Pediatric behavioral health treatment in metro Washington, D.C.

When your child needs help for emotional, behavioral or psychiatric issues, the children's mental health programs at Dominion Hospital are your best choice for compassionate care close to home. We specialize in effective intervention to stabilize crisis situations, including self-injurious behaviors, and our multispecialty team approach leads to successful outcomes. In addition, we are the only hospital in Northern Virginia that has an inpatient mental health program for children five to 12 years old.

Our goal is to re-establish emotional and psychological balance in a safe environment where your child can heal and learn positive behaviors.

For a free, confidential assessment of your child, call our First Step counselors at (703) 538-2872.

Child behavioral health care focuses on ensuring kids are provided the tools and support they need throughout their growth and development. There is a distinct focus on coping mechanisms and child-friendly complementary therapies, such as music and art. Our physician-led, interdisciplinary child team has developed a program that integrates approaches supported by the latest clinical research and practices.

Our child behavioral therapy team

Our skilled child behavioral therapists excel at identifying children's psychiatric issues and behavioral disorders and developing a comprehensive treatment plan customized for each child.

Some of the specialists your child will be interacting with include:

  • Physician—Works with you and your child to assess the need for medication and decides when your child is stable enough to move to the next level of care
  • Nursing staff—Monitors inpatient children for safety 24 hours a day or during their time with us in our partial hospitalization program
  • Social work staff—Meets with you and your family to identify issues and stressors and creates a plan to maintain safety and continue therapy after discharge
  • Expressive therapist—Introduces a variety of alternative therapy techniques to help your child find other forms of expression and communication
  • Educator—Teaches and monitors children in our dedicated classrooms and, with parental permission, coordinates efforts with local student services to implement changes that may need to happen before your child returns to school
  • Education services—Provides a supportive learning environment while your child is focusing on his or her mental health treatment

Who can benefit from our children's mental health programs?

Our pediatric programs may be appropriate for kids struggling with:

  • Crisis management and suicide ideation
  • Behavioral issues, acting out, oppositional defiance, etc.
  • Depression, bipolar disorder and/or anxiety
  • Medication management and adherence
  • School anxiety, avoidance and socialization
  • Gender identity and expression

Our children's mental health outcomes

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 13 percent of children between eight and 15 years old will experience a severe mental health disorder. Additionally, 50 percent of mental illnesses occur before the child is 14 years old.

At Dominion, our multidisciplinary team approach to treating mental illnesses and behavioral disorders in children has decreased behavioral health symptoms in our young patients. Our children's mental health program has:

  • Decreased feelings of inferiority symptoms by 42 percent
  • Decreased anxiety symptoms by 28 percent
  • Decreased distractibility symptoms by 43 percent

*Based on April-June 2019 Child Unit admission and discharge scores on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale for Children (BPRS-C)

Multiple levels of children's mental health treatment

Whether your child has a school phobia or a common mental health condition that affects kids, such as depression or anxiety, Dominion can help.

Our pediatric behavioral health program includes two levels of care: 24-hour inpatient care that features full psychiatric services in a safe and structured environment, and a partial hospitalization structure where children are with us for part of the day and home with their families at night.

To get started, each child receives an intake assessment to determine what level of service is most appropriate. After admission to the appropriate level of care, we'll do additional assessments to develop the best treatment plan and outline goals for your child's particular needs.

Both our inpatient and partial hospitalization programs offer:

  • Personalized treatment focused on your child's individual development
  • Assistance with coordinating and planning for transition back to school
  • A variety of treatment services, including:
    • Psychoeducation
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
    • Dialectical behavioral-based (DBT) skills
    • Alternative therapies

Each day, our patients play an active role in their recovery, with individualized goal setting related to the desired outcomes of the treatment plan. Individual patient goals are reinforced daily through a token economy behavior reinforcement system we call “Dominion SMILES” (SMILE = Safety First, Make Good Choices, Use I Statements, Listen, and Express Yourself Appropriately).

Dominion’s Child Unit also offers HEAL (Healthy Emotional Actions for Life), a specialized track for those engaging in self-injurious behavior, also known as non-suicidal self-injury.

Child inpatient mental health treatment

We offer 24/7 pediatric inpatient treatment with around-the-clock monitoring and psychiatric nursing care. Our children's mental health services also focus on ensuring school-aged children stay current with their education.

The inpatient treatment is also complemented with family therapy services and other supportive therapies, so children will get the most benefit out of their behavioral health treatment.

Child partial hospitalization program (PHP)

Our partial hospitalization program for children combines a highly structured environment at the hospital each day from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with the opportunity for him or her to spend evenings at home.

This program offers a productive mix of personalized treatment, supportive therapies and individual development and is suitable for children who need assessment to identify and treat issues beyond the scope of outpatient services.

During family meetings, parents are expected to:

  • Share your expectations for after your child returns home
  • Inform and include your child of any major life changes that occur outside of the hospital, such as divorce, marriage and/or recent deaths
  • Confront negative behaviors in a supportive way
  • Provide encouragement and positively acknowledge the progress
  • Discuss discharge dates with the clinical therapist
  • Follow the clinical therapists' directives regarding setting aftercare appointments

Education services at our psychiatric hospital

Dominion understands the unique mental health needs of children. While our primary focus is on delivering effective mental health care, we also provide education services to support our inpatient and partial hospitalization school-age patients during their admission.

Educational services team

Our education services team consults directly with appropriate school personnel to address school stressors related to admission and explore available school assistance where applicable. We provide case management for all school-age patients.

The education services staff is responsible for supervising and providing support to patients in The Learning Lab. Additionally, they help communicate with schools and facilitate the patient's transition back to school.

The Learning Lab

All patients have access to The Learning Lab, except for the off-site outpatient programs. Our Learning Lab is equipped with a SMART© Board, laptops and a printer for patient use.

All school-age patients are encouraged to work on their schoolwork while they are in the hospital during the academic calendar year. During the summer, the education services staff implements a summer curriculum that includes leadership and team building activities, social skills development and other activities that promote and encourage creativity.