Our Story

Anti-Bullying and Body Image Pioneers

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StrongGirlz©, is a not-for-profit founded in 2003 by noted long time Chicago Clinical Psychologists; Dr. Karen Farrell, Psy.D, ABPP and her husband Dr. John Farrell, PhD. The genesis of Strong Girls was promulgated by their daughter’s personal suffering through Body Image and Bullying issues as an 11 year old. Mom and Dad decided to take action and developed the initial StrongGirls solution with Kathleen and a group of her friends in a  suburban Chicago gym. There was a line of a 100 people trying to get into the first workshop.  StrongGirls program evolved into a 10-week, in-school psycho educational intervention workshop becoming a part of the health curriculum at numerous Chicago area schools. For the past 11 years, this program is successfully influencing thousands of sixth through eighth grade girls. StrongGirls was developed by Dr. Farrell through multiple funding grants from the State of Illinois, totaling in excess of $40,000.

It’s a Scientific Fact -

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The Power of StrongGirlz - Social Emotional Education  

 

The StrongGirlz© workshop was researched by graduate level academia and efficacy of the Program is measured at .551% statistical significance with thousands of girls going through the program. Basically, the research demonstrates StrongGirlz is extremely effective teaching young girls how to deal with social challenges post program after one month, three months, six months, and one year.


Active Lifestyle and Fitness


Twenty-four leading researchers and scientists’ from eight countries and from a variety of academic disciplines gathered in Denmark, to reach evidence-based consensus about physical activity in children. The Copenhagen Consensus focused on studies examining the health of children aged 6 to 18, and analyzed the effects of exercise. In short, this group of leading scientists’ and researchers’ found that exercise was beneficial for nearly every aspect of a child’s wellbeing: physical health, cognitive ability, self esteem, motivation and psychological wellbeing, as well as social inclusion. 


Exercise and Cognitive Development


Studies suggest children with higher levels of aerobic fitness show greater volumes in gray matter brain regions important for memory and learning.  New findings add evidence that aerobic exercise changes the brain in ways that improve cognitive function. This change in the brain structure suggests this may be one additional mechanism by which higher-fit children out performs their lower fit peers on cognitive tasks and in the classroom (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development).


Proven Track Record of Success

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For over 5 years, Kathleen Farrell, MFT, has great success combining Basic Progressive Fitness and Psychotherapy in her specialty treating Tween and Teenage Clients suffering from poor Body Image and  victimized by Bullying


Kathleen’s mother, Dr. Karen Farrell, has been a quiet pioneer addressing bullying and body image having either chaired or been a Committee member on twenty theses and dissertations encompassing issues which girls and women encounter within a culture emphasizing appearance and stereotypical feminine behavior over healthy relationships to themselves and others. One example of such a thesis is The Development of Positive Body Image in Girls:  A review of the Literature in Clinical and Developmental Psychology.  Dr. Farrell’s work with this student (Dr. Brittany Landwerlen Simon) developed into a dissertation which surveyed seventh grade girls entitled, Examining the Relationship Between Body Image and Relational Aggression: Using Self-Esteem as a Mediating Variable.


Doctoral Level Research 


This unique Doctoral level research measured, proved, and distinguished the effectiveness of the StrongGirlz Workshop as a social emotional learn tool and interventional solution for young girls.

Founding Directors

Dr. Karen Farrell, Phy.D, ABPP

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Dr. Farrell is currently a Director of the American Board of Professional Psychology responsible for Board Certification of Doctoral level Psychologists across the country.  She is the Founder of StrongGirlz©, a not-for-profit established in 2003. StrongGirlz is a prevention and awareness building program about girl-to-girl relational aggression. This program evolved into a 10-week, in-school psycho educational intervention program becoming a part of the health curriculum at numerous Chicago area schools. For the past 11 years, this program has been successfully influencing thousands of sixth through eighth grade girls. StrongGirls was developed by Dr. Farrell through multiple funding grants from the State of Illinois, totaling in excess of $40,000.  Dr. Farrell is also a founder of Strong Kids Health System, LLC, and on-line progressive wellness system focused on helping  young girls overcome Body Image and Bullying issues. Dr. Karen Farrell has either chaired or been a Committee member on over twenty theses and dissertations encompassing issues which girls and women encounter within a culture emphasizing appearance and stereotypical feminine behavior over healthy relationships to themselves and others.  Her interest in the Psychology of Women and Girls has been a focus of both her clinical work and her academic and research endeavors in her teaching throughout her career. Dr. Farrell is a licensed clinical psychologist and a retired Full Professor at Midwestern University where she served as Director of Training in the department of clinical psychology for graduate students.  Dr. Farrell was selected as a Fellow at the University of Chicago Advanced Psychodynamic Fellowship in Clinical Practice. She has been in private practice in Chicago for over 25 years.

Dr. John Farrell, Ph.D.

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John Farrell has been a  practicing clinical psychologist in the south suburbs of Chicago for 30 years. He is a frequent Speaker on a broad range of social emotional issues and longstanding Board Member Homewood-Flossmoor High School - District 233. He has worked with individuals, couples, and families from ages 6 to 94. He has presented at numerous conferences on topics ranging from raising healthy children and teens, creating healthy couples' relationships, to coping with stress, developing self-esteem and healthy sexuality.   He has extensive experience working with couples at all stages of development. He has founded and supervised the Strong Boys program for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders focusing on raising emotionally literate boys and bullying prevention. He has a special interest in men’s work and loves the challenges and ongoing growth of being a husband, dad, grandpa, and psychologist. Dr. Farrell is a graduate of Loyola University and the Illinois Institute of Technology where he received his Ph.D.

Zone-In Yoga
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Balanced~Reach for the Stars

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