Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms Meet a Mom Series where we feature the stories of local moms and how in the world they handle that work/life balance and what they’re up to professionally! This week’s Meet a Mom is Jennifer (Jenny) Welbel, MA, LCPC; super mom of two littles and owner and lead therapist at North Suburban Center for Anxiety here in the North Shore. The word anxiety rings a bell in most of us 🙋🏻♀️ Jenny has a great take on the word anxiety that I think will help most of us feel….. less anxious. Welcome Jenny!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in town? What brought you to your current town?
I am originally from Northbrook and currently live in Northbrook😊 I went to college in Ann Arbor and then lived in New York City. I moved back to Chicago (the west loop) in 2010 and then my husband and I moved back to Northbrook in 2015 to start our family.
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
Yep! I have a three-year-old son (Eli) and a four-month-old daughter (Shira).
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom? Please share at least one mom “hack/tip” that makes your every day life a little easier!
I love watching their personalities develop and change over time. My mom hack: We travel a fair amount and hate schlepping the massive car seat on the plane so we have started using this airplane travel harness that I love.
That’s wonderful! Where do you go? Is it for family or vacations?
we try to take one vacation with my family a year and have gone to Mexico, Arizona, and California. But, we also try to take long weekends with the kids in New York, Florida, Cleveland, or DC where my husband and I both have a lot of friends and family. Our trips were much more exciting when it is was just my husband and myself.
Least favorite mom job? (i.e. packing lunches, dishes, bath time, etc.)
Dishes! It feels never-ending.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
Before I was a therapist, I was a magazine editor living in New York working at Travel + Leisure and Details.
Favorite local places to spend with the family?
We love Barnaby’s in Northbrook. I used to go there as a kid and it is so nice to be able to bring my own kids there. The Kohl Museum is also a favorite of ours, as well as the train garden at Chicago Botanic Garden when it’s open (May – October). For date night restaurants, we love Hole in the Wall in Northbrook. Other family spots/restaurants – Eataco. We love walking in Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve and taking the kids to Little Beans Cafe in Evanston.
You are a true ‘mompreneur!’ Tell us about your business!
I run the North Suburban Center for Anxiety which is a private practice specializing in the evidence-based treatment of anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and related disorders. My practice provides research-supported and results-oriented treatment. As a cognitive behavior therapist, I believe that how individuals think and behave directly affect how they feel. Therefore, I use a compassionate, collaborative, and direct approach to empower clients with the necessary skills to modify their irrational thoughts, confront their maladaptive fears, and decrease their overall anxiety. By the end of treatment, my goal is that clients have learned the essential tools to master their anxiety or OCD and are living a more fulfilling life.
What was/is the inspiration and/or training involved behind your business? What is your background and how did your background help with getting involved in your business?
Throughout my training in graduate school and my post-graduate work, I became highly specialized in treating anxiety and OCD. After graduate school, I completed a fellowship in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. I then stayed on for a few more years as a staff therapist. Following that position, I had the opportunity to create an OCD and exposure therapy program at Compass Health Center. My experience at Compass was incredible. I loved the staff and the patients. However, after having my son, I knew I wanted more flexibility and the chance to be my own boss. So, with the support of my husband and family, I opened my practice.
What are some of your proudest moments with your business where you said “wow, I did that”?
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is watching my clients utilize the skills that they have learned in therapy to effectively manage their own anxiety and live a more fulfilling life. It has also been really rewarding to watch my practice grow and have colleagues that I respect in the community and former clients refer new clients to me.
As a therapist what general advice can you offer our readers?
A lot of clients come into my office looking to eliminate all anxiety in their life or their child’s life. But, by trying to prevent ourselves or our children from feeling anxious, we are teaching ourselves that anxiety is scary and bad and that any level of risk or uncertainty is to be avoided. Instead, we have to learn how to lean into our anxiety and confront our fears. By doing so, you learn that your feared situations/outcomes/triggers are not as scary as you initially thought AND that we are capable of tolerating the anxiety and uncertainty that we have avoided for so long.
Why is it important for you to have a passion outside of being a mother?
It’s extremely important! I find that working makes me a better mother who is more present and engaged when I am at home.
When parenting gets hard, what’s something you tell yourself that gets you through?
My husband and I always say that “we will figure it out.” Because the truth is that one way or another, you always do.
What’s on the horizon for your business? Future aspirations, plans….
I am excited to be expanding. I am in the process of looking to add a few new clinicians to my practice.
The North Suburban Center for Anxiety specializes in the treatment of anxiety, OCD, and related disorders. Jennifer Welbel, MA, LCPC received her BA in psychology from the University of Michigan and her MA in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern University. She has extensive training and clinical experience in using cognitive behavior therapy and exposure therapies to treat individuals with a range of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. Jenny would love to hear from you! Starting the conversation is the hardest part!
1500 Skokie Boulevard, Suite 305
Northbrook, IL 60062