We are glad you are here! Unlock your potential and transform your struggles into opportunities! Reach your goals through partnering with us.
The Midwest Institute & Center is a premier counseling, coaching and therapy practice located in Elmhurst, IL, serving Chicago’s West suburban communities. Our mission is to create long lasting relationships with clients to help you transform and grow your potential.
We are independent practitioners providing assessment, counseling, consultation and therapy services to adults, children, families, and organizations who are interested in optimizing health, development, careers, and overall well-being.
Our training in psychology, human development, family, and team dynamics allows us to provide you with personal guidance, tools, and expertise to advance yourself, your child’s growth, your relationships and career.
MEET OUR CLINICAL TEAM
Our team of experienced therapists, career coaches, and clinical social workers are ready to partner with you.
STEVE RITTER, LCSW
Steve is the Founder and Executive Director of the Midwest Institute & Center for Workplace Innovation. He has served as a teacher, author, consultant, human resources director, health care administrator, and licensed clinical social worker since 1977. A fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Steve has provided coaching, therapy and team development services to thriving schools, businesses and organizations. Steve is the author of Team Clock: A Guide to Breakthrough Teams. He is also the Founder and CEO of the Team Clock Institute, LLC. Steve teaches on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2000 with subsequent nominations in 2005 and 2010.
KERRY GALARZA, MS OTR/L
Clinical Director & Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Kerry is the Clinical Director of the Midwest Institute & Center for Workplace Innovation. She provides specialized assessment and home-based intervention with children of all ages and their families. Kerry engages clients with naturally occurring, meaningful home-based methods to empower autonomy and maximize functioning. While providing focused experience in sensory processing disorder and emotional regulation, Kerry partners with the network of professionals collaborating in the targeted care of each child’s circumstances. Kerry also provides family-centered occupational therapy services addressing a range of developmental delays in collaboration with the Illinois Early Intervention Program.
Earning her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences and a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Illinois, along with extensive training and an Associate’s degree in Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Kerry specializes in helping her clients navigate the impact of the environment on their ability to thrive holistically.
Developing & implementing individualized sensory-based intervention | Promoting independence during activities of daily living | Maximizing adaptive skills | Supporting motor skill development| Family education and support | Assisting children to achieve their unique developmental potential.
Kerry has developed a Family Environmental Assessment Tool (FEAT) in conjunction with Steve Ritter, and co-authored Elevating your Kid’s Growth, and authored: Widen The Lens: Hidden Forces That Shape Kids.
RACHEL SURPRENANT, LCSW
CARA MILIANTI, LCSW
Therapist & Coach
As a small business coach, consultant, and advisor, Cara has partnered with organizations in the human services industry to optimize operations and maximize results. With a specialization in management, program development, training, transition planning, and business continuity, Cara integrates the clinical and operational requirements to empower team effectiveness and business deliverables. Cara’s partnership strengthens her business partners and elevates their organizational structure.
Earning a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Indiana University and a Master’s degree in Social Work from University of Illinois Jane Addams College of Social Work, Cara has immersed herself in a broad spectrum of professional engagements enabling her to deploy targeted intervention skills in interpersonal, family, group, community, and organizational settings.
Adults | Families | Life Transitions | Clinical Supervision | Leadership Coaching
KRIS KIRILOVA, LCPC
Therapist & Career Counselor
Kris is a licensed clinical professional counselor specializing in relationship issues, career changes, work-related challenges, anxiety and depression. Focus areas typically include relationship healing, separation, work-life balance, and adjustment to change. Kris offers a collaborative and warm atmosphere helping clients to re-connect with their inner voice, clarify values, and gain insight. She utilizes an integrative approach with a focus on client’s strengths, using cognitive behavior therapy, narrative career counseling, and solution-focused therapy.
Kris earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Roosevelt University. In her earlier work, she provided career counseling at a university center, and now continues to work in private practice as a therapist. Kris provides counseling and coaching to diverse individuals.
Adults | Life Transitions | Career Counseling | Work Challenges & Stress | Relationship Issues | Anxiety | Depression | Cross-cultural Issues | Health & Fitness
NICOLE FRANCEN, PSY.D.
Dr. Nicole Francen is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with a broad range of experience and a passion for working with children, adolescents, and transitional age youth. She specializes in working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families.
Dr. Francen first gets to know the person, learns their interests and strengths and then works towards meeting client goals. Client goals often include: developing friendships and significant relationships, managing difficult emotions, improving social skills, establishing independence, and learning skills to be successful in school, work, and community.
Nicole creates an enjoyable and safe meeting place where a person feels valued and understood for being just who they are. She has worked on both sides of IEPs, in therapeutic day schools and public schools. She considers herself and advocate and an ally for families in schools and the community.
Dr. Francen earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Elmhurst College and her Master’s and Doctorate Degree from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University. She completed an APA accredited internship at San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health in California and her Postdoctoral Fellowship at New Connections Academy in Palatine (a therapeutic day school for high functioning children on the Autism Spectrum).
Children | Adolescents | Special Education | Families | Autism Spectrum Disorders | Behavioral Issues | Anxiety | Social Skills | Clinical Supervision | Consultation
ALEKSANDRA GAVRILOVIC, LCSW
Aleksandra is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with adolescents and young adults on a variety of emotional needs including anxiety, depression, self-esteem, relationship skills, and other personal difficulties. Aleksandra uses a strengths-based approach in her work with clients in order to promote each person’s feelings of self-worth, self-efficacy, and ability to cope with challenges that he/she/they may be experiencing. Aleksandra utilizes the following therapeutic modalities and interventions: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), mindfulness practice, narrative therapy, and solution-focused therapy.
Aleksandra earned her Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University Chicago and has been a school social worker for 6 years. She has experience working with clients experiencing depression, anxiety, trauma, behavioral and social difficulties, grief/loss, family separation, attachment disorders, and other social emotional needs.
DARCY JOSEPHSON, M.S. CCC-SLP/L
Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist
Darcy is a passionate pediatric speech-language pathologist with over 11 years of professional experience serving as a licensed therapist in clinic, home, school, and hospital settings. She graduated from University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology and a master’s degree in speech and hearing science from Saint Xavier University.
Darcy has worked as a school therapist most of her career, in elementary schools and therapeutic day schools. Most recently, Darcy was a senior therapist for Oak Tree Developmental Center in Chicago, providing therapy in-home through Early Intervention as well as clinic-based individual and group based speech therapy. This also included occupational therapy and physical therapy. She has treated a variety of populations such as children with Down Syndrome, expressive language delay, autism spectrum disorder, social language delay, and sensory processing disorder.
Darcy is currently a speech therapy provider and evaluator for Early Intervention serving DuPage county. She is a dedicated clinician who is creative in her ideas and exceptional at building meaningful relationships with families of young children.
As a resident of Elmhurst, she is excited to build a foundation in this community for supporting the early childhood population and families with Our Play Space and its philosophy to build positive social relationships.
SALLY WELD, LCSW
Sally is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in psychotherapy for trauma and stress-related disorders, emotional regulation, anxiety, behavioral conditions and parental support. She has a passion for supporting people through challenging experiences towards growth, healing and change.
Sally received her master’s degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration where she focused on understanding the impacts of trauma across systems and within families. She also has considerable experience in mental health crisis work and is certified in crisis prevention and de-escalation.
Sally currently works as a Social Worker at Cabrini Green Legal Aid. Previously, Sally worked as a therapist at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, Gateway Foundation, Spectrum Health Systems and Pacific Clinics. She has clinical experience with adolescents, young adults and adults with a focus on family work. She believes that healing and growth happen in the context of supportive, trauma-informed and strengths-based relationships. Sally joins with youth and families to navigate trauma, prolonged crisis, life changes, identity formation and differentiation.
Adolescents | Adult | Families | Trauma | Anxiety | Depression
RACHEL MORRIS, M.Ed.
Learning Behavioral Specialist
As an Educational Intervention and Learning Behavioral Specialist, Rachel specializes in educating parents and guardians about the process to help learners receive meaningful support within their educational environment in order to fully access their learning and demonstrate understanding. Rachel collaborates with parents and guardians to navigate this process by empowering them with information and resources in order to advocate for their child’s educational needs. She believes that structured interventions and support make learning accessible, not easier. The difference between ease and access is an important shift in mindset about what must be true in order to learn while simultaneously acknowledging the diverse backgrounds and experiences which can create obstacles to educational access.
Rachel maintains that conflicting opinions shared through productive, respectful, and safe conversation produce optimal results, and help parents and guardians feel equipped to engage in a dialogue.
Rachel is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she received her undergraduate degree in teaching. She holds graduate degrees as a Learning Behavior Specialist age pre-K through 21 and Curriculum and Instruction Specialist with an English Language Learner endorsement.
Rachel has multiple years of experience as a public educator and special education coordinator. She believes that each member of an educational team must have an equal stake in planning and decision-making. The problem-solving process is weakened when stakeholders are under-informed, under-invested, or under consideration; this includes students and families.
Let us Help You!
Midwest Institute is a premier counseling, coaching and therapy firm located in Elmhurst, IL, serving adults, children, families & companies interested in optimizing health. Providing developmental therapies, wellness services, career counseling & executive coaching, we help clients in Elmhurst, Oakbrook, Hinsdale, Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, and Chicago communities.