The clinical team of Enliven Chicago is dedicated to providing exceptional care to our clients, guiding them through the challenges of life and love in order to squeeze as much fulfillment and joy out of this one precious life we all have to live.
When people learn of our professions, we are often asked, “How can you sit and listen to other people’s problems all day?!” The surprising answer is that we actually love what we do every day, feel blessed to earn a living inspiring and helping couples, and have more fun than any other work team we know.
We are fulfilled by our work, take great care of ourselves during our off days, practice what we preach, and arrive to the office fully ready to help our clients navigate through the challenges of life and love while creating positive momentum in their own lives.
Kimberly A. Sharky, LMFT, CST,
IN HER OWN WORDS:
“I was inspired to become a relationship therapist after witnessing the transformation of my parents’ marriage after 27 years together, which established in me a sense of faith in the ability two people have to renew and rebuild their love as they evolve. This is typically a gritty process that requires exceptional courage and fortitude, but I believe it is one that can also yield profound personal growth, a deeper sense of relationship satisfaction, and a feeling of aliveness that had previously been lost. On the topic of aliveness, I don’t know of any better way to celebrate the joy of being alive than through sexual connectedness and pleasure, an indulgent and beautiful way to express love or opportunity to create an adult playspace of sorts for exploring the many parts of ourselves and our partner.”
Kimberly A. Sharky is a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist, AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist and Certified Sex Therapy Supervisor with a dual specialization in relationship and sex therapy, holding a particularly strong interest in sexual revitalization, women’s sexual development and empowerment, infidelity recovery, desire discrepancy between partners, sexual healing and recovery following cancer or other medical crises, creating a sexually dynamic connection between couples when then demands of parenting have taken over, and overall “gourmet” sex that is truly enlivening. In addition to facilitating Intensives at the Enliven Chicago office, Ms. Sharky offers virtual one-on-one coaching for clients worldwide and is currently creating destination retreats in glorious locations for women and couples.
Ms. Sharky received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University and went on to earn her Master’s degree in marital and family therapy from the University of San Diego. While at USD, Ms. Sharky received her early training within the Collaborative Care Program at the University of California at San Diego, an innovative partnership between the Departments of Family Medicine and Psychiatry. This unique opportunity allowed her to gain experience being a part of a multidisciplinary team focused on integrating both physical and mental health, a setting that ultimately fostered an appreciation for the importance of sexual health to one’s overall wellbeing. Early in her career, Ms. Sharky was recruited by Dr. Laura Berman and provided couples and sex therapy at the now-shuttered Berman Center before establishing her own private practice in 2007. Five years later, Ms. Sharky’s dream of founding a collaborative group practice was realized with the launch of Enliven Couples Therapy in 2011.
Ms. Sharky is an active member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), American Association of Marital and Family Therapists (AAMFT), International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH), and the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR). Ms. Sharky’s work with couples has been featured in Modern Bride, Details, Shape, Conceive and Time Out Chicago magazines, the Chicago Tribune, as well as several online magazines.
Ms. Sharky believes that her role is to coach, empower, and encourage her clients to take ownership of the process as they strive to reach their potential and create the most fulfilling lives and relationships possible.
Amy E. Freier, LCPC, CST
IN HER OWN WORDS:
“I love the personal and cyclical nature of this work—that my passion inspires my clients, and that they in turn inspire me. What draws me into this thrilling work is the client who dares to seek a greater self or relationship, risks the comfort of ‘good enough,’ and aspires to cultivate a more profound sense of sexual and relational pleasure. I’m lucky to be able to create a space for my clients in which great change can occur. To witness the relational healing powers of a playful laugh, a cheeky sexual exchange, the creation of an erotic or emotional awareness—these reasons, among myriad more, provide me the rare gift of loving my work.
Amy Freier is an AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Senior Clinical Associate at Enliven Couples Therapy. Ms. Freier has years of extensive clinical experience in relationship and sex therapy, addressing common relational goals including enhancing the quality of sexual and intimate connection, improving empathy and emotional connection, and reducing the amount and impact of distressing relational interactions. Ms. Freier holds special interests in desire discrepancies in couples, male and female sexual difficulties, female pelvic pain dysfunction, premarital counseling, and the overall improvement and revitalization of intimacy and sexual satisfaction.
In addition to her clinical work, Ms. Freier serves as the lead facilitator of Enliven’s premarital intensive offering, Marital Preparation: Essentials for Creating a Vibrant Marriage, and offers traditional premarital counseling as a certified Prepare/Enrich facilitator. She also supplements her interest in female pelvic pain dysfunction by serving as the group leader of the only Pelvic Pain Support Group for women in the Chicago area.
Ms. Freier received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Santa Clara University, and her Masters degree in counseling psychology from Northwestern University. Prior to joining Enliven Couples Therapy in 2011, Ms. Freier worked as a family therapist at Jewish Child & Family Services, providing therapy to families, couples, and individuals. While serving this agency, Ms. Freier felt strongly drawn toward the often complex and exciting constitution of couples and relationship health. It was this passion and interest, paired with her exceptional clinical skills, that led Kimberly Sharky to recruit Ms. Freier to Enliven Couples Therapy. Ms. Freier has been personally trained by Kimberly Sharky, along with other leading specialists in the couples and sex therapy communities across the country.
Ms. Freier views the experience of therapy as a way for her clients to identify and challenge undesirable aspects of their lives and relationships, and encourages clients to use therapy as an opportunity to redesign and reimagine, with a creative eye, the kind of life and relationships they desire. She tends to the experiences of her clients as a guide to understanding and managing a number of relational issues such as poor communication, relational impasses, anxiety, and depression. She approaches therapy with a spirit of directness, humor, and warmth in order to help her clients improve communication, resolve conflicts and increase intimacy.
Amy M. Berrafato, LMFT
IN HER OWN WORDS:
“I remember an inspiring moment in college when I had the opportunity to interview my family members about what it takes to make a good marriage. Listening to their unique stories about love, commitment, hardship, and compromise was an enlightening experience for me as I realized how incredibly difficult and rewarding relationships can be. When I thought about how I could make the most impact in people’s lives, I was consistently drawn to my passion for working with couples to enhance relationship dynamics. I truly believe that connecting with others through healthy relationships is an essential ingredient to living your best life possible. I feel honored to be a part of this work.”
Amy Berrafato is a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist, specializing in addressing the intricacies of relationship issues with individuals and couples throughout various life stages. She is experienced in guiding clients toward improved communication and conflict resolution skills, enhanced understanding of relationship patterns, and a strengthened foundation of emotional resilience when navigating stress. She holds a particular interest in helping high-conflict couples with stabilization, as well as working with clients who have a strong connection to their religious or spiritual beliefs and are dedicated to weaving these values into their relationships.
Ms. Berrafato earned her Bachelor’s degree in psychology and Spanish from Saint Louis University and her Master’s degree in marital and family therapy from the University of San Diego. Her early training included clinical work at the Department of Veterans Affairs in San Diego with a focus in individual and couples therapy with military veterans and their families, followed by further experience working within mental health organizations providing a wide range of mental health services to adolescents, families, and adults of all ages.
She has treated a variety of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance abuse, and her clinical expertise includes pre-marital counseling, addressing family of origin dynamics, building emotional and physical intimacy, and understanding spirituality in the context of relationships. She is passionate about engaging with individuals and couples as they navigate relational stressors in different seasons of life, including dating, marital preparation, transition to parenthood, infertility, infidelity, divorce contemplation, retirement, and grief/loss.
In addition to her clinical work at Enliven, Ms. Berrafato serves as Adjunct Professor in the Marital and Family Therapy program at Adler University. She is fluent in Spanish, providing bilingual clinical services as needed, and has extensive experience treating clients of various cultural backgrounds, including interfaith, interracial, and bicultural individuals and couples. Ms. Berrafato is a Clinical Fellow of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and continues to expand her clinical range through trainings, clinical consultations, and ongoing commitment to personal and professional growth.
Recruited to Enliven for her exceptional clinical background and dedication to excellence in couples therapy, Ms. Berrafato has proved to be an invaluable addition to the team. Her therapeutic approach is one of genuine empathy, emotional attunement, and honest direction. Believing in clients as agents of change, her passion for clinical work inspires personal commitment to self-awareness, revitalized relationships, and hope for the future.
Amy K. Stewart, LMFT
IN HER OWN WORDS:
“I’m really driven to help people develop their best possible relationships- with themselves, others and their sexuality. I enjoy meeting clients where they are and working with them to develop and exceed their personal expectations of “what can be,” to open up the possibilities for authentic and positive relationships to sex, themselves, and others, based on what truly works for them.
Sex is so all-encompassing, an experience that incorporates thoughts, feelings and physical experience, that it never stops being a fascinating area in which to work. I am constantly inspired by the way small changes in perception, communication or behavior can have a huge impact on the way clients experience themselves and their relationships, and the willingness of clients to share their stories and allow someone into that world with them to help reach new potentials.”
Amy Stewart is a licensed Marital and Family Therapist and maintains a dual clinical specialization in relationship and sex therapy. Her style is open and direct and she maintains a progressive approach to her work, holding a strong interest in guiding non-traditional or ethically non-monogamous couples through relationship challenges. Ms. Stewart brings to her work a robustly feminist approach, believing that when women are better able to connect to their sexuality on their own terms, with regard to decision-making, choices and a focus on their own pleasure first, they will experience increased enjoyment of their sexuality and be better equipped to engage with their partners in high-quality sex. Sexual empowerment is a primary theme of her work and she believes this is a fundamental ingredient necessary for sexual pleasure.
Ms. Stewart obtained her Bachelors Degree from Indiana University, studying both psychology and sociology, minoring in gender studies, while also holding a research position at the world-renowned Kinsey Institute. She went on to earn her Masters degree in marital and family therapy from The Family Institute at Northwestern University, obtaining specialized training in couples therapy. Ms. Stewart received some of her early training from Dr. Laura Berman, providing individual and sex therapy at the Berman Center, and maintained her own private practice for many years before joining the clinical team of Enliven Chicago.
Rachel Zar, AMFT
IN HER OWN WORDS:
“For many, sex is the absolute hardest thing to talk about—but the less we talk about it, the more difficult it becomes to have our needs met. I’m passionate about creating a safe, nonjudgmental space to help clients develop tools for a more satisfying relational life—and to make talking about these profoundly personal issues a little bit easier.”
Rachel Zar is a masters-level Associate Marital and Family Therapist who specializes in couples and sex therapy. Her style is both warm and direct; it’s integrative, creative, and based in current therapeutic and medical research. She strongly believes that the most progress comes from a good client-therapist relationship, so her approach is non-judgmental and collaborative, meeting clients where they are and working with them to access their unique strengths and empower them to reach their goals.
Ms. Zar earned her Bachelors Degree from Tufts University, and she worked for several years as a journalist, focusing on relationships, women’s health, and sexuality. She then obtained a Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from The Family Institute at Northwestern University. While there, she developed a strong clinical interest in working with intimacy issues, sexual dysfunction, dating and relationship concerns, and nontraditional relationships. She is experienced in working with couples and individuals of diverse cultures and backgrounds, and she is an LGBTQ- and kink- affirmative clinician. She is a pre-clinical fellow member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.