Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work


Partnerships for Social Justice: The Empowering Counseling Program

ECP News - Photo with Mayor

The Empowering Counseling Program partners with schools, residents, churches, and social service providers throughout Chicago to provide school-based clinical social work services to disadvantaged youth who might not otherwise receive counseling or support. Counseling services of the ECP are designed and implemented through a street-based social work framework. This model was formed through a combination of the strength-based perspective, self-determination and trauma theories while intersecting decolonization, psychodynamic, ecological, and cultural contexts.

Currently, the ECP is funded by After School Matters to facilitate a participatory, rights-based, psycho-educational after school program designed to build resistance and resilience against oppressive social conditions, called Law Under Curious Minds. Youth learn about their human, legal, and civil rights and co-create rights-based instructional materials with current ECP staff, in order to teach their friends, family, and community members about their rights. Youth also co-design and co-evaluate all facets of programming. The ECP also conducts individual to family counseling based on a street-based social work framework.

Research about program services utilizes community-based participatory action, studying both effective service models and topics youth identify as important, such as sustaining their hope and developing their compassion. Youth and students evaluate their programs as interviewers and as analysts of program evaluation data. They also participate as co-authors and co-presenters in ongoing academic research projects.


The Empowering Counseling Program is led by: Dr. Katherine Tyson McCrea (founder) and Loyola University Chicago SSW Ph.D. students, Kevin M. Miller (Director) and Heather Watson (Clinical Supervisor).

Loyola Students

Students from our LUC School of Social Work have interned to povide ongoing support for the youth. The ECP is a hands-on training opportunity for our MSW students to become agents of social change within their local communities during the time they are completing their degree requirements.

More Info

Full description of ECP resources and initiatives can be found on their official website: www.empowercounselprog.wixsite.com/ecp-luc