Couples Counseling 
About Associates

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Couples Counseling
About Associates
in Chicago

Couples Counseling About Associates

Couples Counseling Associates is one of the few professional counseling practices in Chicago specializing in helping couples and marriages exclusively.

According to research, 80% of therapists in private practice work with couples, but only 12% of therapists have training specifically related to working with distressed couples. Learn more about how to find the best-qualified couples counselor.

We work with individuals who want to improve their relationship regardless of age, marital status, or sexual orientation. All of our associates share the same philosophy about the best ways to help individuals and couples in relationship distress. Our work is based on the latest research findings of what makes a successful relationship.

Our direct, problem-solving style is tailored to the needs of each couple. Because every relationship is unique, we do not use a one-size-fits-all approach to couples counseling. Most couples have an idea by the end of the first couple of sessions whether or not our work can be helpful for their relationship.

Our Strengths Include

  • Experience with couples in distress
  • Specialized training in working with couples
  • Our problem-solving orientation
  • A compassionate and direct approach
  • Our focus on helping people move forward and get back on track

Couples Counseling About Associates:
Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum, Ed.D, LMFT, LCPC

Couples Counseling About Associates: Sara Schwarzbaum, Ed.D, LMFT, LCPC

Age: 63

I believe that couples have few road maps to help them navigate their lives successfully in today's complex relationship world.

I like to give couples the tools they need to improve their relationship. My approach is direct, focused on problem solving, active, and collaborative.  I have experience in helping couples learn new ways to communicate, reduce the number of fights, and facilitate reconnection. I am also good at coaching people to decrease negative interactions and increase sexual intimacy.

I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I studied clinical psychology and marriage and family therapy prior to emigrating to the U.S. in 1982.

I continued my training as a marriage and family therapist in the US with the leaders in the field and have continued this work for the past 25 years.

After I finished my doctoral degree at Northern Illinois University in 1995, I became a Professor at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. This is where I trained the next generation of couple and family counselors as the Coordinator of the Master's program in Couple & Family Counseling. I retired from that position in August, 2016.

I have authored numerous articles and two books. My writings have appeared in the Psychotherapy Networker, Counseling Today, and the Journal of Multicultural Counseling, among other publications.

I am a speaker at couples counseling workshops for social service agencies and professional organizations. I also run supervision groups for therapists who are working with couples. Media outlets frequently seek my input regarding couples distress and improvement strategies for couples.

Read interview with Voyage Chicago Magazine.

Listen to interviews on WGN radio where I speak about relationships and couples counseling.

I founded Couples Counseling Associates in 2008 in response to the growing need for relationship counseling services in the Chicago area.

Couples Counseling About Associates:
Linda Lazzara, MSW, LSW

Couples Counseling About Associates: Linda Lazzara, BSW, MSW

Age 45

I believe that every individual has both the desire and the potential to lead an enriching and fulfilling life.  I also believe that we carry this hope into our relationships and our ideas for family life. However, couples often find that these plans are challenged by obstacles that can hinder healthy partnerships from developing.

My approach to couples therapy is a collaborative process aimed at helping partners better recognize the troublesome differences and repetitive patterns that cause stress on their relationship.  I help couples uncover and develop the strengths that benefit the partnership while facilitating healthy means of communication to foster growth where needed. Although I have training in multiple treatment modalities, I mainly use Solution Focused Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in my work with couples.    

I received my undergraduate degree in Social Work from Northeastern Illinois University and my Master’s degree from Loyola University specializing in Child and Family Therapy.  I completed my clinical training in Police Social Work, providing counseling services to families in crisis with an emphasis on restructuring the family unit.  I have obtained certification for Domestic Violence Training.

In addition to my educational background, I feel that my professional life is enhanced by past personal experience of living abroad for several years and presently as a wife and mother for over 2 decades.  My primary areas of interest are working with couples struggling with anger management and communication issues, interfaith and multicultural relationships and blended families.

Couples Counseling About Associates:
Liz Garvey, MA, AMFT

Couples Counseling About Associates: Liz Garvey, MA, AMFT

I strive to create an environment that is safe and warm, and I welcome a bit of humor.  I will work as a team with you in a way that respects your values, goals, and culture.  I am interested in knowing how you are currently stuck, what you feel is missing, and what your vision is for the future. I want to help you use your strengths to work towards that vision. 

I believe that people have reasons for doing what they do and that understanding your past can help you change how you interact with others.  I am a natural teacher and lifelong learner who always seeks to understand.  This, along with my roles as wife, mother, daughter, sibling and friend, has prepared me to help you understand how to improve your relationships (with yourself and with others).

My past careers included singer, realtor, and homemaker.  As a realtor, I most enjoyed listening to people’s stories, identifying what they wanted, and helping them find the home they were looking for.  As a counselor I seek to do the same: help you figure out where you want to go and help you get there.

I studied at Northeastern Illinois University, specializing in Couple and Family Counseling.  I have completed Level 1 Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy. I received clinical training at Alexian Brothers Parish Services, and I have completed several courses towards CADC (a drug and alcohol counseling certification).  I have also completed Level III of the Gottman training for working with couples.  

My experience includes working with individuals, couples, and families of diverse cultures and ages.  In addition, I have run several groups focused on both career and grief issues. 

Couples Counseling About Associates:
Rory Koontz, MA, AMFT

Couples Counseling About Associates: Rory Koontz, MA, AMFT

My primary focus is to work with LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning) couples and help them achieve a better relationship with couples counseling.  I am good at understanding where people want to go and I am committed to guiding them there. I also like to help couples hear each other better, understand where they are stuck, and prevent distance. I strive to provide a collaborative, comfortable, safe and open environment for my clients so they can grow and explore all aspects of their lives. I also work within a feminist framework of counseling. It is important for me to address and challenge issues of power and privilege at the personal and societal level. 

LGBTQ couples share many commonalities with heterosexual couples. The day-to-day activities of their lives often are similar, but the social context in which they live differs greatly, largely due to the influences of family, church, workplace, and friends. Sometimes LGBTQ couples also struggle with commitment, fidelity, trust or sexual issues. I am interested in helping sort through which of the concerns are unique to the LGBTQ community and which are not. My ultimate goal is to help my clients navigate through any issues that are causing distress, while helping them move toward personal growth and the maintenance of healthy relationships.

I received my clinical training at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and my experience includes working with individuals, couples, children, families and LGBTQ youth from diverse cultures. I also have experience working with adults with significant mental illness during their transition from assisted living to independence in the community. Further, I have worked as a domestic violence court advocate where I obtained my 40-hour domestic violence certificate. I received my Master's Degree in Family Counseling from Northeastern Illinois University.

I look forward to working with you!

Couples Counseling About Associates:
Michael Villarreal, LCPC 

Couples Counseling About Associates: Michael Villarreal, LCPC

Age: 42

I believe in working collaboratively with clients and their families to help them improve the quality of their relationships while learning alternative ways of living in their everyday lives. 

In my work with couples, I strive to improve awareness of problematic relationship patterns that interfere with an ability to connect with others.  I believe therapy can be a rewarding experience that provides a safe space to explore unresolved feelings related to relationships and process current and past experiences that have shaped who we are and our vulnerability.  I support clients’ work toward greater self-acceptance, self- awareness, and improvement of the ability to discover and live authentic lives. 

My work is client centered, trauma focused, strengths based, integrative, and grounded in cognitive behavioral therapy, narrative and family systems therapy.  I provide clients with activities, tools, and strategies that support their change and long term growth, increasing healthier communication, intimacy and spontaneity. 

My treatment specialization includes LGBTQ clients, couples and families struggling with anxiety and depressive disorders, PTSD, self harming behaviors, relationship issues, and healthy sexual identity development.

I was born and raised in Chicago. I obtained my Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from Northeastern Illinois University in 2002 and my Master's degree in Community Counseling from Northeastern Illinois University in 2013. 

I have worked in a variety of community mental health settings over the last eight years and have worked within a private practice setting for the last four years.  In 2016, I founded Semillas Counseling LLC, striving to provide affordable and culturally and linguistically comprehensive therapeutic counseling and social work services within the Chicagoland Area.

I am the supervisor of a community mental health crisis program supporting clients and families through difficult and critical periods.  I also provide supervision for master’s level interns and master’s level clinicians working toward licensure.

Together we can make necessary changes so that you can continue to love your life and those in it.

All the mental health professionals practicing at 737 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2130, Chicago, IL 60611 are individually licensed by the State of Illinois and practice independently and separately. They have no legal relationship to the practices of each other and do not incur in liability for services of one another or to Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum. 

To find out if Couples Counseling Associates is the right professional service for you,

call 312-416-6191, or E-mail us to make an appointment.

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Intake Counselor 

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I will answer all your questions!

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312-416-6191 ext. 1

Sara Schwarzbaum


Founder, Couples Counseling Associates 

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312-416-6191 ext. 202

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312-416-6191 ext. 204

Liz Garvey



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312-416-6191 ext. 207

Rory Koontz



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Linda Lazzara



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312-416-6191 ext. 205


 Michael Villarreal:

773 789-9775