Meet Our Providers
I am a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with over 25 years of experience working with children experiencing emotional, social, behavioral, and learning challenges. I completed my residency program in Psychiatry and my fellowship program in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Chicago. Following the completion of my clinical training, I spent 12 years as the Medical Director of Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Outpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program, where I continued as a consultant for the clinic for four more years. For more than 12 years, I served as the Medical Director of the Inpatient Unit for adolescent girls at Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center. In addition to my clinical practice, I also enjoy teaching and have had the pleasure of educating a variety of medical students, as well as, psychiatric and pediatric residents in the assessment and treatment of children with emotional and behavioral disorders.
My years of clinical experience in large medical groups left me searching for a new model of more personalized care for children, adolescents, and families struggling with emotional and behavioral problems. In 2007, I embarked on the journey of assembling a team of skilled professionals including psychologists, neuropsychologists, developmental specialists, and psychiatrists to provide comprehensive, scientifically-based assessments and treatments in a supportive and nurturing environment. The result of this journey is Afg Guidance Center. Over the past several years, Afg Guidance Center has rapidly grown into a unique and thriving program that allows our team the opportunity to collaborate and create personalized treatment to each of our patients. I am proud to be a part of this talented group of clinicians and look forward to continuously learn from them, as well as, from my patients.
I am a Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist experienced with the treatment of emotional, interpersonal, and behavioral disturbances. These areas include depression, anxiety, mood instability, and executive functioning dysregulation. I received my medical degree from Rutgers University-New Jersey Medical School. I completed my general psychiatry residency at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City and my child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
I am drawn to the field of medicine and psychiatry by the prospect and desire to work with children, teens, and their families. I specifically welcome the challenge to work with young adults to implement lasting change and ensure they feel heard, understood, and accepted. I strive to draw out insights from clients, work together toward a shared understanding and discovery, and tailor treatment approaches in a strength-based model.
In the field of psychiatry, medications cannot take the place of support. In child and adolescent psychiatry, we tend to “start low and go slow” with medications. By doing so, children are on the least amount of medication necessary. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a group of diversely and highly trained clinicians, who can evaluate and support the educational and therapeutic needs of our clients. Their perspectives and expertise are invaluable in shedding light on the client’s needs, helping me to learn and grow in this field.
Meagan Maas, M.D.
I am a board-certified Psychiatrist specializing in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry who strives to take an integrative and holistic approach to treatment by collaborating with patients and families to tailor treatment plans to their specific needs. I am detail-oriented, empathic, and take time to listen and understand patients’ strengths and cultural background as part of my approach to treatment. I see a wide range of conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, ADHD, trauma, and specific concerns in the LGBTQ community.
I see a variety of age groups and individuals with diverse backgrounds. I have a strong interest in understanding how people think and behave, which sparked my undergraduate studies in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I obtained my Master of Public Health at Boston University, and continue to invest time in not only understanding the person as a whole, but also understanding the impact of social, economic, and environmental factors in shaping the health of populations. I feel comfortable collaborating with community agencies, schools, and other members involved in your care to best support our work together.
I completed my Psychiatry residency training through Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and went on to complete subspecialty training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. I am passionate about what I do, and am excited to work with you to achieve your goals.”
Rebecca Shukhman, D.O.
As an Adult Psychiatrist, I am experienced with the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders (including depression, bipolar, OCD, PTSD) and ADHD. I received my undergraduate degree in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago with minors in biology and neuroscience. I went on to get my medical degree from Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed my general psychiatry residency at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine.
I enjoy working with patients, often in conjunction with their families, in order to help them live up to their full potential. I strive to make sure patients feel heard and believe in working collaboratively toward an appropriate treatment plan that meets their goal using as few medications as possible. I also believe that not everything can be treated with medications alone and that no person exists as an island. Therefore, I am thrilled to be able to work in conjunction with highly and diversely trained clinicians who can provide additional support and therapies to ensure the best possible outcomes.
Urooj Yazdani, MD, M.Ed.
Urooj Yazdani holds an M.D. from the Chicago Medical School and an M.Ed. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. She completed her adult psychiatric residency training at the University of Louisville and her pediatric psychiatry fellowship from the University of Chicago.
As a former teacher, her interests in the realm of child & adolescent psychiatry have been vast and include common physiological illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD as well as nuanced topics such as the manifestations of childhood trauma, refugee and immigrant mental health.
Her research on the link between systemic poverty and intergenerational trauma became the basis of a feature documentary, titled ‘A Destruction’. The film was created with the support of Johns Hopkins University, the Indus Resource Centre and Kartemquin Films. It was developed by the Tribeca Film Institute and was screened at film festivals around the globe. The film has been contracted for broadcast distribution through Filmoption International, educational distribution through InfoBase Learning and Alexander Street/Proquest Films. It has debuted on television networks around the globe as well as classrooms and universities across the country.
Through her unique skill set, Dr.Yazdani hopes to be an influence on how to make the public invested in complex psychodynamic issues. She aspires to utilize her skills in media literacy, her expertise in storytelling and her passion for advocacy for the betterment of our global community.
As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Child Development Specialist, I have been providing individual, family and group psychotherapy for more than 20 years. I have enjoyed working with children, adolescents and their families helping them develop more productive coping strategies, better communication skills, and building a stronger sense of resilience. I believe that early intervention for mental health is key to preventing potential mental illness or reducing its impact, thus contributing to better mental and physical health, learning and socio-economic outcomes throughout life. I approach each family as a unique entity and utilize a variety of treatment modalities to meet their needs. I have extensive experience with issues related to developmental disorders, ADHD, depression, mood/anxiety disorders, bereavement, and trauma. My proficiency in school advocacy allows me to support parents and their children when collaborating with school personnel in the development of individualized education plans and classroom interventions. Throughout the years, I have provided both trainings and consultation to a variety professionals focusing on issues such as early childhood development, childhood anxiety, effective school advocacy, trauma and forensic interviewing.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Illinois. Immediately following graduation, I completed a 4 month internship at Children’s Memorial Hospital as a Child Life Specialist on the Oncology Unit. Following my internship, I developed and implemented apart-time Child Life Program at Lutheran General Hospital where the focus was on supporting families of children with acute and chronic medical illness. Soon after, I joined Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program as a forensic interviewer/trauma specialist and psychotherapist. In 1999, I received a Master of Arts in Counseling and Child Development with a specialization in Early Intervention from DePaul University. For the past several years I have had the opportunity to work with a wonderful team at Afg Guidance Center where I continue my work as a psychotherapist and Child Development Specialist. Additionally, as the Master’s level training director for Afg, I find great reward and pleasure in sharing my years of knowledge and experience with our interns. I perceive learning as an ongoing process and the opportunity to work with these bright young minds, provides for me, as a clinician, the ability to continue to learn and grow.
Finally, I believe that creative expression is inherent to a child’s growth, development and healing processes, and incorporate my years of formal dance/movement training and experience in the expressive arts to promote healing and well-being.
Somer Muhs, M.A., LCPC
As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, I have worked closely with children, adolescents, families, and young adults in various settings. My clinical experiences have been in a university-based clinic, outpatient community mental health, and private practice. During my pursuit of my Master’s Degree at Ball State University I was able to receive training in various types of therapy, as well as hone my specific interests of treating the young population. I am specifically drawn to assisting children and adolescents form healthy identities and relationships with others. In each different setting I have worked in, I have treated individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, ADHD, peer relationships, and school/family problems, amongst other diagnoses and challenges. I believe in the power of empathy and a healthy therapeutic relationship in my client’s treatment. My first goal in treatment is to build a strong therapeutic rapport by engaging my clients in their own personal interests, whether through arts and crafts, sports, or play/games. It is very important for me to establish a calm setting to promote a sense of peace in my clients’ lives. I practice therapy from a Cognitive Behavioral lens, and I also integrate mindfulness and grounding strategies into my treatment. In order to understand children and adolescents’ needs, it is necessary to treat them within the context of the family unit. I find that involving parents and caregivers in treatment is often necessary for many children and young adolescents.
As a therapist, I have provided individual and family therapy to children, adolescents, and families. I have always had a passion to work with this population as I understand life’s daily challenges can be difficult to navigate. During my adolescence, I faced multiple changes including moving to the United States, navigating its unique academic system and culture while maintaining my own cultural identity. Experiencing these difficult transitions ignited a desire to pursue a career that will allow me to mentor young individuals through difficult chapters of their lives and help them find empowerment.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and received my Master of Arts in Counseling from Northwestern University. Additionally, I completed my clinical internship at AFG Guidance Center where I received extensive training with children and adolescents diagnosed with a variety of disorders including Anxiety, ADHD, and Depression. Prior to rejoining the team at AFG Guidance Center, I worked at a private practice where I continued to develop my clinical skills providing therapy to children, adolescents, and their families. Throughout my academic and professional career, I have come to understand how experiences shape maladaptive behaviors, and how self-awareness is a key to making therapeutic change. I have developed a deeper clinical insight into helping families understand relationship dynamics, how these dynamics impact the family system, and helping them develop strategies to move forward in developing healthy, positive relationships.
My style of therapy is based on the concept of flexibility. I use an integrative approach including the use of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Solution focused therapy, and Play Therapy. This allows me to adaptively address an individual or family’s presenting concerns and creatively design a treatment plan based on individual needs. I firmly believe that a healthy family system helps raise a healthy child and find it optimal to include all available members of the family in the treatment process.
I perceive each child and adolescent to be resilient and full of potential regardless of their obstacles or diagnoses. As a clinician, I believe in guiding them to discovering their unique, internal strengths and finding self-efficacy. While adversities can seemingly inhibit the development of these qualities, they also can provide opportunities to achieve growth and healing. Working at AFG as an intern helped hone my skills as a clinician. I am honored to be back as part of this team that ceaselessly contributes to my development.
Spencer P. Carrol, M.A.
After years of working as a preschool teacher and public educator, I received my Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. I am originally from Irving, Texas and I received my Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of North Texas. I completed my year-long clinical internship at AFG Guidance Center and am very pleased to remain here providing therapeutic services to children, adolescents, and their families. I treat a variety of mental health issues including Anxiety, Depression, Grief, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the stress that comes as a part of everyday life. I have many years of experience working with neurodivergent children diagnosed with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder in a variety of settings, from classrooms to therapy rooms. In 2023, I had an article published in the Illinois Counseling Association newsletter about teachers’ perceptions of neurodivergent students and the way these perceptions can be harmful or insufficient for those students. I personally have learned to overcome many of the challenges that come with having ADHD, and I firmly believe that neurodivergence is a superpower—just a superpower that comes with unique struggles. I am also LGBTQ+-affirming in both my clinical work and in my personal life.
As a therapist, I take a relational approach to mental health counseling, and I view the therapeutic relationship as therapeutic itself. I firmly believe in modeling what healthy relationship skills look like to growing minds, understanding that individuals cannot thrive without healthy interpersonal relationships. In my studies, my work, and my life experience, I have come to learn that people of all ages have a natural tendency towards positive growth. However, our lives are complex and sometimes the complexities of life create blockages which may prevent us from reaching goals or finding fulfillment within our relationships and personal lives. I find that my role as a counselor is to provide my clients and their families with empathy, knowledge, and the self-awareness to identify where problems lie and how to overcome them. But above all else, my therapy room is a safe space to come talk about one’s problems free of judgment. I utilize techniques from a variety of different therapeutic approaches including cognitive-behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, play therapy, and creative counseling techniques to teach coping skills, improve resilience, facilitate self-awareness, and treat mental health problems as they arise. I am flexible in my treatment planning so that I may meet my clients exactly wherever they are at.
I consider myself to be an eclectic person, and I bring my many passions to the therapy space. Some of my experiences include working as a zookeeper, a canvasser, a community advocate, a musician, a teacher, a musical theater performer, a professional Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master, and an e-sports player. I also enjoy making music, hiking, martial arts, scuba diving, camping, and playing video games, and I have even been known to bring instruments and video games to therapy to help teach skills such as frustration tolerance and self-expression. Additionally, I co-created and co-facilitate AFG’s Adventurer’s Guild group which utilizes role-playing games (similar to Dungeons and Dragons) to teach social skills and coping strategies to children and adolescents. Overall, I have found that every single one of my experiences has given me tools, strategies, and insight which have made me a better counselor. I have enjoyed learning from and working with AFG’s multidisciplinary team, and I am undeniably grateful to have the opportunity to continue working with the people that have taught me so much and watched me grow into the therapist I am today.
Andrea Barrios, M.A.
I am a therapist who has experience working with children and adolescents in clinical, educational, and research settings. I have experience working with ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Autism Spectrum Disorder, peer and family relationships, life transitions, and identity (including understanding our cultural and gender identities and exploring how we and others perceive ourselves). As someone who experienced significant life changes in my childhood, I understand the importance of having a safe space to process thoughts and feelings without judgment. My therapeutic approach centers around Person Centered Therapy, meaning that I value collaboration, empathy, strong rapport, and unconditional positive regard in the counseling process. As applicable, I incorporate interventions and approaches based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Play Therapy, Art Therapy, Family Systems Theory, and Narrative Therapy.
I hold a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Indiana University Bloomington, where I participated in child development research regarding language acquisition. I also completed a minor in Gender Studies, focusing on intersectionality. Afterwards, I worked at a Chicago Public School for 5 years, assisting ESL and immigrant/refugee students and their families. This experience led me to Adler University Chicago, where I pursued my Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I recently completed my internship year here at Afg Guidance Center and am excited to stay and transition to full-time counseling!
Isabel Zepeda, M.A.
As a therapist, I have provided individual therapy to children, adolescents, and young adults. I received my Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. I have also completed my clinical internship at AFG Guidance Center, where I have been trained extensively in working with clients struggling with anxiety, depression, ADHD, Autism, and peer and family relationships. I tailor my approach to meet the specific needs and developmental stage of each client, while integrating their strengths and interests into the session. Additionally, I consider working with the whole family vital in helping children and adolescents navigate their mental health challenges.
My approach to therapy is rooted in empathy, respect, and empowerment. I integrate strategies from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Narrative Therapy, and Person-Centered Therapy. I also understand that some of these modalities may be culturally bound, and I aim to keep the client’s intersection of cultural identities in mind when working with them. I believe that my clients have the internal strengths and resiliency to achieve their goals. Therapy is a safe place to learn coping skills, process difficult experiences, and foster meaningful relationships. I consider it a privilege to listen to client’s journeys while helping them grow into the individual that lives a healthy, fulfilling life.
Tanner Hoegh, MS, LPC (LCPC), NCC, C-DBT
I’m a Child, Adolescent, and Adult Therapist with four years of experience practicing. I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Grand View University in Des Moines, IA, and subsequently earned my Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Minnesota State-Mankato. I spent my first year as a therapist working with a family agency providing therapy to adolescents, young adults, and adults while simultaneously working as a therapist for the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Following my start in graduate school, I moved to the North Shore area to continue working with family agencies and private practices for the past 3 years.
I aim to help people of all ages set goals for themselves and achieve them by talking them through on a week-to-week basis. As a therapist who practices “Motivational Interviewing”, my main objective is to understand the changes you’re trying to make and help you develop a plan to make it happen. An old saying goes “If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life”. My focus is to help clients make progress consistently and find their own solutions to problems as they come. By learning how to change, and be successful in it, we feed ourselves for life.
Outside of my work as a therapist, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I made psychoeducational videos from home to help people who might not have access to mental health education while sheltering in place. The short educational videos I made during this time reached a significant audience of young people and adults worldwide. By the end of the series of videos, they had been viewed by roughly 50-70 million people around the globe and I gained a following of around 2 million people interested in learning more about mental health. This led to the publishing of my book “Chaotic Happiness” by Penguin Random House which was released everywhere books are sold worldwide.
Working with people on their goals and helping them overcome challenges has brought so many great things to my life. If you or a loved one is working on making changes big or small, I’d be honored to encourage and support you along the way.
I am a passionate scholar-practitioner in the field of Clinical/Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience, investigating neuronal mechanisms of our brains and trying to understand how patterns of the brain functionality determine people’s behaviors.
For over 20 years, I divide my time between clinical practice, teaching, training, consulting, and scholarly writing and research. My clinical work is based on psychological, neuropsychological, and psychophysiological assessment and interventions.
The specific areas include disorders and conditions associated with changes in the brain functioning as a result of developmental issues, genetics, trauma, infection, poisoning, etc., and they include:
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Learning Disabilities (LD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Bi-Polar Disorder
- Sleep Disorders
- Autism and Asperger’s Disorders
- Attachment Disorder
- Tourette’s syndrome and other Tic Disorders, and others.
I also have an extensive clinical experience working with patients in minimally conscious state, vegetative state, “locked-in syndrome,” and coma after severe brain traumas. I received my Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Psychology from St. Petersburg State University, Russia. I continued my education and specialized in Clinical Neuropsychology at Moscow University and later completed my post-doctoral training at Northwestern University, Institute of Neuroscience.
My clinical philosophy could be described in two statements. First, I believe that every patient can be helped. A combination of international training and long-term experience helps me to implement this belief. It is a matter of a correct and timely diagnosis, and tailored treatment to achieve success in helping a patient to overcome a psychological/neuropsychological deficit.
Second, I believe that it is important to be open to new ideas and approaches to treatment. With new achievements in psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience and the expansion of scientific methods, we get advanced and promising tools for dealing with all kinds of psychological problems.
My colleagues and I have developed a comprehensive and innovative approach called “Neurobehavioral Modulation” which allows through utilization of modern advanced neuro-scientific achievements and techniques bring a patient to a new level of neurophysiological functioning and reach peak performance in various areas.
I have always been fascinated by the incredible potential of the human mind and body. I have made it my mission to learn about and understand human physiology and psychological development.
At an early age in Russia, I challenged myself physically, cognitively, and emotionally as an elite gymnast on the national level. This early childhood experience of pushing myself physically and mentally was the start of my educational and research journey in the areas of psychophysiology and neuropsychology. After completing my undergraduate and master’s degree in Physiology, I entered a doctoral program for Physiology at Shevchenko State University (Ukraine), where my research focused on the physical and psychological learning process of adolescents. Upon completion of my doctoral degree, I returned to my hometown and began teaching undergraduate courses on human development while coaching my first love – rhythmic gymnastics. During this time, I continued my research, expanding my knowledge and understanding of the organic nature of attention, memory, learning, depression, anxiety, and developmental delays.
As a certified neurofeedback clinician (Biofeedback Certification International Alliance, BCIA), I am thrilled to be working with the clinicians and staff at AFG Guidance Center. I believe my work at AFG is further enhanced through my research at Northwestern University and subsequent publications in peer-reviewed journals. I believe that my time spent as an educator, researcher, and clinician has enabled me to provide the highest quality of individualized care to my clients, as well as support to their parents and extended treatment team.
I recently graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in neuroscience, concentrating in human behavior and cognition. I began an internship at Afg under Dr. Labkovsky during my senior year of college, and am thrilled to work with her during my gap years before pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology.
Aside from my work at AFG, I am a behavior technician working with children on the autism spectrum, applying principles of behaviorism to guide social and self-help skill acquisition. I am also a research assistant for the Center for Community Research at DePaul University where I study neurocognitive symptomatology in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
My clinical and research experiences make me a dynamic member of the neurobehavioral therapy team where I provide supportive, innovative, and effective therapy to my clients.
Elaine Lara, B.A., Neurobehavioral Therapy Technician
I began my work in neurobehavioral therapy in April of 2022 with Dr. Labkovsky as an intern at AFG Guidance Center. My interest in the field grew after taking a neuropsychology course at Northwestern University where I had the opportunity to witness a live demonstration of an electroencephalogram (EEG) assessment. I took a particular interest in EEG and neurofeedback and worked closely with Dr. Labkovsky through an independent study aimed to enhance my knowledge and experience.
Neurobehavioral Therapy (NBT) caught my attention because of its focus on the relationship between the brain and behavior. NBT aims to change the way an individual’s brain functions to effectively improve symptoms of psychological conditions. Every person is unique and requires an individualized treatment plan. Not only is NBT proven to be effective, but it offers individuals a medication and talk free approach, further expanding treatment options. I am dedicated to continuing to be a part of this innovative approach to treating psychological disorders and conditions.
I graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Psychology and am thrilled to be working at AFG before pursuing a PhD in neuropsychology. My clinical experience, extensive training, and attention to detail enable me to provide quality and tailored care to my clients through a supportive and compassionate approach.