What is the Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center?

Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center (PARC) is a specialized outpatient treatment center in Chicago where trained anxiety psychologists provide state-of-the-art, comprehensive treatment for anxiety and related disorders. We customize our services for adults, adolescents and children. While our main office is in Chicago, we also provide distance-learning options via Skype for those living outside our immediate area.

We have helped thousands of people conquer anxiety disorders and move on with their lives

Founded more than 20 years ago, PARC grew from a need to offer short-term, effective treatment for people in the Chicago area whose lives were disrupted by an anxiety disorder. We provide both individual and small group therapy.

Small Group Treatment

  • Panic Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety
  • Public Speaking Forum (Stage Fright)
  • Fear of Flying
  • Phasing Down Anxiety Medications
  • Dealing More Effectively with Anxious Children

Recognizing the relationship between anxiety and other psychological conditions, our multidisciplinary specialists and consultants also treat depression, relationship difficulties, loss and bereavement, marriage and family problems, life after divorce, and much more.

Community Education

The PARC staff also works to educate the community, helping reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. We host community seminars designed to inform the public about anxiety disorders, participate in local television and radio shows, and write articles in local and national publications. We also offer periodic free community anxiety screenings, as well as professional presentations.

Meet Our Team

Mark Pfeffer

Mark Pfeffer

PARC Director

Nina Riccardi

Group Therapist

Jake Frelick

Staff Trainer

Tom Herman

Group Therapist
Megan Helm

Megan Helm

Group Therapist
Marko Mihailovic

Marko Mihailovic

Program Associate
Erin Friedlieb

Erin Friedlieb

Group Facilitator

Stephen Byer

Program Associate
Mark Pfeffer, Director at Panic Anxiety Recovery Treatment Center Chicago

Mark Pfeffer, LMFT – Director

Mark Pfeffer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and anxiety specialist in Illinois and California. He is Director of the Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center in Chicago. PARC is a specialized outpatient program that provides comprehensive treatment for anxiety and related disorders. Mark received his Masters degree in Psychology from Boston University with additional post-graduate work at UCLA. He also served as the Commissioner of Social Services for the City of Santa Monica and is an active clinical member of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) and International OCD Foundation (IOCDF).

Mark has appeared on multiple episodes of the A&E’s Emmy® nominated show, Hoarders, the Discovery Channel, and the National Geographic Channel. He has been featured and quoted regarding mental health issues in various media outlets including: ABC7 Chicago; CBS2 Chicago; NBC; CLTV Chicago; Chicago Tribune; Pioneer Press, WGCI-FM and Home & Garden magazine. He has also authored numerous publications, and was a recipient of the 2002 “Golden Bell” award from the Mental Health Association of Illinois for an article he co-authored on Panic Disorder.

Mark Pfeffer

Mark Pfeffer, LMFT – Director

Mark Pfeffer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in Illinois and California. He is Director of the Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center in Chicago. PARC is a specialized outpatient program that provides comprehensive treatment for anxiety and related disorders. Mark received his Masters degree in Psychology from Boston University with additional post-graduate work at UCLA. He also served as the Commissioner of Social Services for the City of Santa Monica and is an active clinical member of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) and International OCD Foundation (IOCDF).

Mark has appeared on multiple episodes of the A&E’s Emmy® nominated show, Hoarders, the Discovery Channel, and the National Geographic Channel. He has been featured and quoted regarding mental health issues in various media outlets including: ABC7 Chicago; CBS2 Chicago; NBC; CLTV Chicago; Chicago Tribune; Pioneer Press, WGCI-FM and Home & Garden magazine. He has also authored numerous publications, and was a recipient of the 2002 “Golden Bell” award from the Mental Health Association of Illinois for an article he co-authored on Panic Disorder.

Becca Barish, LCSW – Program Coordinator

Becca Barish is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Illinois. She has a passion for teaching improvisation, both as an art form and as an effective therapeutic intervention. As Program Coordinator with the Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center, Becca co-facilitates “Improv for Anxiety” treatment groups, as well as works with clients who struggle with panic and anxiety on an individual basis. Becca received her Masters in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maryland with a BA in English and focus in Leadership Studies.

Becca is part of the Second City faculty, as an instructor for the A-E improv program. She also works as a facilitator for Second City Works. She is a graduate of the iO Training Center, as well as Second City Conservatory, and has studied improv at The Annoyance theater in Chicago, as well as The People’s Improv Theater in NYC. You can see her performing in Chicago as part of “Whirled News Tonight”, “The Armando Diaz Experience,” and “Casual Encounters” at iO theater, as well as “Yes Diggity” at The Playground. In addition to performing on stages throughout Chicago, she has appeared on SpikeTV, Starz, and VH-1.

In 2010, Becca began presenting workshops focusing on improvisation techniques and exercises to improve communication among students, educators, and business professionals. She was selected to present at The American College Personnel Association’s 2011 Convention in Baltimore, Maryland. She also uses improv techniques to train mental health professionals in developing innovative ways to work with clients.

Nina Riccardi, LCSW – Group Therapist

Nina Riccardi is the Director of Professional Development as well as a Therapist at Cathedral Counseling Center. She obtained her BA from Muhlenberg College; an MS from Boston University; and an MSW from Simmons College of Social Work.
Nina started her professional life as a publicist, and, upon completion of her MSW in 1993 began working as a medical social worker at area hospitals in Boston and Chicago. She currently works with individuals and couples, and is a member of Cathedral’s Dialectical Behavioral Therapy team.

Nina’s areas of expertise include the treatment of anxiety disorders, grief issues, women’s transitions, as well as adjustments to health crises. Through her work at the Panic and Anxiety Recovery Center, she is developing an interest in the use of improv in treating social anxiety. Nina also facilitates a Cancer Support Group for friends and family of cancer patients at Gilda’s Club in Chicago.

Nina Riccardi
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Jake Frelick, AM – Staff Trainer

Jake Frelick is the Arts, Leadership, and Health Manager at Alternatives Inc., a youth and family services agency in the Uptown community of Chicago. Since February 2014, Jake has worked as a Group Facilitator for the “Improv for Anxiety” treatment groups, where he combines his passion for improvisation with his therapeutic background.

Jake worked as the Manager of Marketing and Community Outreach for the Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center to promote the “Improv for Anxiety” program. Jake also provided group therapy for program participants.

He obtained his Masters in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, and he graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in English and a Minor in Classical Mythology.

In September 2014, Jake founded a group for Therapeutic Improv Professionals, and the group continues to meet monthly to discuss the field. Jake also serves on an Advisory Panel for the Chicago Arts Educator Forum (CAEF). He has facilitated numerous professional development workshops using improvisation in Maryland and Illinois.

Jake has improvised since 2005, and since moving to Chicago in 2012, he has graduated from the iO Training Center, studied at the Annoyance Theater, and he currently plays on a team at the Playground Theater.

Sarah Logsdon – Group Facilitator

Sarah Logsdon is a Master’s of Social Work student at Loyola University Chicago with an expected graduation date of May 2015. She is also pursuing the Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (CADC) certification, which is expected to be complete at the same time. She has a BFA in Theater Arts from the University of Mississippi. Sarah has began studying improv in Chicago in 2005 and has performed at iO Chicago since 2006. Favorite groups include Close Quarters, The Scene, and Revolver. Sarah has coached improv for several years at iO Chicago and she taught at the Chicago Improv Den in 2014. Sarah is also a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200). She completed the 200-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training at Bloom Yoga Studio in 2013.

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Tom Herman, MSW – Group Therapist

Tom Herman is an improviser and a staff therapist at Lifeworks Psychotherapy Center, where he works with individuals, couples, and groups. He also leads addiction recovery groups for adults in the Healing Connections Program at Peer Services. He has enjoyed working as a Group Facilitator in the “Improv for Anxiety” program treatment groups since October, 2014.

Tom is very interested in experiential learning, especially in the unique growth and learning offered by improvisation. He has worked with many corporate and non-profit clients on improvisation and creativity workshops, and is currently co-facilitating a Mindfulness through Improvisation group at Chicago Mindful Psychotherapy. He is collaborating with Skylight Counseling Center on developing an improvised live therapy training program for professionals, and has worked with the Chicago Center for Conflict Resolution on improvisation as a means for developing mediation skills. He teaches acting and improvisation at the Piven Theatre, where he is also a member of the Piven Improvisation Ensemble. He got his undergraduate degree at Brown University, and his M.S.W. at Loyola University Chicago.

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Megan Helm

Megan Helm, MA – Group Therapist

Megan Helm received her Masters degree from DePaul University in Counseling Psychology and is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in anxiety disorders, chemical dependency, compulsive behaviors, eating disorders, grief, and personality disorders. As a graduate of the improvisation and writing programs at Second City Chicago, she is thrilled to combine her passion for comedy and the arts with therapeutic practice. She currently co-facilitates therapy groups and the SpeakEasy group, which specializes in performance anxiety, with Panic Anxiety Recovery Center.

In addition, she is a therapist with WholeLife Counseling Group and is a counselor with Eating Recovery Center-Insight where she also created and leads the group Improvisation Therapy for Eating Disorders. Megan hopes to contribute to the research on the effectiveness of improvisation in therapeutic practice.

Marko Mihailovic, LCPC – Program Associate

Marko Mihailovic is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in Illinois. With more than ten (10) years of international experience as a psychotherapist, Marko has successfully helped hundreds of clients who suffered from a wide spectrum of dysfunctional emotions, such as anxiety, depression, anger, grief, denial, guilt, and shame. His goal is to help his clients to reach their full potential by overcoming symptoms that are inhibiting them from reaching it.

Marko sees the psychotherapy as an ongoing and collaborative process between the client and therapist. His mission is to teach his clients useful skills that will help them to deal with not only the current problems but also with future problems they might encounter.

Marko utilizes up-to-date approaches tied to cognitive-behavioral, motivational interviewing and mindfulness principles. These approaches are largely evidence-based which means that they are scientifically proven. He strives to tailor these approaches and their techniques to the clients’ unique needs.

Marko Mihailovic
Erin Friedlieb

Erin Friedlieb, MA – Group Facilitator

Erin Friedlieb received her Masters degree from Argosy University. During her studies, she specialized in anxiety disorders, more specifically Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Agoraphobia. Suffering from anxiety herself as well as seeing the effects anxiety had on her loved ones, she knew she had to do something about it. Erin founded Anxiety Interruption Inc. (formally Our Buddy System) to assist others suffering from anxiety disorders by providing a variety of resources to fit their needs.

During this time, she found her passion for helping others who suffer from anxiety. She decided to continue to pursue her Psy.D in Clinical Psychology, which she will be obtaining this spring. Erin is a co-facilitator for the monthly “SpeakEasy” program offered by the Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center. She hopes to bring her knowledge and experience to help others to this innovative program.

Stephen Byer, MA – Program Associate

Stephen Byer has worked as an educational consultant in the Chicagoland area for over a decade. He is the founder of Byer Tutoring, a company that specializes in preparing students for standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT, and GRE. He provides coaching for students who struggle with test-taking anxiety, as well as those with learning differences such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Dyslexia.

Stephen received a Bachelors in Psychology from DePaul University, and Masters in Psychology from National-Louis University. He is a graduate of Second City’s Improv A-E program, and has an interest in applying improv techniques to help students manage their test-taking anxiety.

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