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Child mental health and wellness

Children need to achieve certain developmental and emotional milestones as well as learn social skills so they can function as adults. Services are available to help them achieve those milestones.

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Pediatric mental health services in Northern Virginia

Our pediatric mental health programs offer compassionate care to children in crisis.

Your child can safely get help Dominion Hospital. We offer effective stabilization in crisis situations, including self-harm. Your child will discover how to manage intense feelings so they can heal and learn positive behaviors.

Get an assessment now

In just a few easy steps, you can get started on the road to recovery and wellness. Let us help you find the programs you need to heal.

In just a few easy steps, you can get started on the road to recovery and wellness. Let us help you find the programs you need to heal.

Child behavioral issues we treat

Our pediatric programs may be appropriate for kids struggling with:

  • Anxiety
  • Behavioral issues or acting out
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Crisis management
  • Depression
  • Gender identity and expression
  • Oppositional defiance
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts

Our children's behavioral health care services

We offer both inpatient and partial hospitalization treatment options, along with educational services during the school year and summer.

Our approach to childrens mental health

Child behavioral health care focuses on giving your child the tools they need to manage difficult emotions and situations throughout their emotional growth and development. Our overall approach includes a distinct focus on coping mechanisms and child-friendly therapies, such as music and art. Our pediatric program uses methods supported by clinical research and practices.


Our behavioral health team

Children need specialized care, especially when it comes to mental health and wellness. That's why our approach to their care includes a wide range of specialists, including:

  • Physicians — assess the need for medication and decide when your child is stable enough to move to the next level of care
  • Nursing staff — monitors patients for safety 24 hours a day during their time with us in our partial hospitalization care
  • Social work staff — meets with you to identify issues and stressors, creating a plan to maintain safety and continue therapy after discharge
  • Expressive therapists — introduce alternative therapy techniques to help your child find other forms of expression and communication
  • Educators — teach and monitor children in our dedicated classroom space and, with parental permission, coordinate efforts with local student services to implement changes that may need to happen before your child returns to school
  • Education services staff — provides a supportive learning environment while your child is focusing on their mental health treatment

Childrens mental health treatment options

Our pediatric mental health programs include two levels of care — inpatient and partial hospitalization. Both of these programs offer:

  • Assistance with coordinating and planning for transition back to school
  • Personalized treatment focused on your child's individual development
  • A variety of treatment services, including:
    • Alternative therapies, such as art and recreation therapy
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
    • Dialectical behavioral-based (DBT) skills
    • Healthy emotional actions for life (HEAL) for self-injurious behavior (also known as non-suicidal self-injury)
    • Psychoeducation

Read our child unit handbook.

Child inpatient mental health treatment

We offer 24/7 pediatric inpatient care with around-the-clock monitoring and psychiatric nursing care. The inpatient treatment is also complemented with supportive therapies, including family therapy. We do everything we can to ensure your child gets the most benefit out of their treatment.

Child partial hospitalization program (PHP)

Our PHP for children combines a highly structured environment at the hospital each day from 8:00am to 2:30pm with the opportunity for them to spend evenings at home. This program offers a productive mix of personalized treatment, supportive therapies and personal growth opportunities. It is suitable for children who need assessment to identify and treat issues beyond the scope of outpatient services.


What to expect during treatment

To get started, your child receives an intake assessment to determine what level (inpatient or partial hospitalization) 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.

Daily goals

Each day, your child plays an active role in their recovery, with individualized goal-setting related to the desired outcomes of the treatment plan. Their goals are reinforced daily through our token economy behavior reinforcement system: "Dominion SMILE." SMILE is an acronym that stands for:

  • Safety first
  • Make good choices
  • I statements
  • Listen
  • Express yourself appropriately

Family meetings

During family meetings, parents are expected to:

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

Education services at our psychiatric hospital

Our children's inpatient and PHP mental health services focus on ensuring school-aged children stay current with their education. As part of this, our education services team works with your child's school staff to understand and manage school-related stressors as well as their transition back to school.

The Learning Lab

The education services staff also provides support in The Learning Lab. Here, school-age patients (excluding those in our off-site outpatient program) can use the equipment and technology to continue their education during their time with us.

During the summer, we implement a summer curriculum that includes leadership and team-building activities, social skills development and other activities that promote and encourage creativity.