A Tribute to Dr. Rebecca Bier

It is with unspeakable sadness that we share that our beloved colleague and friend, Dr. Rebecca Bier has died. You may view Dr. Bier’s obituary and funeral information here – Shalom Memorial Funeral Home . Please know that we at Gurnee Counseling Center are here to support you and your family as you process this tremendous loss. We know just how special she was.

Phil Kirschbaum, co-founder of Gurnee Counseling Center and colleague and friend of Dr. Bier’s for over 40 years, has written a tribute below:

Rebecca Bier, PsyD, LCSW

When she entered the waiting room to welcome one of her young clients, here’s what they could count on:

  • Regardless if they arrived at the counseling center with their parents, an older brother or sister, or a neighbor, Rebecca would come to the child first. With a smile so bright it could light up the room, she would lower herself so she could be eye to eye with her young client, and warmly offer a greeting like “I’m Dr. Bier.  I am so glad you’re here!”  
  • The young client knew right away, that it was she or he that was the most important and valued one in the room at that moment. For some kids, it might have been the first time an adult related to them at their level, and made them feel welcome, special and safe.  Kids often came to see Rebecca in counseling feeling afraid and broken. They frequently expected to be judged and blamed, as often happened in their life. You could see the tightness in their face, their clenched teeth and hunched shoulders begin to melt before your eyes as Rebecca entered their world. 
  • Only after making that crucial positive initial connection with the child, would Rebecca turn to the parent or other significant adult. “I’m also very glad to meet you! Will you please join us for the start of our session. It’s so important for your son/ daughter to know they’re safe here and that you’ll be here any time they need you. It can be very scary for a young person to come for their counseling session”. 
  • Even before their session began, the child knew they were in the right place, with the right person, and that help was on the way. 

For more than 4 decades, that scene replayed time and time again, with hundreds of children and their families. Then, on Saturday January 29, 2022, suddenly and unexpectedly, Dr. Rebecca Bier had a heart attack, that took her life.  

Now, her family, friends and colleagues, as well as countless clients and their families, are all mourning the loss of one of our most treasured people. Although we will no longer be able to schedule meetings and get together with Rebecca, her love, compassion, intelligence, accepting and playful way will always live on in our hearts and minds. 

We’ve been truly blessed to have Rebecca in our lives. The greatest way we can all honor her and the many gifts we’ve received from her, would be to reach out and be kind to others, in the ways she was kind to all of us. And, of course, be kind to ourself. Nothing would make her happier.  

Thoughts on One Year of Telehealth

We have now been providing telehealth to our clients for a full year now. I am incredibly proud of the resiliency of our team at Gurnee Counseling Center. Practically overnight we were home trying to navigate how to launch telehealth. There was so much uncertainty of how our clients would respond to telehealth and what headaches to expect from insurance companies. It was no surprise that our clients rose to the occasion and adapted with us. We have received overwhelming positive feedback of using telehealth to safely provide HIPAA compliant care to our clients this past year. We are incredibly grateful to continue seeing and supporting our clients. I commend our therapists for upholding high ethical and clinical standards while supporting our clients through a traumatic event affecting our own lives and families.

I want to extend a profound message of thankfulness to our office staff who have been the backbone of GCC this past year. They have continued to work from our office, answering phones, collecting mail, reassuring clients, spending hours on the phone with insurance companies, navigating new codes, and so much more. When clients call our office, they are often feeling vulnerable and scared at taking the leap for counseling. That bravery is met with a calm, collected, kind voice on the other end. We are proud to have a wonderful support team working in our office.

Our community has been impacted by significant loss – Loved ones lost to COVID-19; financial hardship; unemployment and lost income; moving weddings, baby showers, graduations, funerals to Zoom or missing them all together; cancelling vacations; loved ones suffering long-term side effects from COVID-19; restrictions on hugging and being close to our family and friends; missing school milestones and important sports events. The list of loss and grief from the past year is never ending. Please take some time to appreciate all you have gone through this past year. Extend grace to yourself. Acknowledge and give space to the emotions that come to mind as you reflect on this past year. What about this year do you want to take with you? What do you want to leave behind? 

Gurnee Counseling Center honors the over 535,000 lives lost (at time of posting) in America from COVID-19. Over 1,000 of those lives were lake county residents. That’s over 1,000 families and their friends in our community hurting and grieving through this time. We are committed to serving our community as we continue to do our part to end COVID-19. We will be making a donation to the Warren Township Food Pantry this month. Will you consider making a donation as well? Visit their website to view their drop off hours and for the most up to date items in need – 

Please visit the Lake County AllVax website to register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 




An Announcement


It is with great sadness that we share Gurnee Counseling Center’s co-founder, Nancy Flaherty, has died. Nancy founded GCC with her dear friend Phil Kirschbaum in 1986. Nancy was a vibrant soul, passionate and loving towards all her clients as well as the clinicians she worked alongside for decades. Her legacy will live on in the hundreds of families she has supported through the years.

If you feel moved to honor her, her family asks that donations be made to Warren Township Youth Services. Please make checks out to Warren Township Youth Services and include “Nancy F.” in the memo section; mail them to 100 S. Greenleaf St., Gurnee, IL 60031.

Phil Kirschbaum has written the following beautiful tribute:

I want to take just a few minutes to tell you some things about Nancy that I know, that you may not. 10 years at WTYS, 30 years together at GCC. 1978-2018. Co-created this amazing body of work. With Dan, she designed our building, making it beautiful, private, professional and homey. Some combination! We received 20 years of rave reviews of the building and our counseling center. She picked out every piece of furniture, artwork, wallpaper, rug. We met for three hours a week for 40 years. Discussed our work, our families, our hopes and dreams. 

Contract with the NFLPA 

Our annual walk around the lake to revise our plans for practice. 

We wrote fliers, designed posters and post-cards for marketing. 

She corrected my ramblings into something that could easily be consumed by the public 

We built great teams at GCC. 

She Supervised and mentored dozens of young therapists. 

She was an amazing resource for her church, St. Pats, providing countless hours of free consultation to the clergy and the parish schools’ principal and faculty. She provided comparable services for the faculty and students at Carmel High School. 

She was a constant force in her home town, working with schools, clergy, lawyers, law enforcement, civic and business groups. 

She was a constant presence at WTHS, providing help to students, faculty and administrators for decades. 

We contracted with counselors, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. 

She made me look good. 

She loved her marriage to Dan, she cherished Becky and Molly, and glowed endlessly about her sisters, brothers in law, nieces and nephews. 

Meanwhile, she raised two amazing kids, was a great wife, kept a great home, while building a business and being an invaluable resource in her community. No small accomplishment! 

Workshops we designed and facilitated over 40 years in our community: 

  1. keeping the romance alive 
  2. Making marriage work 
  3. Beginning Anew 
  4. Building a lasting friendship 
  5. Single parenting 
  6. Caring for ourselves during the holidays 
  7. Careers in counseling for High School students 
  8. Holiday stress management for educators 
  9. Yoga for our clients and trauma survivors 
  10. Self Care for medical professionals 
  11. Mindfulness 
  12. CISD 
  13. Feeling good about me 
  14. Stress Management 
  15. Organizational development for the Waukegan Public Library 
  16. Training for parents 
  17. Training for Librarians at Warren Newport Library
  18. Dealing with the angry public
  19. Dealing with Childrens problems
  20. Training for cops 
  21. Training for counselors 
  22. Anger Management 
  23. Improving communication for couples and families 
  24. Keeping the love alive 
  25. Staying together for the sake of the kids
  26. Secrets of a lasting Marriage
  27. Getting through Dark passages 
  28. Trainings for teachers and students at WTHS, LHS, GCHS, Stevenson, LFHS, NTHS, Antioch HS, Woodland, Viking
  29. Trainings for staff and volunteers at Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center 
  30. Stop, Breathe, Reflect and Choose 
  31. Keeping our kids safe 
  32. Balancing work and personal life 
  33. Understanding Adolescents 
  34. Not all families have a mom and dad 
  35. Managing the Rat-Race 
  36. Training volunteers at Zacharias sexual abuse center 
  37. Self-Esteem through Mindful Choices 
  38. Crisis Planning for schools 
  39. Adolescent Depression 
  40. Transition to High School 
  41. Parenting Teenagers 
  42. Grieving and Coping with the loss of a loved one 

Now we all have the enormous challenge of moving on. Moving on does not mean letting go of, or forgetting about Nancy. It does mean developing this new relationship with Nancy. We’ll all be consulting Nancy, leaning on her newfound wisdom and strength. And she’ll be leaning on us, to keep her story alive, and look out for her precious Dan, Becky and Molly. 


Anonymous Legacy, by John Schuler 

The day will come 

when your name is spoken 

for the last time, 

and all that is left 

is the silent, 

gently expanding ripple 

of your contribution. 

This will be the reason 

for your existence: 

the advancement 

of someone you touched – 

who touched 

someone else – 

who as a result 

made the critical difference 

in a time beyond 

your imagination. 

This is how it works, 

and it could not proceed 

without you. 

Telehealth Sessions during COVID-19

Gurnee Counseling Center is proud to offer its clients the option of Telehealth sessions during state and federal recommendations to stay home to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Connection is as important as ever.

Through your client portal on TheraNest, you can access secure, HIPAA compliant video and audio to connect with your therapist. You can always access your client portal by clicking the profile button on the top right of our home page.



Gurnee Women’s Business Association’s Women’s Clothing Drive

TONIGHT is Gurnee Women’s Business Association’s 12th Annual Clothing Drive located at Chocolate Sanctuary! Please stop by to drop off donations and enjoy shopping and networking with Gurnee’s women-owned businesses. All donations go to Love INC of Lake County and A Safe Place.
If you can’t make it tonight, feel free to drop off donations in the box marked in our lobby.


Warren Township Food Pantry Collection

Gurnee Counseling Center is collecting donations for Warren Township Food Pantry through Friday, December 14th. Donations can be placed in the box labeled in our lobby.

The food pantry will accept any non-perishable food, hygiene supplies, and paper goods. They have specifically asked for holiday foods such as mashed potato mix, boxed stuffing, canned gravy, canned yams, canned potatoes, canned green beans, canned cranberries, etc. They are also low on pancake mix, peanut butter, and paper towels.


If you or someone you know might benefit from the generosity of Warren Township Food Pantry, please visit for more information.

Are they Ready? 7 Ways to Prepare your Kids for College

1. Teach Daily Living Skills

Do you still do your teen’s laundry? Ever remind them to brush their teeth or take their medication? Daily living skills are important not only important for their own self care and health, but socially as well.  A dirty dorm room or poor hygiene could impact your college student’s ability to make friends. Ensure they can perform basic household tasks and have a system for remembering daily self care skills.

2. Talk about Money

Learning how to manage money is difficult for many college students.  First, you’ll want to address what expenses you will help your college student with.  Do they have a monthly or weekly budget for food, school supplies, or other necessities?  Will you be giving them any spending money to go out with friends or are they expected to have a part time job to cover these expenses? College students are often enticed with free gifts paired with credit card offers, while not fully explaining interest charges and fees.  Ensure they understand banking and how to build credit responsibly.

3. Establish a Communication Plan

How often to you expect to hear from your college student?  Work together to find the right combination of texts, calls or video chats that make you comfortable your child is doing ok, while also being careful to not be overbearing.  Let them initiate as they’ll still be getting used to their new schedule and balancing classes, homework and meeting new people.

4. Set Academic Goals

Have a realistic conversation regarding what types of grades you expect from your college student.  Take into consideration that they may need a little bit of time to learn the difference between homework expectations and exams in college vs. high school. This doesn’t mean though that failing grades 1st semester is part of a “learning curve.”  If they start struggling academically, talk about where they can get some additional help whether it come from individual meetings with teaching assistants or tutoring centers on campus.

5. Talk about Safety

Whether you talk about walking home alone after a night of studying, the dangers of binge drinking, or keeping dorm rooms locked you’ll want to review personal safety with your college student.  Some schools offer late night rides home or emergency call buttons placed around campus. Review what is available at your child’s school with them.

6. Encourage Socializing

Making friends can be difficult and scary the first few weeks of college.  Encourage your child to attend welcome activities, join clubs or intramural sports, and take advantage of various social opportunities on campus.

7. Make Mental Health a Priority

Mental health concerns should be taken seriously both before and after your child goes away to college.  If they already have a therapist, talk about whether they’ll continue counseling through skype sessions or phone calls, or if they should seek a new therapist on campus.  Consider setting up their first appointment before they even start their first week of classes. While you’d never want to anticipate your child experiencing symptoms like depression or anxiety, it’s important to talk about how they would cope with these emotions and remind them you’re only a phone call away if they need support.


The transition from high school to college can be a stressful one but talking about these areas will hopefully prepare you for this exciting journey your child is about to begin.  If there is anything the staff at Gurnee Counseling Center can to do help as you prepare your child for college, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 847-336-5621.


Calm Classroom at Lyon Magnet School in Waukegan

Lyon Magnet School is in their second school year using Calm Classroom mindfulness training for staff and students. Principal Amanda Pryce and Wellness Practitioner Ismael Rosa have led the way for staff, students, and parents to benefit from using breath control, stretching, and relaxation to improve focus and remain energized and engaged through the school day.  Ismael works with entire classrooms at a time as well as small groups of students. The Calm Classroom initiates offers alternatives to traditional disciplinary actions and offers students opportunities to calm themselves. They have a mindfulness recess club and use it as part of their Restorative Discipline Plan to help students decompress.

Lyon is implementing mindfulness practices daily.

Pictured below are Principal Amanda Pryce and Ismael Rosa in the Peace Room space at Lyon.

Happy holidays from GCC

Happy holidays from Gurnee Counseling Center!

We consider ourselves fortunate to work alongside so many wonderful people in our community. Thank you for trusting us and thank you for growing with us. We wish you a happy and peaceful 2018.

We will be closed December 24-26 and December 31-January 1 with limited holiday hours that week. We will return to normal office hours on Tuesday, January 2nd. Meditation and Tai Chi will not meet on January 2nd, but will resume on January 9th.

15 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief

Grief doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but understanding the grieving process will help you discover what was lost, what is left and what is possible. This hour-long program will explore 15 things you may not have known about the grieving process including grief’s impact on the mind and body, and how you may be at risk for post-traumatic stress syndrome.  Also examined will be tools for coping with grief, how to handle those pesky comments from well-intentioned friends, and warning signs that your grief has turned into something more serious.

Please join Licensed Professional Counselor Donna Oldenburg on Monday, October 30, 2017 from 7 – 8 pm. Please register by calling (847) 336-5621 x121. Cost of the event is $15 and can be paid when you arrive.

An ongoing grief support group with Donna Oldenburg, LPC, will begin Mondays in November. In this confidential, non-judgmental group setting, you’ll have the opportunity to explore your grief, learn tools for coping, and receive the support you need to move forward with your life.