Dr. Susan Stern

I have always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind. Prior to going into psychiatry, I studied English at Yale University, where I became attuned to the mood fluctuations of generations of great authors. While I considered graduate study in English, my interest in medicine prevailed, and I entered Weill Cornell Medical College eager to learn how to treat patients with similar disorders. Psychiatry for me represented the perfect synthesis of medical science and a humanistic approach to the entire patient. After medical school, I entered my residency at Columbia, from which I graduated in 2002.

Since medical school and residency, I have been committed to patient care at the highest level. I have worked with a wide range of patients in private practice, community mental health and outpatient clinic settings. I am board-certified in Adult Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Also since 2002, I have been involved in the teaching of medical students, psychiatry residents, psychology interns, social workers, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. From 2002 to 2006 this teaching was done at Columbia, where I was a Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry and an Attending Psychiatrist at the Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic. My focus during this time was teaching trainees about psychiatric evaluations and psychopharmacology. I also maintained a thriving private practice in Manhattan and Westchester County.

In the summer of 2006, I left the New York area, where I had lived for the previous 12 years, and moved to Fairfield, Iowa in order to support my husband, who was expanding a business there. This turned out to be an opportunity for personal and professional growth. From 2007-2011, I served as a Chief Medical Officer at Life Solutions Behavioral Health in southeastern Iowa. I had extensive clinical and supervisory duties in the position, offering support, guidance and clinical information to patients and staff. I was struck by the broad range of patients that I treated during this time period. It was a valuable clinical experience that very much added to what I had learned previously. Ultimately, though, we decided to relocate to Chicago. My search for a practice opportunity there led me to Drs. John Gottlieb and Brett Plyler of Chicago Psychiatry Associates, with whom I have discovered common ground with our mutual interests in mood disorders, psychotherapy, teaching, and keeping up with the latest developments within the field of psychiatry.

While I have had experience in a broad range of psychiatric illnesses, I am particularly intrigued by mood disorders, especially bipolar disorder. I have had the opportunity to receive mentorship and training in this area, both during and after residency. I have come to understand that bipolar disorder is not a single illness, but that it occurs along a continuum. This can present difficulties in making a proper diagnosis and implementing appropriate treatment, and much of my consultation work has been in clarifying for patients what their diagnosis is – whether it be depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and/or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)—all of which can present with similar symptoms. I have a particular interest in mood disorders in women, which are complicated by significant hormonal fluctuations within the female life cycle.

After a thorough evaluation process, I select treatment based on both pharmacological and psychological approaches. I have utilized a broad range of therapeutic modalities, including insight-oriented, supportive and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). I truly believe that success in treatment results from an understanding of the underlying illness in the context of family and interpersonal relationships. My work with patients is collaborative with the goal of maximizing each person’s strengths, leading to functioning at his or her full potential. 

Download my Curriculum Vitae in PDF format.