Meet a Mom: Meet Firuza Aliyeva, founder of Plena Mind Center! | Chicago North Shore Moms

Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week! We’re back with a new CNSM Meet a Mom spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law. Originally from Baku, Azerbaijan, Dr. Firuza Aliyeva moved to the United States in 2001, and the North Shore in 2013, where’s she’s thrown down her roots. In 2018, the mother of two daughters established and founded, Plena Mind Center, a center that specializes in child and adolescent partial hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient (IOP) programs.

Get to know Dr. Aliyeva, her favorite local places to hang, advice from a psychiatrist on getting through tough days and what’s at the heart of Plena Mind Center. Welcome, Dr. Aliyeva!

Hi Dr. Aliyeva! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here?

I was born, and spent 25 years of my life, in Baku, Azerbaijan. After that, I traveled a lot, and lived three years in London, UK prior to moving to the US. I had a desire to explore the world and learn more about my field which is what brought me to America in 2001. I spent several years living downtown Chicago and became a part of the North Shore community in 2013. I love raising my children in such a wonderful community.


You’re a mama! Tell us about your two daughters.

I am a mom of two daughters, a first year college student majoring in computer science and game design, and a fifth grader who loves to play piano, travel and explore the world (like her mom). My daughters are smart, kind and beautiful.


What are one or two things people would be surprised to know about you?

People often think that because I am a child psychiatrist, I must be the perfect mom too. I am definitely not a psychiatrist at home. I have the same weaknesses as any parent and my kids drive me just as crazy as anyone else. I don’t have a magic approach but if you do, let me know!


What are a few of your favorite North Shore places to hang?

Guildhall is my favorite place for lunch and brunches. There is a waiter there, Pepe, that makes every experience amazing. He says “Welcome home!” every time we walk in, it makes me feel so happy. Chicago Botanic Garden is my favorite place to walk and feel calm and relaxed. Ravinia Festival is perfect for me on the classical music evenings. I love to go and connect with friends, have some wine and good food.



What gets you through a tough day? Advice from a psychiatrist!

Even on the more difficult days, I try to find one thing that I am grateful for. Nothing is forever and everything is fluid. One of my favorite quotes about going through tough times is by Mary Anne Radmacher. “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.”

As for advice from psychiatrist, I’ll offer a few thoughts:  Focus on things within your control; Look at tough times as an opportunity to learn, grow or improve your situation; and be kind to yourself, and give yourself a break. We are often too critical and we forget how to love ourselves.


Please introduce Plena Mind Center.

Plena is a Child and Adolescent Partial Hospitalization (PHP) & Intensive Outpatient (IOP) Programs located on 1450 Techny Rd, Northbrook. We opened our doors in late 2018. PHP is a short term, intensive, full day, psychiatric program. IOP is an intensive therapeutic after school program. Our PHP and IOP serve children and adolescents ages 6 to 18 who require a higher level of care for mental health needs.


What are the qualifications for your staff who care for the children at Plena?

Plena’s team includes board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists, licensed clinical professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, a licensed teacher, an expressive therapist (board-certified music therapist), and multiple patient support specialists. The team provides child and family centered care that is individualized to your child and family’s needs.


In addition to being Plena’s founder, what are you qualifications as a psychiatrist?

I am a Board Certified Child and Adolescent psychiatrist, founder and Chief Medical Officer of Plena. The idea of opening Plena was in my mind for quite some time. I was always concerned about the lack of mental health resources and had heard many stories of children and their families waiting for hours in the ER to get a psychiatric evaluation. When I met Shannon Goebel (our CEO) I decided to go for it. Shannon and I believe that the education Plena provides will help both the patients and their families feel empowered during treatment and throughout their lives.


What is the significance of the name Plena?

I chose Plena, which is from the Latin root which translates to “full.” This is the heart of what we want to achieve.


Why is it so hard for people to get started with therapy?

People may doubt the efficacy of mental health treatment. It is scary to dive deep into the feelings that people have been suppressing for a long time. It could be painful. People also fear judgment, change, the unknown, and what they might discover in therapy. Our approach empowers children and adolescents to actively participate in managing symptoms in the service of living their fullest life.


Do you think that the mental health stigma has improved over the last 10 years? Where do you see this trending?

I think the stigma around mental health has improved. More information and resources are available, and schools are willing to talk about it. Our overall exposure to the subject has increased. Good work is done by many organizations and most people harbor positive views about mental health disorders and treatment.


Describe something you’re most proud of in your profession.

I am so proud of the work we are doing at Plena. We are working with like minded professionals and we are moving the needle every day. We are changing the trajectory of the lives of children and their families in a positive direction. Creating Plena is a dream come true for me.


When clients come to Plena Mind Center what can they expect?

Our approach empowers children and adolescents to actively participate in managing symptoms in the service of living their fullest life. Plena’s treatment team creates an atmosphere of open communication and collaboration with parents, guardians and referring behavioral health providers regarding diagnosis, medication recommendations, and symptom management. Our milieu and groups are intentionally designed to be small.  We treat the entire family system and strongly encourage and support families’ participation in the treatment process. You can learn more about the process by visiting this page:


How do our readers learn more about getting in touch with Plena Health Center?

You can learn more by visiting our website Talk with a Plena Team Member by emailing [email protected]
 or call 847-562-5612. You can also follow Plena on Facebook and Instagram.

About Our Meet a Mom Sponsor

A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here! Contact Mary directly here: [email protected].

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