Sep, 2014

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“Teenagers, just like adults need skills on how to be a good friend, and how to get along better with parents and siblings or boyfriends and girlfriends,” said Dr. Anne Malec, who opened up her Green Bay Road office a few weeks ago. | Jackie Pilossoph for

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“Healthy and rewarding relationships lead to successful lives,” according to Dr. Anne Brennan Malec, PsyD. It is that belief that led Malec, who is the owner of her Chicago based relationship counseling practice, Symmetry Counseling to expand by opening new Winnetka office that will have a large focus on teens.

“Teenagers, just like adults need skills on how to be a good friend, and how to get along better with parents and siblings or boyfriends and girlfriends,” said Malec, who opened up her Green Bay Road office a few weeks ago. “Everyone can benefit from refining relationship skills. It will help them now and in the future.”

Malec said she and five other therapists will see teens who need help with issues that include divorce and other changing family situations, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, mood disorders, social and academic pressures, and other things related to adolescence.

She said she chose the Green Bay Road location because it was conveniently located to New Trier, North Shore Country Day School, Loyola Academy and Regina Dominican.

Dana Bennison, LCPC is a therapist in the practice, as well as the North Shore Outreach Director.

“We really felt there was a need on the North Shore for a place for kids and families to work out their issues,” said Bennison, a graduate of the Family Institute at Northwestern University who holds a degree in counseling psychology, and who has been practicing for four years. “Our team is comprised of skilled, talented, genuine, passionate clinicians who have a lot of energy around and experience working with kids and families.”

Bennison said there is a wide range of emotions and often high levels of conflict when it comes to teens.

“It’s a great time of change for children in their teens, and there’s a lot of energy,” she said. “It can be channeled into passion or it can go the other way and be channeled into destruction. Our job is to help kids turn that intense energy into something positive and productive.”

Another reason Malec chose the North Shore for the second location of Symmetry Counseling is because she knows and loves the area.

Growing up in Wilmette, Malec is a graduate of Regina Dominican. After obtaining an accounting degree from Villanova University, Malec worked as an accountant for almost two decades. It wasn’t until she was in her late 30’s that Malec went back to school to obtain a Masters degree in marriage and family therapy from Northwestern, followed by a Doctorate in clinical psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

“I took a course called ‘Resolving Conflict in Organizations’ and just loved it,” said Malec, who lives in Chicago with her husband, John. “I have nine siblings, my parents were divorced, and I’m a stepmother. I felt I could really add something to the field of relationship conflicts.”

Malec started Symmetry Counseling in Chicago’s loop in 2011 with five part-time therapists, and since then, the practice has grown to two loop offices with 28 therapists.

“We see a lot of patients with depression, anxiety and relationship distress,” she said. “People struggling in marriage, divorced people and even pre-marital or newly married couples.”

Malec said that in addition to the teen demographic in Winnetka, Symmetry will offer individual and marital counseling for adults, and that she will continue to teach her clients conflict resolutions skills and effective communication.

“I believe love is very behavioral,” she said. “A relationship is a living, breathing organism that takes regular nurturing, feeding and care. It has to be a priority. It isn’t self-sustaining. That’s what people forget.”