The Dating Path: Navigating Relationships for Young Professionals

Being a young, working professional trying to figure out how to carve out a set career path is not easy. Dating and relationships are not always so easy either, which is why Urban Balance’s Alyssa Yeo, LPC, specializes in providing dating and relationship counseling to help young, working individuals. Therapy services teach you how to strengthen your relationship at any stage, while also identifying personal thought patterns and behaviors that have an impact on your relationship. Therapy can help you understand more about yourself and your partner, which will contribute to building a stronger relationship. The set of guidelines and tools provided through therapy will help you overcome common challenges most young, working professionals experience in the dating world, such as: trying to find a balance between work life & private life, learning important relationship skills, and identifying opportunities for personal growth. Alyssa answered the following questions to provide more insight about relationships and therapy:

What relationship & dating skills are most important to learn? How does therapy assist in the learning process?

“Communication and vulnerability. I often find that clients struggle in relationships and dating because they are scared to be open and expressive with their feelings. Their fear of rejection, fear of being hurt, fear of being taken advantage of, etc. keeps them from establishing the authentic and deep connection they desire. In order to develop that type of connection, you have to be honest about what you want and need – both to yourself and your partner. And this is where the communication piece comes in. How will your partner know how to provide for you if you don’t tell them what you need? And how will you know what you need if you aren’t in tune with yourself and your emotions? Therapy helps you learn more about yourself. This increased self-awareness and knowledge can help you better communicate your thoughts, feelings, and emotions to your partner. Additionally, the therapeutic process itself is a practice in vulnerability. It requires you to dig deep within yourself to identify and challenge your fears and subsequent anxiety. Consequently, you are more willing to be vulnerable and more likely to develop strong and gratifying relationships.”

What are common relationship & dating problems? How are those problems addressed in therapy?

“Again, one of the most common issues I see in relationships is communication. This often results from a misinterpretation of a partner’s thoughts and behaviors. Wrongful assumptions or interpretations can lead to issues in any relationship because one person responds or reacts to a false notion or idea. Instead of asking for clarity about their partner’s intention, people let their emotions take over and they overreact. This emotionally charged reaction can then cause an unnecessary cycle of hurt, anger, resentment, and disappointment. Therapy can help each partner learn how to address miscommunication before it becomes a larger issue. It can provide the tools necessary for clients to identify how and why they interpret their partner’s behavior in a specific way, and what they can do to respond differently next time they are triggered emotionally. Instead of making assumptions about their partner’s behavior, they can ask questions in hopes of clarifying the intent. Opening up communication in this way will allow for more productive conversations.”

Is therapy beneficial to those at any dating stage or is therapy more beneficial at a certain point in a relationship?

“I truly believe that everyone can benefit from therapy – at any stage of their life or relationship. As long as you’re living, there is more to learn and understand about yourself and your partner. Therapy helps you explore unchartered territory, and can provide tools and guidelines for building, rebuilding, remodeling, or fine-tuning a relationship. One of the most beautiful things about being human is the never-ending potential for self-growth. The more you tap into that, the better off you’ll be.”

How does therapy contribute building a healthy relationship?

“Individual therapy can help you engage in healthy relationships by providing you with the awareness and insight you need to know yourself. Individuals often come to therapy wanting help with a current relationship or advice about why they can’t seem to date the right people. There is no ‘quick fix’ or answer to these questions, but together we can work to gain a better understanding of an individual’s patterns of thinking and behavior in order to identify opportunities for growth. Through exploring past relationships, childhood experiences, parental and sibling relationships, and ideas about what you want and need in a partner, we can work toward challenging those thoughts and beliefs that are no longer serving you. Working through old ‘stuff’ and becoming more aware of the way you think and approach relationships will help inform your future thoughts and behaviors.”

What are common struggles young working professionals have with balancing their private life and work life?

“Time. Young professionals feel a lot of pressure to do and be everything all at once. There are tons of expectations for this age group (early 20’s – early 30’s) that make it nearly impossible for any one person to accomplish at the same time. Individuals are told they have to build a successful career, date the perfect person, make a lot of money, plan for their financial future, put a down payment on a house, maintain relationships with friends and family, travel to expand their knowledge and experiences, stay in-shape and healthy, and so on and so on.  THIS IS TOO MUCH.  The idea that individuals should be able to handle all of these roles and responsibilities seamlessly can result in feelings of anxiety and depression. That’s because you are setting yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations. It is important for people in this age group to give themselves permission to slow down. You get enough pressure from society; you don’t need to pressure yourself. Alleviate some of the pressure by turning off that internal clock that says you’re running out of time. Finding a balance between developing your professional and personal life is important, and doing so will enable you to be more fully present in each moment. As you work on becoming more mindful, you will develop the ability to let go of your anxiety about unfinished tasks, and you will find yourself growing personally and professionally in ways you didn’t think possible.”

How can therapy help someone move on from past dating experiences that may be having a negative impact on the current relationship?

“Therapy is a process of self-discovery, and through this process the client and therapist can work together to understand the many thoughts and feelings that are magnified in personal relationships. Relationships often act as mirrors into ourselves, and sometimes the reflections we see aren’t something we like. Working together, we can help challenge your unhelpful thoughts that result in negative emotions in order to break the cycle of thinking about previous experiences. If you want to see change, you have to practice non-attachment to the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are no longer serving you. You have to let go of some of the comfort and familiarity of old patterns in order to make room for new, more healthy patterns. This present-minded thinking can bring you more satisfaction in your current relationship and life.”

A key point to keep in mind about therapy and relationships is that therapy focuses on opening up and learning how to strengthen a relationship. This is done by increasing your own self-awareness by identifying past behaviors and thoughts that may be holding you back from growing in a new relationship. This is also done by learning relationship skills, especially communication, in order to understand your partner. Communication and understanding, which are areas that always have room for growth, are necessary building blocks in order to establish a deep connection. This is why therapy is beneficial to everyone, whether they are just starting fresh in the dating scene or if they are in a long-term, committed relationship. When it comes to young working professionals specifically, therapy will assist in finding a balance between private life and work life in what can be an overwhelming stage of life. By utilizing the tools and guidelines provided through therapy, you can learn more about yourself, your partner, and your life in order to set yourself up for success.


couples counseling chicago

Couples Counseling at Urban Balance

UB believes all couples can benefit from therapy or counseling to reduce stress, conflict, and negative interaction. Couples counseling can significantly improve relationship strengths and increase intimacy and happiness.

It is a common misconception that seeking couples therapy means your relationship has serious problems or is doomed.  All relationships have issues and conflict and we have professionals who can help you manage them in a way that improves your quality of life.  UB recommends couples counseling not only when experiencing relationship distress or a specific issue, but also seeking therapy preventatively at times of transition (i.e. moving in together, getting married, starting a family.)  Some couples decide to participate in couples counseling even if they have decided to split, especially when children are involved and they need to develop ways to communicate and co-parent effectively.

Many couples seek therapy for communication problems, conflict resolution problems, issues related to finances, trust/boundary matters, commitment questions, sexual/intimacy concerns, parenting, division of labor, and relationship stress due to various life issues (health, career, finances, etc.). These or common issues that many relationships deal with from time to time. They can be worked through in therapy.

Some couples may need to start with individual therapy prior to doing couples work.  Some people may participate in individual and couples therapy simultaneously. Urban Balance therapists are experts in assessing whether individual therapy, couples work or a combination would be most beneficial for you and your partner. While therapy is confidential, clients may choose to give consent for their individual and couples therapists at UB to collaborate to ensure that everyone is working together effectively and efficiently.

Contact UB to Learn More Here

career counseling chicago executive coaching in chicago

Executive Coaching & Career Counseling at UB

How Executive & Career Coaching at Urban Balance helps participants:

  • Develop career or business vision/plan
  • Improve effectiveness & leadership at work
  • Improve career and life satisfaction
  • Promote personal and professional growth and development
  • Increase earnings & value at work
  • Facilitate career change or role change as desired
  • Achieve work/life balance

Contact UB’s Intake Coordinator to get matched with a UB therapist who specializes in career counseling.


therapist in chicago

Tips for Cultivating a Calm Mind

by UB Therapist, Alyssa Yeo, LPC

Mindfulness: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.

Research suggests that higher levels of mindfulness are related to lower levels of both mood disturbances and stress, including depression and anxiety. People who are more mindful are less neurotic, and report greater life satisfaction and higher levels of positive emotions, self-esteem, and optimism.

Despite the many benefits, practicing mindfulness can be extremely challenging and it becomes increasingly difficult as you take on more responsibilities and roles in your life. If you aren’t analyzing what happened in a conversation with your boss or spouse yesterday, you’re thinking about what you have to buy at the store tonight, or that birthday card you need to send to your aunt. It may seem like your brain is always on – assessing, evaluating, plotting, and planning various situations, events, and people in your life. I bet you wonder what you would even think about if you weren’t focused on something that happened in the past or something that is supposed to occur in the future.

Being present not only involves awareness about what is happening in your external world at this very moment, but it also requires awareness of what is going on inside you. Existing in a present state of mind means turning off all the noise and outside distractions, and instead tuning inward. Focusing on your thoughts, emotions, and sensory perceptions can calm your mind and make you feel more grounded.

In fact, research shows that mindfulness can fundamentally change the way you think and process information. Neuroscientific studies have found differences in areas of the brain associated with decision-making, attention and awareness in people who regularly practice mindfulness meditation. People who participate in mindfulness training have also shown increased activation in the area of the brain associated with positive emotions, which is generally less active in people with depression.

Integrating just a few mindfulness techniques into your day can help with your overall health and well-being. Below are simple exercises to help shift your focus to the present moment and encourage you to exist in the now.

Quick Mindfulness Exercises:

  1. Deep Breathing Exercise: A good way to begin practicing mindfulness is by paying attention to your breath. Take a moment right now and start listening to your inhales and exhales. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. After exhaling through the mouth, take a slow deep breath in through your nose for 4 or 5 counts and hold it for 4 or 5 counts.

Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 5. As all the air is released with relaxation, gently contract your abdominal muscles to completely empty the remaining air from the lungs. Repeat the cycle four more times for a total of 5 deep breathes.

Notice if your mind starts to wander during this exercise. Take note of any thought as it pops into your head, but don’t grab onto it. Let it pass as if you are the sky and your thoughts are clouds – let them drift by. Return to watching your breath.

  1. Body Scan Exercise: Another way to cultivate peace of mind is to tune into your physical body. Take a comfortable seat and close your eyes. Start noticing your breath coming in and out of your body, feeling it move through your nose or mouth, and into your lungs. Take a few moments to focus on your breath.

Now bring your focus to your toes. Continue your deep, slow breath while wiggling your toes and bringing your attention to this part of your body. Next move your focus to the soles of your feet, then to your ankles, and then your calves. How do they feel? Do you notice any pain or specific sensation?
Continue breathing deeply. Bring attention to your knees and gently rock them side-to-side. Bring attention to your thighs, working to tense both the inner and outer muscles and then relax them. Do this a few times – tense and relax.

Now bring attention to your buttocks, squeeze them together and relax. Repeat two more times. Continue to breath and scan your body. Move on to your low back – notice any pain or tightness there. Breathe into any discomfort and then relax.

Next focus on your stomach. Feel your breath move in and out. Take note of any pain or other sensations in your stomach. Then work your way up to your shoulders. Scrunch your shoulders up to your ears, then relax them down your back. Do this a few times – tense and release.

Now bring attention to your neck. Roll your head gently in each direction and notice any pain or tightness in the muscles of your neck. Do your best to breathe into the tightness and relax.

Now focus on your face. Feel any tension in your face muscles. Unclench your jaw, wiggle your mouth side to side, loosen and relax the face as you continue breathing. Bring attention to your head and your hair. Is it moving? Feel the hair follicles on your head. Keep breathing and relaxing.

Release all your body’s tension as you take a few more long deep inhales and exhales. Feel your feet connected to the earth. Notice any other points of connection to the ground, and use this to balance and root yourself throughout the rest of your day.

  1. Mindful Observation Exercise: Start this exercise by looking around you in this moment. What do you see? What colors stand out to you? Is there anyone in the room? What catches your eye?

Then choose one object within your immediate environment and focus on it. This can be anything – a chair, another person, a plant, an insect, the sky or clouds. Sit for two to three minutes and don’t do anything except notice the object or person. Really notice it and look at it as if you are exploring it for the first time. Allow yourself to take note of how you may be feeling while looking at this item. Just sit, observe, and be.

  1. Listening Exercise: Another way to practice mindfulness is to increase your awareness of the sounds around you. Stop what you are doing in any given moment and listen to what you hear. How do the sounds make you feel? Where are they coming from?

Next, put on headphones and turn on a song of your choice. It can be your favorite song, or something you’ve never heard before. Close your eyes as you listen to the song. Don’t think about the artist or any memories you may have with that song/artist/genre. Instead focus on each musical note, sound, instrument. Notice the silence too. Notice the pauses or spaces – the breaks. Allow yourself to get lost in the music, only thinking about what you hear in the moment and not what is coming next. You will know you’re truly present in listening when you aren’t anticipating the end of the song, rather wishing the song would never end.



Welcoming New Therapist Shelley Skrypnyk To UB Northbrook

UB’s growing north suburban counseling office in Northbrook is happy to announce that Shelly Skrypnyk, LCPC, has joined the practice, and is now accepting new clients. Shelley specializes in treating issues related to anxiety, trauma, depression, self esteem, substance abuse, relationship problems, stress management and life transitions.  Experienced in counseling children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families, she has extensive training in the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and believes that every client has within them the innate ability to heal themselves.

View her full bio.

Contact UB’s Intake Coordinator to schedule an appointment with Shelley.


pre and post baby counseling urban balance chicago

Get Your New Family Ready With Pre & Post Baby Counseling At Urban Balance

“Not surprisingly, up to 70% of couples experience profound stress, conflict and a decline in marital satisfaction during this time of new baby – all of which affect infant’s care.  Given the increased interpersonal, social and economic pressure they experience, it is important to support caregivers in their transition to parenthood.” The Gottman Relationship Institute.

Common issues couples experience during this momentous life transition include:

>Exacerbated communication or relationship problems due to stress and lack of sleep

>Differences in expectations about division of labor or roles in the relationship

>Adjustment to new lifestyle, increased responsibilities and a different routine

>Changes in work roles or financial stress

>Significantly reduced time spent on the relationship

Where counseling can help: Pre-Baby

  • Facilitating effective communication around important decisions about the baby
  • Pre-natal support and resources for both parents-to-be
  • Creating a financial plan for pregnancy and parenthood
  • Establishing a plan for household division-of-labor for after the arrival
  • Assessing support network and exploring boundary issues with friends and family
  • Preparing for labor and delivery emotionally and relationally

Post Baby

  • Exploring emotional and relational impact of labor and delivery
  • Dealing with sleep deprivation and caring for the baby
  • Assessing for post-partum depression
  • Managing stress, practicing self-care and accessing support
  • Exploring the relational change from two to three
  • Improving communication and conflict resolution skills

UB’s Pre & Post Baby Couples Counseling can:

  1. Prevent relationship meltdown
  2. Prevent or reduce post-partum depression
  3. Strengthen your relationship and family

Urban Balance therapists who specialize in children & parenting can reduce the stress, and make this transition positive for the whole family.  Contact UB to learn about counseling for individuals and couples as well as upcoming baby workshops led by UB therapists.

“The transition to parenthood while an enormous blessing can be filled with many stressors for the mother and family.  Counseling programs such as those offered by Urban Balance can be of tremendous value in preparing couples for this life transition .” Edward T. Lee, MD OB-GYN


What You Need to Know About: ADD/ADHD

What is ADHD and what are the symptoms?
ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins in childhood before the age of 12. A child with ADHD has difficulty with remaining attentive and controlling hyperactivity, compared to peers of the same age level. ADHD interferes with a child’s school performance and social development. To be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must have shown as least 6 symptoms for a time period of at least 6 months in two separate settings (i.e. school and home.) Those who have ADHD can have symptoms that mostly involve attentiveness, hyperactivity-impulsivity, or both.
Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
  • inattention to detail
  • difficulty focusing on tasks/activities
  • getting easily distracted from a task
  • failure to follow through on instructions
  • difficulty organizing tasks/activities
  • forgetfulness
  • restlessness
  • excessive talking
  • interrupting others in conversations

For example, in a school setting, a child with ADHD may have issues with:

  • not finishing in-class assignments
  • being easily distracted by peers or other classroom stimuli
  • being fidgety & leaving his/her seat when inappropriate
  • forgetting to complete homework
  • not following detailed instructions
How is ADHD treated?
An integrated treatment  course usually is followed. Medication can immediately help to relieve some of the symptoms, and in conjunction with psychotherapy, which will help teach important life skills, can provide long term results for those living with ADHD.

Search UB Therapists who specialize in counseling for ADD/ADHD. Discover more ADHD resources in UB’s Wellness Directory.

Martin, B. (2007). Treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Psych Central. Retrieved on January 8, 2015, from
Psych Central. (2014). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 8, 2015, from

What You Need To Know About: Hobbies

Relaxing and recharging, hobbies can nurture well-being and happiness.

What is a hobby?

Urban Balance’s Joyce Marter defines a hobby as a “leisure activity we do for relaxation or pleasure– like sports, art, music, gardening, building something, and collecting things. Hobbies are important because they can nurture a part of you that isn’t being stimulated by other aspects of your life.”

What are other benefits of hobbies?

Hobbies provide an outlet to destress, relaxm abdrecharge, thereby contributing to overall well-being and happiness. They can help prevent or alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression by creating a positive outlet. Hobbies can also serve as a reward after a hard day’s work, as well as help us get to know ourselves in terms of strengths, weaknesses, and goals.

How can I choose a hobby?

When choosing a hobby, it is important to keep in mind that a hobby should help promote health & wellness. Hobbies should not be addictive, self-destructive, or have a impact on important daily routines, work or social relationships. Do some research by going online or visiting a hobby store to ask for help or suggestions. It is important to choose a hobby that you can enjoy, afford, and schedule into your life. Limiting yourself to a maximum of 2-3 hobbies will make it easier to manage, maintain, and integrate in your life to create overall balance and wellness.

Click here to browse hobby resources in UB’s Wellness Directory

Beltran, J. (2014). The Value of Hobbies. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 9, 2015, from
couples counseling chicago therapist for marriage counseling in chicago and north shore

Couples Counseling at UB

Couples counseling and marriage counseling have always been a special focus of Urban Balance. The philosophy of Urban Balance is that we all can benefit from therapy or counseling at different points in our lives because we all deal with various issues as a normal part of the human condition. Similarly, we believe all couples can benefit from therapy or counseling to reduce stress, conflict and negative interactions, as well as improve relationship strengths and increase intimacy and happiness.

It is a common misconception that seeking couples therapy means your relationship has serious problems or is doomed.  All relationships have issues and conflict and we have professionals who can help you manage them in a way that improves your quality of life.  UB recommends couples counseling not only when experiencing relationship distress or a specific issue, but also seeking therapy during times of transition (moving in together, getting married, starting a family.)  Additionally, some couples decide to participate in couples counseling even if they have decided to split, especially when children are involved and they need to develop ways to communicate and co-parent effectively.

Common issues couples bring to a therapist:

  • communication problems
  • conflict resolution problems
  • issues related to finances
  • trust/boundary matters
  • commitment questions
  • sexual/intimacy concerns
  • parenting
  • division of labor
  • relationship stress due to various life issues (health, career, finances, etc.)

Some couples may need to start with individual therapy prior to doing couples work.  Some people may participate in individual and couples therapy simultaneously.  Urban Balance therapists are experts in assessing whether individual therapy, couples work or a combination would be most beneficial for you and your partner.  While therapy is confidential, clients may choose to give consent for their individual and couples therapists at UB to collaborate to ensure that everyone is working together effectively and efficiently.

Therapy is a safe and confidential place to get support, insight, guidance, information, tools, resources and skills to improve your relationship for years to come.  UB therapists are trained and seasoned experts in facilitating relationship healing and growth.

Contact UB’s Intake Coordinator to learn more.

Find UB therapists who specialize in couples & marital counseling. Each one of UB’s 6 Chicago area counseling offices have therapists on staff who focus their practice on couples.