Hello! I’m Dr. Vara Saripalli, a licensed psychologist in Chicago. I specialize in helping women break free of patterns of “stuckness” to make powerful choices that change their lives.

Originally from the Detroit area, I moved to India when I was ten, and lived there till I completed my undergraduate degree in engineering. I moved back to the US for a summer internship at Chrysler, and then on to a “Grown-Up Job” at Ford. The only problem with this exciting career was that I was bored and miserable. Searching for greener pastures, I made the bold decision to become an actuary (spoiler alert– not exciting at all). After passing three actuarial exams, and crying every day for a month at my job at an insurance company, I decided it was time to think about what I really wanted to do, and stop doing what I “should” do.  If you come from a certain kind of tight-knit family culture, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Lots of reading and soul-searching and therapy later, I realized that more than anything, I love listening to people and helping them discover what they really want and how they actually feel. I felt ready to take the plunge into a new career and quit my job to start my doctoral degree in psychology. From there: everything proceeded smoothly without any hiccups, and here I am!

Not. I had a baby in the middle of graduate school and had to complete my degree and write my dissertation while horribly sleep deprived. This was followed by making new discoveries about the true nature of toddlers (simultaneously adorable and exasperating) while building a private practice.  As I overcame these hurdles, one thing quickly become clear to me: I wanted to work with other women who faced the same kind of challenges - family pressure, career delusions, cross-cultural identity, becoming new parents, and the ultimate human task of discovering our true preferences and making powerful choices.

One of the best things I can do for ambitious women is to help them discover and create what I call the “freedom of limits”. Freedom of limits gives us permission to choose what is most important, by setting realistic boundaries around what we will allocate our precious energy to. In other words, just because we can do something it doesn’t mean we have to do it, or even that we would want to do it.

When not at work, I love to travel, read – especially science fiction and fantasy – and watch movies where sh*t gets blown up.