Location: Lakeview, Lincolnwood, Northbrook
Specialization: Adolescents, Couples, Assessments
Dr. David Rakofsky, President of Wellington Counseling Group

David Rakofsky, Psy.D.

President

he/him/his

Dr. David Rakofsky, President of Wellington Counseling Group and licensed clinical psychologist, has extensive experience working with depression, anxiety, relationship struggles, and communication issues in traditional and non-traditional households. He frequently facilitates a weekly men’s group helping men at a mid-life crossroads work through career development and maintaining healthy relationships. Dr. Rakofsky has been in private practice since 2005 and served in a number of leadership roles for both public and private mental health agencies.

He’s most honored to be involved in the daily training of the next generation of psychologists and Master’s level psychotherapists, and has consulted within many varied segments of the community, including law enforcement, academia, and immigration and civil rights law. Dr. Rakofsky holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Chicago and a Master’s in Adult Clinical Psychology from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. He is also a proud alumnus of Syracuse University, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in psychology and religion.

When he is not working, he enjoys the arts, films, playing and performing music, cycling, and spending time with his children.

 

Location: Lakeview, Lincolnwood
Specialization: Couples
Brandon Arbuckle, LMFT, Psychotherapist at Wellington Counseling Group

Brandon Arbuckle, LMFT

Psychotherapist

he/him/his

Brandon Arbuckle is a licensed marriage and family therapist with more than two decades of experience in private practice. His primary focus is working with couples on conflict resolution and emotional dysregulation between partners. With a background in the intersection of neuroscience and change in couples, Brandon understands how the body responds to trauma and emotional distress as well as the effect this can have on the lives of those in intimate relationships. He works to help couples develop greater and more secure emotional connections, as well as identify opportunities for growth in their relationships.

Brandon is a certified facilitator of Prepare/Enrich™, as well as a supervisor approved by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. He regularly supervises and consults with those seeking to become an LMFT in Illinois. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Pastoral Theology, Personality and Culture with a focus in Neuroscience at Garrett Seminary on the campus of Northwestern University.

In his free time, Brandon enjoys movies, art, baseball, hiking, camping, and exploring the varied cuisine offered by the world’s most delightful city: Chicago.

 

Location: Lakeview, Northbrook
Specialization: Children, Adolescents, Assessments
Dr. Alyson Byrne, Post-Doctorl Fellow At Wellington Counseling Group

Alyson Byrne, Psy.D.

Post-doctoral Fellow

she/her/hers

Dr. Alyson Byrne works with children, adolescents, families, and adults, offering psychological expertise throughout the lifespan. With extensive experience working with children, Dr. Byrne has helped patients navigate various challenges youths are exposed to at home and at school. Her focus areas consist of emotional and behavioral difficulties, including ASD, ADHD, difficulties with peer relationships, bullying, anxiety, depression, and adjustment issues. Dr. Byrne also works with infants and toddlers, performing developmental evaluations alongside speech and language pathologists.

Dr. Byrne is a graduate of Adler University in Chicago where she earned a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a Child and Adolescent emphasis and before that, a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She has extensive clinical experience in public schools, therapeutic day schools, and private schools. Dr. Byrne is also well-versed in conducting psychological, academic, and neuropsychological evaluations for children and adolescents.

In her free time, Dr. Byrne enjoys exploring the city of Chicago with her friends. She loves to try different restaurants, see live shows, travel, and spend time with her family.

 

Location: Lakeview
Specialization: Children, Adolescents
Ashley Hodges, MSW, LCSW, Psychotherapist at Wellington Counseling Group

Ashley Hodges, MSW, LCSW

Psychotherapist

she/her/hers

In Ashley’s role as a licensed clinical social worker, she works with children, families and adults through times of crisis. She also has experience working with young people who are experiencing anxiety, struggling with school, suffering from ADD or ADHD, are on the autism spectrum, have behavioral challenges, need anger management skill-building, or who suffer from lack of confidence.

She works closely with individuals, as well as small groups, to be a strong advocate and ally for every child and family she works with. Ashley is passionate about the role family function plays in a child’s social development and academic development. As a therapist, she gives children the tools to express themselves constructively and develop the confidence that enables them to be their best self.

Earning her Master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in school social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, Ashley began working in the school system in 2009, learning about individualized Education Plans (IEP), 504 Plans, and implementing special education services under the Disabilities Education Act. In her free time, Ashley enjoys traveling, exercising, reading, the outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.

 

Location: Lakeview
Specialization: Couples
Serena Houston, LCPC, NCC, Psychotherapist and Director of Operations at Wellington Counseling Group

Serena Houston, LCPC, NCC

Psychotherapist & Director of Operations

she/her/hers

Serena specializes in trauma, anxiety, stress management, and relaxation training. She’s spent much of her career working to understand the effects of these issues, especially as they relate to overall health. In addition to her primary specialties, Serena has extensive experience working with a number of chronic issues, including mood disorders, severe mental illness, substance abuse, anger management, relationship difficulties, and grief after loss. She believes therapy is a powerful healing tool to help a person bloom and reach their full potential. Her goal as a therapist is to help her clients slow down, stay in the present, and take in the beauty of life.

Graduating from Northern Illinois University with a BA in psychology and a minor in Art, Serena went on to work in a nursing and rehabilitation setting with adults diagnosed with chronic mental illness, as well as serving as a group facilitator in an intensive outpatient program. That experience encouraged her to pursue her MA in Clinical Professional Psychology from Roosevelt University, during which time she worked in the university’s counseling center.

In addition to working as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the group practice at WCG, Serena is also a Nationally Certified Counselor.

Serena loves animals, yoga, hiking, music, and travel. She’s a film and TV buff who loves surrounding herself with fun, positive people. In her free time, she enjoys spending time focusing on her painting and appreciating fine art.

 

Location: Lakeview
Specialization: Children, Adolescents, Assessments
Dr. Allison Lobel, Psy.D., Director of Child and Adolescent Services at Wellington Counseling Group

Allison Lobel, Psy.D.

Director of Child & Adolescent Services

she/her/hers

Dr. Allison Lobel has an extensive background working with children, adolescents, and families. She’s focused on helping children and families, with a specialty in diagnosing and treating children who are on the autism spectrum, have developmental delays, sensory and regulatory issues, ADHD, caregiver-child attachment issues, peer relational difficulties, anxiety and depression, adjustment issues, and grief and loss.

Dr. Lobel follows a developmental and relational approach to understanding and addressing the underlying difficulties people can experience throughout their lives. She believes in the adage that a family is only as happy as its unhappiest member, so she strives to support parents and help them understand their child better.

After earning her Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology - Chicago, Dr. Lobel has gone on to shape a career both treating children, adolescents, and families as well as heading up the division at WCG that focuses on youth treatment. She currently serves with a number of agencies for children with special needs, as well as being a certified administer of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) which serves to provide a more appropriate diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.

In her free time, Dr. Lobel enjoys cooking, traveling, exploring Chicago, exercising and spending time with her family and friends.

 

Location: Northbrook
Dr. Paul Losoff, Psy.D., Director of Training and Clinic Director at the Northbrook branch of Wellington Counseling Group.

Paul Losoff, Psy.D.

Director of Training & Clinic Director - Northbrook

he/him/his

Dr. Paul Losoff works with teens and adults and treats a wide range of issues including depression, anxiety, ADHD, self-esteem, identity, and relationship dynamics. Dr. Losoff views psychotherapy as a collaborative process during which he can help clients navigate their path toward personal growth, self-awareness, and increased well-being. As a former musician, Dr. Losoff is adept in the creative processes in therapy, wherein he uses grounded theories and techniques to transcend the well-worn ruts his clients find themselves stuck within.

Earning a master's and doctorate in clinical psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, Dr. Losoff went on to complete his predoctoral internship at Bridge View and Challenger Day Schools. He also served as a crisis counselor in the emergency room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. In addition to a focus on psychotherapy, Dr. Losoff also has taught courses in personality assessment to Chicago-area doctoral students. He also specializes in psychodiagnostics and oversees all psychological testing and assessments within our practice.

In his free time, Dr. Losoff enjoys spending time with his kids, playing Minecraft, guitar, and attempting to fix household appliances.

 

Location: Northbrook
Specialization: Children, Adolescents
Aldona Marchese, MS, Ed., Psychotherapist at Wellington Counseling Group.

Aldona Marchese, MS, Ed.

Psychotherapist

she/her/hers

Aldona Marchese is Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute-trained child and adolescent psychotherapist. She specializes in treatment of children, adolescents, and emerging adults. Aldona provides consultations and support for parents and families as they seek to enhance their parenting strategies. Aldona also provides cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for young individuals so that they can develop and maintain effective coping strategies and tools. Additionally, she is fluent in both French and Polish and brings to her practice a keen awareness and sensitivity of multicultural factors affecting many of her patients.

Aldona possesses extensive experience from both academic and clinically focused settings. She supports each child and their family through social, academic, and behavioral challenges and empowers them to gain insight into the emotional roots of their challenges. For some patients, Aldona also applies the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) so that her patients can develop and maintain more effective coping strategies.

Aldona holds a Master's in Early Childhood Special Education from Dominican University and is a Board-Certified Educational Therapist. More recently, Aldona has embarked on extensive additional training in Mentalization Based Treatment at Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and is currently pursuing a MSW at Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University.

In her spare time, Aldona loves traveling and preserving nature with her husband, two active young sons, and their beloved rescue dog.

 

Location: Northbrook
Specialization: Adolescents, Couples
Ashley Plotnick, LSW, Psychotherapist at Wellington Counseling Group.

Ashley Plotnick, LSW

Psychotherapist

she/her/hers

Ashley is a relationship-centered therapist who also draws upon family systems theory in her work with adults and teens. Ashley believes that the therapeutic relationship must foster a sense of warmth, authenticity, and acceptance, enabling clients to bring their full selves to the work, creating deeper awareness and a more connected, lived experience. Ashley's varied life experience has taught her that integration is essential on our journey toward wholeness. In this way, she creates a safe space for people to bring the many aspects of their own selves—social, emotional, spiritual, and sexual—to the therapy process. Ashley’s extensive training in mindfulness practice enables her to hold each person’s story with compassion and to meet them with presence.

A lifelong learner, Ashley holds masters’ degrees in Human Sexuality Education and Social Work from Widener University and is a trained Spiritual Director through the Morei Derekh program for Jewish Spiritual Direction. Ashley most recently earned a certificate in social-emotional learning from Rutgers University. She is currently earning a Grief Support Specialist Certificate through the University of Madison and is a volunteer for the COVID Grief Network. 

Ashley also earned a masters’ degree in Jewish Studies from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, where her thesis focused on mindful parenting. Her undergraduate degree is from Indiana University with a dual-major in Jewish and Religious Studies.

When not in her clinical role at WCG, Ashley is also the Director of Congregational Learning at Makom Solel Lakeside and privately offers Spiritual Direction.In her free time, Ashley enjoys reading, meditating, dancing, and most importantly, being with friends and family, including her three spirited children, a rambunctious cat, and an energetic dog.

 

Location: Northbrook
Eric Ornstein, LCSW, Psychotherapist at Wellington Counseling Group.

Eric Ornstein, LCSW

Psychotherapist

he/him/his

Eric works closely with clients experiencing conflict or distress. His approach is built on consistent, empathetic listening and compassionate support, helping his client identify options and prioritize goals as they find relief from pain. Eric specializes in depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship challenges, and life transitions.

Eric taps into a few key elements of the healing process - identifying strengths, finding new coping mechanisms, and bolstering resilience. All of this helps clients develop self awareness to help transform automatic behaviors into conscious deliberate choices. This methodology places a special emphasis on psychodynamic relational concepts, a framework his published articles were at the forefront of first integrating into the field of social work.

Eric served on the faculty of the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago as a Clinical Associate Professor for nineteen years prior to retiring from this role in 2011. During his academic career, he published eighteen articles on psychotherapy and clinical social work in peer-reviewed journals and presented at local, state and national conferences. In recent years, he has taught social work practice, psychopathology and group therapy courses at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, The Institute for Clinical Social Work, and St. Augustine College. Eric also has served as President of the Illinois Society for Clinical Social Work where he has served since 2012.

In his free time, Eric enjoys listening to a wide variety of music and is a passionate Grateful “Deadhead.” He likes to take walks with his wife and catch up with his son on the latest technology.

 

Location: Lakeview
Specialization: Adolescents, Couples
Dan Pardikes, LPC, NCC, Psychotherapist at Wellington Counseling Group

Dan Pardikes, LPC, NCC

Psychotherapist

his/him/himself

Dan Pardikes is a licensed professional counselor whose own life was transformed by therapy. His work connects his clients with their inherent strength during warm and supportive conversations, particularly for those who may worry or feel sad often. Mr. Pardikes works with adults and late teens to help them get more out of relationships and to explore themselves, their past, and their goals. Mr. Pardikes examines the reasons behind the reasons to help organize your experience and create options. He always aspires to be a zealous defender of your confidence and a sworn enemy of your “inner-critic.”

Mr. Pardikes has worked in many settings, from community mental health settings and private practices. His native therapy-language is psychodynamic, but he incorporates an interpersonal style, a neurobiology knowledge-base, and goal-oriented elements like CBT and DBT. He is currently accepting clients for group therapy for those who learn best from each other.

Mr. Pardikes worked in the film industry for 10 years before changing tracks towards a career in the field of mental health. He graduated from Northwestern University’s counseling program at The Family Institute. He loves music and plays for fun. Mr. Pardikes appreciates the processes of artists and creatives towards deeper understanding of ourselves.

Location: Lakeview, Lincolnwood
Specialization: Children, Adolescents
Laura Perelman, LCSW, Psychotherapist at Wellington Counseling Group.

Laura Perelman, LCSW

Psychotherapist

she/her/hers

Laura works with children, adolescents, and adults who are feeling stuck in the course their life is taking. She specializes in treating depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, family discord, gender dysphoria, trauma, substance abuse, relationship issues, grief and loss, and life transitions.

Laura recognizes how challenging it can be to enter therapy and be vulnerable. This is why she works collaboratively with her clients to establish a safe place where they feel understood, supported, and encouraged to make substantive changes. Her goal is to help each person she works with nurture and appreciate their strengths whilst growing in their capacity for insight and acceptance.

Laura earned her Master's in Social Work from New York University and also achieved a Master's in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University. Her clinical internships included individual play therapy with children and psychotherapy with adults. She continuously participates in professional training and consultations to advance her education and clinical skills.

In her free time, Laura enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, going to yoga, attending live theater, cooking, traveling, and spending as much time as possible outside.

 

Location: Lakeview, Northbrook
Specialization: Children, Adolescents
Jeffrey Samuels, LCSW, Psychotherapist at Wellington Counseling Group.

Jeffrey Samuels, LCSW

Psychotherapist

he/him/his

Jeffrey is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with children, adolescents, and young adults. He is experienced in addressing a variety of clinical issues, including: depression, trauma, anxiety, grief, relationship dynamics, life transitions, and diminished self-esteem.

Jeffrey follows a relationship-focused approach, developing a strong, trusting, nonjudgmental and empathetic connection between himself and his clients. He subscribes to a strong belief that clients are the experts of their own lives and that therapy works best when individuals feel empowered and supported to reach the goals they identify as most important. He incorporates a range of clinical tools, including narrative therapy and, with younger clients, play therapy.

After earning a Master’s in Social Work from Loyola University in Chicago, Jeffrey worked in multiple community mental health agencies, providing therapy to both children and their families. He also has extensive experience helping young adults adjust to life transitions such as changes in living situations, school and work life.

In his free time, Jeffrey enjoys traveling, hiking, watching movies, and taking his dog, Ernie, on walks around Chicago.

 

Location: Lakeview
Specialization: Couples
Susan Silver, MBA, MA, LCPC, Psychotherapist at Wellington Counseling Group.

Susan Silver, MBA, MA, LCPC

Psychotherapist

she/her/hers

Susan is a Gottman Institute-trained couples specialist who also treats individuals in all stages of life, helping them understand themselves better and feel more balanced, healthy, and confident. She specializes in helping people transition through periods of life, including dating, marriage, and bringing children into their lives, as well as on career changes, affairs, divorce, illness, and bereavement. Susan also has extensive experience in family advocacy, including adoption, surrogacy, learning differences, and disability.

Susan works to help clients make sense of their relationships, emotions, and view of the world. She employs a variety of different methods, sometimes combining multiple schools of thought in order to best serve her clients. She serves whatever role her clients need - a sounding board, a champion, or a supportive presence. Her goal is to create a warm, collaborative, empathetic, and genuine environment that is conducive to drawing out insight and inviting change.

Susan earned her Master's degree in Community Counseling from Argosy University in Chicago and an MBA in Organizational and Psychological Behavior from Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Her clinical fellowships included roles in trauma, abuse, and the LGBTQI community.

In her free time, Susan is a presenter and mentor for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project. She volunteers for a number of non-profits, while also serving as the founder of the Illinois Chapter of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, snowshoeing, playing tennis, watching movies, and learning new languages.

 

Location: Lakeview
Lauren Walker, Counseling Extern at Wellington Counseling Group.

Lauren Walker

Counseling Extern

she/her/hers

Lauren Walker is a Counseling Extern from Northwestern University where she is pursuing her Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Clark Atlanta University in 2013, and has since worked in education, community mental health, and clinical research.

Lauren is an avid believer in the healing power of therapy, and strives to create a safe space for individuals to explore the depths of their psyche. She utilizes a collaborative and strengths-based approach rooted in psychodynamics and cognitive behavioral theories. She is especially passionate about incorporating psychoeducation, mindfulness, and spirituality into the therapy. Lauren is excited to work with clients from all backgrounds, especially those in marginalized and underserved communities.

In her free time, you can find Lauren painting, dancing, cooking, biking, and traveling the world. She is a co-owner of an art business that offers art and mental health/spiritual wellness events in communities across Chicago.

 

Location: Lakeview
Specialization: Children, Adolescents, Couples
Christine Weible-Cruz, LSW, Psychotherapist at Wellington Counseling Group.

Christine Weible-Cruz, LSW

Psychotherapist

she/her/hers

Christine Weible-Cruz is a bilingual social worker, treating adults in both Spanish and English. She uses a relationship-centered approach to therapy, taking time to build trust, understanding, and empathy so that she can help clients reach their goals. Christine believes that a strong working relationship is crucial to helping clients meet challenges head-on. She helps them discover new ways of relating to themselves and others through a collaborative approach to bring empowerment and establish real and lasting change in their lives.

A graduate of Loyola University Chicago's Graduate School of Social Work, Christine specialized in Mental Health and Migration Studies, completing her fieldwork at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Stone Center, where she focused on depression, anxiety, PTSD, complex and developmental trauma, and adjustment disorder. Christine has trained in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, which she uses to understand the histories, events, environmental, and relational factors underlying clients’ struggles.

Christine previously worked as a museum educator in New York City and she has a master’s degree from NYU in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. These experiences informed her belief that language and culture shape our experience of the world and that examining the impact of these factors can enrich the therapy experience.

 

Professional Support Staff


Shawn Sturges

Shawn Sturges

Clinical Coordinator

he/him/his

As an individual with vision loss, Shawn found that often speaking to others about his personal experiences has had a positive personal impact on his life. Since the loss of Shawn's vision over 15 years ago, he has learned that life is a journey to enjoy and cherish, every step of the way. Over the years, Shawn has learned that we don’t get anywhere in life on our own; allowing others to help us often yields positive returns throughout our lives. Shawn recently found his way to Wellington Counseling Group as the Clinical Coordinator, and couldn’t be prouder of his colleagues who have welcomed him with open arms. He regularly encourages callers and new clients to stay in contact. Staff are here to assist in whatever way possible, so feel free to reach out. We will always be glad to help!

Shawn earned his bachelors degree in Business Administration along with a minor in Marketing in 2012 from the University of Tampa. He then moved to the Twin Cities to diversify his education and once there, decided to pursue an education in Music Business at McNally Smith College of Music. This allowed Shawn to work within the entertainment industry for a few years in the area of music publishing and artist development both there and in Nashville.

After moving to Chicago several years ago Shawn found himself in the world of adaptive rock climbing, a world that has taken him to some pretty cool places both in the U.S. and abroad. What Shawn is most proud of is the chance he was given to become an ambassador athlete for Paradox Sports, an organization helping individuals with various disabilities experience the outdoors while rock climbing, a role that has provided him a platform to share his journey as a blind individual and inspire others to find their passion—whatever that may be—despite their disability.