Life on purpose.

Mindfully Modern Therapy for Relationships & Life Transitions

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Our Services

Ample treatment options to help mindfully & methodically navigate relationship & life transitions

About Our Practice

Relationship Transitions

Evaluate. Empower. Improve.

  • Breakup & Divorce Recovery
  • Couples & Marital Counseling
  • Premarital Counseling
  • Date Smarter
  • Self-Relationships
  • Relationship Uncertainty
  • LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Counseling

Life Transitions

Survey. Strategize. Strive.

  • Stress & Anxiety Counseling
  • Depression Counseling
  • Grief & Loss
  • Phase of Life Challenges
  • Trauma & EMDR Counseling
  • Perinatal & Postpartum
  • Infertility
  • Postpartum
Unmatched experience.

Our Counselors

We are well-trained, warm, and thoughtful clinicians who thoroughly enjoy getting to know our clients. Our therapy is based on working with you in a collaborative, genuine and productive manner. As counselors, it’s important that you feel comfortable and connected so we can build a positive working relationship where growth and change happen.

Meet Our Counselors

100% of Clients Gave Next Steps a 5 Star Rating on Yelp & Google

Plus, we come highly recommended by our peers in the industry. Consult the endorsements below to see for yourself.

Monika SharmaPsy.D., CHHC

"Ilene Kastel demonstrates that she is invested in truly understanding her clients’ needs, working collaboratively toward reachable and life-enhancing goals, and promoting mindful awareness in both her clients + herself. I do not hesitate sending potential clients to NSC and know they have helped clients successfully move toward experiencing greater satisfaction, gratitude, and sense of power."

Serena WadhwaPsy.D., LCPC, CADC

"Next Step Counseling creates a welcoming, safe place to help clients feel comfortable. While NSC is most known for their work in “break-up & divorce recovery”, the founder Ilene and her team are effective & knowledgeable with other issues as well. Blending several approaches into their unique style, they demonstrate ethical and clinical integrity collaborating with clients.”

Laura FosterLCPC, ATR-BC

"NSC practices with admirable integrity and knowledge in a warm and inviting space. Their commitment to identifying and prioritizing the needs of clients makes the therapy sessions extremely individualized and effective. NSC is highly competent in guiding clients through struggles with the ending of relationships, relationship improvement, mood instability, grief and loss and phase of life challenges and brings much needed clarity and relief to clients."

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Got a Question?

Get in Touch

Contact Us. 

Pay Us a Visit

70 E Lake St #222
Chicago, IL 60601

Serving Chicago, Streeterville, Gold Coast, West Town, West Loop, River North, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Square, Bucktown, Ravenswood and surrounding areas.

Common Questions

Do you accept insurance?

We are in network with the following insurance carriers:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Choice Advantage
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Choice Preferred
  • United Behavioral Health, aka United Health Care
  • Optum Veterans Affairs Community Care Network

However, if you have a carrier that we don’t accept we can still work together! Using your out of network benefits, many insurance companies will provide you with 20% to 80% reimbursement for sessions. We provide you with an invoice, you send it into your insurance company and they mail you a check. If you’d like to know what your out of network benefits are call the number on the back of your card and ask, “What are my out of network benefits for mental health counseling?” Please contact us to provide you with additional information about this.

Is there parking available at your office?

All el lines are within 1-2 blocks, and, there are two parking garages nearby at 60 E. Lake St. and 20 E. Randolph.

I tried therapy and didn't like it. How's this different?

Therapy varies depending on the personalities of the counselor and client, as well as the particular concerns brought forward. Sometimes the chemistry between the counselor and client or the counselor’s style or approach just isn’t a good fit. The relationship between the client and the therapist is of utmost importance. Therefore, we work to create a safe environment where open and honest communication is encouraged so that concerns or questions about treatment or the relationship can be addressed in session. This often benefits the therapeutic process and deepens the therapeutic relationship.

What can I expect from the first few sessions?

During the first and second session, we will gather information about what has brought you into therapy including your concerns, what you’d like to work on and information about your current and past emotional health and life history. This information helps us gain a deeper understanding about your situation, you as a person and how to best help you. As noted earlier, since it is important that clients feel comfortable with their counseling, we encourage clients to also use the first session as an opportunity to assess if this is a good fit for you as well.

What can I expect during a typical therapy session?

During therapy you will begin to discuss and share your feelings, thoughts, and reactions in order for you to begin to gain insight, develop new thinking patters, coping skills and overall improved quality of life. It is natural to feel uncomfortable about opening up at first but this process because much easier after a few sessions. Since self-growth is possible through commitment and work I will encourage you to practice the things you discuss and learn outside of session.

How long will I need to be in therapy?

The number of sessions needed is different for everyone depending on a number of factors including but not limited to your goals, severity or intensity of your concerns or symptoms, how long you’ve been dealing with your concerns, current levels of stress, and the progress you make towards reaching your short or long-term goals.

Is what I say in therapy confidential?

In general, all communications between a client and counselor are confidential and can only be released with the client’s written permission. However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:

  • When there is a reasonable suspicion of child/dependent abuse or of an elder adult.
  • When the client communicates a threat of bodily injury to others.
  • When the client is suicidal.
  • When disclosure is required pursuant to a legal proceeding.