By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe
Carey Carlock believes she was born to be a therapist. “I believe in recovery and healing and I’ve always been a good listener,” she says. Now after working in mental health for more than 25 years, Carey is excited to be opening the new flagship office of Mosaic Counseling & Wellness at 215 Harrison Street in the Oak Park Arts District.
Carey grew up in Indianapolis, graduated from Purdue University where she studied psychology and law and then moved to Chicago where she worked at R.J. Grunts in Lincoln Park. “I learned so much working in the service industry. I loved it. I still have dreams about waitressing,” she says. Graduate school at Boston College brought her to the East Coast, but she’s a “Midwesterner at heart” and she and her husband decided to raise their three children here.
Carey and her family moved to Oak Park in 2008, the same year that she started working at Riveredge Hospital, the largest psychiatric hospital in Illinois. She resigned as CEO in 2021 to co-found Mosaic with her business partner Jeff Bergren. “I was at Riveredge for thirteen years and I loved our mission of serving the underserved. But more and more people would say to me ‘You work at a psychiatric hospital, you’re on the board of NAMI, you must know a therapist that I can get my kid into.’ But my Rolodex was woefully thin. And that was very troubling to me.”
She felt called to focus on quality integrated therapy in her own community. “The calling kept pulling me—psychiatry and therapy within one team; creative arts therapy and traditional talk therapy within one team.” That call led her to be the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mosaic Counseling & Wellness. “Our mission was to build something in our community that reflected our community. We have four BIPOC clinicians, two LGBTQ clinicians, three art therapists, a dance/movement therapist, and a yoga instructor therapist.” For Carey, a key to integrated therapy is psychiatry and therapy under the same roof with providers that will “actually talk with each other.”
To help make mental health care accessible and affordable, Mosaic is in-network with several insurance companies including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, and Medicare. “If we are not in network, then I try to refer people to places that will take their insurance. And I always say, ‘If you don’t get a callback, then call me back and we will troubleshoot together.’”
Mosaic currently employs fifteen clinicians, eight of whom are full-time. Carey is proud that they have availability and can get people in right away. “I am currently hiring so even if one therapist’s schedule fills up, then I’ll bring someone else in. We can see you next week,” she says. They provide care for all ages and can treat a variety of conditions. The prescriber on staff, a psychiatrically-trained advanced practice registered nurse, does psychiatric evaluations and medication management.
When Carey and Jeff started looking for space, they thought they would move into an existing office suite. “When we first saw the building on Harrison, it was available for lease or for sale. We ultimately decided to get a small business loan and purchase the building. So we were suddenly faced with having to create a space that would appeal to our clients and our staff and our community.”
The building was built in the 1940s and used to be a grocery store. It has a beautiful bowstring truss ceiling that they wanted to highlight while still ensuring privacy for clients. The solution was a “doughnut” layout that has enclosed therapy offices and an open foyer and hallway. Light fixtures that also illuminate up draw attention to the ceiling. “We wanted to create a space that felt earthy and soothing and natural. It’s a nice juxtaposition to the industrial design of the building.”
And while being in the Arts District might not seem like a natural fit, it is for Carey. “I have an unbridled bias toward the creative arts. I worked with dance/movement therapists before it was in fashion because I believe in the mind-body connection. I think that our services are a complement to the area. We hope to get to know some of the artists here and learn how to support, lift up, and celebrate our shared community. Because that’s what integration is.”
Mosaic Counseling & Wellness will open its new location at 215 Harrison Street in mid-September. To learn more or to make an appointment, call 708-628-8000 or visit www.mosaiccare.com.