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Meet Dori Mages, MSW, LCSW of North Shore Family Services

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dori Mages, MSW, LCSW.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Dori. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am the founder of North Shore Family Services and began working with kids, teens, parents, and families in 1994. In my early years of my career as a licensed clinical social worker, I worked in foster care with teenage boys and as a case manager. I also served as an intake coordinator for an agency working with clients with developmental disabilities. After grad school, I worked as a school social worker for several years and am very experienced in IEP and 504 plans to allow our clients to obtain the accommodations and services needed to help them be successful. In 2009, I began working in the emergency departments of NorthShore University Health Systems hospitals, conducting psychiatric evaluations for patients to determine whether they needed hospitalization or other levels of care. I also had a small private practice about 10 years ago when I was asked to join my LCSW’s practice to see their overflow clients on the weekends.

As a therapist, our main job is to give our clients strategies and tools to master their challenges and no longer need us. When our clients no longer need us, we need new clients to maintain our practice. With young children, I didn’t have/make the time to market and network our practice to continue to grow and therefore, worked my way out of a job in 2008 when the economy plummeted. I joined a multidisciplinary practice which offered related services to the services I provided. I felt I could do the work I was doing more effectively without the constraints of an advisory team who would make decisions they felt were best for my clients. So, I opened North Shore Family Services in 2012 and have stayed true to the services and design of our practice of encouraging children, engaging teens, and empowering families, so they receive strategies they need and no longer need us.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As an experienced clinician who is reaching out to colleagues, other therapists, pediatricians, auxiliary services offered to our clients, etc., we received many referrals to ME, which was amazing! People were noticing the results we were getting with our clients, their gratefulness of the work we were doing, the information we provide to parents through our blogs, website, and social media platforms. Yet, even I have only 24 hours in my day, so to grow, we needed to hire additional therapists who would deliver their services in the same way I would, to represent our practice and continue to uphold our positive reputation in the communities we serve. We had some amazing therapists working for us- strong, engaging, energetic, creative clinicians who could empathize with our clients and families when they struggled, but not just be “good listeners”- to encourage and empower our clients to find strategies that will work for them to achieve their success. As we found therapists who don’t uphold that philosophy or style of providing services, we were unable to have them represent our company and work with us. We have a really strong team and everyone loves coming to work every day!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about North Shore Family Services – what should we know?
North Shore Family Services, LLC provides counseling services to children, teens, parents, couples, and families. We help parents whose children are driving them crazy or making them worried and concerned for their well-being when they aren’t listening, following directions, turning in their homework, not communicating, or aren’t able to manage their stress levels. We offer individual, couples, parent, and family therapy at all our locations and are in-network providers for Blue Cross Blue Shield PPOs and some HMOs. Unlike many other companies, we submit claims for all our clients, so their services are covered promptly, even when they have insurance coverage for out-of-network providers. We work as a team to provide the best services to our clients and collaborate with other providers working with our clients, so our clients don’t feel they have to repeat their story over and over.

Our therapists utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dilectal behavioral therapy (DBT) as well as play therapy, games, role play, and creative interventions (with younger children) to bring peace back to the home, school, and social environments for kids and teens. We challenge our clients to address their challenges head on and use these skills throughout their lives. We address anxiety/stress, attention, focus, executive functioning issues, social struggles such as making/keeping friends, communicating with parents and family members, and much more.

Some of our clinicians also work with adults and couples to assist with life transitions, communication struggles, and relationships. Utilizing CBT, Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and PREPARE-ENRICH, we teach our clients how they can address stressful situations, communicate with their partners, family members, coworkers, etc. in more productive ways to get their own needs met.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
At North Shore Family Services, our staff offers real-world strategies to our clients and empowers you to let us know if something won’t work for you, so we can determine together what WILL work and keep you moving forward in your success.

We know that most teenagers, for instance, don’t want to come to therapy; their parents are often “making” them come. We start with that and help them see what changes parents and they will be making, so we can see each other as few times as possible. This often empowers our teens to want to come to therapy to “get their parents off their back” and in turn, learn lifelong skills.

We feel strongly that good therapists should not just be listening to their clients- we need to be helping our clients find strategies and tools to overcome any struggles they faced when they first contacted us for help.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
North Shore Family Services

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