dr. baker's journey

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The Bradley University Years

Dr. Baker is originally from the Peoria area.  He attended Bradley University and graduated with honors in 1983 with his bachelors degree in Psychology.  Rather than choosing a minor field of study, he earned enough hours to twice major in Psychology.  


After graduation, Dr. Baker began his Master's program in the Psychology department at Bradley, completing his coursework in 1984.  He then completed his master's internship working in a community outpatient mental health program that included general outpatient counseling with special emphasis on relationship counseling and crisis intervention services.  


In 1986, Dr. Baker worked in a community based outpatient mental health Stress Management and Biofeedback program where he worked with individuals with anxiety disorders (panic disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety) mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder), and stress-related medical issues (eg, migraine headaches, TMJ).  


It was during this time that Dr. Baker also began working in the field of eating disorders, treating patients at the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Eating Disorder Program (1986 to 1987).

The Chicago Years - Exceptional Clinical and Research Training

In 1987, Dr. Baker began his PhD program in Clinical Psychology in the APA approved program at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. During his training, Dr. Baker received additional specialized training in the fields of Behavioral Medicine and Health Psychology.

  

As a doctoral student, Dr. Baker was a research assistant at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) for 3 years working on the Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for Stance and Ambulation project with spinal cord injured patients.  He also studied the association between alcohol and drug use in spinal cord injured patients.  In 1989, he presented research on the Psychological Outcomes of FES at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association (APA) in New Orleans, LA. 


During this time, Dr. Baker was also a research assistant at Children's Memorial Hospital studying the incidence of left-handedness in children with scoliosis.


Dr. Baker returned to his clinical interest in eating disorders when he received additional specialized training in the People at Risk (PAR) program in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University Medical School (1988-1991), a sister program to the eating disorders program, under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Kirshenbaum.  


Dr. Baker completed his APA approved clinical internship at the University of Chicago Hospitals from 1991-1992 (currently ranked in the top 20 Predoctoral Clinical Psychology Internships by the American Psychological Association).  


During this year of intensive training, he received specialized training in regarding the psychological, emotional and behavioral aspects of medically related issues through his completion of a year-long rotation in the Neuropsychology Program and a six-month rotation in the Oncology Program.  He also completed six-month rotations in the Sex and Marital Therapy Program and the Inpatient Group Psychotherapy Program for patients with concomitant psychiatric and medical issues (e.g. Parkinson related dementia). 


During this time, Dr. Baker had the opportunity to work with transgendered individuals, including those working through the process of gender reassignment surgery.  Dr. Baker has continued his work in the area of LGBTQ+ issues for the past 25 years and has kept apprised of the latest research and empirically based evidence in this burgeoning area.

Back to Peoria

Dr. Baker returned to Peoria after completing his Internship at the University of Chicago Hospitals to serve as the Clinical Director of the newly developing Health By Design (HBD) program at Associated Internal Medicine Physicians of Illinois (1992-1999), which later joined the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

The "Health By Design" program helped patients with medical conditions caused and/or exacerbated by lifestyle issues that contribute to health problems such as: Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Hypercholesterolemia, Hypertension and physical and psychological impediments to exercise to achieve significant improvements in their health.  Click here to see data regarding the efficacy of this program.

During these seven years, Dr. Baker published several peer-reviewed research articles with Dr. Kirschenbaum that have been widely referenced in numerous scholarly journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, The Annual Review of Nutrition, The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, and the International Journal of Obesity.  (Click here to see these articles).

According to Google Scholar, this body of research has also been cited in over 35 books and many newspapers and magazines and has been presented at annual meetings of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM), and the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy (AABT)

While at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Dr. Baker was an adjunct instructor at his alma mater, teaching Human Sexuality, a course he taught at Bradley from 1992 until 2004. 

Returning to the Hilltop

In 1999, Dr. Baker returned to Bradley University to direct the Center for Wellness and Counseling (CWC).  During that time, he developed the Center for Wellness & Counseling's "CWC Wellness Web" that offered information on over 150 wellness and health topics as well as confidential and anonymous psychological tests for issues like anxiety, depression, alcohol, eating disorders, and post traumatic stress.  Numerous university counseling centers linked their webpages to the CWC Wellness Web to make its formation available to their students.

While directing the CWC, Dr. Baker taught additional courses in the Psychology Department including: Introductory Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Health Psychology, Human Behavior in the Environment, and an advanced Seminar entitled Understanding Obesity and Eating Disorders.
 

In 2000, Dr. Baker was invited to attend the Summa Cum Laude Dinner by an honor student that chose him as having been their “Most Influential Professor or Instructor. "

  

While at Bradly, Dr. Baker had the opportunity to work with the Leadership Development Center (LDC) which is part of the Foster College of Business.  LDC works with businesses and corporations providing training in leadership and team dynamics.  LDC provides feedback to employees based on their answers to a number of  psychometric instruments.  In that capacity, Dr. Baker served as a "feedback coach" for four years.  This was a wonderful opportunity to explore the area of leadership development; Dr. Baker currently serves as a job coach for a number of business executives.

Establishing an Independent Practice

In 2004, Dr. Baker pursued his desire to establish an independent Clinical Psychology Practice in Peoria Heights.  While Dr. Baker has a generalist psychology/counseling practice treating anxiety disorders, depression, and general life stress issues, he specializes in the treatment of obesity/weight management, eating disorders, chronic illness, pain management, fibromyalgia, sexuality and transgender issues, oncology related issues, and psychological trauma.  He also works with couples on relationship issues.