Renee VanDoren, LCSW


Treatment Philosophy

I understand that asking for help can be difficult and I commend each person’s courage as they embark on the process of healing, self care, and attaining a sense of self fulfillment and well being. I approach my work with humility and a deep respect for each person’s distinct and diverse strengths and experiences, which woven together have created their unique life story.

I believe that a safe space, collaboration, trust, acceptance, compassion, and honesty are integral in developing a therapeutic relationship that provides a foundation for exploration, open communication, development of self awareness, healing, growth and change. I strongly believe that each person knows themselves best and I will listen carefully and meet you where you feel comfortable to begin. I feel privileged to join you in your journey, witness your progress and celebrate your accomplishments.

I am passionate about working with children, parents and families. I understand that children do not always have the words to articulate their experiences or emotions. My approach with children is nurturing and supportive. When working with children I use an integrative approach to help children express themselves. I believe that including parents or caregivers is integral in my work with children to provide an opportunity for them to gain an understanding and skills to support their child’s progress and strengthen relationships.

If you meet with me, you will meet my guide/service dog who will also be in my office. His name is Wizard, and he is a 5-year-old black Labrador Retriever. He is sweet, well trained, loves people, particularly children and will be excited to see you when you enter the office. He loves receiving pets and might curl up at your feet if you are comfortable with that, otherwise he will spend the appointment time in his bed. He wants you to know that if he greets you by bringing you a toy and making a woof or soft growling noise, this is his way to say “Hello, I am so happy to see you and want to be your friend. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you.” When he is not working, he is a goofy boy who likes to take walks, play chase, tug, or “Monkey in the Middle”, chew on sticks and cuddle.

Areas of Expertise & Interest

I have experience working with children of all ages, adolescents, adults, parents and families I have enjoyed and embraced the opportunity to work with people with diverse backgrounds and cultures. My experiences include working with people whose lives have been impacted by trauma, grief/loss, violence, parental mental health, postpartum depression, relationship difficulties, life transitions, self doubt, parenting and family issues, physical disabilities and physical health issues, depression, anxiety, mood disorders and other mental health issues.

I have experience using an array of evidence based techniques. My approach is strength-based, trauma-informed, and culturally sensitive while incorporating a psychodynamic and relational lens. I often integrate the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, family systems, attachment theory, positive psychology, parent coaching and mindfulness to promote individual growth and well being. Depending on the child’s individual needs I use a combination of these approaches in combination with play therapy and creative modalities.

In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and friends. Playing and taking long walks with my dog, spending time outside in nature, particularly around lakes or the ocean, traveling, reading and live theatre.

Experience & Training

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I received a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan and later earned a Master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan. My internship at that time was through the Assault crisis Center where I provided, individual and group therapeutic services, crisis intervention and advocacy services to survivors of sexual assault and abuse and their loved ones.

Over the last 20+ years I have had the privilege of providing mental health services to children, adolescents, parents, families and adults of all ages in a variety of settings including community mental health, residential, behavioral health and outpatient programs. Earlier in my career my work focused on providing comprehensive therapeutic services to adolescent and adult parents and their children. It was rewarding to help these parents develop skills to navigate a complexity of mental health issues and life stressors, which in turn contributed to the parents’ increased ability to meet their child’s needs and promote attachment development. More recently, I worked at a residential program in Chicago where I provided therapeutic services to children from infants to age 21 impacted by trauma. These experiences included work with individuals with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, Down’s syndrome, other developmental disabilities, chronic health conditions, emotional dysregulation, and disrupted attachments. Following this I provided behavioral health services to adults, children and adolescents at American Indian Health Services of Chicago where I often worked with individuals navigating complex, intergenerational trauma, depression, anxiety, gender identity issues, isolation and substance abuse..

Client Age Range

Age 3 & up