Comprehensive Behavioral Health Services

The transition to adulthood is a challenging time for any young person, but especially so for those with serious mental illnesses. Emerging adults benefit from specialized support from people who truly understand this transitional phase as they navigate new challenges and responsibilities. Emerge was designed as a multidisciplinary team-based program serving young people ages 18 – 26 in the Chicago metropolitan area. Emerge specializes in providing services in a young adult’s natural environment, which could be their home, school, or a favorite local spot.

For questions and intake services, reach out to us at 773.432.6555 or

Rooted in the evidence-informed Transition to Independence Process (TIP) Model, Emerge staff are highly skilled in engaging and partnering with young people to support their progress on mental health, and vocational, relational, and independent living goals. A primary focus of Emerge is to increase the natural social support and relational health among young people and their identified family members, friends, romantic partners, and others. To do this, Emerge offers individual and family therapy, and uses creative youth-directed strategies to bring peers together regularly for educational, vocational, social, and cultural events. Importantly, these activities not only foster social skills and connections, but also lead to increased exposure to the arts, cultural awareness, and opportunities for career exploration.

Thresholds has two Emerge teams: Emerge Chicago provides services to young adults on Chicago’s North side, and Emerge West provides services in DuPage County/Western Cook County. Both teams provide multiple in-home, and community therapeutic approaches, skills coaching, peer support, care coordination, IPS Supported Employment, supported education, psychiatry, medication monitoring, mentoring, financial assistance, and goal development and appraisal.

Emerge Team Services

Emerge is a multidisciplinary team that provides an array of evidence-based and informed practices. Nearly all services are provided in the community. Most young people will meet with multiple staff on the team (e.g., the primary therapist, vocational specialist, and psychiatrist).

Emerge Core Principles


Emerging adulthood occurs approximately between ages 17 – 27, spanning late adolescence and young adulthood. Emerge does not solely focus on mental health, but instead focuses on all developmental and social determinants of wellness that are important for this age group: friends, romantic relationships, belonging, work, school and career exploration, developing independent living skills and making smart decisions.

To learn more about Emerging Adulthood, check out Jeffrey Arnett’s work or his 2015 TED talk.

Experiences that are co-occurring and unique to emerging adults include:

  • Feeling in-between: Emerging adults do not feel like adults nor do they feel like youth – and depending on the context, they can feel out of place. For those with mental health challenges, this be having supports that feel inappropriate because the services are geared towards younger youth and feel over-protective, paternalistic, and risk avoidant; or are geared towards adults who have lower activity levels and often longer-term mental health symptoms.
  • Self-focus: Emerging adults are exceedingly self-focused, exploring and experimenting with life options that include less involvement with trusted adults, or burdening responsibility to spouses, children, and community.
  • Age of possibilities: It is the time in the life span for the greatest amount of change, yielding the greatest amount of excitement and anxiety. Exploring different vocational options, living situations, and relationships is typical.
  • Immense instability: Given all the change, there is immense instability across life domains. Instability is normal, but can be stressful. For those with mental health challenges, the instability can be acute with high risk and create long-lasting consequences.
  • Relationship re-organization. Emerging adults experience major shifts in relationships with family, friends and romantic partners. For those with mental health challenges, these shifts come with additional challenge as young people become legal adults and have more choice in how they involve loved ones in their care.

Recovery is an important theme for people with mental illnesses. It represents the values of improving health and wellness, living a self-directed life and reaching one’s full potential.

Emerge embraces the notion of discovery as key for engaging and supporting young people in reaching their personal goals. Emerge staff frame their work as the act of building self-discovery by learning through experiences, while having the right support recognize what a young person learned about themselves through that experience. Discovery also includes young people and Emerge staff gaining new insights together. Emerge remains curious without making assumptions or assuming the role of expert guide.


Emerge responds to the instability that is common in emerging adulthood by remaining as flexible as possible in where, when, who, and how services are delivered. By remaining flexible, and changing along with young people as they develop new skills, or assisting in a crisis or challenging life situation, Emerge continues to effectively engage young people in their wellness journeys.


Emerge embraces mutuality as an engagement tool. When relevant and appropriate, staff share their transition to adulthood experiences (e.g., managing money, dealing with roommates and family, figuring out career) to validate struggles and provide concrete examples of how to navigate complex and stressful situations that are common in young adulthood. Emerge also hosts a variety of social activities that are tailored to the personal interests of their young people. Emerge embraces fun as a core practice – for participants and staff. Emerge leverages creativity, flexibility, and connections to community resources to develop new opportunities for self and communal learning and growth.

Contact the Thresholds Youth & Young Adult Services at 773.432.6555 or

Emerge Chicago is funded by Medicaid, and Emerge West is funded by Medicaid, commercial insurance or private pay.