Galen H. Carter, LSW
Concerned Significant Others Specialist
Hi, I'm Galen. I help people heal from betrayal trauma.
I am passionate about working with folks who feel like they are stuck in a cycle of shame, feelings of failure, and anxiety. Betrayal hurts. It hijacks our mind, body, and spirit. Healing requires a calm and judgment-free space that validates the reality of your experiences. Whether you were let down by a person, like a friend, family member, or significant other - or an institution (like where you work, where you go to school or a specific community), counseling can help you find a healing path forward.
Betrayal trauma happens when a person or institution you rely on violates your trust and harms your well-being. You might feel like you are pulled in opposite directions, facing impossible choices. If you have been disappointed by someone or an institution, you may be experiencing disrupted sleep, fearfulness, and hypervigilance - scanning your surroundings for threats. You may ruminate about the past while trying to make sense of the present. The future may feel overwhelming. It makes sense if you feel like you’re struggling in isolation right now.
You can create peace and emotional safety in your life again. We will start with where you’re at and develop an understanding of where you want to go. Through careful listening and attention to your immediate concerns, I will ensure you receive useful feedback and guidance. I am here to help you find workable, reasonable, strategies through feedback, and guidance. You can expect an environment that is open, honest, and accepting so that we can trust each other and collaborate fruitfully.
On Being a Counselor
As a counselor, I am inspired by the resilience of my clients. If you have been disappointed by someone again and again, you may notice yourself moving between hyper-responsibility and feeling emotionally shut down. These survival coping strategies can get you through the day, while leading to exhaustion.
The key to change is approaching change as a journey rather than a destination. Put another way: change is growth. I am committed to meeting you in an open and accepting safe space where we can work together.
In your work with me, you can expect an active and dynamic dialogue. Creating the space for the change we want requires caring, as well as willingness to lean into ambiguity. You are the expert on your experience. You deserve to be heard, understood, and accepted. I'm here to provide feedback and guidance where needed.
I’ve always loved stories. Before I was a counselor, I was an aspiring short story writer. In one of my journalism class assignments, I interviewed students at my university who were experiencing housing discrimination. They told me stories of internalized shame, and also of resilience. Each interview revealed to me how kindness and listening can break the cycle of shame.
As someone who was identified in grade school as a ‘gifted child,’ my achievements never seemed to match the impossibly high expectations I set for myself. Through intentional self-work and connecting with a rich social support network, I discovered the power of self-compassion. In rewriting my own story, I began to see how others could find their own resilience. My work helping others define their own story continues to deepen my appreciation for the importance of restoring emotional safety.
We live in a world of competing drives and systemic pressures that can make things feel like they’re “all or nothing.” As such, it is hard for us to grow in healthy ways on our own - especially when our trust has been betrayed. When it felt like there wasn’t enough of this in the world, I decided to get trained so I could be that change.
People are complex and capable of transformational change. Growing, and becoming, is painful and uncomfortable at times. My past experience in working with people who were betrayed by our legal, educational, and healthcare institutions helps me appreciate how difficult it can be to navigate our way through difficulties and challenges further complicated by systemic racism and punitive systems.
Let's get you to a place you want to be. Reach out to schedule your first appointment. When you call our scheduling line, our Intake Coordinator can answer any questions you might have. To schedule your first appointment, call (312) 715-8234, or email [email protected] to schedule your first appointment. I'm here for you.
More About Galen
Key Philosophical Beliefs
- Healing comes through changing the stories we tell ourselves.
- The narrative about us comes from the context we were raised in and the society that surrounds us.
- The societal narrative is inherently harmful because it doesn’t fit who we are as individuals.
- We deserve to thrive in life in our own unique way.
- We deserve to define our own narrative/story.
- Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from Grand Valley State University
- Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Motivational Interviewing
- Interpersonal Therapy
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCT)
- Culturally Sensitive Therapy
- Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)
- Strength-Based Therapy
Specializations and Experience
- Concerned Significant Others
- Anxiety management and recovery
- Grief and Loss Counseling
- LGBT+ counseling
- Polyamory or Nontraditional Relationships
Galen as a Person
I was born in Iowa and grew up in Pennsylvania and Michigan. I came to Chicago because I wanted to live somewhere a little more exciting than the quiet towns I’m from. I love anything that has a story. I’m a voracious reader, particularly with science fiction and fantasy. In my free time, I also enjoy playing video games, board games, and tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. Part of my self care is enjoying my husband’s many kitchen creations or exploring Chicago with him