A Therapist who Includes the Family for Complete Healing of Kids

Meet Julianne Neely, the Executive Director of Pediatric Therapy Practice, who helps families understand their child’s unique needs.

A woman who wears many hats, Julianne is a therapist, the owner of a private practice, and a mother who is raising two foster-to-adopt kiddos single-handedly! In addition to these full-time jobs, Julianne also likes to do freelance writing as well as conduct interviews about children’s mental health pediatrics in the Chicago area. She says, “I am passionate about providing families in Chicago with a quality pediatric therapist who understands their child’s unique needs. I thoroughly believe that every child and every family, from every walk of life, can benefit from extra mental health support.” For Julianne, it is a privilege to step into others’ struggles and challenges and offer a listening ear and a helping hand.

Growing up, the primary role of Julianne was being the older sister. Caring for, teaching, and just being with her younger siblings brought her joy, and her connection with them has meant the world to her. She believes that it is through that connection that she has grown, overcome challenges, and found safety, stability, and healing.

In college, Julianne connected with incredible mentors and advisors who encouraged her to create an advocacy organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds for child welfare on campus. Through that organization, she witnessed the community come together in support of abused and neglected children. Talking about that experience, she says, “It was incredible. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities I was given as an undergraduate student to use my leadership skills to mobilize my community.” Julianne is also grateful to the small business community and the many mentors that have come forward to support her on her journey. She says, “There is nothing quite like owning a small business, and having people that really understand and support what you are doing is crucial.

Julianne’s pediatric counseling practice, Individual and Family Connection, offers play therapy, family therapy, and individual treatment specific to children, teenagers, and young adults. They specialize in helping children and families through divorce, grief, trauma, school problems, social challenges, and attachment disruptions. IFC incorporates parents, teachers, and other important people in a child’s life into their treatment as they believe that including these people, who know the child best, has far more value than just meeting with a child for one hour, once a week to learn a few skills. Rather than leaving it up to the child to figure out how to incorporate therapy skills into their world, IFC’s therapists work together with the people that are with that child 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, to show them how best to support the child through challenging moments. This inclusion is what makes Julianne’s practice unique, and helps families create more positive, healthy connections with one another. Her approach to pediatric counselling has given her the privilege of seeing hundreds of children overcome big challenges like anxiety, depression, trauma, and ADHD within the context of a supportive, connected relationship.

For Julianne, finding a balance between business and motherhood was very challenging. She would often wonder how her child might think about her when she would grow up. Would Julianne be remembered as the distant mom who would always be busy? Being self-employed, she was only able to take two weeks of leave when her daughter came home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and it was painfully short. Her long working hours were not working for either of them, so Julianne began to weave her daughter and her needs into everything she did for the business, only to find that things ran more smoothly when they were a team. Today, Julianne has two little kids, and while most days she feels like the luckiest mom in the world, finding a work-life balance is still a challenge, at times. The pandemic had amplified her struggle, but after learning how to let go of control, delegate, and ask for help, her business stands stronger than ever. Proudly, Julianne says, “I now have an incredible team with a unique set of skills and expertise. Frankly, they do things better than I would have anyway. We are all stronger together.

Julianne believes that she has learned so much, working with a diverse group of people, from different backgrounds. They have helped her grow and have challenged her to re-examine her thoughts and perspectives. Because her practice focuses on attachment and adoption work, something that has a limited niche in the field, Julianne often gets messages from many individuals who have been grateful to find assistance through her team.

Sharing an anecdote from a conversation she had with another working mother, Julianne advises other people struggling to find a balance between their children and their jobs. She says, “Finding a balance is a lie. Some days you’re awesome at your job, some days you’re giving it all to your kids. Some days you’re pretty sure you suck at both, other days you feel like an unstoppable, superhuman, multitasking goddess. Just stay curious, and always be on the lookout for ways to learn and grow.