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Meet Hillary Pilotto of Better Balance Counseling in Western Suburbs (Oak Park)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hillary Pilotto.

Hillary, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started my career working in community mental health. After I had my first son in 2013, I decided to take some time off and stay home with him. I knew I wanted to keep working, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was certain that I did not want to work a typical 40 hour work week and I needed a job that was flexible for my growing family. Around the time my son turned one, I started thinking about opening a private practice and teaching at the college level. I connected with an old professor who told me there was an opening for an adjunct professor for the Spring 2015 semester. During that time, I met with a local therapist who had her own private practice. She gave me some tips and offered me her office so I could get up and running. By January of 2015, I was teaching Group Dynamics and seeing my first private practice client.

In 2016, I was pregnant with my second son and my practice continued to grow slowly. I was eager to carve out a new niche after seeing, mostly, adolescents for 18 months. After I delivered my son, I started to notice a difference in myself. I was anxious, panicked at times and really irritable. I chalked it up to life with a toddler and newborn but continued to struggle. I knew this wasn’t healthy and sought out my own therapy. The validation, education, and understanding that I received were invaluable. This is what I needed to do. I decided to take specialized training for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and began working with women and mom’s in my community.

Around that time, I saw a post on Facebook that a therapy practice was looking to hire a part-time therapist. This practice was interesting because it shared space with an OBGYN’s office. I was blown away by the concept and their integrative approach. I started working there in May of 2017. It was so nice to be a part of a team again. I loved my co-workers and the clients I connected with each day. My private practice was also growing quickly. I decided that it was time to focus on my practice full time and I left the group practice in May of 2018.

In September of 2018, I was able to move out of that original office and into my own space. At the beginning of this year, I hired another therapist in my practice. She will be trained in perinatal mental health along side her other specialties. My hope is that my practice is able to help serve the women and mom’s in our community.

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?
Honestly, it’s been pretty smooth. I think the main reason is that I was able to grow my practice slowly. Not every person in private practice is allowed the opportunity to take on a few clients here and there. Many have to work a full-time job to support themselves while they build their business. In the spring of 2018, I started to feel burnt out when I was working for the group practice and trying to sustain my own private practice. That is when I knew it was time to leave and focus on my own thing.

A struggle that runs into often is myself, honestly. I tend to get in my own way… a lot. As a person who struggles with anxiety, I understand how it can be helpful and a hindrance all at the same time. It helps motivate me and gets me thinking about different projects I’d like to work on, but anxiety can tend to bring up little scenarios that will (probably) never happen, and it can highlight the little insecurities I have about myself.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Better Balance Counseling – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
We specialize in women’s and reproductive mental health. We see young women in their teenage years struggling with transitions of teenage life, all the way through to women working with the hormonal changes of menopause. I have specialized training in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders so I see many women who are struggling with infertility, may have experienced a pregnancy loss, dealing with a difficult pregnancy (because of mom or babies health) or struggling with mood issues after the baby is born. The majority of my clients wear all.the.hats and carry the bulk of the load for their family. They are wives, mothers, caregivers, professionals, students and they have a really hard time putting themselves first in any way. In our office, these women are the experts in their own lives, but they may need a little extra support and tools to challenge their thinking.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I feel like there has been a lot of growth in my practice over the past year so I’m really content right now. However, I’m a planner at heart so I am always thinking about ‘what’s next.’ I’d love to contribute more to my community. I have some “preparing for postpartum” workshops in the works with a non-profit called New Moms. Currently, I’m hosting a 4th Trimester Wellness series at The Birth Boutique in Oak Park. I’m always looking to connect to different therapists and providers in my community. Oak Park has such a diverse group of therapists and healers and I want to know them and want them to know I’m here for their clients, too.

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Image Credit:
Lindsey Monroe from The Birth Boutique in Oak Park

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