Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy 

Serving the emotional needs of children, adolescents and their families

Children, adolescents, and infants have many ways to communicate emotional distress.

Sometimes children and adolescents

  • feel very unhappy, worried, or frightened for reasons they cannot explain.
  • cling to their parents because they are fearful about independence.
  • cannot channel their energy and creativity in ways that develop their potential.
  • acquire rituals or phobias because they feel helpless in difficult situations.
  • do not know how to make friends or get along with others at school or in the family; sometimes they withdraw from social relationships.
  • act meanly or aggressively because they cannot control their actions and cannot find other ways to express their feelings.

Sometimes babies cry a lot or cannot establish regular patterns of eating or sleeping and their caregivers cannot figure out how to help them.

Sometime children and adolescents

  • can't learn in school because they are preoccupied with thoughts or feelings.
  • struggle to understand difficult life experiences.
  • are restless or cannot concentrate because they have not acquired better ways to maintain confidence and calmness.
  • have negative attitudes toward themselves and cannot feel good about who they are, even though others can observe their obvious talents and abilities.
  • have been exposed to overwhelming, stressful situations that tax their ability to cope.

Sometimes teens

  • feel confused about their identity and uncertain about their future.
  • turn to drugs or alcohol to feel better because they are depressed.
  • develop eating disorders as a way to manage difficult feelings they cannot verbalize.
  • join gangs to find companions, community and a sense of safety.

Sometimes babies, children, and adolescents do not respond to their parents' efforts to help them.

Such behaviors and feelings often interfere with a young person's sense of well-being and capacity for emotional, social and intellectual development. If these problems do not resolve with time and support from parents, teachers, or friends, professional assistance can be effective.


The Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy offers a range of services to help children, adolescents and their families when emotional problems hinder emotional growth and development.

The Center is committed to an approach to therapy that deals with underlying causes of problems and that assists children and adolescents to create a strong psychological foundation for ongoing development. The Center's services are based on psychoanalytic principles that address the complex emotional life of children and adolescents. Psychoanalytic therapy offers a way to address the fundamental factors that affect emotional well-being.

When parents contact the Center for help, an assessment is made to determine the nature of the problems and to establish a treatment plan based on this evaluation. Often, this plan includes a form of psychotherapy. It may include other interventions that supplement therapy. Adjunctive therapies, such as medication, are used conservatively as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

The foundation of therapy is the relationship with a trusted, specially trained therapist who can help young people deal with the causes of distress and help them acquire the psychological skills to cope more adaptively in the future. Young children often communicate through play; older children and adolescents may prefer talk. The goal is to create a situation in which children can express themselves fully in order to develop self-understanding and new, lasting changes in emotional states and behavior. Psychotherapy with children and adolescents is a collaborative endeavor with parents or caregivers. Typically, there are regularly scheduled consultations with parents to discuss progress and focus on their concerns about the child.


Assessment: Every inquiry begins with an evaluation that includes parents and child and information from other sources as needed. The goal is to determine the nature of the problem and develop an individualized treatment plan based on the child's needs.

Psychotherapy is designed to help with immediate crises as well as ongoing emotional or behavioral problems. Therapy sessions may be once or twice a week, in addition to collaborative work with parents.

Psychoanalysis is the most intensive form of psychotherapy. It is uniquely able to heal underlying conflicts that have roots in earlier experience but interfere with present functioning. Sessions are scheduled four or five times weekly and include consultation with parents.

Developmental Guidance: Some problems may be most effectively addressed through direct work with parents, and perhaps the child. Focus is on finding parenting strategies that are responsive to the child's needs.

Groups are organized to share ideas and experiences about particular issues when the interaction among group members adds to the process of exploration. Groups may be offered for children (for example, social skills groups), adolescents (for example, peer relations) and parents (for example, parenting young children).

Referral may be made to other resources if a child requires services outside the scope of the Center. Every effort will be made to find an appropriate referral.

Consultation: The Center's therapists have expertise in emotional development and mental health needs of children, adolescents, and families. They can provide education and consultation to parents, public groups, and mental health professionals.


We accept many Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and Cigna plans and can work with other insurance plans.  For patients who are uninsured, cost of assessment and therapy is based on a sliding scale determined by the family's financial resources. The fee will be determined in discussion with the family and established during the assessment. The Center is committed to providing access to mental health services to children, adolescents, and their families regardless of the family's ability to pay.


The Center’s Director is Denia Barrett, LCSW, a member of the faculty of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis with more than 35 years of experience providing psychotherapy to children, adolescents, and parents, and mental health consultation to the wider community.


Telephone: 312.922.7474 ext. 323


122 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1301
Chicago, IL 60603

The Center is located downtown at the Institute for Psychoanalysis. Other locations are being established in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Parking available in nearby garages. Convenient to CTA trains and buses.


The Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, a vision of Paul C. Holinger, MD, was founded in 2008 with a lead gift from Joan and William Dutton. If you would like to make a tax-deductible, charitable donation to the Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, please call Erika Schmidt at 312.922.7474. All gifts, regardless of size, are greatly appreciated and will have a direct impact on the quality of the services that the Center has to offer. In short, your gift can and will make a difference to the many children, parents, and families whose lives can be changed by the Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy.