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We are committed to helping regardless of the ability to pay.

Our communities are being hit hard by all of the consequences of COVID-19. The impact on our mental health is immense and the economic effects for many are daunting. In light of the current health and economic circumstances, we are waiving all fees for clients of the Bette D. Harris Clinic. With the very real economic consequences of the pandemic on families, we do not want there to be any cost barrier that prevents clients from seeking the mental healthcare they need.

Through the Bette D. Harris Clinic, therapists-in-training provide services to clients who qualify. Our staff therapists provide ongoing supervision and regular consultation. In the most complex cases, we provide team therapy with both a student and experienced therapist working side-by-side.

The Clinic is staffed by Northwestern University graduate level therapists-in-training, who are educated and supervised by highly trained licensed therapists. Research conducted at The Family Institute at Northwestern University has found that therapy provided by our graduate student therapists is significantly effective in reducing client distress and improving their relationships. Feedback from clients confirms high levels of satisfaction, and our largest source of referrals is from recommendations from former clients.

Upon assessment at the Clinic, a therapist-in-training will work with you to create a tailored treatment plan and goals, which you will work on over the course of the therapist-in-training’s tenure at the Clinic (up to a year to a year and a half).

Our therapists-in-training work closely with expertly trained, licensed therapists to create a collaborative, deeply impactful, affordable therapy experience. At the end of your therapist’s training, they will consider what further treatment options are recommended.

Qualification for the Clinic is determined by your current financial situation and gross combined household income. Insurance is neither required nor accepted.

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Locations & Hours

My experience with The Family Institute has been beyond rewarding. They have been very accommodating from the beginning and my therapist-in-training has always been professional and compassionate. I’m so happy to be working with her and am incredibly grateful for her services.

Child & Family Anxiety Clinic

Through a systemic, collaborative approach, our therapists partner with families to transform the lives of children and adolescents suffering from anxiety — and ensure the family is the child's greatest asset.

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Children Peer Support Group — Rainbows Program

Incorporating art, games and storytelling with a free, healing peer support group to guide children as they navigate grief and work through loss.

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Diagnostic Assessments

Appropriate treatment planning and coordination of care can be facilitated with the completion of a thorough diagnostic assessment.

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Community Programs

I would say that therapy in the community is like's more improvisational, flexible. We might have to see somebody at a Burger King because their home isn't available. That's improv.

Carl Hampton, LCSW
Director of Community Programs

Situated within the Bette D. Harris Family & Child Clinic, the Community Program partners with a variety of community organizations and schools in order to best serve the particular needs of the Evanston community. Community supervisors and therapists-in-training create relationships – as well as strengthen existing ties – by maintaining regular, in-person contact with participating agencies and schools.

Therapeutic services in the Community Program are often provided "in context," that is, in clients' homes, classrooms, or other non-traditional therapy settings. Therapists-in-training who work in the Community Program assess and address the "web" of constraints (e.g., financial, geographic, physical ability, histories of social injustice) in children and families who may otherwise not be eligible for, or have access to, traditional outpatient services.

Our Community Program was featured in the Winter 2017 issue of Northwestern magazine.

Project Strengthen

Launched as a pilot in January 2015, Project Strengthen is designed to deliver high-quality care to individuals and families who suffer from complex mental health issues alongside socio-economic hardships. Project Strengthen provides the highest level of care that The Family Institute can offer: a therapy team comprised of a staff therapist and a therapist-in-training who work together to provide comprehensive treatment and counseling services to the client and his/her family. Through a challenge grant from the Harris Family Foundation, Project Strengthen became a core program at The Family Institute in 2017. Most families served by Project Strengthen are below poverty level and nearly 80% are high risk for suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts and extreme violence.

Therapists-in-Training and Staff Therapists administer the Systemic Therapy Inventory of Change (STIC®) to all clients in Project Strengthen to track progress. The results are astounding:

  • 90% of closed cases showed improvement on reported risk (e.g. suicidal ideation, homicidal ideation, abuse)
  • 86% of closed cases showed statistically significant improvement in at least one major problem area (e.g. depression, anxiety, marital strife)
  • 30% of closed cases showed statistically significant improvement in three major problem areas
Summary of Project Strengthen cases between January 2015 and December 2017:
Average annual income of families $23,524
Total cases 118
Average length of case in sessions 10
Total staff therapists 57
Total therapists-in-training 79
Total hours of service 1,308


The behavioral health services available through the Bette D. Harris Family & Child Clinic  including Community Programs and Project Strengthen – are made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider a gift in support of this important work.