Community Mental Health Academy

The Community Mental Health Academy at Family Counseling Service is a partnership with Aurora University to create a new and unique hybrid employment/internship opportunity for student behavioral healthcare professionals. Participants receive valuable work experience with a wide variety of clients in an active community mental health center in addition to participating in intensive classroom training, all while meeting their university internship requirements.


The shortage of qualified and experienced mental health professionals negatively affects our local community and the people who live in it:

  • When we struggle to fill open positions, some people in our community go unserved.
  • People in need of behavioral health services deserve immediate access to care.
  • FCS has been an internship training site for multiple universities for more than 35 years; we’re good at training new clinicians.
  • More than half of our staff did their internship at FCS; we personally know the challenges of balancing coursework, a part- or full-time job, an internship, and family obligations. Being able to meet the demands of work and internship at the same place and time helps you focus on quality work and learning, and helps our clients get better service.

Most nonprofit mental health agencies in Illinois are designated as “Community Mental Health Centers.” Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC’s) serve clients with private insurance, Medicaid, self-payment, and no insurance or funding.

CMHC’s also offer a much wider range of services than some other providers. In addition to counseling and psychiatry, CMHC’s can offer case management, substance abuse treatment, psychological testing, crisis intervention, mental health residential services, and more.

Most CMHC’s serve a broad array of clients. Everyone from homeless individuals to homeowners; people from different cultural backgrounds and those who speak different languages. Many CMHCs serve young children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. Services are provided in the office, in client homes, in public places, schools, and more.

When you work in a community mental health setting, you may provide individual therapy one hour, run a treatment group the next, and provide case management in the community after that. Our work requires a well-rounded skillset that most graduate programs do not teach.

  • You will become a full-time employee of Family Counseling Service.
  • You will be expected to adhere to the same professional standards as all employees of FCS.
  • You will have a reduced productivity target as compared to other full-time employees (80% of regular target) due to time spent in additional supervision, classroom time, etc.
  • You will contractually commit to remaining at FCS for at least 1 year of full-time employment after the completion of your training year; we hope you’ll stay longer.

We will provide you:

  1. A competitive full-time salary and benefits package
  2. Weekly individual supervision with an experienced clinician
  3. Weekly group supervision with one of our clinical supervisors
  4. Weekly classroom sessions with a wide array of experienced behavioral health professionals from multiple work settings and organizations to teach and develop behavioral healthcare skills and techniques
  5. Coordination with your university to document satisfactory completion of internship hours

In addition to supervised experience providing behavioral health services to a population of clients ranging in age from 5 to 90+, CMHA participants receive intensive training that includes:

  1. Principles of Community Mental Health treatment
  2. How do I find community resources and help my client access them?
  3. What differentiates quality clinical documentation from ineffective documentation?
  4. How do I engage clients (and their families) in treatment?
  5. How do I manage client sessions to maximize treatment efficacy and efficiency?
  6. What is the most effective way to use the DSM for clinical diagnostics and treatment planning?
  7. What are the unique challenges and opportunities when working with children, adolescents, adults, seniors, couples, families, or groups?
  8. What are common counseling theories, and how do I use them?
  9. How do I evaluate and treat clients with substance use disorders?
  10. How do I provide effective crisis intervention and suicide assessment?
  11. What are common legal issues in mental health, and how do I avoid making legally liable mistakes?

We Teach.
We Learn.
We Develop Expertise.

As a training organization, Family Counseling Service focuses heavily on professional development and adheres to the values of “we teach, we learn, we develop expertise.”

For Students and new Clinicians, FCS provides weekly clinical supervision, consultation, and advanced training opportunities with the focus of each clinician obtaining the highest level of licensure or specialization applicable. FCS is dedicated to providing quality personal and professional services for everyone the organization serves, with an emphasis on being a highly desirable place to work.

Community Mental Health Academy Students

Candidates interested in learning more about CMH Academy should reach out to Mary Ihnenfeld via email or at (630) 844-2662.

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