Jelena’s Take on Treatment
"School taught me about different disorders and their effects on individuals, but it wasn’t until I started treating patients that I realized how debilitating anxiety can be. And although I was always passionate about mental health, this is when I fully dedicated myself to helping others overcome their fears and take control of their lives. I believe that working in a safe environment while learning to experience uncomfortable situations is crucial in recovery, after all “comfort is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”
Approach to Therapy
Jelena combines her experience and easy-going attitude to create a warm, safe and yet challenging environment. She strongly believes that effective treatment starts with accurate diagnoses and a full understanding of how a disorder affects an individual. Thus, she takes time to thoroughly understand the client. Based on their personality, strengths and weaknesses, she creates a personalized treatment plan. She especially focuses on providing education and tries to provide her patients the tools they need to live the best lives they possibly can. Jelena takes a collaborative approach to therapy, involving parents, significant others and the patients support system, to ensure the treatment plan goals are met. Her ultimate objective is to not only help her patients overcome their current challenges but to gain skills that will improve their life beyond the treatment.
Experience and Training
Jelena earned her Bachelors of Psychology and Masters of Social Work from University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign. She completed her internship at the AMITA Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital where she taught Psycho – educational children and adult classes on coping with Anxiety and OCD and as a Case Manger she practiced individual and family therapy. During this time, she mainly focused on using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP). Jelena specializes in CBT and ERP for anxiety, OCD, and related disorders for children, adolescents, and adults. She also has extensive training in CBT for body focused repetitive behaviors from the Trichotillomania Learning Center. Prior to joining The OCD & Anxiety Center, she worked at the AMITA ABBHH high acuity adult inpatient unit treating patients with a wide range of diagnoses such as psychosis, schizophrenia, mania, bipolar, depression, anxiety and chemical dependency. There, she conducted psycho-educational and interactive group classes, performed daily patient assessments and focused on relapse prevention and after care planning. She is also experienced in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Mindfulness. Jelena is an active member of the National Association of Social Work, The Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the International OCD Foundation. She believes in connecting with other professionals and the community to expand her knowledge and experience.
More about Jelena
Jelena was born and raised in Bar, Montenegro. In addition to English, she is fluent in Serbo-Croatian. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with her nephews.