Michelle L Siegman LCSW LLC

The practice works, solely, with women living with anxiety, depression and/or going through significant life transitions including postpartum, divorce and post college into adulthood. We will shape your treatment and create the most effective process to reach your personal goals of reducing stress, increasing productivity and achieving balance. It is a collaborative journey that can produce a transformation into a healthier you. Utilizing a strengths-based perspective and integrative approach while creating a warm, empathetic environment, we will partner with you on your therapeutic passage to develop a stronger, more empowered self.

We look forward to the opportunity to enter a therapeutic relationship with you.

Please contact our practice with any questions.

“Courage is like a muscle. We strengthen it with use.”
- Ruth Gordon


Meet Michelle Siegman, LCSW

Ms. Siegman's expertise lies in guiding women to understand, accept and heal from their past in order to move forward in their daily activities and into healthy relationships. Often clients get "stuck" in a routine and can benefit from the therapeutic journey to release them from their consistent, injurious patterns.

She uses CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), Solution-Focused Therapy, as well as, Psychotherapeutic techniques to ease the pressure of depression, anxiety and life transitions.

In addition to her current work with women, Ms. Siegman spent eight years working as a school social worker in the Chicago suburbs. Her specialty was on building social skills, implementing behavioral plans and working with parents and school staff to create the most successful environment for children requiring a variety of classroom accommodations. While working in the school, she designed and employed a bullying program to foster a caring community. In addition, she guided many families through the divorce process.

Ms. Siegman has found that her extensive work with children and adolescents has truly enhanced her knowledge and private practice with women. It has allowed her the opportunity to study and investigate the full life of an individual, as well as, providing a strong background as a parenting coach.


Therapies and Approach

Sessions include exploration, goal setting and check-ins in order to complete the cycle and assist the client to gain self-awareness, as well as, inner strength. We take time to explore your personal history since it often connects to your current life choices and challenges. Often times, as we reach adulthood, memories from the past resurface. On occasion, these visions and recollections can affect an individual's current relationships including, but, not limited to, co-workers, a significant other, parent(s) and children. Our therapeutic work can help create a healthier, more balanced you.

Additionally, if deemed appropriate and necessary, a recommendation for a psychiatric consultation, group therapy or other medical interventions will be provided to the client. Collaboration with other professionals to assist in your treatment is essential. My goal is to formulate a plan with you to reach your optimal self.

Specialties

Feelings of sadness, a lack of motivation, tiredness and an overall feeling of the "blahs"? Our work together can assist in pulling you out of the deep abyss. Using positive affirmation, self-talk and having an ear to listen while you're feeling all alone in your darkness will help you achieve the balance necessary to fully live your life.

Are you always at a "10"? Do you feel your heart beating in a rapid state? Are you constantly in a state of worry and concerned your efforts won't be good enough? Is your stomach rumbling, yet, you're not hungry? You may be suffering from anxiety. CBT, DBT and Solution-focused therapy will be utilized to help bring you to a more functional and balanced state of mind. Through breathing techniques, mindfulness strategies and role play, you will find yourself being in more control of your reactions to your emotions in all areas of your life.

Raising your first child? Trying to navigate the school system? Stressing about developmental milestones? We will assist with your child's ISP (Individualized Service Plan), setting up intensive behavior plans to implement at home and at school, as well as, guide you through Kindergarten readiness.

Trouble making it through daily tasks? Finding yourself lost with a sense that you are needing a coach to move you towards your potential? We will provide boundary and goal setting strategies to assist you. If you have a never-ending list of "to-dos" and overwhelming "I should" thoughts, contact our office to help you break down the lofty ideas into manageable achievements. Each small step needs its own clap in order to arrive at the top of the mountain.

Deciding whether to stay in or walk away? Figuring out the extremely challenging divorce process? Navigating dating in the Millennium? Our work will help you define your needs, desires and non-negotiables. We will work together to improve your lines of communication and confidence necessary to have a successful relationship.

Looking for a way to slip out of the party? Grabbing for one my cocktail or bite of food to avoid awkward conversations? Shying away from raising your hand at a business meeting? We will brainstorm healthier soothing solutions to reduce your social anxiety. Our work will entail practice opportunities to raise your ability to share your voice. The skills will be implemented slowly in more comfortable settings until they become ingrained as you use them more frequently. Eventually, you will feel yourself emerging from your shell.


Published Articles

September is among us and with that the sounds of school are in the air. We knew it was a possibility, and, late Sunday night, the finishing touches on the picket signs were complete. Whether you agree with our city government or the Teacher’s Union, your first priority is your child. How are you going to explain why they don’t have school today? What are you going to do about childcare? When your child asks, “Why are my teachers walking in a circle in front of my school,” what elementary explanation will you provide to him? These questions are only some of the inquiries that will be bouncing in your head while the agreement is being drafted amongst the aforementioned parties.

I suggest starting with a basic, elementary definition of a strike (strike=stopping of work by the teachers to let their bosses know what they need to continue their job; it is usually for a short period of time, then, they figure out a way to agree with each other), then; continue to answer your child’s direct questions with simple, age appropriate and specific statements. It is essential that you make sure you understand exactly what and why your child is inquiring about the particular area of discussion. A child may be worried about not having anymore playdates because of the strike, as opposed to needing to know exactly what the teachers are asking for and how long it is going to take to obtain their requests. Asking probing questions to assure your child’s indicated worry is a helpful tool which will provide guidance to you of what to share with them.

A cute book that introduces the idea of a strike in a cartoon manner is “Animal Strike at the Zoo” by: Karma Wilson. Of course, it is exaggerated, as far as, the demands the animals make on their keepers, but, it may open the discussion in a non-threatening way. Your child will react, in general, to your mood and level of response to the strike. If they hear your voice raised in anxiety as to how you are going to provide childcare, activities, or just overall frustration with the strike, they will also experience at an increased state of panic.

Parent Quick Tips:

  • Keep your worried parent discussions in private
  • Maintain a scheduled, consistent routine while your child is not in school
  • Ask probing questions to make sure your answer what your child needs answered to reduce their worry
  • Parental calmness and lack of stress will provide your child the same positive state of mind
  • Take advantage of the beautiful weather and the incredible cultural opportunities throughout the city to enhance your child’s learning and distract their mind from missing school

One last note… You want to preserve your child’s love for learning and for the teachers putting in the effort to enrich their lives. Reassure your child that their teachers love them and are happy to work with them each and every day. As much as they miss school and their teachers, the feeling is mutual.

The end of August is approaching, and for many parents of prospective kindergarteners, apprehension is rising by the day. They begin to watch their children for the smallest signs of possible failure. Before you race to a tutor to drill your children on their numbers or alphabet, however, it’s best to know what skills most schools are actually looking for.

Here are some of the questions that kindergarten educators and specialists ask themselves about your beautiful little boy or girl to gain a fuller understanding of your child’s development, not necessarily to make a yea or nay decision.

  • Does your child hold his or her pencil or marker properly?
  • Is he or she able to cut with scissors along drawn lines?
  • Can he or she recognize the colors of the rainbow?
  • Is your child able to spell and write his or her own name?
  • How does your child sit on the floor during story time?
  • Is he or she a social butterfly, shy bookworm or disruptive during free time?
  • Does your child follow the teacher’s directions or make up his or her own rules to follow?
  • Can he or she clap to a given beat?
  • Does your child stutter or stumble over certain words and letters?

When provided common scenarios such as…mom cooks something “yucky” or a classmate takes one of his or her possessions, what does the child offer as a solution?

If your child has difficulty with some of the above actions, don’t panic. Rest assured that no school will ever stamp a child as being dull or unintelligent if he or she doesn’t cut in a straight line. Your child still has a very good chance of getting into your favored private or charter school.

The answers to these questions are often used to determine class placement and guide future parent-school discussions, as well as, admission. If specialists notice a red flag, they’ll be more than willing to give you tips on how to resolve challenges your child might be having with certain skills. The majority of minor lags in the aforementioned areas are able to be conquered in a short period of time with the appropriate assistance. It is the unwillingness to listen to their suggestions that may prevent your child from entering a certain school, as demonstrating a parent-school partnership is essential.

When scouting out kindergartens, keep in mind that the best schools provide not only academic stimulation for students but also give them time to make new friends and exercise their physical beings. A well-rounded, healthy child is one whose parents and school give him or her all possible means for self-expression.

If you have further questions or seek additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send an email.

Play is a child’s birthright. Whether it’s hide-and-seek, house, pirates or princesses, play makes childhood the wondrous time that it is. It’s also some serious developmental business, critical to a youngster's lifelong ability to forge meaningful relationships.

Often when I ask parents if their child tends to play alone or with others, the answer tends to be “with others.” Yet when I observe their children at school, I notice that they are playing next to friends but not actually with them. This is called parallel play.

If you see your son sitting next to another child while playing with building blocks but the two of them are constructing separate buildings and barely talking with each other, they are engaging in parallel play. Likewise, if your daughter sits in front of the television playing video games with her friend, in most cases she is also playing parallel to her friend rather than interacting with her.

During the preschool years, parallel play often dominates the genuine interactive kind. And this is perfectly normal. As kids reach kindergarten and beyond, though, it’s time for more interactive play to begin. In interactive play, you'll watch in wonder as your child learns how to initiate and maintain friendships.

As we all know, the key to any real friendship is the ability to read social cues like facial expressions and demonstrate empathy accordingly. For most children, mirroring other people’s expressions arises on its own. For others, this is a skill that must be taught and rehearsed.

To foster these skills in your child, I encourage you to begin with eye contact. Peeling your child's eyes away from the Wii or iPad may not be easy, but getting him to make eye contact with you during conversations is critical. It’s something you can model, meaning more authentic interaction for both of you.

I also recommend quality one-on-one time with your child. Next time you speak to your son, sit down on your haunches and make eye contact on his level. When your daughter hops into your car after school, make sure you’re not on the phone and proceed to ask specific questions about her day. Instead of watching your kids build their LEGO monument from the couch, get down on the floor and complete the mini-skyscraper together. This doesn’t mean that video games are completely off limits. They just can’t replace the joys of genuine human interaction.

If your preschool-age son or daughter still prefers parallel to interactive play, there is no need to panic. Keep on eye on him or her and you should notice a shift in play and behavior in kindergarten or first grade. If interactive play does not begin to emerge, seek the advice of the teacher or school social worker. There may be a need for early intervention. However, in most cases, you'll see that your child and his friends are taking play to the next level and truly interacting. Enjoy every moment of it!

We all know that play dates, birthday parties, and recess are more than just fun and games for our kids. They’re where socialization begins, and they can spell heartbreak for the child who doesn’t receive an invitation.

As a parent, your first duty is to listen and empathize when your child is left out of the fun. When your daughter comes home with tears in her eyes because she is the only girl not invited to her classmate’s party, acknowledge her pain, listening calmly and quietly. It’s only when the absence of invitations becomes a pattern, one that has lasted for months as birthday party after birthday party rolls on, that you need to act. You can start with the school. Does the school have a party-invitation policy in its handbook? Many times, schools actually require students that if a child invites 50 percent or more of the class to their party, all must be invited. In this case, speak to your child’s teacher and let him or her know that your child has been left out multiple times. If a policy does not exist, suggest to your school through your parent association that it be added to the handbook next year.

Getting an invitation is one thing. Getting your child in the game is another, and this probably demands probing a little deeper. Your child’s teacher has insights into your child’s social world that you probably don’t, so an open, frank discussion with him or her is critical. Ask the teacher why he or she thinks your child is being left out. Ask detailed questions such as, “What kind of games does my child play at recess? Whom does she play with? When group work is an option, does she opt to join the group?”

Brace yourself for direct, possibly discomfiting, feedback. After all, it may not be easy for the teacher to tell you things you don’t want to hear. Once you learn the full story, ask the teacher what he or she recommends so that your child can start to join the fun and express full appreciation for his or her time and openness.

If the teacher isn’t responsive to your queries, you may want to approach the assistant principal. If everyone on the staff fails to help you, you have no choice but to contact the parents who are throwing the parties. Remember that making accusations only puts people on the defensive, so be calm, reasonable, and genuinely inquisitive.

The most important place to look for answers, however, may be closer to home. Do you actively socialize with other parents? Are you involved with the parent association? Do you volunteer to help out at the school fundraiser? Do you invite families to your home for lunch or dinner? Nobody expects you to do it all and be a ravenous social butterfly into the bargain, but some social modeling is critical. If you are disconnected from the people around you, more than likely your child will also struggle socially. So make the effort to actively socialize at least twice a month. Your world will grow a little bit bigger and so will your child’s.

Your son was caught touching a classmate inappropriately at preschool. What do you do? Your daughter was showing off her private parts to her friend, and her friend did the same. Now what? Worst and most unimaginable of all, your daughter tells you that Uncle B told her to take a shower with him. Where do you turn?

The first two examples are quite common, and the last one is not. Either way, one or all of these situations may happen to your kids. Let’s take a look at each and talk about how you as the parent can respond.

Children are naturally curious creatures, and wanting to explore each other’s bodies is not uncommon. If you discover that your child is “playing doctor” with a friend or is actively curious about the differences between his or her body and someone else’s, calmly explain that your child’s hands should remain to themselves and that everyone’s clothes should stay on.

Should this happen repeatedly, this is a great time to have an honest talk about private parts. Tell your child that bodies are not for others to touch or see. The exception to this rule solely includes medical professionals, a parent who is washing or changing a child, or a caretaker, for the sole purpose of changing clothes and diapers or assisting in the bathroom. A child is never too young to hear the safety guidelines for appropriate versus inappropriate touching.

A great place to begin is to go over all of a child’s body parts, which you can make into a game. Where is your head? Can I touch your head? Where is your cute little foot? Can Aunt C touch your foot? What part of your body does your bathing suit cover? What part does your underwear cover? Can anyone touch those parts? This type of exercise offers an innocent, stress-free way of teaching your children the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.

I encourage moms and dads to introduce the technical names for “private parts.” It is important that kids know the words “vagina” and “penis,” which are not embarrassing to them at a very young age, because they are only words, no different than “nose” or “toe.” At this point, you should also let your child know in a gentle, nonthreatening voice that he or she should tell you if anyone tries to or does in fact touch him or her in an inappropriate place. If you explain to your child that nobody is to touch his penis or her vagina, your child will recognize inappropriate advances and know what to do in case this occurs. In a situation like the one with the uncle, the parents must intervene immediately, with a heightened level of emotion and action.

Parents should demonstrate empathy and strength toward a child opening up about inappropriate touching. They should let their child know how important, if also scary, it is for them to share such details. Then parents should contact the police, report the criminal action, and let the authorities guide them through the rest of the process. First and foremost, support your child, who will need your love and words of encouragement to get through this trying time and not feel guilty, as so many victims of sexual assault do, especially when it involves a familiar person.

If you begin conversations, preferably in a light-hearted manner, about touching early on in your child’s life, you can save yourself and your child heartache and trauma later. I often suggest that parents, teachers, and caregivers use books to guide them and ease their nerves about sharing this important information. Following are several resources for how to teach your child about appropriate and inappropriate touching.

Preschool to Grade 2


Frequently Asked Questions

Office hours by appointment only
• Monday 8:00am-7:30pm
• Tuesday 12:00pm-7:30pm
• Wednesday 2:00pm-7:30pm
• Thursday 2:00pm-7:30pm

Private pay per session rate.
Please see below regarding insurance based costs.

Our practice is an "in network" provider for Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO. This means that the office will submit a bill on your behalf to this insurance company. You will be responsible for any co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles at the time of service.

It is recommended that you contact your insurance company prior to your first appointment to find out about your plan's coverage for psychotherapy. You can do this by calling the customer service number on the back of your insurance card and asking about your "outpatient mental health coverage". It is important to learn about your coverage including: copayment or co-insurance, your deductible amount, whether preauthorization or certification is necessary, how many visits are allowed, and if there are any restrictions on your policy.

Either cash or electronic bank payments (Chase QuickPay or clearXchange) are acceptable.
Please pay for your therapy at the time of service.

The purpose of the first session is to become acquainted with one another and determine goodness of fit. The session will last approximately 60 minutes. A set of client forms will be provided to be completed which will cover medical history and current mental health symptoms.

During the session, you will have the opportunity to share information about your current challenges, some of your history and to ask any questions you may have for your therapist. At the end of the session, we will discuss your initial goals, though these can also be clarified as treatment progresses.


Presentations

Leaving the Nest for College

This presentation is a parent's guide to the next stage in their life and their child's. Everything from safety tips to pass on to your children to how to put the spark back in your marriage or single life once they leave the nest.

From Development to the Playground (Birth-5 years)

Psychosocial developmental milestones are presented along with how to increase your child’s abilities in areas of challenge. The indicators and variety of social interactions, as well as, your role in growing good communicators are highlighted during this presentation. Strategies are shared to improve and nurture your child’s social skills which are pertinent to their current and future success.

Kindergarten Screening Process

A variety of factors to consider are shared to determine your child’s readiness for preschool. Insight is provided as to what kindergarten screening teams are looking for when they interview and test your children to determine their acceptance, or lack thereof, into their educational institution. Finally, suggestions are offered to help grow your child’s communication skills and provide the key social developmental milestones.



heal•chat Podcast

Co-hosts
Michelle L Siegman, LCSW and Lizzie Burke, LCSW

Heal Chat was created to provide women with strategies and suggestions to feel more balanced, accomplished and successful in their lives. Each episode will cover a common clinical topic such as: coping, self esteem, stress or a transitional life stage, beginning with post college and moving through to the empty nest.