own strengths and capacity for coping through life’s challenges. We as humans are inherently resilient even when things like shame, trauma, isolation, addiction, depression, and anxiety try to disconnect us from ourselves and others. We will work together to find compassion for yourself in restoring this connection.

My clinical work is informed by evidence-based interventions including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), solution-focused therapy, and motivational interviewing. I also focus my work with clients from a humanistic, strengths-based, and person-centered approach. As a social worker, I am also keenly aware that we are impacted by our environments such as school, work, and home but also our community, culture, and society at large.

I have a Masters in Social Work from The Catholic University of America, a certification in drug and alcohol counseling from Loyola University Chicago, and am a licensed social worker in the state of Illinois. I have experience in individual and group settings helping clients navigate through anxiety, depression, substance use, relationship issues, shame, self-esteem, life transitions, domestic violence, suicidal ideation, and self-harm. I also have over 10 years of experience as a patient advocate for individuals and families living with bleeding disorders and understand the complexities of navigating life with a chronic health condition.

I look forward to walking beside you in this journey of discovering your own resiliency, strength, and self-compassion.

Madeline Haynes, LCSW

Therapist

Finding a safe-space to feel heard can often feel challenging and overwhelming.  We each have our own unique experiences and goals, and I believe...

Madeline Haynes, LCSW

Therapist

Locations:

Finding a safe-space to feel heard can often feel challenging and overwhelming.  We each have our own unique experiences and goals, and I believe in providing a welcoming space for self-exploration. I practice with a strengths-based, client centered, and solution focused outlook, while incorporating evidence based practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing. I believe that empathy, compassion, humor, understanding, and validation helps to establish meaningful relationships with clients.

I graduated from Loyola University of Chicago with my Masters of Social Work and am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Illinois.  My experience ranges from working in community mental health to working with clients dealing with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, mood disorder related symptoms, and substance use related issues.

I am accepting of all lifestyles and backgrounds and welcome you to reach out with any questions!

Marissa Kol, PhD, LSW

Therapist

Have you reached fatigue during the pandemic? We are all experiencing grief and loss in some capacity. Whether you have lost a loved one,...

Marissa Kol, PhD, LSW

Therapist

Locations:

Have you reached fatigue during the pandemic? We are all experiencing grief and loss in some capacity. Whether you have lost a loved one, a job, emotional drive, and/ or are grieving the changes of your every day life, I am here to help.

I was a colleague of Melissa Bercier in the doctoral program when she was creating the mission and vision of Couch Clarity at Loyola University of Chicago. In turn, I really understand Melissa’s work with compassion fatigue and how it undergirds the therapeutic methodologies at Couch Clarity. With this heightened appreciation, I’m able to work within the framework, also bringing in my expertise on grief and loss, to help the helper.

The therapeutic techniques I commonly use are CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) with a strength based perspective. I am skilled at tailoring these interventions and using other methods to individualize my treatment approach for each client. My experience is working with individuals and groups in inpatient, outpatient and hospital settings. I received my Master’s in Social Work from University of Michigan and PhD in Social Work from Loyola. I create a safe space teaching clients how to lean into and build emotional tolerance and mastery around the discomforts of every day life.

I look forward to being a guide in your journey via teletherapy, walking and talking, or in-person on the couch!

 

Monica Zabinski, MA, LPC

Therapist / LGBTQIA+ Ally

Author Ray Bradbury once said: “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing when to tip ourselves over and let...

Monica Zabinski, MA, LPC

Therapist / LGBTQIA+ Ally

Locations:

Author Ray Bradbury once said: “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing when to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” This quote encapsulates my understanding of growth and change in our life as beauty does not just come from joy and happiness, but also pain and struggle. The question is, how do we navigate these difficulties, so we can get to a place where we can tip over and let the beautiful stuff out?

That, to me, is where therapy comes in to play. Therapy is a tool that can help individuals find clarity and understanding into their own lives and explore the various components that contribute to how we feel and experience the world around us. As a therapist, my goal is to create a space in which all of my client’s feel comfortable tipping themselves over and exploring what comes out in a nonjudgmental, empathetic and understanding way.

To achieve this goal, I purposefully tailor my sessions to each individual client and utilize various therapeutic approaches and interventions to help my client understand their strengths and experiences. As an eclectic clinician, I tend to incorporate multiple evidence-based theories including Cognitive Behavioral, Psychodynamic, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Mindfulness, and Positive Psychology and incorporate diverse techniques including Art-Based and Psychodrama.

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and I received my Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University. I work with a variety of clients who experience issues including but not limited to addictions, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, bipolar disorder. My particular populations of interest include individuals working in helping fields, especially police officers and other uniformed officers, first responders, military personnel, and fire fighters as well as their families. I also have native fluency of Polish in speaking, reading and writing.

Nicole Muller, MA, LPC

Therapist

Life is full of vulnerabilities and stressors that we sometimes think we must overcome ourselves. My beliefs mirror Erik Erikson’s quote, “Life doesn’t make...

Nicole Muller, MA, LPC

Therapist

Locations:

Life is full of vulnerabilities and stressors that we sometimes think we must overcome ourselves. My beliefs mirror Erik Erikson’s quote, “Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.”  Emphasis on togetherness and collaboration within life and in therapy is a must.  My goal is to engage with you in the difficult, vulnerable, and stressful aspects of life in a warm and empathetic manner while guiding you towards personal growth and fulfillment.

I received my Masters of Arts in Counseling with a Specialization in Forensic Psychology from Adler University. My experience has allowed me to work with individuals as they triumph through their own challenges, such as anxiety, depression, relationships, trauma, and life transitions.  I incorporate a strength-based, collaborative approach that acknowledges your ability to conquer these challenges alongside the structure and support of our therapeutic alliance. Due to the unique nature of everyone’s therapeutic needs, I bring fluidity into interventions but often use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy and Positive Psychology.

I look forward to our journey together!

Olga Konyakova, LCSW, CADC

Therapist / EMDR Trained

Growth is so rewarding! Life allows us to grow and challenge ourselves by hiking up a mountain, competing in a sport, or starting a...

Olga Konyakova, LCSW, CADC

Therapist / EMDR Trained

Locations:

Growth is so rewarding! Life allows us to grow and challenge ourselves by hiking up a mountain, competing in a sport, or starting a new business. However, there are also difficult situations that life brings us without asking for our permission. Sharing your life story can help you heal and find true joy and happiness. As your therapist, I will listen and provide support and guidance on your journey.

I am an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) trained therapist. EMDR focuses on your present concerns. The EMDR approach believes past emotionally-charged experiences are overly influencing your present emotions, sensations, and thoughts about yourself. EMDR helps you break through the emotional blocks that are keeping you from living an adaptive, emotionally healthy life!

I also practice a holistic approach which integrates the mind, body, and spirit through different therapeutic models such as psychoanalysis, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). My therapeutic approach is eclectic, relationship-based and strength-based. My experience includes stress, relationship issues, anxiety, depression, self-esteem and self-confidence, trauma and substance abuse.

I obtained my Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Loyola University Chicago and am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I am also a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. I work with techniques that include mindfulness as well as experiential activities. I work with adolescents, young adults and adults. It would be a privilege to walk by your side on your life’s journey!

Sinda Rosenberg, LSW

Therapist

My life’s journey has allowed me to gain knowledge and experience in so many areas.  I wanted to be able to share my knowledge...

Sinda Rosenberg, LSW

Therapist

Locations:

My life’s journey has allowed me to gain knowledge and experience in so many areas.  I wanted to be able to share my knowledge and interpersonal skills with others on a deeper level so I decided to get my Master’s Degree and became a therapist.  I enjoy working with all types of issues.  I work with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, teen issues, empty nest syndrome, post-partum, divorce, mid-life changes, just to name a few.

I am also a grief counselor.  Grief can take many forms.  It can be due to the loss of a loved one, but grief also can follow from the loss of a job, a divorce, the loss of a home, a pet or a child coming of age and moving on in their life. One aspect that always follows is the need to help the grieving individual rediscover a positive future; the need to help that person redefine who she or he might become in the wake of their loss. The experience of seeing someone shed that weight of grief and loss – to see them walk back into their world feeling lighter, freer and once again excited to pursue their own personal journey – was my core motivation for becoming a social worker.

Throughout life personal experiences become personal stories. We give these stories meaning: they help to shape our personal identity, they affect how we feel about ourselves and they focus our perspective on the future.  I work within the framework of narrative therapy to harness the power of these stories to help my clients rediscover a positive narrative and to give their life new purpose.

I received my MSW from Loyola University-Chicago and am a Licensed Social Worker.  Following graduation I pursued a fellowship with Rainbow Hospice & Palliative Care in their Grief and Bereavement group.  While studying at Loyola I worked at a home for at-risk teen youth in a disadvantaged neighborhood; I continue to volunteer as a grief counselor for non-profit organizations in one of Chicago’s under-served communities.

Greg Modzelewski, MBA

CFO & Business Development

Following a professional basketball playing and coaching career in Europe, Greg joins the Couch Clarity team and brings a winning strategy with extensive global...

Greg Modzelewski, MBA

CFO & Business Development

Following a professional basketball playing and coaching career in Europe, Greg joins the Couch Clarity team and brings a winning strategy with extensive global experience. As a mentor, coach, and leader, he has depth in developing shared expectations and goals with stakeholders, staff, and teams in both business and sports.

Greg holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, specializing in Finance and Marketing Management.

His achievements include ownership in a professional sports club in England as well as creating a community program that promoted a healthy lifestyle. Attracting significant private and public investment, the program was highly recognized in making a major impact in schools and communities and was strategically implemented nationally.

Along with his creative and innovative approach, Greg maximizes peak performance and growth by striving to inspire, motivate, and empower others.  Greg has lead the Benefits Team initiative of demystifying insurance eligibility and benefits for our clients, leading to decreased anxiety, increased knowledge, and creating a open door of communication that is consistent and helpful to empower our clients in their own mental health care.

Nadia Miftakhova, MHA

Client Benefit Supervisor

I am a customer service driven professional and a graduate of the Master’s in Healthcare Administration program at University of Illinois at Chicago. My...

Nadia Miftakhova, MHA

Client Benefit Supervisor

I am a customer service driven professional and a graduate of the Master’s in Healthcare Administration program at University of Illinois at Chicago. My expertise is in client satisfaction, medical coding, and process improvement. I have worked as an Administrator in the Healthcare field for over five years and continue to broaden my skills everyday.

Outside of the Healthcare field, I have a performing arts background. I have been an actress and a production manager for over thirteen years at a local community theater. Having this background really helps me communicate effectively and find innovative solutions to daily challenges.

My goal at Couch Clarity is to maintain a high level of client satisfaction and ensure easy access to services. My role is to help clients navigate through the complex world of insurance and benefits. My intention is to listen and maintain an excellent level of communication to make sure that clients are involved in decision-making from the very first contact with Couch Clarity.