Washington University School of Medicine

About Our Center

Washington Early Recognition Center (WERC) is a specialized treatment clinic in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University Medical School. It is the only clinical service in the St. Louis region specializing in the comprehensive mental health care of adolescents and young adults (aged 13-25 yrs) who have been recently diagnosed with a psychotic disorder (such as schizophrenia and certain types of bipolar disorder) or are experiencing early signs of psychosis.

Psychosis affects the ability of the brain to process information and to make out reality. Recognizing its early signs is important in order to get appropriate treatment as early as possible. Symptoms may include changes in thinking or speech, suspiciousness, odd behaviors or hearing voices. Often anxiety, depression or substance use is also present. These symptoms can be frightening, confusing and distressing to the person affected and his/her family.

The goal of WERC is to accurately identify young people early in the course of their illness and provide evidence-based interventions to reduce symptoms and improve social, educational and vocational functioning. At WERC, licensed counselors, social workers, psychiatric physicians and other clinicians work collaboratively to develop a personalized treatment plan. We strive to provide the most effective clinical interventions and will investigate novel approaches to care. We are also exploring if advances in brain imaging can help identify psychosis earlier, customize treatment and monitor brain changes.

WERC offers a variety of comprehensive services to meet the unique needs of our patients and families:

  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Detailed psychological assessment
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Medication management
  • Group psychotherapy
  • Family support and psychoeducation
  • Case management
  • Community outreach
  • Research opportunities (e.g. brain imaging)

Our patients are primarily seen on the second floor of 4444 Forest Park Ave. St. Louis.

WERC is supported by foundation, institutional and philanthropic funds.

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