Children's mental health hospital in northern Virginia

When your child needs help for emotional, behavioral or psychiatric issues, the children's mental health programs at Dominion Hospital offer compassionate care. We specialize in effective intervention to stabilize crisis situations, including self-injurious behaviors. Additionally, we are the only hospital in northern Virginia that has an inpatient mental health program for children who are 5 to 12 years old. We offer this so that we can help every child re-establish emotional and psychological balance in a safe environment where they can heal and learn positive behaviors.

For a free, confidential assessment of your child, call our First Step Counselors 24/7 at (703) 538-2872.

Our approach to children's mental health

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.

Behavioral specialists for children

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 program (PHP)
  • 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 classrooms 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

Children who need mental health care

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 50 percent of mental illnesses occur before a child is 14 years old.

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
  • Gender identity and expression

The impact of mental health care for children

At Dominion Hospital, 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

(Data is based on April through June 2019 child unit admission and discharge scores on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale for Children.)

Children's mental health treatment options

Our pediatric behavioral health program includes 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
    • 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

Child inpatient mental health treatment

We offer 24/7 pediatric inpatient treatment with around-the-clock monitoring and psychiatric nursing care. The inpatient treatment is also complemented with family therapy services and other supportive therapies. We do everything we can to ensure children will get the most benefit out of their treatments.

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 individual development. 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, each 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, 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 our token economy behavior reinforcement system: "Dominion SMILES." "SMILES" is an acronym that stands for "safety first, make good choices, use "I statements," listen and 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 and/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 the transition back to school.

The Learning Lab

The education services staff also provides support in The Learning Lab. Here, school-age patients (not 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.