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Pandemic dream to thriving practice: the story of how DSA began and the values that define it

Start a blog, they say. It will be easy. Well, I'm not sure about that, but I do know that my team and I have a lot to say about mental health and the more information out there on that is based on clinical knowledge and years of experience, the better. Plus, it's my favorite subject to talk about and, as my team will tell you, I really like to talk.


So, I figured that the first post of the DSA Blog should probably start with a brief explanation about who we are and how Dr. Shantelle and Associates (a.k.a. DSA) was started. It all began in the first week of March 2020 when I contracted COVID-19 and was forced to quarantine in my home. At that point, no one knew how to treat the illness or what the prognosis would be. It was during this really scary time that my idea for Dr. Shantelle and Associates began. If you know me, you'll know that I rarely slow down or take a break from work or spending time with loved ones; however, COVID really forced me to do just that. In fact, it was that time spent away from the busyness of work that gave me the space to better understand what was important to me and start thinking about future goals. As the pandemic continued throughout 2020, I helplessly watched the devastating effect it had on the mental and physical health of my family and friends along with the communities in which I worked. I saw the risks that my colleagues in the medical fields were taking to help people and I knew that I had to do something more. Since the place that I was at in my career at that time was not a place that aligned with my values and dreams, it meant just one thing: start my own practice. ((gulp)) As 2021 began, I began figuring out--with the help of a great lawyer, accountant, and several mentors--how to open the practice that would reflect my values around helping others that included 1) provision of treatment that was tailored to each individual; 2) treatment that was focused on the therapeutic relationship and characterized by empathy and inclusivity; 3) provision of treatment by a team of clinicians that were always striving for clinical excellence and working together on how help clients in the most effective and efficient way, and 4) not only fostering community within the team, but becoming involved in the community so that we could understand and work towards addressing the broader needs of what surrounded us. Just a few simple ideas, right?


The first step was assembling an amazing team of clinicians who shared this vision...and did I ever! By May of 2021, I had my “dream team” of clinicians and was able to open the first DSA office in Naperville, Illinois. The team was small but diverse in their specialties and passionate about helping others. By the end of that summer, the practice was thriving and I quickly realized that although I had just opened the first office months earlier, I needed to expand. This then began the search for a second group of amazing clinicians and by November 2021, I not only found them but was able to open the second DSA office in Clarendon Hills. While the second “dream team” was also relatively small, it further broadened the specialties offered by the practice and helped us to meet an even wider spectrum of needs. As the second office began to also experience success, I was hit again with the realization that I needed to expand the access of mental health services to additional Chicagoland communities in order to reach the largest amount of people. Subsequently, after I was blessed to find even more clinicians that were a perfect fit for the team, the third office was opened in August 2022 in Glen Ellyn and then the fourth office opened in Bolingbrook in December 2022. Although both of these offices were staffed by a slightly larger “dream team” of highly competent and relationally oriented clinicians, their diversity and commitment to the approach and philosophy of the practice was the same as the others. These four offices are the culmination of a dream that started during one of the most challenging seasons of my life and with the hope that more people could receive help that was needed. Dr. Shantelle and Associates is now a thriving group practice of 18 clinicians that serve all ages of clients and almost all clinical diagnoses. No matter who walks in the door, we will work to figure out the best way to meet their needs or the needs of their loved ones. Although I know that the mental health needs around us remain incredibly high and that people still struggle to get the treatment that they need, I couldn't be prouder of the work that my incredible team of clinicians do every day. And although I would like to continue to expand, I have realized (and made promises to my loved ones) that sometimes slowing down is not a bad thing. I mean, that's how this story started, right?


I hope that this blog can provide information that is based in knowledge and experience along with being something that can be practically applied. It will written by myself and other members of the team, each of whom are brilliant clinicians that have loads of ideas and different perspectives, and will cover many different topics that are related to mental health. If you want more information on DSA, please go to our website at www.drshantelleandassociates.com. Thanks for reading and please continue to look out for more posts in the future.

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