Chicago Therapist: Daniel Sullivan
What attracted you to the counseling field?
As a child, and well into adulthood, I often found that I assessed myself through perceptions and expectations of others. Much has transpired in my personal journey, and I developed a healthy separation between personal, community, and familial identities. Personal exploration of my self-narrative and the possibilities of re-writing my narrative had a significant impact on my self-identity and self-esteem has led to greater self-awareness. Throughout this journey, I have gained a sense of self, which has enabled me to become a healthy, positive, confident individual.
Much like my own unique story, each individual who walks in to my office has their own distinctive stories, not one story told is the same. Individual, community and familial identities emerge and affect the life narrative one adopts. As each individual relates their personal story and begin to discover that, they have the power to re-write their present life narrative a healthier, happier individual emerges. Thus, I never get bored working with clients as each client is vastly different and therefore each session brings about a new experience for both the client and me.
What do you consider your specialties?
While I enjoy and have worked with a variety of clients from unique backgrounds, I do have several areas in which I specialize. Extensive work with men who have sex with men, body dysmorphia, individuals infected and affected with HIV/AIDS, addictions including but not limited to substance abuse and sexual addictions, sex therapy and relationship counseling both couples and polyamorous relationships. Additionally, I have done extensive work with individuals recovering from spiritual abuse.
What did you do prior to working as a therapist?
My work history prior to entering into the field of counseling is quite well rounded. I have a degree in practical theology with a specific focus on music ministry. My ministerial experience availed me the opportunity to travel as well as perform across the country and abroad. While I do minimal work in the area of spirituality, I am officially an ordained minister and thus can perform same-sex marriages as well as conduct memorials.
After work in the ministerial field for several years, I entered into the field of business, working specifically in the areas of insurance, as well as business banking and finance.
A lifelong interest in fitness led to development of my own personal fitness and nutritional training business, which was how I put myself through school. Throw in some bartending and retail sales and management and you have my unique employment history. Yet it is the uniqueness, which I believe, gives me an empathetic perspective for each individual who walks into my office.
What do you see as one of the gifts of counseling?
As all of my clients would tell you, I am not your typical therapist. I am genuine with my clients, thus the person they may meet on the streets of Chicago. Thus, in my work with my clients, each individual knows that I am, a no holds barred cut-to-the-chase; call it as I see it individual who believes in ownership of one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
The aforementioned genuineness enables my clients to feel comfortable opening up and immediately beginning the process of their own self-discovery process.
Who might benefit from counseling?
Having experienced both sides of counseling, I believe anyone be it individual, couple or polyamorous-oriented relationship person can benefit from counseling. The two stipulations are a readiness for change and willingness to do the work necessary for change.
What is your favorite self-improvement activity to give to clients?
My favorite “homework assignment” is one I call the “Mirror” Clients are asked to go alone into a room with a mirror, take 15 minutes of locked away solitude with no interruption (this includes cell phones and tablets) and really look at themselves. As a person is looking at himself or herself, they are to write on a piece of paper words, which describe what they see. This can be physically, emotionally, or psychologically.
After the assignment is completed, it is put into a sealed envelope and not looked at until our next session. The discussions, which ensue after the assignment, are amazing.