Our Strengthening Youth through a Network of Care (SYNC) partners are committed to providing supportive services to acutely high-risk youth in seven Chicago communities hardest hit by poverty and violence. SYNC components include establishing new pathways to services, creating centralized systems for intake and community-based case management, and strengthening service providers so they can deliver evidence-based mentoring and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs.

Through SYNC, five community-based organizations will use the SPARCS program model to provide CBT services.

What is SPARCS?
SPARCS or Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress is a 16-session group intervention designed specifically to address the needs of chronically traumatized adolescents living in or returning to chaotic environments, and adolescents who may also be experiencing problems in several domains of functioning (e.g., interpersonal problems, affect regulation and impulsivity, and self-perception). SPARCS helps adolescents cope more effectively in the moment, enhance self-efficacy, connect with others and establish supportive relationships, cultivate awareness, and create meaning.

Who is SPARCS designed for?

  • Adolescents ages 12-19

How is it implemented?

  • Average length/number of sessions: 16 sessions, 1 hour in length
  • Group-based intervention: 6-10 participants per group
  • Single or mixed gender

What techniques are incorporated into SPARCS?              

  • Mindfulness
  • Meaning-making
  • Relationship building
  • Communication skills
  • Distress tolerance
  • Problem-solving

What are the associated outcomes of SPARCS?

  • Decrease in behavioral dysfunction
  • Decrease in social problems
  • Improved interpersonal relationships
  • Improved interpersonal coping

What adolescent populations have benefited from SPARCS?

  • Justice-involved youth
  • Foster care youth


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