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Gain Clinical Experience Through Our Community Program

With supervision from The Family Institute therapists, therapists-in-training provide the community with valuable strength-based therapy services, including:

  • Therapy (individual, couple, family and group)
  • School/classroom observations
  • Parent/guardian training
  • Staff consultation
  • Collaborative meetings 

Graduates who have participated in the Community Program through the Bette D. Harris Family & Child Clinic as a therapist-in-training typically obtain employment at agencies and group practices at a quicker rate than those who did not. A recent evaluation revealed that more than 90% of the therapists-in-training participating in the Community Program would recommend the experience to future students.

About Strength-Based Therapy

Strength-based therapy focuses on internal strengths and resourcefulness that each client possesses, and less on weaknesses and failures. We believe that we all have strengths that may not be activated when we are constrained.

About Our Community Program

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.

Our Mission

Our mission mirrors the mission of The Family Institute – to strengthen and heal families through outreach, clinical service, education, research and empowerment.  

Our Core Values

  • Quality mental health care should be available to all who need it, regardless of ability to pay
  • The family is the single most significant factor influencing human identity
  • Family-based therapy is a powerful model for change, one that helps people cope with major life challenges and transforms how we live our lives, resulting in healthier communities and societies
  • "Family" takes many shapes and forms, it is not limited to or by biology and/or marital status

Our Goals

  • Hope and connection
  • Health and adaptive management of strong emotions
  • Socially successful behaviors, healthier child development, healthier families

We support our clients in identifying the challenges that they may want to confront in therapy. We also strive to make access to therapy as attainable as possible by lifting constraints that might keep someone from accessing therapy and do our best to meet clients where they are.

There are three options for meeting locations:

1. In the Home
For many of our clients, meeting in their homes remove barriers including lack of transportation, childcare needs, physical health, time flexibility and other struggles due to limited resources.

2. The Family Institute Offices  
Some clients may choose to come to The Family Institute offices. This option offers a different kind of confidentiality and privacy.

3. School or On-site at Community Partner Organization   
Especially when the referral comes from a school, seeing a child in that setting can allow for a much better understanding of the constraints influencing their academic success. School-based services also reinforce the maintenance of relationships with school staff, which can support the overall goals.

I truly loved every aspect of the MSMFT program - from supervision, to the curriculum, to the dynamic professors I was able to interact with on a daily basis. What I found to be the most invaluable facet of the program is the breadth of clinical opportunities that were available. In addition to gaining clinical hours at the Bette D. Harris Family & Child Clinic, I participated in the Community Program and the Parents-in-Charge Program. Through these programs, I honed my clinical interests and learned that therapy is not one dimensional and expands beyond an office setting.

Ashlyn Douthitt
Ashlyn Douthitt