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Featured Therapist Interview with Lee Wells
Lee Wells, AM, LCSW, (she/her) is the Clinical Director and Co-Owner of Mind Chicago, an evidence-based group practice for youth, young adults, and families in – you guessed it – Chicago. Lee received her BS as a Learning Behavior Specialist from Northern Illinois University, her AM in social work from the University of Chicago, and she is completing her PhD at Northern Illinois University. Lee is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Chicago, teaching courses in cognitive and behavioral therapies. She was also the creator and long-time Director of the Child Programs for Mood and Anxiety Disorders and the Identity and Gender Development Track for the largest partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient program in Chicago and the Northern Chicago suburbs.
Lee specializes in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). She is also a Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE) trained clinician and Level 2 certified Resilience Builder Program® provider. As a queer therapist, Lee most often works with queer and gender expansive youth, young adults, and families as they manage symptoms of anxiety, OCD, and depression. Mind Chicago is currently offering in-person and virtual therapy, as well as virtual-only groups.
Lee is a certified yoga instructor, crockpot aficionado, and office horticulturist.
What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?
I love this question, as we often get societal and professional pressure to diminish our hard work, skill sets, and achievements. One of my greatest strengths is my creativity. I have an uncanny knack for being able to take a skill or strategy and turn it into a fun and hilarious activity that doesn’t lose the core value of the skill/approach. I also really appreciate my ability to come up with excellent metaphors and analogies!
What “tips” can you offer to colleagues just opening a practice?
I also love this question, ABCT! My “tips” are (1) be thoughtful to come from an abundance perspective and (2) value the services you provide.
Build community, share resources freely, and make friends with other therapy practice owners. Other therapists are the best referral sources. In fact, at Mind Chicago more than half of our referrals come from other therapists who are excited about our services and value what our therapists bring to the table. This includes therapy practices who do not use the same approaches as us! In Chicago, many practices openly share documents, materials, and ideas in services of helping each other grow! When we collaborate and sponsor each other, all our practices thrive.
Value the work you do by charging fees that sustain your business and life. If you would like to know more about my thoughts on this anti-oppressive fee perspective, check out episode 67 of The Money Sessions, Do Queer Therapists Have the Right to Charge Premium Fees: A Conversation with Lee and Courtney. (https://www.heytiffany.com/do-queer-therapists-have-a-right-to-charge-premium-fees-a-conversation-with-lee-and-courtney/)
How do you remind your patients of their strengths during the therapy process?
At Mind, we are always circling back to ensure the work is aligned with what is important to clients. This recursive and collaborative process creates room for young folx to connect with their strengths. Also, having deliberate conversations regarding young people’s intersectional identities cultivates a brave space to connect with their power.
Are you involved in other types of professional activities in addition to your private practice?
Over the years, I’ve taught courses in cognitive and behavioral approaches to working with youth and families at the University of Chicago. I do a bit of research at Northern Illinois University on supervision and burnout. I also do loads of presentations and trainings.
When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?
I love to participate in community activities! From brewery fun runs to neighborhood festivals. Chicago offers amazing outdoor social activities! Additionally, I would like to say I’m a “runner,” but more realistically I’m a fast walker/jogger. Nonetheless, I like going on “runs” along the lake or any location that I can look at a large body of water.
What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?
At Mind, staff attend quarterly antiracism and anti-oppressive trainings, among other activities. ABCT’s professional development opportunities have been an invaluable source of antiracism and anti-oppressive learning and training. Our therapists have been wildly inspired by presenters such as Dr. Kimberly Applewhite, Dr. Ryan DeLapp, and Hayden Dawes, LCSW. Several of us still follow Mr. Dawes on Instagram (@hcdawes) for daily inspiration and learning (and you should, too!)!!