Our Team


Dr. Mari Schnitzius-Richko

  Dr. Mari Schnitzius-Richko ND, LCPC, CEDS, CYI, ABT

  Founder/Clinical Director

  IFS Therapist, Hakomi Body Centered Psychotherapist, Shiatsu, Yoga, 
  Trauma-Informed BodyMind Acupressure

"Center for Authentic Living is committed to promoting wellness, education, and expanding the healing process into the community" - Mari

Dr. Mari Schnitzius-Richko is a Naturopathic Doctor who received her degree from Clayton School of Natural Healing, is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, a Certified Yoga Instructor trained at Nature Yoga in Chicago, a Nationally Certified Shiatsu Practitioner, graduate of the International Ohashi Institute in New York, trained in JinShin Do Acupressure(trauma informed bodywork), and founder of Center for Authentic Living.

“My experience with complimentary medicine began in my early adulthood, through my exposure to herbal medicine. Due to childhood trauma and illnesses, I searched beyond conventional medicine for a method that would lead to the deepest, most fulfilling healing possible. After years of study, I adapted these methods from eastern and western traditions that have become central to my work with my clients. Believing that these concepts of health can benefit all people, I have dedicated my life to the practices of these philosophies.”

Mari is well known in the eating disorder community for her work in enhancing recovery for those suffering from mental and physical ailments. Dr. Mari’s specialties are eating disorders, anxiety disorders, PTSD, trauma, depression, stress management, chronic pain, and body illnesses due to physical and mental health issues. Mari's background includes Body Centered Psychotherapy, IFS (Internal Family Systems), CBT,  Body Therapies ( Zen Shiatsu and Trauma- Informed Body Mind Acupressure), Yoga Psychology, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Mari along with her daughter, Meghann Richko LCPC, CYT, a psychotherapist and yoga therapist, created "YogaTalk" group therapy for those in recovery and imbalances due to emotional and/or physical issues with an emphasis on cultivating a lost spiritual connection.

Dr. Mari's professional engagements include lecturing on the combination of Psychotherapy and Chinese Medicine as an educational tool for recovery along with the need for yoga therapeutics as an adjunct therapy in recovery. She teaches workshops on applying these philosophies to our everyday life. She has lectured for IFS Conferences (Internal Family Systems), Richard Schwartz, Ph.D on combining IFS parts work with The Five Elements of Chinese Medicine. Her other engagements are public speaking on alternative approaches to wellness, educator on women's issues, educator for bodyworkers on chronic illness and cancer, speaker on radio talk shows on home birthing with Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, M.D., assisting pregnancies and birthing using Body Therapies. She held a position on the advisory board of directors for InNetwork, an exclusive membership group of integrative healthcare professionals whose main goal was to make complementary alternative medicine better understood and to inspire the public to use prevention medicine. 

“I believe as therapists that it is necessary to use compassion, cultivate mindfulness, and wisdom in our approach to empowering individuals to progress towards improved health and well- being and that it is imperative to develop some sort of spiritual practice in life to transform and fully heal. I believe a truly optimum treatment program relies on the awareness of the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of who we are in the world, what parts of us are in alignment with our purpose and those that are not. It is my passion to integrate these components while working with my clients. This integration and personal spiritual practice includes our work in the world, our love, our families, and our understanding of mind/ body/spirit. My love of eastern philosophy, body therapies and yoga as a vehicles towards a healthy life have always been a large part of my own practice in the world and as a practitioner of psychotherapy and body therapy.”

“With direction, encouragement, and support, I would be honored assist you in finding a deeper sense of "Self" and a deeper connection with your Body/Mind. My vision for you is health, happiness, and longevity, with the most fulfilling and enduring healing process possible. For you to discover that this source is already within you."

Linda Winter

  Linda Winter JD, LCPC, SE


  IFS Therapist, SE Somatic Experiencing Therapist

Linda is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who received her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Northwestern University, a Certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, consultant, and a supervisor for the CFAL Team.

Linda has retired but still has place in our practice as a consultant. 

Linda's areas of practice are anxiety/stress, depression, disordered eating, life transitions, relationship issues, self esteem, self-understanding, and trauma (small "t" and big "T" trauma.)

“I enjoy working with people going through changes and transitions in their life. These moments most often include loss and grief. These transitions can also provide openings for insight and change. Working with people to better understand their relationships and understand themselves in their relationships is another area which I am passionate about. I apply my training with individuals (teens and adults), couples and families.”

My practice is informed by DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), IFS (Internal Family Systems), and SE (Somatic Experience). I have facilitated DBT Skills Training groups for years, as well as worked with people individually learning and reinforcing emotion regulation skills. It is a model based on tenants of Zen Buddhism - mindfulness, non-judgement, acceptance of reality, with the focus on better regulation of emotions. In addition to DBT, I utilize my skills as a certified IFS therapist and SE practitioner, which assist clients with regulating their internal systems on a psychological and physiological level. It is especially beneficial for stress, overwhelmed and trauma.

I am passionate about helping my clients lead their lives mindfully and aligned with their values and goals. In other words, for them to have lives be they want and intend to have. This most often begins with developing or fine tuning awareness of themselves, internally and externally -- mindfulness. Through curiosity and intention, and coming from a place of experiencing grounding, they begin to form or fine tune their goals and values. When examination of goals and values comes from a place of “Self”, clients experience clarity of purpose and clarity of self-review. This clarity allows them to more easily discern their own goals and values from those of other people in their lives.

This is a sacred journey. I am humbled and impassioned to walk with my clients on this journey, to share and discover skills and wisdom enabling my clients to find a sense of grounding, innate resources, and empowerment in their lives. It is a sacred honor to be with each and every one of you on your chosen journey.

Linda is currently retired and won't be seeing clients. She can be found assisting the LPC's in our practice and supervising them with their clients. Linda is running all aspects of our practice behind the scenes and we couldn't be more happy with her devotion to our practice. She continues to attend events, networking, marketing, and running our psycho-educational services. We hope she changes her mind and decides to see clients again. Her work is so valuable.


  Keri Gnanashanmugam MS, LSW, RYT, NSCA-CPT

  Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Internal Family Systems, Relational Life Therapy, and Gottman Method Couples Therapy


Keri is a Licensed Social Worker who received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from The University of Houston. She works with couples, adults, and young adults experiencing life transitions, relationship difficulties, stress, anxiety, depression, grief, and relational trauma. 

She is trained in Gottman Method Couples Therapy (Level 3) and Relational Life Therapy (Level 2) and draws upon these methodologies in her work with couples. She also has training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Internal Family Systems (IFS) which she primarily draws upon in her work with individuals. Keri also holds certifications in yoga instruction, personal training, and nutrition coaching; and degrees in social work, biology, psychology, and microbiology. 

“Unpacking the reasons why we are experiencing pain and hardship is a big part of the journey towards mental and emotional well-being. We will explore the biological, psychological, social, familial, and spiritual factors that are at play. However, insight alone is insufficient for change. I help clients unlearn unhelpful patterns and learn new, helpful ones; tolerate distress and uncertainty; recognize, feel, and regulate responses to their emotions; and show up for themselves and others in ways that aligns with their values and goals.”


  Melissa Rust , MBA, LCPC

 Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

 Trauma, anxiety, Depression, Substance Use,Integrated, Meaningful life

  EMDR, IFS, EFT, Gottman, Somatic Psychotherapy

Melissa is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, as well as an MBA, and Bachelor of Arts in French. Melissa is certified in EMDR and uses approaches from IFS, trauma- informed somatic psychotherapies, grief, EFT, Gottman, and attachment theory. 

Melissa is enthusiastic about collaborating with people who have experienced trauma, struggle with anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, and seek to have a more integrated, meaningful life. Melissa views the therapeutic relationship as a shared experience and honors the intrinsic value in all people. Melissa has collaborated with clients of all ages, and has provided individual, couples, family, and group counseling. She has experience working in settings such as the juvenile court system, foster care, hospital emergency rooms, and community centers.

In her free time, Melissa enjoys attending local live music events, exploring new restaurants, and spending time with her family and her dog.

Katie Wodziak MBA, LSW, RYT

  Katie Wodziak MBA, LSW, RYT 
Licensed Social Worker 

  Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, Eating Disorders, IFS, Mindfulness, Psychodynamic 

Katie works with individual adolescents and adults experiencing adjustment or life transitions, relationship issues, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, trauma-related distress, eating disorders, and self-harm. 

She utilizes an integrated treatment strategy that is collaborative, trauma informed, and holistic. Katie incorporates cognitive, developmental, and relational approaches to meet the needs and goals of her clients. As a social worker, Katie takes an inclusive, strengths-based perspective that considers the whole person.

Katie is currently working towards completing IFS Level 1 training and certificate programs in both trauma and psychoanalysis. She also has certifications in yoga instruction and yoga of 12-step recovery (Y12SR).

“I strive to create a warm and compassionate space for clients to get to know their authentic selves. I believe everyone has the intrinsic capacity to heal and I hope to help them create more aligned and meaningful lives. I hold the therapeutic relationship as sacred and it’s a privilege be on this journey with my clients.” Katie has experience in community mental health where she provided individual therapy to adolescents and adults experiencing anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia, psychosis, addictions and eating disorders. Katie is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the Illinois Society for Clinical Social Work, and the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work.

Kelly McCradic

  Kelly McCradic MA, NCC, LPC, CCTP  
Licensed Professional Counselor

  Addiction Recovery, Eating Disorders, CBT, DBT, Anxiety, Mindfulness, 

  Certified Clinical Trauma Professional

Kelly is a licensed professional counselor, who has two master’s degrees, one in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University and one in Counseling Psychology with a concertation in Treatment of Addiction Disorders from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Kelly also honorably served 4 years in the United States Marine as an administrative legal clerk.

Kelly is a Licensed Professional Counselor who has two master's degrees, one in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University and the other in Counseling Psychology with a concertation in the Treatment of Addiction Disorders from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Kelly also honorably served four years in the United States Marine as an Administrative Legal Clerk. As a veteran, she supports veterans and first responders.

Kelly has experience working with teens and adults who struggle with addictions, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, mood, personality disorders, and complex trauma. Kelly's passion is to work with PTSD, domestic violence, long term recovery, and stress management. Her modalities she uses are CBT, DBT, ACT, positive psychology, and mindfulness approaches. 

Kelly utilizes an integrated eclectic approach that tailors the needs of each client. She supports clients seeking to learn skills to develop inner strength, create mindfulness, and find self-awareness. She will collaborate on techniques and treatment goals thats allow you the freedom to begin the healing process of the body, mind,spirit, and recovery.

"I have worked with a variety of populations in multiple types of industries and fields. I have noticed that people are hardwired to be connected to others and need a sense of belonging. When a person doesn't achieve this or has it taken away, it can dissolve their inner self, degrade their feelings of worthiness, create negative attachments, and emotions that can affect all aspects of their lives.

 I believe each person has a unique imprint in this world. The goal as a therapist is to create a safe therapeutic environment that has a foundation of trust, mutual respect, understanding, and empathy. Providing acceptance, compassion, and autonomy will allow the client to recognize their inner strength, begin the journey to heal from their past traumas, and improve their quality of life. 


 Cheryl Ramos MS, LPC, CADC, CODPI, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor

 Substance Use Disorder, Dual Diagnosis, Smart Recovery Facilitator, CBT,   Motivational Interviewing, Mindfulness

Cheryl is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from National Louis University., in addition to being a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Co-Occurring Disorder Professional, and a National Certified Counselor.  

  She has been working in the mental health field with co-occurring disorders for the past 6 years, focused on helping individuals be able to develop a sense of who they are and find the underlying cause to their concerns.  She has worked with individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, bipolar, codependency, developing boundaries, and substance abuse.  Her counseling style uses cognitive- behavioral therapy, person centered, and utilizes mindfulness for grounding and focus.  She helps individuals learning new ways of self-care, effective coping skills, and skills to recognize additional concerns that arise.  She helps individuals develop personal goals from their identified individual needs in order to help them grow. 

Cheryl works with clients that have dissociative disorder.  Cheryl understands that when a client is presenting these symptoms, it is most important to meet the client where they are and that their identities are not working together in a coordinated way.  Cheryl is able to develop boundaries and work with the client in a warm, empathic, and consistent way in order to establish safety, work through past trauma, and be able to integrate back into their daily life.  Cheryl utilizes CBT and DBT in order to help the client get back to their daily life.  

Cheryl believes that therapy is a place to explore individuals past, present, and future and how it relates to their current relationships with themselves and others.  She encourages everyone to have empathy, compassion for others, be understood, and explore them self with limitless boundaries in a safe and judgement free environment.  


   Jane Ballis MA, LCPC CADC

    Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

    children, adolescents, couples, families, trauma informed

    EMDR, Gottman, Dissociative Disorders

Jane Ballis received her master’s degree in clinical psychology from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology. She has completed her EMDR Level 1 training and obtained specialized training with Ana Gomez, an author and specialist, in EMDR and dissociative disorders with children. Jane also has completed levels 1 and 2 at the Gottman Institute in couples therapy. 

Jane appreciates working with people of varied ages and abilities as a therapist. Jane seeks to understand differences in various cultures, race, and religions and strives to be as knowledgeable as possible in treating people with diverse backgrounds. Jane’s background includes many years of helping children, adolescents and adults express themselves through various artistic mediums such as painting, drawing, photography, and multimedia. Jane learned behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy and trained and worked under clinical psychologist’s supervision for many years learning psychodynamic theory, play and family therapy while specializing in children, adolescents, adults and families at an APA approved training site. Jane has practiced in child welfare and substance abuse settings. Jane has worked with at risk men who were involved in prostitution as well as many issues such as LGBTQ, homelessness, medical and employment challenges.

EMDR is an important approach to the work Jane does. EMDR is used to treat many issues from mild to very complex. such as PTSD, trauma, anxiety, phobias, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive, anxiety disorders, and excessive grief. Children and adolescents have alleviated their symptoms using EMDR, including depression, caused by disturbing life experiences. Studies have shown that many crimevictims, police officers, fire fighters, and field workers were no longer disturbed by the aftereffects of violent assaults and/or the stressful nature of their work. Victim of Sexual assault, natural and man made disasters, accidents, surgeries and burn victims, family, marital and sexual dysfunction, involvement were also assisted. Clients at all stages of chemical dependency, sexual deviation/addiction, and pathological gamblers have been also treated successfully along with people with dissociative disorders. Many people with performance anxiety or deficits in school, business, performing arts, and sport have benefited from EMDR as a tool to help enhance performance. People with somatic problems/somatoform disorders, including migraines, chronic pain, phantom limb pain,chronic eczema, gastrointestinal problems, CFS, psychogenic seizures, eating disorders, and negative body image, have attained a relief of suffering.

Adults and adolescents have been successfully treated for diagnosed depression Clients with acute trauma and wide variety of PTSD and trauma-based personality issues experience substantial benefited from EMDR. There are many applications for EMDR which has been used by manymajor treatment facilities such as the armed forces.

Laurie Walsh

Laurie Walsh, LCSW, L.Ac. 

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Acupuncturist

ADHD, grief, women's health issues, nutritional counseling, couples, families, acupuncture, Gottman level 1 trained

Laurie Walsh, LCSW, L.Ac. - Laurie is the owner of Insight EAP LLC, an integrative health and wellness practice located in Chicago and Park Ridge, IL. She is a licensed clinical social worker(LCSW) as well as a licensed acupuncturist(L.Ac.). 

Laurie has more than 20 years of mental health experience, and she specializes in the evaluation & treatment of children and adults with attention deficit disorder (AD/HD), as well as women's health issues, and nutritional counseling. 

In her private practice, Laurie also been working with couples and families having relationship difficulties for 20 years and has  Gottman level 1 training. She also works with those suffering from depression and anxiety. In addition, she has many years of corporate employee assistance(EAP) expertise, and she works with organizations on critical incident debriefings and grief counseling. 

"An integrative approach to wellness and health care makes the most sense to me. I have seen time and time again the benefits of using both Western and Eastern modalities in the treatment of all kinds of difficulties, both physical and emotional. "

 Laurie completed her master's degree in clinical social work (MSW), and earned Magna Cum Laude honors for her master's degree in Oriental Medicine (MSOM) and her bachelor's degree in nutrition.


Andrea Goodwin, CTRC

Certified Trauma and Recovery Coach (CTRC), Safe and sound protocol (SSP)

Andrea is a Trauma and Recovery Coach, certified through the International Association of Trauma and Recovery Coaching (IAOTRC), a pioneer in the field of trauma coaching and certified in (SSP) Safe and sound protocol, a listening therapy that uses specific music for regulation, based on Dr Steven Porges work with ptsd, complex trauma, and auto immune disorders.  

Andrea spent the first half of her career as a corporate executive working at the intersection of healthcare, government and technology. A combination of personal and career transitions nudged her to consider new ways to live into her interests in behavioral health, authentic leadership and community improvement. The trauma and recovery coaching approach provides that framework, allowing Andrea to guide others on their own self-leadership journey.  

Andrea’s experience with peer-to-peer support began with her Stephen’s Ministry training in grief support and active listening. She credits these life-giving experiences of holding space for others as they moved through challenging events as the origin of her path toward trauma and recovery coaching.   

“I was raised in an emotionally volatile home and lost my mother to cancer when I was twelve years old. I knew that I still carried the weight of these early childhood experiences with me into my adult life and tried everything I could think of over the years to even out my jitters and fill up my empty spaces. I am forever grateful to have found the evidence-based work of the trauma research community for giving language to my lived experience and to the IAOTRC for teaching me the coaching tools that allow me to help others heal.” 

“If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.” 

 – Father Richard Rohr, the Center for Action and Contemplation 

What is Trauma and Recovery Coaching? 

A Certified Trauma and Recovery Coach (CTRC) works as a peer, mentor, guide and educator for clients seeking understanding on how undigested childhood experiences show up and color our adult behavior. A CTRC holds a safe space for her clients and their big emotions, showing them how to reconnect with themselves and others while using their strengths to build a life they love living.   

Strong candidates for Trauma and Recovery Coaching include:

  • Leaders and emerging leaders who have received negative performance feedback on their interpersonal behavior and are ready to try something new 
  • Parents who want to break intergenerational behavior patterns 
  • Those who live with chronic discomfort or pain, have tried everything to “manage their stress”, and yearn for a lasting technique 

How are Trauma and Recovery Coaching and Therapy different?  

A coach comes alongside their client to brainstorm, provide information, and examine potential decisions. A therapist can do all of these things, but they often also need to intervene at a deeper level to direct care, prescribe behavior and make choices on behalf of their client. A coach never takes that much control over a client’s life. Guide and encourage, yes. Command direction, never.  

People can, and sometimes need to, move between therapy and coaching. Individuals who have gotten their mental health illnesses under control or in remission can benefit tremendously from individual and group coaching. Individuals who are being coached need to transfer to a therapist if they experience a mental health crisis. A good coach will help a client make this transfer when decompensation occurs, rather than continuing to try to tend to themselves.  



Kayla, AA, CRMT

Associates Art, Usui/Holy Fire III Reiki Master, Certified Reiki Master Teacher and Shamanic Healer with over 10 years of experience.

My journey as an energy healer and intuitive began many years ago during childhood. From the age of twelve I was mentored by animal communicator and shamanic healer Rebecca Moravec. This foundation of acceptance and guidance from an early age that helped me to understand and honor the intuitive gifts in both myself and others.  In the years following Rebecca's mentoring, I received my Usui/Holy Fire Reiki III Master Teacher certification from Erin Ryan of Crystal Lake Reiki, as well as training extensively in shamanic journeying and soul retrieval with Nicole Perez of Thunderhorse Healing.  

My approach as an energy healer is all about providing my clients with the tools that they need to integrate healing into all areas of their lives. Using a combination of various healing modalities, I will seek out the root causes of energetic imbalances rather than symptoms that occur as a result.  This allows the client to gain a deeper understanding of their situation and enables them to take an active role in their healing journey.   Outside of energy healing, I am also an actor and professional vocalist.  You will often find me incorporating my love of singing into my healing sessions by way of mantras and sacred song.  

Healing Modalities:

  • Holy Fire Reiki 
  • Shamanic Journeying 
  • Soul Retrieval 
  • Sound Therapy
  • Crystal Healing Energy

Neela the therapy dog

Neela the Therapy Dog


Certified Service and Emotional Therapy Dog


Certified Emotional Therapy Dog

Neela comes to us from a Blue Great Dane Breeder in Pennsylvania. Neela was trained as a service dog and emotional therapy dog for her owner, Mari Richko, owner of CFAL. Neela works with mood disorders, anxiety, PTSD, and depression. She travels with Dr. Mari to residential treatment program facilities on her time off and walks around the community putting smiles on everyone's faces.

Bella comes to us from the Great Dane Midwest Rescue in WoodStock, IL. She developed a natural ability to attend to others trauma after experiencing her own trauma at the hands of a neglectful owner. GDMR alerted Dr. Mari that she would make a good therapy dog. They were right! We are so happy to have her and grateful that she has s wonderful life now! 

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