In 1976, the Institute for Psychoanalysis established the Children's Grief Center to meet the needs of children who have lost a parent or significant loved one through death, divorce, or abandonment. The Center's mission is to provide therapeutic services to bereaved children and their families; to make intervention more accessible; to heighten awareness of the potentially harmful short- and long-term effects of loss; and to provide training and consultation for teachers, clergy, mental health workers, and other involved community members.

In addition to its main location at the Institute for Psychoanalysis in downtown Chicago, the Center has established programs at four Chicago area locations: Highland Park Hospital serving the north suburbs, Little Company of Mary Hospital serving the south suburbs, La Rabida Children's Hospital serving the city's south side, and Swedish Covenant Hospital serving the city's north side. More recently, the Center has opened a sixth location at the Riverdale Community Resource Center in Riverdale, IL.


The Children's Grief Center

  • Specializes in the treatment of children ages 2 to 17 who have lost a parent through death, divorce, or abandonment.
  • Offers diagnostic evaluations of the child, parent, and other family members.
  • Provides the child with short- or long-term treatment.
  • Refers children or parents for psychotherapy or psychoanalysis as needed.
  • Offers child guidance to the surviving or custodial parent, along with consultation and child guidance to extended family members.
  • Consults with schools, social service agencies, and private practitioners involved with the bereaved family.
  • Offers the child and family periodic follow-up evaluations.
  • Does not maintain a waiting list - families in need receive immediate consultation.
  • Sets fees on a sliding scale - no family is ever denied treatment because of its financial circumstances.


In addition to its therapeutic services, the Barr-Harris Center

  • Conducts workshops and seminars for mental health professionals.
  • Offers presentations to schools, hospitals, churches, synagogues, community agencies, and self-help groups regarding childhood bereavement.
  • Offers courses on the topic of parent loss and its effects on development.
  • Consults with mental health professionals, school and hospital personnel, pediatricians, attorneys, and judges.
  • Provides intervention and/or consultation when a community disaster occurs.
  • Provides telephone consultation to those seeking emergency help in response to a loss.


The Barr-Harris Center offers one-year field placements for advanced social work students who are interested in working with bereaved families. The placements combine tutorials, individual instruction, supervision, and clinical work with families. Students from universities such as the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the School of Social Work at Dominican University, and the School of Social Work at Loyola University have rotated through the Center's internship program.


The Center has published numerous clinical papers, along with a book entitled Childhood Bereavement and Its Aftermath.


Papers on how the school can help a child who has lost a parent through death or divorce can be ordered using the contact information below. 


For more information regarding the Barr-Harris Center's various services, please call (312) 922-7474.