Meet Our Team

Meet Our Team

Monica Bhatia, LCSW

I truly believe that helping people find and focus on their strengths helps lead them toward a more fulfilled life. Although it may seem difficult at first, I am confident that a positive therapeutic relationship helps people accept and work through their emotions to help them grow. I most often use a strengths-based and client-centered approach in therapy. It’s important for my clients to feel heard, respected, and comfortable in the therapeutic relationship.

I earned my Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Spanish and Education. I was a junior high and high school teacher for four years. During my second year of teaching, I began my Masters in Social Work at Aurora University. I have worked in the school system for approximately 10 years. I truly enjoy working with children of all ages. I have experience helping children and young adults in many different areas including anxiety, peer conflict, adjustment disorders, ADHD, behavior difficulties, and more. Seeing children and young adults grow emotionally and socially is extremely rewarding. I also have experience working and collaborating with parents and other caregivers, as I believe we are all on the same team.

On a Personal Note

When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, being outside with my dog, traveling, or reading a good book.

“You are the one thing in this world, above all other things, that you must never give up on.”

Monica Bhatia

Alexa Brainin, LCPC, NCC

I believe that providing a welcoming, open and safe environment where clients can come as they are, with no judgments, is the best place for anyone to start their counseling journey. As a clinician, I truly believe that we are never alone, even though it can feel that way at times. I strive to provide my clients with the tools and supports needed to move through life’s ups and downs. As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), I have experience working with clients facing anxiety, depression, PTSD, specifically survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence. I have experience working with both adults and adolescents in an inpatient and outpatient setting. I obtained my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2018 from Adler University.

On a Personal Note:

Outside of work I love to travel, be with friends and family and spend time with my dog. I am a huge musical theatre buff and love being outside!

Alexa Brainin

Melissa Hemzacek, LCSW

I’ve always loved people, helping others, and being an advocate and a support system. We all have various times in our lives when we need support and focused effort to be at our best and create an awareness of how our emotions impact us. Therapy is client-centered, and I trust that through a lens focused on your strengths and goals, through a collaborative therapeutic relationship, change can be made. I believe I offer a judgment-free space where you will feel safe and able to thrive in making steps toward your therapy goals.

I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Monmouth College (IL) and taught at the elementary level for 6 years before earning my Master’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work.

Outside of the schools, I have worked as a case manager for ages from Birth to 22-year-olds in a nursing facility. I consulted families, educators, and students, as well as law enforcement and legal personnel on Internet Safety throughout Illinois with The Office of The Illinois Attorney General.

The last six years of my career have been spent back in the schools. I am presently at the junior high level as a school social worker. I have supported students on the Autism Spectrum, with ADHD, Emotional Disabilities, such as Anxiety and Depression, Learning Disabilities and Down Syndrome, growing their executive functioning skills, social skills, coping strategies and so much more. I have a passion for supporting individuals in all aspects, including through collaboration with caregivers and finding additional support systems for them within the community.

In my free time, I spend this with my family. I find ways to be active, as well as cook meals or simply relax. I enjoy adventure and being around the people I care about the most.

Melissa Hemzacek

Meg Kwak, Ph.D.

Dr. Meg Kwak is a licensed clinical psychologist who received her doctorate from Western Michigan University in Child Psychology and her specialist degree in School Psychology. She utilizes cognitive-behavioral strategies with children and adolescents who have disruptive behaviors and depressive disorders. She also works with children and adolescents whose anxiety intereferes with optimal functioning. Prior to working in private practice, Dr. Kwak was on staff at a children’s psychiatric hospital in an intensive outpatient program. She is a certified school psychologist with a number of years in the public school setting. Additional areas of interest include family therapy and social skills development.

Meg Kwak

Nikki Ford, LCPC

Daring Greatly: “The courage to be vulnerable, to show up and be SEEN. To ask For what you need, to talk about how you’re feeling, and to have the hard conversations.” -Dr. Brene Brown

Truer words have never been spoken. Life is about daring greatly. Taking healthy risks, setting boundaries, embracing WHO you are, WHERE you are, and WHY you choose to do what you do, without hesitation. We will never be perfect. But so many of us strive to be. Stop chasing perfection! Instead, rally during difficult times in your life, confront uncomfortable feelings, make the difficult decisions, and be confident in it all! Partnering with me during the therapeutic process will help you achieve this.

My personal philosophy is that Therapy IS NOT meant to be easy. You are here to get outside of your comfort zone. You are here to grow. As a therapist, I believe in embracing our vulnerabilities in order to learn “who” you really are and “what” you really want. I will push you, hold you accountable, encourage you to take risks, and challenge you to overcome your fears, because that is what therapy should be. You will gain confidence, both in yourself and in your decision making. You will feel the comfort and safety that comes from learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings. It won’t be easy but it’ll be worth it!

I’m a licensed clinical professional Counselor (LCPC) in Illinois. I earned my Bachelors degree in Psychology from Purdue University (Go Boilers!) and my Masters degree in Clinical Professional Psychology from Roosevelt University. During the therapeutic process I will utilize, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused therapy, motivational interviewing and family systems to help understand the dynamics within the individual and family. I pride myself on creating a comfortable, laid back therapy environment, which allows you to open up and embrace the therapy process and maybe have a little fun along the way!

Nikki Ford

Dana Daluga, LCPC

Dana Daluga is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). She specializes in anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and substance abuse. She believes that everyone has their own strengths, and that therapy can be a way to find and use those strengths to come to a more positive solution. She sees therapy as a way to learn about yourself and receive feedback in a neutral, judgment-free environment.

She uses a client-centered, cognitive behavioral approach to therapy, and believes that having a genuine, attentive, and empathic therapist is the key to a true connection in therapy. She also works with clients to address errors in thinking in order to make a behavioral change. She most enjoys working with individuals, couples, and families. She has evening appointments, as well as Fridays.

Dana Daluga

Kelly Castans, LCPC

As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, my passion for working with children and adolescents began early in my career. I have been fortunate enough to serve hundreds of children and families over the years and feel I have learned as much from my clients as I have taught them. I consider it an honor to go on a journey with my clients and watch as they overcome adversity and celebrate the small successes in everyday life. I take an eclectic treatment approach to my work, and I strongly feel that no two clients are the same. As such, therapy needs to be tailored to each individual. I pride myself on creating a safe, fun, and comfortable environment for my clients to explore their issues and reach their therapy goals. I specialize in working with children as young as age four (4) years old, teens and young adults struggling with issues such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, grief and loss, divorce, peer issues, school-refusal, and behavioral difficulties. In addition, I have extensive experience treating child and adolescent survivors of sexual abuse as well as other areas of trauma ( e.g., parental abandonment, neglect, and verbal and physical abuse).

Using different treatment approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral, Play Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing, I strive to help my clients live a happy and fulfilled life while overcoming past struggles. My philosophy is that someone’s struggles are just one piece in a much larger life puzzle. I think collaboration with parents, schools, and other care givers is crucial to client success and I encourage open communication with all parties involved, while still respecting client privacy and confidentiality. I received my Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Western Illinois University, and I regularly attend trainings to ensure I am up to date on the most effective treatments for kids and teens. I try to practice what I encourage in my clients, so self-care is important. When I’m not in the office, you can most likely find me at the dog park with my rescue lab mix!

Kelly Castans

Michael Kaper, Social Worker

“As we go through life, we are continuing to learn various ways to best manage our social and emotional development. While the avenue we socialize and express our emotions continues to change with the growth in technology and new norms, it is still vital to engage with others socially and to make time to manage our own emotional wellness. If this is difficult at times, looking for support from friends, family members, and appropriate mental health professionals to help build skills and confidence can 100% make a profound difference.”

Michael Kaper is a Social Worker who often uses a client-centered humanistic and life coaching approach to help drive treatment. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Illinois University in Sociology and a minor in Political Science (B.S.), a Master’s Degree from Aurora University in Social Work (MSW), and a Master’s Degree from American College of Education in Educational Leadership (M.Ed).

Outside of formal education, Michael has years of experience working with and supporting youth, adolescence, and young adults in public-school (K-12), residential placement, and juvenile detention settings. While working in these various settings and capacities, Michael has gained experience with youth through young adult individuals in a variety of areas, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, grief, conflict, self-awareness, social/emotional issues, executive functioning, study/organization skills, goal-setting, relationship issues, and decision-making skills. Michael’s overall mission is to create a safe and comfortable environment to collaborate with clients towards achieving their goals and overcome the struggles that they are encountering.

Michael Kaper

Arlington Psychological Services offers a comprehensive range of psychological, psycho-educational and consulting services, including:

  • Child Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Adolescent Behavior Therapy
  • Family Therapy and Counseling
  • Marriage Counseling
  • Pre Marriage Counseling
  • Stress Management
  • Psychological Services to Schools

We believe that Arlington Psychological Services offers a unique blend of professional competence and personal attention. You will notice the difference.

Arlington Psychological Services