Meet Our Therapists

Anita Chlipala
LMFT
LEIGH ANN
LCSW
Jeannie Sytsma
LMFT
PAMELA MERINO
LSW
LANA EL MASRI
ALMFT/LPC
JESS BENGE
CLINICAL INTERN
ANDREA BRICE
ALMFT
REINA ASHLEY
CLINICAL INTERN
It’s not easy choosing the right therapist. We understand that. How do you know if you can trust us? What if a therapist makes things worse? You’re going to share with us your hearts, your relationships, your fears and doubts, and your hopes and dreams. It’s not easy meeting with a stranger and trusting them and what they’re going to say. We get it.

What we can tell you is that we are all passionate about our work and helping our clients. We are a team of highly skilled therapists who have gone through a lot of education, training, and experience to call ourselves experts. We continually seek out research-based trainings to make sure we are providing our clients with cutting-edge care.

Any one of us below can help you with the common problems that bring clients to us: communication problems, infidelity, pre-marital counseling, sex & intimacy, anxiety, depression, stress management, intimacy, infidelity, etc., but we’ve included specialties that we each enjoy, too. We also want to make sure you work with a therapist whose style is a good fit for you. . Some of us swear in session, some of us don’t. But one thing we can guarantee is that we’ll tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear, and be proactive in helping you achieve your goals. We won’t leave you hanging. Promise.

Check us out below and you can either reach out directly to the therapist or use the contact form on our website. We look forward to working with you!

Hi, I’m Anita Chlipala!

Owner, Founder, and Clinical Supervisor

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

she/her/hers

People often ask me how I could listen to problems all day. My response: I have a comfortable chair…just kidding. There’s nothing more rewarding than to hear my clients’ stories and to help them achieve their goals.

I founded Relationship Reality 312 to focus exclusively on romantic relationships – from getting one to maintaining one successfully. I use cutting-edge research in my work to bring you the latest information and tools to help you achieve a happy and healthy relationship. Whatever problems or issues you want addressed, I don’t just listen – I’ll teach you the skills you need so that you no longer need to see me anymore (or a twice-yearly check-in will suffice!).

If you’re looking for a no-BS approach, contact me today.

Instagram: @AnitaOnLove

Areas of Specialty:

Helping singles navigate dating and find love
Changing attachment styles to secure attachment
Infidelity: repairing trust and healing, figuring out why you cheated, and cheating prevention
Making the decision to stay or leave your relationship

Credentials & Qualifications

  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
  • Author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love book https://bit.ly/FCU
  • Frequent media appearances
  • Blogger for The Million Dollar Matchmaker, Patti Stanger: pattiknows.com
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy Externship
  • Level 2 Certification in Gottman Method Couples Therapy
  • Trained in Discernment Counseling
  • Level 3 Trained PREP Leader (Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program)

My Education

  • M.A. in Marital and Family Therapy from the University of San Diego
  • M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Arizona State University
  • B.A. in English and Religion from the University of Iowa
  • Clinical Fellow in the Illinois Affiliation of Marriage and Family Therapists

Hi, I’m Jeannie Sytsma!

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

she/her/hers

Relationships have always sparked my interest, and it was no surprise to my family and friends when I decided to pursue a career in marriage and family therapy. One of the reasons I chose to become a therapist is because I have always admired the resilience of people, which includes looking at the darkness in our lives in order to grow and move forward. As humans, we are wired for connection with one another and sometimes it can be challenging to let down our defenses and open ourselves up to vulnerability. I believe that being in therapy will allow you (and your partner) to understand your vulnerabilities, identify troublesome patterns, and make concrete changes in the present that will carry into the future.

I do this work because I care deeply about helping others and I believe that everyone deserves a skilled, fierce ally with lots of resources to support them when life gets tough (as it inevitably does). As a therapist, I strive to strike a balance between showing empathy and challenging you to move you towards transformation. I know therapy can be intimidating, which is why I practice from a non-judgmental and caring stance in order for you to feel safe and secure in our time together.

It is my belief that you have the strength inside of you to make the necessary changes in order to achieve the results you want; I am here to help you gain insight about what is blocking you from getting there on your own, and provide you with skills to sustain your growth outside of therapy. My goal for you is to have connection with others and I believe that happens when both people feel heard, seen, and valued. Lastly, I will leave you with the words of Brené Brown: “Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”

Areas of Specialty:

Pre-Marital
Anxiety
Intimacy
Religion/Spirituality
Couples with Life Changes

Call me at 312.625.8556.

Credentials & Qualifications

  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
  • M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Adler University
  • Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Northern Illinois University
  • B.A. in Theology from Wheaton College
  • Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Member of the Delta Kappa Honors Society
  • Level 1 Certification in Gottman Method Couples Therapy

Hi, I’m Lana El Masri!

Associate Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, LPC

she/her/hers

Every relationship is dynamic and unique. I have always been drawn into the intricacies of how people function within their relationships and the dynamics of their close social circles. I am always eager to learn about how people operate and what constitutes a healthy relationship with friends, families, and couples. A combination of wanting to learn more while helping others was a driving factor in the pursuit of my career as a therapist. It is through these studies I have built a foundation to help you navigate, strengthen and grow these relationships both as an individual and as a couple.

Throughout my life, I have been continuously immersed in varying cultures and been enlightened by different perspectives people may have, Which has shaped me on being always non-judgmental towards any individual and supportive with an open mind. My multicultural background has been one of my continuous and significant strengths as a person. It has made me to be open-minded, flexible, compassionate, and always yearning to learn more about similarities and differences between cultures and ethnic groups. I am passionate about my own Middle Eastern culture and am bilingual in English and Arabic. It has given me the opportunity to meet many different people on various life paths, and connect with those who may feel alienated in a new place. Seeking help is the first step in creating a positive change and growing as an individual. I would love to help you in this process in a safe and welcoming environment.

I have always been a good listener to my family , friends and experience listening through my coursework at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and it would be a pleasure to listen to you and help you with any concerns you may experience in different aspects of life.

Areas of Specialty:

Multicultural relationships
Emotional trauma (grief, breakup, family changes)
Women’s issues
Self-esteem
Dating and singles

Call me at 312.600.8912.

Credentials & Qualifications

  • Associate Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
  • Licensed Professional Counselor
  • Level 2 Certification in Gottman Method Couples Therapy
  • B.A. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago
  • M.A. in Counseling Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology with a concentration on Marriage and Family Therapy (Expected 2022)
  • Member of the American Counseling Association
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)
  • Member of International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors

Hi, I’m Andréa Brice!

Associate Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

she/her/hers

My journey as a therapist began by recognizing that I’m a great listener… and I secretly wanted to tell people what to do with their life. While my goal is not to tell you how to live, I will support you in making decisions that work best for you to live a fulfilled life. Do you feel burdened by the weight of your experiences? Are you unsure of what your needs are, and think support could be helpful? Different seasons in life may cause you to feel stuck and unsure of the next best step. From a systemic and collaborative lens, I have developed a culturally sensitive approach and can help you if you’re faced with racism, classism, sexism, colorism, and more.

Understanding your environmental influences may provide valuable insight towards how you show up as a significant other, friend, coworker, family member, etc. As you face your challenges, my goal is to meet you where you are, and hold you accountable for your actions. I believe it is beneficial for you to become whole before finding fulfillment in the world around you. I look forward to hearing from you and supporting you on your journey.

Areas of Specialty:

Effective communication/conflict resolution
Infidelity
Interracial relationships
Familial trauma

Call me at 312.625.6344.

Credentials & Qualifications

  • Associate Marriage and Family Therapist
  • M.A. in Couple and Family Therapy from Adler University
  • B.S. in Community Health with a concentration in Rehabilitation from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Delta Kappa Member-International Honor Society for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)

Hi, I’m Leigh Ann!

PhD, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

she/her/hers

It’s a privilege to work with clients on the things that matter to them the most. Our dreams, our goals and our closest relationships, these are at the core of who we are and our path toward creating a life that is happy, satisfying and complete. All of us can benefit from the support and encouragement of a therapist who listens and helps to understand so that we can build the lives and relationships we hope for. As a therapist, my goal is to support you in a caring way. I do this by creating a non-judgmental and accepting space where individuals and couples can work through what is stopping them and move forward confidently.

Whether the focus is on dating and finding a new relationship, building the connection, communication and intimacy in your current relationship or support in navigating life changes, I look forward to working with you.

Areas of Specialty:

Sex therapy
Couples therapy
Parenting
Intimacy
LGBTQ+ Affirming

Call me at 312.380.6142.

Credentials & Qualifications

      • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
      • Adjunct Professor, Antioch University
      • AAMFT Approved Supervisor
      • Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Public Administration), Miami University
      • Master of Social Work, Loyola University of Chicago
      • Ph.D. Couple and Family Therapy, Adler University
      • Member of the National Association of Social Workers
      • Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the Illinois Affiliation of Marriage and Family Therapists
      • Member of World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)
      • Member of American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists
      • Emotionally Focused Therapy Externship
      • Currently training for Level 1 Certification in Gottman Method Couples Therapy
      • Certified facilitator, Open Studio Process, a process art experience

Hi, I’m Pamela Merino

LSW

she/her/Ella

We all deserve healthy and meaningful connections, but some of us may need just a few more tools to navigate the complex world of affective relationships. I work through a compassionate, culturally responsive, trauma-informed, and evidence-based therapy lens. I have experience working with individuals and couples of all ages and backgrounds with an emphasis on serving the Latin@ and Spanish-speaking community.

I have an empathetic and direct approach to therapy. I believe that, with a little non-judgmental support, everyone is capable of growth and change. My approach to therapy is to focus on co-creating a trusting, safe and empowered experience that integrates culture, race, ethnic identity, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and immigration experiences.

Creating a safe, comfortable, and grounded space is an essential goal of mine, as it will allow you to identify your needs and areas of improvement, with the intention of achieving your relationship goals. I believe that a healthy dose of humor can go a long way in the therapy room.

Areas of Specialty:

Trauma
Multi-cultural (especially with Latin@ communities & Spanish-speakers)
Breakups
High conflict

Call me at 312.469.0699

Credentials & Qualifications

  • Certified Trauma Professional (CTP), Evergreen certifications
  • Effective and inclusive sex education certification, Estudios Superiores Zaragaza UNAM
  • Latino Cultural Competency Certificate, Arizona State Univesity
  • M.A Social Work, Arizona State University
  • M.A and B.A Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northern Arizona University

Hi, I’m Jess Benge

MA, Not Your Average Clinical Intern*

she/her

First and foremost, I believe that the client-therapist connection is essential. I encourage clients to find the right fit for them. We will collaborate on the structure and trajectory of your time in therapy so that this process can be tailored to you.

I am proof that partnerships can be a powerful source of healing and transformation. As a realistic romanticist, I recognize the beauty in relationships while embracing the heartbreak that can sometimes accompany them. My work with you is intended to help bridge the gap between how things are and how you want them to be. We are all works in progress.

I am particularly drawn towards helping clients identify and understand their relationship patterns, as this awareness is often the first step towards positive change. By building insight around emotions, individuals & couples can navigate their challenges and develop healthier ways of communicating. This is often accomplished through increasing intimacy within the self and relationships, as this tends to be the key to healing emotional scars. Too often, people operate on auto-pilot because our society requires a high level of autonomy. This constant busy-ness impacts the functioning of your brain and central nervous system. Therefore, my therapy techniques are rooted in science-based models that have proven to be efficient and effective in helping individuals and couples cope with daily life. It is thrilling to watch my clients learn to love the parts of themselves that they’ve pushed away for too long. This often surfaces as symptoms of depression or a need to control the environment.

I would be honored to help you increase and curate your authenticity with yourself and with your loved ones.

*Note from Anita: Jessica comes to us with 250 hours of providing therapy to clients, when commonly interns start with zero clinical experience. Because we are a research-based practice, meaning we provide information and skills that are proven by research to be effective, all of our therapists are proactive in sessions. Jessica will provide you with the education and tools you need to achieve your goals. She meets with me weekly to review cases and also receives weekly supervision at NW Purdue from her professors, and so many highly effective therapists will be involved in helping you succeed in therapy.

Areas of Specialty:

Conflict Communication
Kink Friendly/Affirming
Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Men’s Issues

Call me at 312.219.3399

Credentials & Qualifications

  • Brainspotting – Level 2 Certification
  • Specialized education and research in kink and paraphilic interests
  • Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Member of American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists
  • M.A. in Couple and Family Therapy from Purdue University – Northwest (Expected 2024)
  • M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Texas A&M – Kingsville
  • B.S. in Psychology from Ball State University

Hi, I’m Reina Ashley

Clinical Intern

She/Her/Hers

I love working with clients to help them with their everyday life. The relationships and connections that have been built throughout our lives are the foundation of our identity. I will help you strengthen these bonds—or help you form new ones—so you can be your most authentic self and lead a satisfying life.

I believe in fostering a safe and non-judgmental space so that conversations can be as comfortable as possible. I believe in exploring our identities and relationships so that we can gain further understanding. I truly enjoy working collaboratively with clients to find what works for them and what gives them the best results. As your therapist, I will be your biggest supporter and will always advocate for your needs. I look forward to working with you.

Areas of Specialty:

Trauma
Conflict resolution
LGBTQ+
Multicultural
Teenagers and young adults
Family conflicts

Call me at 312.772.5602

Credentials & Qualifications

  • M.A. in Counseling Psychology (expected graduation in 2025) from The Chicago School
  • M.S. in Education with an emphasis in sports and exercise psychology from Northern Illinois University
  • B.S. in Psychology with a minor in sociology from Southern Illinois University

Contact Relationship Reality 312

Book an appointment below. To ensure you will work with the best therapist for you, please let us know the following: a little bit about what you want help with, such as communication, trust, disconnection, dating, etc.; your general availability; and if you are planning on using insurance. Please leave your phone number as well as your email address as sometimes our email goes to spam. Your therapist will respond within 24 hours. Thank you and we look forward to working with you. 

We are both in-person and virtual sessions and will check your benefits for coverage.

312.219.3399

333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1010, Chicago, IL 60601