Exceptional care for all stages of life
Child & Adolescent Therapy
Child and adolescent counseling is aimed to improve problem-solving skills, encourage effective communication and teach healthy ways to manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. At the Center, we assess each child’s level of emotional maturity, and work to set goals that will increase emotional functioning and maturity, such as teaching skills to manage distress, regulate emotions, and learn to communicate effectively.
Child therapy can be different than traditional counseling since children may struggle communicating their experiences. Play therapy is a common technique that may be used to assist a child in expressing their thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Couples therapy consists of a couple coming in together to address issues related to the marriage/relationship, or that are impacting the relationship. At times sessions will be conducted with both partners present, while at other times individual sessions may be used. A variety of issues can be addressed in couples therapy; the issues to be addressed are mutually decided upon by the couple and the therapist. Initially sessions are held weekly, but may decrease in frequency as progress is made.
Exposure Response Prevention Therapy
The mostly widely practiced behavioral therapy for anxiety is called exposure and response prevention (ERP). Initially, patients are asked to make a list of situations that provoke anxiety.
Treatment asks patients to participate in exposure to situations that cause mild to moderate anxiety, and as the patient habituates to these situations, he or she gradually works up to situations that cause greater anxiety. The time it takes to progress in treatment depends on the patient’s ability to tolerate anxiety and to resist compulsive behaviors.
Exposure asks are usually first performed with the therapist assisting. These sessions generally take between 45 minutes and three hours. Patients are also asked to practice exposure tasks between sessions for two to three hours per day.
To mark progress during exposure tasks with the therapist and in homework, patients are trained to be experts in rating their own anxiety levels. Once they have made progress in treatment, participants are encouraged to continue using the ERP techniques they have learned, and to apply them to new situations as they arise.
The function of family therapy is to help provide a safe space for skill building and role negotiation. Family therapy is meant to empower family members as they work together to identify and manage inevitable life transitions, daily stresses, and significant conflicts that are often reflective of individual family member frustrations. Family therapy seeks to assist in resolving conflict between family members or when conflict arises simply from one family member’s behavior negatively impacting another family member. Family therapy is also used to help family members adjust to changes that a person in therapy is making. Family therapy may consist of all family members being present or just some; different sessions may also have different family members present. Initially sessions are held weekly, but may decrease in frequency as progress is made.
Group Therapy offers an opportunity for clients to engage in a safe and nurturing environment that encourages collaborative feedback from their peers. In this form of therapy, clients that share common challenges in their everyday lives can help to support one another’s growth within a therapeutic environment by mirroring each others journeys and sharing constructive tips toward self care. Group therapy can help clients to adapt to various social and emotional challenges in every day life such as managing personal triggers regarding addiction, anger, grief, and loss. Group therapy is built to aid clients in their development of conflict resolution, effective communication styles, and awareness of the self within group dynamics; it helps individuals to build meaningful therapeutic connections that often serve as examples for healthy choice making, relationship building, and emotional regulation.
The Center offers Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Groups, Child and Adolescent Social Skills Groups, Skills Groups, Art and Anxiety Groups.
Individual therapy consists of a one on one meeting between a client and a therapist. Sessions last approximately 55 minutes. During this time the client and therapist work toward achieving mutually agreed upon goals. Clients are often encouraged to learn new ideas that bring about increased self-awareness and internal resiliency. Individual therapy is a collaborative effort between the client’s experience and the therapist’s approach; it takes time to develop, and may evolve as the client’s needs arise.
At times the therapist and client may choose to include other family members in the sessions, such as a spouse or parent. Sessions typically occur weekly at the start of therapy; as problems decrease the therapy may be spread out.
Parenting Skills Training
Parents, who are more mindful of their own emotional reactions and how they manifest in their parenting, will have an increased understanding in terms of how their reactions impact their responses to their child. Our staff will assist parents to create goals and objectives for parenting (i.e., assisting the adolescent in becoming more motivated, self-confident, independent). These goals and objectives will be monitored and reviewed regularly, assisting parents with strategies as obstacles present.
Key skills to teach children and adolescents include goal setting, distress tolerance, self-assessment of strengths and weakness, learning to cope with disappointment and failure, and self-advocacy skills.
In Play Therapy, young children and sometimes adolescents are offered games, creative tasks, and other engaging activities during their therapy sessions in order to build a trusting relationship with their therapist. Play therapy offers a brief but often telling relay of a client’s history and important internal mechanisms, creating an accessible therapeutic window into the child’s mind. Play therapy can help to reveal a child’s communication deficits, struggles with regulatory behavioral patterns, as well as potential emotional and cognitive distresses. This type of intervention serves as a unique platform from which to acquire proficiency regarding behavioral management and mood regulation. By engaging the therapeutic process on his or her own terms, each child is invited to encounter a unique opportunity for self-exploration, expression, and skill building. Parents are often invited to participate in this process if needed.
Adult Anxiety And Depression Group
When life stresses become to overwhelming our clinicians can assist you in better managing those feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Our goal is to provide you with a supportive environment while learning useful skills and tools to achieve a healthier more balanced life.
Treatment for ADD/ADHD involves more than just taking medication. There are many additionally effective options that can help individuals with ADD/ADHD improve their ability to focus, control impulsive behavior, and curb hyperactivity. We will work with you and your child on ways to incorporate nutrition, exercise and increased social skills as part of a balanced treatment plan that can improve performance at school, improve your child’s relationships with others, and decrease stress and frustration.
Additionally, our treatment approach utilizes parent training and family counseling in order to assist in increasing structure in the home, as well as implementing parenting strategies that can promote healthier communication with your child as you work together toward increasing emotional maturity and better decision making skills in your child.
Anger Management Treatment
While anger is a basic, human emotion that is part of life, it is important that anger be expressed in a healthy and nondestructive way. When anger negatively impacts a person’s relationships and drives them toward destructive and dangerous behavior, it is time to seek professional help. We will help clients learn to communicate and manage their feelings of anger in healthier ways in the hopes of restoring their quality of life. Treatment will focus on assisting the client to become more self-aware of their responses to anger, as well as develop increased coping and stress management skills in order to better process and respond to their anger without reacting with extreme behavior. Such techniques as mindfulness and meditation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), group and individual counseling may be used.
Anxiety Disorders Treatment
Fortunately, anxiety disorders are highly treatable when addressed with the correct scientific solutions, and we can provide the solutions you need to help you conquer your fears.
In fact, panic and anxiety—including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder—are the most common mental heath issues in America.
While anxiety is often uncomfortable, at times even unbearable, some anxiety is a regular part of daily life and can actually assist in motivation. Often individuals who experience anxiety seek to avoid the very things that cause their heightened anxiety or discomfort. These avoidance behaviors may further exasperate the anxiety by not allowing one to sit with his/her discomfort. The goal of anxiety treatment is to teach one to manage their own anxiety and experience distress while avoiding panic like symptoms.
At the Center, we believe that the key to leaning to manage anxiety is to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. We work closely with our clients to develop an arsenal of healthy coping skills and strategies to manage their discomfort and face their fears.
While there is no known cure for Autism, there are treatment and education approaches that can address some of the challenges associated with this condition. Intervention can help to lessen disruptive behaviors, and education can teach self-help skills for greater independence. Treatment will focus on utilizing the individual’s unique strengths to increase self-awareness, as well as improve maladaptive coping and cognitive strategies. Our treatment will also utilize behavioral modification strategies, parent training and family counseling in order to assist in increasing structure in the home, and implementing parenting strategies that can promote healthier communication with your child, as well as work towards increasing emotional maturity and better decision making skills in your child.
Feelings of sadness, loneliness, loss or even despair are part of the human experience. However, whether due to chemical imbalance, loss of a loved one, changes in life or maladaptive thought patterns, sometimes these periods of feeling down persist and may even intensify. Disruptions in sleep, appetite, loss of pleasure or interest in activities, increased isolation, and possibly even suicidal thoughts are symptoms that are common when someone is struggling with depression. Treatment will be individualized to each client’s unique needs but may include cognitive restructuring, identification of distorted thought patterns that negatively impact mood and motivation, thought reframing and development of healthy coping strategies in a safe, nurturing and supportive setting. This may occur in individual or group therapy sessions. Referrals for medication management may also be made as appropriate.
School Refusal Treatment
School anxiety, avoidance, and refusal have become all too common in our classrooms today. During the course of their development, many children and adolescents experience school-related anxiety in various ways. For some, school anxiety will manifest into school avoidance, which may impact attendance, academic performance, social interactions, family relationships, and physical health. Without proper intervention, these problems can have a profound effect on both the family and a student’s chance for success. Our treatment approach includes working with the parents, the school system, and other necessary resources to meet each family’s unique needs.
Self-injury involves a person hurting themselves as a way to express their emotional pain, manage emotional pain, and/or cope with their problems. Treatment will focus on a strength based approach, utilizing Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and behavioral modification approaches to assist the client in exploring more positive ways of coping with emotional pain. The client will work to learn better self-regulation strategies, a greater understanding of their behavioral responses to situations, as well as how their self-harm impacts not only themselves, but those around them. Treatment may also involve parent training and family counseling to assist in increasing structure in the home and implement strategies that can promote healthier communication, as well as increasing better emotional management.
“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it was stupid.”
– Albert Einstein
Gifted children and adults are vulnerable to a variety of adjustment difficulties. Problems of uneven development (gifted in some areas but struggle in others), perfectionism, adult expectations, intense sensitivity, self-definition, alienation, inappropriate environments and role conflict are explored. Peer relationships can be negatively impacted. Dr.Michelle Navarro works with each child or adult to identify his/her individual needs and strengths. She provides assessment, school help/interventions, and individual therapy. Dr. Michelle Navarro has her post-doctorate speciality in giftedness.
Psychoeducational and Neuropsychological Testing
What is the Difference Between the 2 Evaluations?
A psychoeducational evaluation can help determine if your child has a learning disability or other issues that negatively impact his or her ability to learn. It assesses the child’s cognitive (i.e. intellectual) abilities, academic achievement levels, information processing abilities, and/or some general emotional and behavioral issues. These evaluations usually measure emotional/behavioral functioning and their impact on the child’s academic success.
Psychoeducational Evaluation Method generally includes (but is not limited to):
- Specialized battery of testing instruments, such as:
- the WISC – Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (for cognitive abilities)
- the Woodcock-Johnson Test of Achievement for (academic levels), Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Nelson Denny
- tests of information processing abilities (visual-motor integration, phonological processing, etc.)
- tests related to general emotional and personality functioning
- interviews with the child
- Developmental history
- interviews with parents and other relevant people
- Review of relevant records (504 Plan, IEP, occupational, speech, and/or visual evaluations)
A neuropsychological evaluation is requested typically when there are concerns that something more complicated than learning disabilities is negatively impacting a child’s overall functioning. Possible brain injury or inherent brain dysfunction are considered or more in depth look at a learning disorder (specific dyslexia, dysgraphia, etc.or memory functioning.
Neuropsychological Evaluation Method generally includes (but is not limited to):
- Specialized battery of testing instruments such as:
- the WISC – Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (for cognitive abilities)
- Wide Range Assessment in Memory and Learning, Children’s Memory Scales (memory testing battery, short term, long term, visual/auditory input, free recall vs. recognition
- Dyslexia Testing (DDT, DST, GORT)
- Executive Functioning and Attention (BRIEF, Wisconsin CArd Sorting Test, Conner’s Continuous Performance Test, D2 Test of Attention, Ruff 2 &7, etc.)
- Specific tests for aspects of neuropsychological functioning (ex. NEPSY Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment battery (for neuropsychological functioning such as attention, language, sensory-motor, and visual-spatial functioning)
- tests related to general emotional and personality functioning
- interview with the child
- May also include a referral for speech, occupational or visual evaluation
- interview with parents and other relevant people/teacher
- review of relevant records
Who does these evaluations?
Psychoeducational testing or evaluations should be performed by a licensed psychologist (PhD or PsyD) who has training in and experience doing these types of specialized evaluations. While specialized programs and learning specialists can do some evaluations for learning disabilities, they are not trained to do comprehensive psycho-educational or neuropsychological evaluations.
How do I find a psychologist who does this?
You can get recommendations from your pediatrician, therapist, other parents, or even your child’s school. Usually your local or state psychological association has a list of its members and their specialties. Often, local parenting support groups and organizations, or local ADHD coaches, have a list of resources, as well.
How long will an evaluation take?
A truly comprehensive evaluation takes at least 5-6 hours, often more. It can be administered in one day, but often is separated into two or more days, depending upon the child.
Can the school demand the report?
If the school is paying for the evaluation, then it is usually with the expectation that the parent will sign a release of information form allowing the psychologist to send the school administrators a copy.
If the school pays for the report, does that mean that they “own” it?
No. A parent owns privilege to a child’s evaluation report of any kind except for “forensic” purposes (if it is related to litigation). In those situations, the court, or the attorney, “owns” privilege to the report and can decide who gets it. Otherwise, state statutes and federal HIPPA law clearly indicates that “protected health information” belongs to the client (or the parent/guardian). Only the client can release it to anyone or allow the doctor to release it.
Should you give a copy of your kid’s neuropsychological or psychoeducational report to the school?
Every circumstance is different. It depends upon why they are asking for it (to best help your child? to be punitive?). Also, are they suggesting that you get this done, or demanding it? If you get the feeling that the school is working collaboratively with you as a parent for your child’s best interest, then there usually is no harm in giving it to them. Many psychologists will provide parents with an abridged copy of the report, relevant to the child’s learning, that includes recommendations. That version of the report can be “comfortably” shared with the school.
Can the school use the report against you/your child?
That is always possible, but it depends upon the nature of the relationship that you have with the school and why they want the report. A lot of variables need to be considered, and an experienced psychologist should be able to help you to navigate that by speaking with you and relevant school officials.
Will the report assist with specific recommendations for educational or behavioral interventions?
Different psychologists have different styles. Some are more in-depth and some are more general with their recommendations. If you first speak with the doctor to make sure that you have the same expectations of how in-depth the recommendations will be, specifically letting the doctor know what your needs are and what questions you need answered, the doctor can tailor the report to meet your needs.
Benefits of Testing:
- Better understanding of the individual’s overall intelligence,
- strengths and weaknesses, learning style
- If a learning disability exists and/or giftedness
- Attention and memory functioning
- Assist in academic planning, interventions,etc.
- Documentation for services (a diagnosis is necessary) 504 Plan, Individualized Education Program (IEP, under special education category), Service Plan (if homeschooled)
- Documentation for college board, standardized testing (ex. ACT, SAT, GRE, BAR exam, AP exams, etc.)
- Documentation for college services
“I highly recommend Dr. Navarro for her work with children… “
-Pamela Kaplan, MSW, JD, LCSW
I highly recommend Dr. Navarro for her work with children, adolescents, and families for both counseling and psychoeducational testing. Dr. Navarro has been incredibly helpful to children and adolescents in obtaining appropriate intervention and testing accomodations from elementary school through college. I have the utmost confidence in the reliability of the testing results, and Dr. Navarro provides excellent practical recommendations to help children reach their full potential. Dr. Navarro has an empathetic, engaging manner that helps children, adolescents, and parents feel at ease. She also has a wealth of knowledge about the challenges facing children and families.
I have known Dr. Jo Wolthusen for several years. Her patience, courtesy, intelligence. and winning manner are only part of what makes her the sensitive, caring, matter-of-fact professional therapist that she is. Dr. Jo is a good communicator and has a marvelous sense of humor. She feels empathy and compassion for her patients and is outstanding when it comes to helping individuals and families cope with loss, depression, anxiety, and every day stress. Dr. Jo is an amazing and exceptional human being and I feel privileged to know her. Thank you for helping our family through so many issues. You will never know how much you are appreciated!
When my son was struggling at school but was getting okay grades the school seemed to think that there was no problem. My wife and I decided to have a complete evaluation of our son to shed some light on what we knew in our gut was wrong. Dr. Michelle diagnosed the problem, helped with school interventions, and even with ACT accomodations. More exciting, he is leaving for college in the fall and he has acoomodations that I did not know were possible at the university level. Her guidance through the whole process has been amazing!
Dr. Wolthusen has helped me naviaget through some very difficult times. By assisting me directly in working through the myraid of challenges encountered in marriage and raising children she has indirectly been a great help to my family. Dr. Jo serves as a life coach, as she provides a positive environment to set goals and works with the patient to create strategies to reach those goals.
The individualized care and support that I have received here is invaluable. Furthermore, I felt the individual and family therapist worked together and has helped change the way that our family interacts in such a positive way. I enjoy my children, my husband, and value myself in a way that I never thought possible.
Dr. Michelle is one of the most compassionate individuals that I have ever met and I am so lucky to have found her! She has helped me grow in so many ways that she has become an esteemed thought-partner through my navigation of many challenges. Thank you Dr. Michelle!
Get In Touch
We offer daytime, afternoon, and evening hours.
Now accepting Medicare and Medicare supplimental insurance.
4180 Route 83 Suite 10 and 11, Long Grove, IL 60047
Mon – Sat: 9am – 9pm