Sarah Farris is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and is certified as a Specialist in Fitness Nutrition through ISSA. She began studying Psychology in 2000 as an undergraduate at Roanoke College, then earned a master’s degree in Bicultural and Bilingual Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She then pursued a career in Psychiatric research at the UT Health Science Center exploring impulsive behaviors and severe mental illness. During her time conducting a longitudinal research study, she received an additional master’s degree in Community Counseling to follow her interests in clinical work.
While in Graduate school, Sarah began to explore the connection of physical well-being with mental health, though her active lifestyle began as a child. Growing up in New Orleans, Sarah participated in equestrian sports and immediately recognized a therapeutic connection with horses and with being active. Sarah continues to benefit from a regular exercise routine in her own life and maintains her study of counseling theories exploring the link between lifestyle and mental health.
Sarah works with adults, though she has experience working with teens, families, university student athletes, and geriatric patients. Her background is in treating anxiety, stress management, life transitions and relationship issues. She primarily utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, integrating Mindfulness practices and nutrition education to focus on the unique therapeutic goals of her clients. She aims to create a goal-oriented, non-judgmental environment to enable clients to cope, grow, and make adjustments in their lives. Sarah’s interests include: communication and assertive training strategies, mood and anxiety disorders, Exposure and Response Prevention methods for OCD, Panic, Phobias and other Anxiety disorders, counseling needs for athletes, and understanding the influence of food and lifestyle on mental health.
In addition to the Chicago Mind and Body blog, Sarah is an Expert Topic Contributor for the Good Therapy website. You can read those entries here.
Sarah’s Food Philosophy
Nutrition science is relatively young and there have been a lot of changes in dietary recommendations just in the past few decades. The food industry is also a business, so it’s challenging to interpret which information is accurate and well-intentioned. Additionally, all bodies are different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Sarah has seen many struggle with body image, emotional eating and self-criticism as a result of external pressures. These are just some reasons why Sarah rejects diet culture.
Not all clients come to sessions to talk about their relationship with food, but if it is part of a counseling session, Sarah’s goal is to provide the basics on what nutrition information is available while shifting rigid thought patterns about food. By eliminating labels about food, body-image or shame, room can be made for self-acceptance while extinguishing triggers to binge or restrict. Mindful and intuitive eating and cognitive-behavioral strategies are often used to shift negative beliefs, connect to the body’s needs and replace with practices that better serve the individual.
Sarah’s Professional Memberships:
American Counseling Association (ACA)
International OCD Foundation (IOCDF)
Illinois Counseling Association (ICA)
Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA)