Sandra has an incredibly warm, compassionate, and non-judgemental presence that creates safe and inviting working relationships. She is intelligent and knowledgeable in the field, and has an intuitive and kind-hearted approach. Sandra is particularly talented at providing sensitive yet honest and direct feedback, enabling her clients to make meaningful insights and helpful movement in their lives.

Lisa L., Patient
  • 10 years combined academic, professional and clinical experience.
  • Experience with mood disorders, trauma and PTSD, life transitions, substance use, domestic violence, relationship issues and eating disorders.
  • Passionate about working with members of the LGBTQ community, men, couples, individuals in non-traditional relationships and individuals struggling with self-esteem, identity and body image issues.
  • Utilizes psychodynamic approach and drawing from ACT, DBT, CBT and Mindfulness Techniques as appropriate.

Fun fact about Sandra, she was born and raised in Germany and she enjoys traveling and experiencing different cultures. She also loves running, eating, reading, and practicing meditation.

Sandra Buecker Spears, MSW, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Counselor

“It is when we take care of our mind and body that we are able to enjoy true happiness.”

At Next Step Counseling, Sandra strives to create a warm and welcoming environment for clients and believes that therapy increases awareness about the impact we have on our own well-being and happiness. Her relationship with her client’s is most important to Sandra and she values honest feedback.

Sandra is a genuine and kind person who enjoys listening and helping clients become the best version of themselves. Her strength lines in being able to provide direct feedback but with warmth and kindness.

Sandra received a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 2011 and a Masters Degree in Social Work with a concentration in mental health from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 2014. Collectively, through her experience working for non-profits and in private practice, Sandra has highly developed clinical skills to support clients working through depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, relationship struggles, and eating disorders. Sandra is also experienced working with the LGBTQ community — especially relationships, domestic violence concerns, or those questioning their sexual identity.

While in graduate school, Sandra joined Courage Connection, a domestic violence shelter in Champaign, where she gained experience working with survivors of domestic violence, supporting clients to create new meaning in their lives by healing and redefining who they are.

After moving to Chicago, Sandra joined Heartland Alliance working with veterans. Here, Sandra excelled working with men and, to this day, loves working with males going through difficult life transitions who may lack support as well as those who may struggle with substance use. Following her time at Heartland Alliance, Sandra ensured that people with eating disorders received treatments that best suited their needs at the Eating Recovery Center.

In private practice settings, Sandra has experience working with grief and loss, strengthening client’s self-worth and self-esteem, improving communication skills, substance recovery issues as well as working with both individuals and couples in traditional and non-traditional relationships.

Working from a psychodynamic approach, Sandra also includes Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfulness to aid the therapeutic process.

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