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Breakaway is an intensive, after-school program designed specifically for 14-18-year-olds and is available in Wheaton, IL.
Breakaway will be returning from summer break September 20, 2021.

Breakaway provides a safe and unique healing environment for those struggling with issues such as depression, fears, anxiety, grief, self-harm, poor self-image, stress, problems at school and home, family divorce, trauma, PTSD and poor relationships. The program is generally four weeks long and meets Monday through Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. so the student can continue to attend school during the day. The program is on hiatus over the summer. The adolescents receive individual and group therapy and medication assessment, and parents are involved in a weekly educational support group. An aftercare group is provided for an hour, one day a week, for teens who have completed the Breakaway program. This is an excellent way for teens to continue building on the lessons they have learned and receive ongoing support as they make positive life changes. This program is currently only available at the Meier Clinics in Wheaton, IL.

“I love it here! It is like my second home. I feel so good when I’m here even just sitting in the lobby.”


How do I know if Breakaway is appropriate for my child?

Breakaway is an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for adolescents 14-18 years old. Many times there are questions about whether Breakaway is appropriate and parents ask for help understanding the differences between outpatient counseling and an intensive outpatient program such as Breakaway.

Both outpatient and intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment can serve teens with almost any emotional, behavioral or mental health problem. There are a wide variety of symptoms that might cause you to notice the need for therapy, such as anger, defiance, sleeping problems, nightmares, worries, panic attacks, mood swings, exploitative or manipulative behavior, school problems, isolation, social problems, impulsivity, perfectionism, trouble concentrating, lying, rule-breaking, low self-esteem, lack of empathy, physical complaints (such as headaches, stomachaches, numbness, tingling, pain, nausea), trouble coping with divorce, abuse, moving, breakup, trauma, death/loss, or another event.

IOP is a great choice to help teens when problems are more severe. IOP is designed to provide more intense help in a shorter amount of time than available through outpatient counseling and to prevent the problem from becoming worse. Breakaway is recommended as the best choice when:

  • Behaviors or problems are impacting the whole family.
  • Multiple issues need to be addressed.
  • Grades or other indicators of functioning at school are dropping.
  • Thoughts of or wishes for death or a suicidal attempt has been made.
  • Participating in daily activities is difficult.
  • Unhealthy weight loss or gain, self-injury, or harm to others.
  • Symptoms have been increasing despite outpatient counseling or medication.
  • It is a crisis situation that needs to be stabilized, but criteria for hospitalization are not met.

There are two types of groups in the Breakaway program: one is Process-oriented where kids share their personal stressors of the day and listen to as well as give feedback to other group members. This is a space where they can talk freely, while at the same time our trained therapists offer feedback, education, and appropriate interventions.

The second type of group is our Creative Discovery group. This group allows adolescents to utilize creative hands-on methods (i.e. drawing, clay work, collages, etc.) to work through deeper psychological processes. They work through topics on family dynamics, self-esteem, barriers to growth, coping skills, assertiveness, managing feelings, mindfulness, boundaries, and self-awareness. In addition to this, adolescents are given tailored assignments to work on with their individual therapist in the program.

The Parent group focuses on providing support to parents while they are in the program. It is a place to ask questions about the program, gain support from other parents, as well as learn vital communication skills that they can use with their adolescent in the program.    

Psychological testing is also available and informs treatment both while in the program and out when returning to outpatient therapy.

While we are a faith-based clinic and all of our therapists are Christian, we do not have an explicit faith component in the Breakaway program. We find that adolescents desire the freedom to talk about faith issues and we provide that space for them. 

Regular outpatient counseling should always continue after Breakaway. If your teen was in therapy with someone who recommended IOP, we recommend your teen return to that therapist to continue outpatient treatment.

But my teenager doesn’t want to go!

It is rare for a teenager to voice a desire for IOP treatment; it is typical for them to be resistant to the idea. Understandably, they do not want to give up their after-school activities, even if only for a month (Our doctor can write a note excusing them if that is helpful). Other times they say they do not have a problem. Rest assured that teens still benefit from this program even when they are angry or reluctant at first about starting it. Our staff is familiar and comfortable with handling this scenario. We find that when parents take a clear, unyielding stance that the program is required, adolescents usually comply (even if grudgingly). It is your responsibility as the parent to insist that your teenager do what you believe is best for his/her mental health and the health and happiness of your family, in the long run. Unfortunately, when important issues such as those listed above are not addressed, they tend to grow into even more serious problems down the road. Seeking care through this brief, intensive treatment can turn a difficult situation around in the right direction.

I still have questions…

Please call 630-653-1717 to speak with one of our caring staff members. You can also email us.

Ready to take the next step?

If you would like a free, brief telephone assessment to see if one of our programs may be right for you, please call 1-888-7CLINIC to speak with one of our Intake Staff.

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