Get to Know Julie
Julie Gruca, LPC
Hi there, my name is Julie! I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Illinois. I help folks find ways to untangle from the chaos of living with anxiety and depression. I most enjoy partnering with young adults and adults. Together we take what feels unmanageable, and make it manageable. Through a focus on patience, support, and action, I empower people to uncover new ways of conquering old problems. I incorporate several therapeutic interventions and modalities (CBT, DBT, Solution Focused, and Exposure and Response Prevention to name a few) during our therapy sessions to help you meet your goals. Life does not have to be lived in the past, weighed down by fear and shame. Together we will clear a path to a bright future, one in which you will feel proud.
How I Help
Taking the first step to start therapy can be a big one, so it can be helpful to know what to expect. I think of myself as a collaborator and supporter with clients. I am gentle, yet direct with my feedback. My approach to therapy is eclectic and conversational. This means that I incorporate several therapy modalities into our work, and weave processing and structured approaches (CBT, DBT, ERP) together. I am passionate about creating spaces free of judgment, where you feel like you can express yourself without restraint. Everyone possesses their own strengths, and those will come in handy as we navigate your goals for therapy.
Areas of Focus
Let’s talk about what you can expect in our sessions. In our first couple of meetings, I’ll ask a lot of questions to get to know you and to understand what brings you to therapy. Together, we’ll identify goals to work on and explore strategies that I think might be helpful. I view therapy as a collaboration, so I’ll ask for feedback from you throughout the process to see what feels like it’s going well and when to try new strategies. I view people through an intersectional lens and am explicitly antiracist and LGBTQIA+ affirming in my therapeutic practice. In addition to working with people who are struggling with OCD, I also provide therapy for people who experience difficulties with anxiety, social phobias and social anxiety, depression, life changes and life transitions, and relational issues.
Do you feel as if you are controlled by your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors? Those obsessive thoughts that swirl around in your head and drive your life have become too much. You don’t feel like you are making your own decisions anymore. You are stressed out and overwhelmed. Everything you do to try and be in control of your anxiety isn’t working, the intrusive and unwanted thoughts just keep coming. OCD can be challenging and debilitating, but it doesn’t have to be. Together we will work to identify the root causes of your obsessions and compulsions. We will explore how your fears and anxieties are impacting your day to day life. We will develop a plan to tackle the obsessions and compulsions head on by challenging and loosening up from your thoughts and overcoming urges. I will incorporate various techniques to help you meet your goals. One of these is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). ERP is a therapy technique that helps you confront your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors in a safe and controlled way. During ERP, we'll work together to gradually expose you to situations or stimuli that trigger your OCD, and we'll do this in a step-by-step way that helps you feel more in control and less anxious. Confronting the worries, fears, and underlying situations head on may seem unbearable at first, but we will take therapy one step at a time and you will notice that tolerating your anxious thoughts and feelings becomes easier. Through our work together, you'll learn to break free from the cycle of OCD and regain your sense of control and well-being and start living the life that you want to live.
It is another day, your alarm is blaring in your ear telling you to get up, and you press snooze, roll over, and want to avoid whatever mundane things will fill this day. Depression makes you feel like you're stuck in a never-ending rut. Your depression is weighing you down. Your morning showers and skincare routine, that you looked forward to, because that serum made your face glow, is impossible. The thought of feeling water on your body is too much. As each day slowly ticks by, you begin to notice that your rhythm falls off-track. You don’t feel rested from sleep, food doesn’t really taste good anymore, you are just going through the motions. You feel lost - you have lost yourself - and nothing feels as good as it used to. You are not alone. I understand how overwhelming and isolating depression feels and It’s time to reclaim your life and reconnect to what matters to you. No one’s experience of depression is exactly the same. I provide a safe and supportive therapy space and tailor our therapy to meet you where you are. Together, we will explore your emotions, learn new coping skills, and rediscover your sense of purpose. Together we will uncover ways to help you manage what feels overwhelming and to start living a meaningful life. You will get back on track and start living a more meaningful, fulfilling life - the one where you feel like yourself again.
More often than you would like to admit, the thought “"I just can’t, everything will be ruined if I say anything” or maybe it is “I am completely losing myself in this relationship” runs through your head. You feel like you know what you want to say to others - about your feelings, your thoughts, your wants, your needs… but you just can’t get the words out. Something inside of you screams that you will destroy everything - or maybe that you are not worthy enough. So, you listen to the voice, and shrink back inside. You have heard the word “boundaries” more than you want to admit. But how, you ask yourself, how do you set and maintain boundaries? How do I possibly advocate for myself? Relationships are an enriching part of life and communication is at the core of all healthy relationships. Relationship and communication struggles occur not only in romantic relationships, but with friends, family, coworkers, bosses, and even with waitstaff. It's not always easy to communicate effectively, especially when we are dealing with stressful situations or overwhelming emotions. Therapy is a powerful space to explore relationship issues. In individual therapy for relational and communication issues, we will work together to identify the root causes of your communication problems and develop effective strategies for handling difficult conversations, advocating for yourself, dealing with conflict, or how to protect yourself from invalidating situations. We will clarify and affirm your own relationship needs and cultivate effective ways to express them to others, without damaging your connection. Together we will dive into the challenges that you are experiencing in your relationships and communication patterns. We will build on your existing strengths, pinpoint areas for you to strengthen, and help you create lasting connections with people you care about!
A Bit About Me
I’m an avid table-top gamer, and love gathering with friends for a night of boardgames (and silliness). I believe that creative expression can be a powerful act and seek it out in its various mediums, but am partial to painting, drawing, and ceramics. As a long-time vegan, I am passionate about animal welfare and sampling all of the delicious animal-friendly food that my city has to offer. I also love to curl up with a good book and my cat Spooky.
M.A. in Clinical Mental
B.A. in Psychology
Adler University, Chicago, IL
DePaul University, Chicago, IL