Clinical Services

Clinical and Crisis Services offers a range of behavioral health services for youth and families. By providing access to crucial support services in schools and at our Youth Center, Alternatives reaches more than 800 youth and their families annually with services that range from prevention to skill-building to crisis response.

At Alternatives, youth and families work with professional counselors to identify and address risk factors including mental health issues, substance abuse, family issues, homelessness and violence. Clinical and Crisis Services Counseling and/or case management services are offered through the following programs:

Group and Individual Counseling reaches hundreds of youth and families each year at Alternatives’ Uptown youth center and through school-based health centers at Senn, Roosevelt, Uplift, and Northside Prep High Schools.

In the schools, Alternatives provides individual and family counseling, case management, and collaboration/advocacy services; increases immigrant integration into the school environment by increasing social functioning and decreasing adjustment issues; increases students’ knowledge of healthy relationships and reduce at-risk behavior related to substance abuse and unsafe sexual activity; and enables Student Health Club members to educate their peers about health-related topics with a special focus on high risk adolescent behavior. The provision of mental health services within school settings is not only efficient, but crucial to the well being of students from communities with limited resources.

On-site individual and family therapy, including bilingual therapy for Spanish-speaking youth and families, is offered to nearly 100 families each year, emphasizing family communication, discipline structures, and life skills development. These services use a strength-based approach to provide short- and long-term therapy, case management, and consultation. Therapists work with young people and their families to build resilience, improving family functioning and to address challenges both before and as they occur.

The Family Intervention Services (FIS) Program provides intensive crisis intervention and therapeutic services for youth experiencing homelessness due to family conflict and dysfunction. Each year, the crisis team, which is on call 24 hours a day, accepts referrals of adolescents and families from the Chicago Police Area 3 Youth Division. In response to these calls, Alternatives’ crisis therapists provide case management services to meet each youth’s immediate health and safety needs.

FIS staff provide broad and extensive counseling and case management services, transportation, and temporary housing. In the days and weeks following the crisis, Alternatives staff members continue to work intensively with the youth and family members to address the multitude of issues affecting the youth and their family, with the goal of repairing the relationship, building skills and safely reunifying the family. Even when the family conflict has been reduced to a level that allows for a youth’s safe return to the home, Alternatives’ services continue, providing counseling and case management services for the entire family to prevent a future crisis. Eighty-six percent of families receiving follow-up services avoid further crisis placement situations during their time in after-care.

Through Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention, young people ages 12 to 21 and their families get the help and support they need to confront, manage, and resolve their challenges related to drug and alcohol use and/or co-dependency. Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention consists of intensive evidence-based behavioral health services including Level 1 outpatient substance abuse treatment, toxicology testing, case management support, psychiatric services and recovery planning services.

Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention engages clients in a six-month treatment program which includes a number of sessions involving the youth alone and others engaging the family or caregivers as appropriate. Therapists work with youth to intentionally address individual needs through a series of sessions which include encouragement of pro-social behaviors, analysis of substance use, training in communication and problem-solving skills, relapse prevention.

Alex is one recent Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention client who was able to make positive changes as a result of the support he received at Alternatives. Alex was referred to counseling to deal with marijuana use, drinking alcohol and shoplifting. At the time he entered Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention, the outlook for his future was grim; he was failing in school and at risk of losing his foster care placement. He was referred to Alternatives’ Career and Employment Services program to help him with his school issues and assist him in finding a part-time job. The therapist helped Alex to realize that he was using substances as an escape. During therapy, Alex and his foster family worked on communication, anger management, impulsivity and positive skill-building. This work helped him to make positive changes and improve his relationship with his new family. Alex and his foster parents became closer and learned more about one another as they built a trusting and supportive relationship. The support Alex received helped him choose a more positive path. He stopped using substances, completed school and is currently enrolled in an auto-mechanic training program at Truman College.