Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Sarah Allen.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Dr. Allen. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am a psychologist with over 20 years’ experience treating anxiety, stress and depression. I believe life doesn’t have to be a struggle and in a nurturing and supportive environment I help people to understand what is making them unhappy. Using cognitive behavioural therapy, I give people tools to make the changes they want for their future rather than focusing on the past.
I am British and trained as a Clinical Psychologist there. My husband, oldest son and I came to Chicago area 20 years ago this year for my husband’s job. We planned to be here for 2-3 years but liked it so much we stayed.
I have a special interest in pregnancy and postpartum anxiety and depression. One of the things I was surprised at was the lack of resources and support for women during and after pregnancy here. My doctoral thesis was on postpartum mood disorders and in England part of my job was helping women at the hospital and community transition to motherhood so I had both clinical and research experience working with this population.
When I arrived in the USA I tried to make connections with other therapists working with new moms but there were hardly any in this area. I went to the Postpartum Support International (PSI) annual meeting in 1997 in order to meet therapists across the country specializing in maternal mental health and came back from the conference nominated as the Illinois State Coordinator, a volunteer position that I ended up doing for 17 years. Illinois women who called the PSI national helpline were forwarded to me and I would offer support. I started off taking all the calls myself but after a couple of years (a busy private practice and two more children) the calls were too many to deal with myself so I recruited other volunteers and went on to found my own non-profit organization, the Postpartum Depression Alliance of IL. Our volunteers offer phone and email support to women and their families. I have also been involved in passing legislation to improve maternal mental health and for the past 14 years have worked with the Governor’s office to get May proclaimed as Maternal Mental Health Awareness month every year. I think it is very important to give back to the community you live in and my volunteering has been a way for me to bring my passion for this issues to the whole state.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One of struggles was learning how to practice within the framework of private medical insurance. Psychologists in the UK are paid by the hospital or community resource they work for and patients get treatment for free. It was hard to ask directly for payment and I had no marketing or business training so that was quite a learning process.
Another big struggle is that our families are all still in the UK. We visit quite often but obviously we miss them. It is hard trying to help from a distance when your parents are having health issues and it was very hard going back dealing and forth many times in the couple of years before my parents passed away.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I try to help people who can’t come in to see me by writing a lot of helpful blog posts and have free downloadable booklets on Anxiety, Depression, Pregnancy & Postpartum Mood Disorders, Emotional Eating and How To Not Argue With Your Child on my website.
What were you like growing up?
I was always very talkative and a good problem-solver. Apparently as a very small child I would randomly dial telephone numbers and my mother would find me chatting away to a stranger on the phone. Talking with people and helping them problem-solve their difficulties is a very good fit for me and I knew from my late teens that I wanted to be a therapist.
I enjoy reading for knowledge and strongly believe that we should continue enriching ourselves with ongoing education and training. I find it exciting to keep up with the latest research and innovative practices in psychology. My Facebook and Twitter accounts enable me to share what I learn on a wider basis.
- Address: 3400 Dundee Road, Suite 245
- Website: www.drsarahallen.com
- Phone: 847 – 791-7722
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The PPD Alliance is a non-profit run entirely by donation and our annual Cubs game is our largest fundraiser. The photo is of myself and fellow volunteers Lita Simanis, Venessa Nickel and Lara Vasquez.