Adolescent Behavioral Health Program

Established in 2013, behavioral health services in the Division of Adolescent Medicine aim to meet the diverse needs of our child and adolescent patients by providing psychological assessment, psychotherapy and psychiatric care in select subspecialty services and programs.

The Lurie Children's Difference

In addition to expertise delivering evidence-based interventions for general psychiatric conditions, behavioral health providers in the Division of Adolescent Medicine specialize in the following areas:

  • Gender identity development and exploration
  • Sex development
  • Adolescent sexuality
  • Transgender health
  • Supporting adolescents and young adults living with HIV/AIDS

Our behavioral health providers closely collaborate with specialists in General Pediatrics, Endocrinology, Urology, Surgery, Infectious Diseases and Sports Medicine.

What to Expect

The behavioral health services offered through the Division of Adolescent Medicine consist of two major areas outlined below – general outpatient services and services specific to the Gender and Sex Development Program.

We’re a fairly new division that continues to grow, so more behavioral health services are on their way.

General Outpatient Diagnostic & Psychotherapy Services

Patients referred for behavioral health support for issues unrelated to gender/sex development may benefit from the services outlined below.

  • Comprehensive Diagnostic Assessment – This assessment occurs across two to three sessions lasting 60 minutes each. In each of these sessions, the patient and their family will meet with one of our behavioral health providers who will conduct a comprehensive assessment on matters related to the child/adolescent’s psychological, behavioral and social well-being. The family will receive recommendations for treatment on the final session of the assessment period.
  • Individual and Family Psychotherapy - When indicated, families who have completed a Comprehensive Diagnostic Assessment may continue to meet for evidence-based psychotherapy with an adolescent medicine behavioral health provider. The behavioral health provider will meet with the patient, their parents and/or families (including siblings, when indicated) at a frequency that is guided by the focus of treatment. When necessary, the provider will consult with the patient’s primary care or prescribing physicians.
  • Group Psychotherapy - When indicated, families who have completed a Comprehensive Diagnostic Assessment and/or families already in individual/family psychotherapy may continue to meet for group psychotherapy. Group psychotherapy is conducted periodically by adolescent medicine behavioral health providers, and groups may involve patients only, parents and/or siblings.

Behavioral Health Services Specific to the Gender & Sex Development Program

Patients referred for behavioral health support for issues related to gender development and/or sex development may benefit from the services outlined below.

Multidisciplinary Clinic Services

  • Initial Psychosocial Screening – All patients new to the multidisciplinary gender clinic meet with one of our psychologists for a general psychosocial screening with the goal of identifying potential behavioral health and supportive service needs. This screening is informed by a battery of measures assessing gender dysphoria, behavioral and emotional concerns, and parenting stress and support to be completed by patients and parents/guardians during their initial appointment.
  • Ongoing Psychosocial Screening – Patients returning to multidisciplinary gender clinic are rescreened by our psychologists every 12 months (sooner if indicated) using a subset of the measures completed during the initial psychosocial screening. The goal of ongoing screening is to identify changes in behavioral health/supportive service needs.

Consultative Outpatient Services

  • Consultative Psychosocial Assessment - This two- to three-session consultative assessment with one of our behavioral health providers will focus on matters specific to the child or adolescent’s gender development (e.g., identity exploration, identity formation) and will consist of individual time spent with the child/adolescent, individual time with the parents, time with the family together when indicated, and feedback. This service may be used for gender nonconforming youth who are already in treatment with a behavioral health provider but may be seeking additional consultation on gender issues.
  • Ongoing Consultative Visits - When indicated, families may continue to meet for behavioral health visits to receive ongoing gender-based consultation. The behavioral health provider will meet with the child, adolescent, parents and/or families (including sibling participation when indicated) at a frequency that is guided by the focus of consultation. The provider will consult with the outside therapist with a predominant focus on gender-related issues.
  • Consultation to Professionals (inpatient when necessary) - Phone or in-person consultation to Lurie Children’s and non-Lurie Children’s therapists, school psychologists and social workers, GSA advisors, etc. on general issues pertaining to gender and affirmative practice. Consultation on patient or family-specific issues may warrant a recommendation for a comprehensive diagnostic assessment, and possibly ongoing consultative psychosocial gender-based therapy.
  • Organizational Systems Consultation - Phone or in-person consultation on general issues pertaining to gender and affirmative practice with administrators/stakeholders at school, district or other organizational levels.
  • Psychotropic Medication Evaluation and Management - Patients of our Gender and Sex Development Program presenting with psychiatric concerns for which psychotropic medications may be indicated may be referred for medication evaluation and management with our gender-sensitive psychiatrist.

Our Specialists

Diane Chen, PhD | Pediatric Psychologist
Diane Chen, PhD, is a medical psychologist in the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She specializes in treating mood, anxiety and behavioral disorders using evidence-based individual, group and family psychotherapeutic approaches with gender- and sex-diverse youth. Dr. Chen regularly staffs the multidisciplinary Gender Development Clinic for transgender and gender-diverse youth and the Sex Development Clinic for youth with differences in sex development. She is actively involved in the clinical and academic endeavors of the Pediatric/Adolescent Gender and Sex Diversity Fertility Working Group. Her research examines health behavior, mental health, gender identity development and clinical decision-making among gender - and sex-diverse children, adolescents, and youth adults and their families. 

Dr. Chen received her PhD (2012) and MA (2008) from Temple University, her BA (2004) from the University of Michigan, and completed her internship (2012) and post-doctoral training (2013) in clinical child and pediatric psychology at Lurie Children’s.

Make an Appointment

To learn more about our General Outpatient Services or to request an appointment contact 1.800.543.7356 (1.800.KIDS DOC). 

To learn more about our Gender and Sex Development Program or to request an appointment, contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Leininger at 773.303.6056.

Philanthropy

The establishment of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Lurie Children’s was made possible, in part, through private contributions. Your support is vital in helping us continue to make a difference in the lives of all of our patients and families. Lurie Children’s relies on philanthropic funding to enhance its programs, services and research for children. To learn more, please contact Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation at foundation@luriechildrens.org or call 312.227.7251.

Related Specialties

Adolescent Behavioral Health Program