As of June 11th, the Brooke Whitted Center (BWC) has officially closed. If you would like to learn more about the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School (O-School) and its therapeutic programs, please click here.

Transitional Living Program for
Young Adults

Living in a fast-paced world can be overwhelming. With so many demands and expectations, young adults can easily lose sight of mental health or emotional needs. As a result, it’s not uncommon to whittle life down to a very small experience in order to hold it all together.

The treatment, support and education provided at the BWC can help. Our transitional living programuses milieu therapy, based upon the model developed and refined at the renowned O-School. This relational approach provides comprehensive support in the moment as life occurs, rather than putting your life on hold.

In combination, these supports engage emerging adults like you to achieve self-reliance in life’s key spheres: education, interpersonal relationships, employment, and self-care. Together, we help you build the confidence to achieve ever-increasing responsibility, independence, and sense of self.

This coaching and support is supplied 24/7. Members of our highly trained clinical and transitional team are experienced in the areas of counseling, social work and psychology, and they are on site and available to you no matter the time of day.

Diagnoses can be tricky. At the BWC, we work with young adults who are enrolled in college or who are college bound, but require some mental health supports to live a full and balanced life. The symptoms that lead to a diagnosis are complex and vary from time to time and situation to situation. This type of need can stem from trauma or genetics; it can be brain-based or situational. It is likely that BWC participants have received a diagnosis and/or treatment for some of the following:
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Asperger's Syndrome
  • Attachment
  • Autism
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Obsessive-Compulsive (OCD)
  • Self Esteem
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Trauma and PTSD

Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

The Brooke Whitted Center works with emerging young adults from all races, ethnicity, religions, sexual orientations and gender expressions.  
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Daily Living

Managing the responsibilities of daily life are essential. Together we will plan an individual schedule that will work for you. The schedule will reflect school attendance, cultural and social outings, and personal obligations. Throughout, we will help you balance these with the right amount of support and structure. There is also daily access to an array of services at the BWC Loft in downtown Chicago, which is located near many colleges, universities and employment opportunities.

For each participant, the BWC uniquely tailors both daily interactions and a structured curriculum to provide insight into managing:

• Stress • Symptom Awareness • Medication • Personal and Household Hygiene • Sleep Quality

View sample weekly schedule


While the BWC is not a school, working through a college curriculum and transitioning to a full-time campus setting in order to graduate is the ultimate goal. We support you in scheduling and attending appointments, visiting colleges and schools, completing homework assignments, and attending school and completing other tasks as needed.

Cultural Outings

As a world-class city, Chicago brims with every kind of cultural experience you would expect from the city of big shoulders. The BWC takes advantage of all that Chicago has to offer with guided trips that allow you to explore Chicago's museums, theatres, improvisational comedy, sporting events, live music and art.

Medication Management

Not everyone who attends the BWC takes medication, but for those who do, it is helpful to work closely with a psychiatrist in order to establish a precise and effective medication regimen. Under the leadership of Dr. Louis Kraus of Rush University, a regular psychiatric clinic is conducted on-site weekly. This enables medications to be evaluated upon admission and then regularly reviewed. To facilitate self-monitoring and participation in treatment, you’ll be educated on all medications prescribed for you in order to assist in long-term independent medication management.

Time Management

The highest achievers manage their time exceptionally well, and mastering time management techniques will improve your ability to function more effectively. Good time management requires an important shift in focus from activities to results, as being busy isn’t the same as being effective. Mastering these techniques will benefit your daily life and allow you to be more productive, efficient and less stressed.


Living independently also requires managing your finances by paying monthly bills, depositing money into a bank account, and purchasing necessities. Yet living expenses can be a shock when first learning how to be fiscally responsible. The BWC Budgeting and Finance Program is designed to help you master basic tasks such as opening a checking or savings account and tracking your spending. For the more sophisticated, the program provides help setting financial priorities and adjusting spending habits as needed. 

Interpersonal Relationships

As a relational program, the core work done at the BWC is centered upon building relationships, for it is ultimately these relationships that foster growth and change. Through daily activities, social interactions and outings, you will develop strong bonds with the BWC community members that create the necessary trust and emotional support. In this way, interpersonal relationships act as the foundation upon which your success in the program will be built. Together, you will develop new skills and achieve self-reliance and independence.


Chicago is a bustling metropolis with nearly endless places to visit and explore. Learn how to navigate the city on foot and by using the city’s buses and famous elevated trains. Take part in weekly group outings to explore cultural, educational, culinary, and artistic opportunities in the city.


BWC participants are provided nutritional education, grocery and menu planning, including weekly shopping trips with members of the BWC team. Meals at the Brooke Whitted House are a mix of those prepared in-house and communal dining. Breakfast is provided daily; lunch is provided on weekends; and dinner is supplied on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Saturday dinners are included with Saturday activities and outings. With all other meals, you will perform meal preparation and cook in collaboration with the BWC staff.


In addition to milieu treatment, the BWC program values and integrates individual, group and family therapy.


Weekly individual therapy sessions provide you with the privacy to discuss issues of concern and establish personal treatment goals. Individual therapists at the BWC are highly skilled and have experience helping emerging adults bridge the gap into independence.


The BWC therapy focuses on the unique social and emotional needs of the participants in the program. The transition into adulthood can be a difficult time, but you are not alone. Weekly group therapy sessions are driven by the participants and supported by the clinicians in order to discuss relevant issues in a safe and accepting setting.


Families are deeply invested in your success, and we recognize the value of these deep connections. As a result, the BWC offers many ways for families to be engaged. A core element of the BWC program focuses, not just on family involvement, but on creating opportunities for the family to work together to help sustain growth and change.

Additional Services

The O-School launched the BWC in order to address a gap in services and to complete the continuum of care for young adults with mental health challenges. Because of this close working relationship, additional support and services are mere footsteps away. These include:

Nursing Staff

If you become ill, need a check-up, or have a medical question, the O-School nursing staff is available.

Healthy Meals and Nutrition

Meals are prepared at the O-School, which is dedicated to a fully scratch kitchen where food is prepared without heavy preservatives or additives. Food allergies and special diets including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets can be easily accommodated.

Safety and Security

The entire O-School and BWC campus is monitored by regular security patrols, check-ins, and safety cameras.

Access to the O-School Facilities

These include the school’s fine arts studio, exercise equipment and gymnasium.

Education Opportunities

Every year, Chicago's reputation as a center for higher education attracts students from around the world, and the city's mass-transit system provides direct access to a number of educational institutions.

Universities & Colleges

Chicago offers a number of world-class, four-year colleges to choose from. These include:
  • Argosy University
  • Columbia College
  • DePaul University
  • East-West University
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • National Louis University
  • Northwestern University
  • Robert Morris University Illinois
  • Roosevelt University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

Community Colleges

Chicago’s education pioneers established the City Colleges of Chicago a century ago, and today they are part of a network of 21 community colleges within the Chicago area. Offering a wide variety of curriculums and degrees, these institutions enable students to transition back into an educational environment and sample different areas of focus. In addition to traditional college degrees, Chicago’s community colleges offer associate degrees and certificates in industry-related fields.

Art Schools

With a longstanding tradition as a champion of the arts, the city has a thriving arts education community. The distinguished School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) on Michigan Avenue is complemented by the American Academy of Art, the Art Institute of Illinois, and Tribeca Flashpoint, among others.

Culinary Schools

Chicago is home to several excellent culinary institutions. The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago–Le Cordon Bleu Program offers instruction in classic French cuisine in addition to a number of other cooking styles. The International Culinary Schools of the Art Institutes of Chicago introduces students to knife skills and cooking methods as well as international cuisines. Finally, Kendall College’s award winning Culinary Arts program offers an integrated curriculum that blends class room learning with hands on experience to prepare its students for work in the profession.

Technical Schools

Chicago has a broad array of technical and professional schools that offer degrees in technology, nursing, business, hospitality and massage therapy.


What common questions and requests for information do we receive from students, families and referral sources? Read below.

1. Is the BWC for males and females?

The BWC is a co-educational program and is available to all gender expressions.

2. Will I be in a separate unit?

The BWC is a co-ed program with shared spaces within the residence and the Loft. Bedrooms vary between single (limited availability) and double occupancy with roommates of the same gender expression. 

3. May I have a car?

No, but the city of Chicago has a multitude of public transportation opportunities, and bicycles are allowed as well.

4. How often will I meet with my therapist?

Individual therapy is twice weekly, while group therapy is weekly. Family therapy is offered biweekly.

5. Are meals included?

Breakfast is included seven days a week, lunch is provided on the weekends, and dinner is provided three nights a week. For lunch during the week, participants will have the option of packing a lunch or making lunch at home.
There are four nights where dinner is not served; three of those evenings are opportunities for you and the BWC staff to cook together to learn how to create a healthy, well-balanced meal. The last evening is activity night and dinner is included in the activity.

6. How much structure is there?

As in any post-secondary program, there are guidelines around safety, communal living and academics. All expectations are designed to help you create a life that balances accountability and autonomy.

7. Do I have to go to school?

Yes, you do need to be in school, but not full-time. You can be enrolled in the program and take one or two classes to help you transition to college life.

8. Can I work?

Yes, and we hope you do! The treatment team can help support you in maintaining the balance between work and school as well as personal and social obligations.