Behavioral Health


Alternatives’ Individual, Family, and Group Counseling services reach hundreds of youth and families each year. Our trained and licensed therapists and case managers work with young people and their families to build resilience, improve family functioning, and overcome challenges.

Alternatives’ therapists use a strength-based approach, which encourages youth to identify and build on their positive attributes. We ensure that youth receive the support they need to constructively address the challenges they face.

We have trained behavioral health therapists offering individual and group counseling services at 11 different schools throughout the north and south side of the city. Our schools include Andrew Carnegie, Alcott, Mollison, Tilden, Gary Comer College Prep, North Side College Prep, Lakeview, Sullivan, Roosevelt, Senn and Uplift High School. Services at Roosevelt, Senn and Uplift are provided in partnership with Heartland Health Centers within their school based health centers where students can access medical care.

In addition to our school based counseling services, our behavioral health team provides individual and group counseling services to residential youth centers at Lawrence Hall, UCAN and Ignite-Belfort House and our Uptown Youth Center at 4730 N. Sheridan Rd.

For intake requests/referrals, please fill out the form.

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“I was able to open up about things I didn’t think I’d ever say out loud. I was able to communicate with my Mom in a better way.”

Individual and Group Counseling

Our trained, licensed master’s level staff use a strength-based approach to provide short-and long-term therapy and case management, emphasizing family communication, conflict resolution, discipline, and life-skills development. Individual, family, and group services are offered through school-based health centers and within our Youth Center to support youth experiencing a range of issues, including family conflict, substance abuse, peer relationships, identity issues, anger management, and behavioral/emotional challenges.

Counseling is offered to 10 to 24 year olds within school based health centers, Chicago Public Schools, through our Uptown Youth Center; and our South Side office. Currently all services are being provided remotely, though that may change in the future.

Accepted Insurances
Alternatives provides no-cost mental health services to youth with public health insurance (like the medical card, Medicaid, All Kids, etc.) and youth with no insurance. Alternatives does not accept private insurance plans such as HMO and PPO plans.

If you have any questions please feel free to email our Resource and Care Specialist, Irma Cornier.

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of youth showed improvement on their post-assessment.

Youth Advocate Support Services

If you are a youth in crisis, please call: 877-870-2663

Youth Advocates provide mediation, case management, and mentorship with a restorative lens to young people at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice or child welfare systems. Responding to Alternatives’ 24 hour crisis hotline, Youth Advocates address the needs of young people who have been locked out or who have run away from home. Youth Advocates may also receive referrals from any of our external partnerships or from youth and families that reach out to Alternatives directly for services. Our top priority is to provide young people with the skills and resources to thrive.

Youth Advocate Support Services are available to 11 to 17 year olds within our focal community areas which include: Armour Square, Avalon Park, Burnside, Chatham, Douglas, Edgewater, Fuller Park, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Lake View, Lincoln Square, Loop, Near South Side, North Center, Oakland, Uptown, Rogers Park, South Shore, Washington Park, West Ridge and Woodlawn.

Fill out the form at the link below to download our agency’s Youth Resource Guide for young people on Chicago’s south side!

This guide provides young people in Douglas, Oakland, Fuller Park, Kenwood, Washington Park, Hyde Park and Woodlawn with contact information for essential services nearby.

Youth Resource Guide


of youth whose caregiver was also participating in their counseling made improvements in that relationship.

Prevention Programs

Alternatives’ youth-led prevention programs were created to address the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs on a local level. High school students work together to inform and educate their peers and community, initiating a dialogue about the risks, attitudes, and behaviors related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Students develop valuable skills in video making, print making, and marketing to produce a media communications campaign aimed at impacting their community with positive messaging.

Youth Prevention Education (YPE)
The goal of Alternatives’ Youth Prevention Education is to increase prevention-related drug knowledge and resistance skills, ultimately enhancing protective factors and reversing, or reducing risk factors. YPE is delivered through an evidence-based curriculum with approved additional session(s) addressing opioids. Our YPE is taught in two years with a core and booster curriculum. In order for YPE to be effective, participants must attend 80% of the classes.

Alternatives utilizes the All Stars curriculum to enhance and develop positive characteristics in young people, with the aim to prevent substance misuse by delaying the onset of use in regards to alcohol, tobacco, and other Drugs (ATOD); premature sexual activity; fighting; bullying and delinquency.

Youth Advisory Committees: Youth Empowering Change, Youth Nation
Youth Empowering Change (YEC)

  • Community-based YAC for High School Aged Youth
  • Focus on Eating Disorders, Sexual Assault Awareness, Suicide Prevention, and Substance Use Prevention

Youth Nation

  • Community-based Youth Advisory Committee for Middle School Aged Youth
  • Focus on Homelessness, Bullying, and Substance Use Prevention

A Youth Advisory Committee is a formal meeting of young people that provides representation, a “voice” for youth in the community.

The purpose of a Youth Advisory Committee is to strengthen youth participation in the development and implementation of community-based substance use prevention services. This means involving youth in planning and decision-making that affects them, their peers, their community, and others.

The Youth Advisory Committees are engaged in the following services, at minimum, to ensure all services and activities are relevant for the target population:

Environmental scan of Marijuana paraphernalia and retail education services (CSUPS)

National Prevention Week (the 3rd week in May)

Interest form


The Systemic Evaluation, Enhancement, and Institutional Training program (SEEIT)  has been developed to help identify students experiencing trauma and intervene before the situation has deteriorated; before a student exhibits behavioral issues or harms themselves in any way. The program shifts institutional culture and creates sustainable healing-centered environments within schools. This is done by implementing appropriate school crisis interventions and ensuring that every student is matched with the corresponding behavioral health services as needed. These services include on-site individual therapy, provide behavioral health education as it relates to classroom management and student wellness, and provide professional development around behavioral health education, social emotional learnings, mental health and self care.


Wellness assessments and interventions for school staff are integrated into our training curriculum to provide more support for staff as they are integral components of creating and maintaining school-wide culture shift. Both school-wide and student-specific mental health concerns are addressed with Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum customized to meet the needs at each individual school. SEEIT implements appropriate school crisis interventions and ensures that every student is matched with the corresponding behavioral health services as needed. SEEIT reaches thousands of students each year through innovative healing centered work within Chicago Public Schools. 

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If you'd like to learn more about the fellowship and how to apply, sign up for one of our info sessions!

Tuesday, October 10, 2023 4:30 PM

Tuesday, October 24, 2023 4:30 PM