Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
What is the Adolescent PHP?
The Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is an in-person, clinic-based, intensive therapeutic program designed to help youth ages 13 to 17 with mental health concerns that significantly impact their daily life. Though the name implies a hospital stay, there is no overnight stay. All therapy is provided in a clinic at the hospital. The program is typically several hours a day, each weekday, for 1 to 6 weeks, depending on your needs.
This short-term program focuses on making your adolescent’s acute mental health stable, reducing life-threatening behaviors and supporting your adolescent so they can receive outpatient mental health services. It requires a referral from your child’s healthcare provider.
The program helps adolescents and their families with coping skills for safely managing their emotions and behaviors. We use dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) (PDF), a form of intensive cognitive-behavioral therapy. Our goal is to support your adolescent’s immediate mental health needs in a way that lets them remain at home.
Who can this program help?
Our program may be a fit for your adolescent if they:
- Recently stayed overnight in an inpatient psychiatric unit or residential treatment facility and need more support than you would normally receive in a traditional clinic setting
- Were recently considered for inpatient psychiatric treatment after a mental health evaluation at an emergency department and you believe they can live safely at home
- Can live safely at home with close monitoring by a caregiver outside the hours of the program
We are not able to treat children in this program if they need monitoring or medically supported feeding for an eating disorder.
What to expect
Our experts in adolescent mental health will support you and your adolescent throughout their time in the program. Your adolescent will learn skills and actions to help them manage their emotions and behaviors.
Program hours and length
Participants typically meet for several hours a day, Monday through Friday, except federal holidays, at Seattle Children’s main campus in the Ocean 5 clinic. The length of the program depends on your adolescent’s treatment goals and could range from 1 to 6 weeks. The treatment team will talk with you about the program days, hours and length for your child.
Patient treatment and participation
This is an intensive program that requires consistent participation. Treatment includes:
- Daily DBT-focused therapy groups and skills practice for the child
- Individual and family therapy
- Interdisciplinary groups, such as movement, music, art and education (supplemental education or dedicated time for outside schoolwork is not provided)
- 1-on-1 peer coaching for caregivers and a Caregiver Connection Group
- Consultation and medicine management with an adolescent psychiatrist
It’s important for your adolescent to attend the program regularly and to have a reliable way to get to the program. If your family needs help with transportation, please let us know when we reach out about scheduling an intake evaluation. Adolescents who keep arriving late or miss multiple days of the program may not be able to stay in the program.
Our case manager helps you find and connect with resources in the community to match your family’s needs when your adolescent completes the program.
Parents or caregivers are not onsite for the program each day, but you play an important role in your adolescent ’s treatment. You need to be available to attend group meetings and therapy (about 3 to 4 hours total per week) and may need to take some time off work.
You will be asked to join family therapy sessions with your adolescent and our therapy staff at least 1 time a week during the program. We also offer and strongly recommend 1-on-1 peer coaching (support from caregivers who have experienced their own adolescent’s mental health challenges) and caregiver groups. A case manager also works with you to connect your family to community resources, help you build skills and have the information you need to support your adolescent’s care. We strongly encourage you to attend the Caregiver Connection Group to better understand the DBT skills your adolescent is learning.
If your adolescent needs psychiatric medicine, we will involve you in conversations and decisions about their medicine.
Monitoring your adolescent's progress
While your adolescent is in the program, we will talk with you about their treatment goals. If they are not making progress toward their goals, we will talk with you about next steps and help you connect with other treatment options or community resources that might better fit your family’s needs.
Our program also provides:
- Snacks and meals
- Coordination with transportation services such as Hopelink, when available, for your child to come to the hospital campus
- Coordination with our case manager to help arrange outpatient follow-up care, as needed
How is partial hospitalization different from other treatment formats?
Formats for adolescent mental health care include:
Outpatient treatment usually means meeting with a therapist or psychiatrist once or twice a week. As symptoms improve, your adolescent may have appointments less often until it’s safe to stop or only go once in a while.
Intensive outpatient program
This is a step up from typical outpatient care. An intensive outpatient program is usually 2 to 4 hours a day, 3 to 7 days a week, for several weeks. The frequency and duration may vary. The program may be in person or virtual.
Partial hospitalization program
Your adolescent gets care in person 5 to 8 hours a day, 5 to 7 days a week, typically for several weeks. People often join a PHP after staying in a residential treatment facility or after a hospital stay.
Residential treatment facility
In residential care, people live at a facility while getting intensive treatment. This option is for people who are medically stable (any physical health conditions are being treated and are under control). It’s designed so they can focus on building the skills they need for long-term recovery.
Inpatient hospitalization (overnight stay in the hospital)
This is the highest level of care, which your adolescent may need if they have severe mental health symptoms and intend to harm themselves or others. A hospital stay is for emergencies and is usually short term.
Can my adolescent go to school while in the PHP program?
Children do not attend traditional school during PHP program hours because they need to be onsite participating in treatment. We can provide a school absence form if your family needs one.
During our Life Skills Group, your adolescent will work with our educator on topics like returning to school, school stressors, coping skills, bullying and gaining independence. There is not time during program hours for your adolescent to work on outside schoolwork.
Who’s on the team?
Our treatment team includes licensed clinical psychologist, Casey McGinnis, PhD. Other team members may include therapists, a registered nurse, a family advocate/case manager, a parent partner, pediatric mental health specialists and psychiatry or psychology trainees (general psychiatry residents, child and adolescent psychiatry fellows or advanced practice fellows).
How to Get Services
To join our program, your adolescent needs a referral from a Seattle Children’s provider or another provider who is treating them, such as a primary care provider, mental health therapist, psychiatrist or school counselor.
If we have openings, we will call you (the parent or caregiver) to schedule an evaluation. This allows us to confirm if our program matches your adolescent’s needs. If we do not have any openings, we will let the referring provider know.
- Learn more about how to get mental health services at Seattle Children’s.
- For questions about the Adolescent PHP, email us. Please allow up to 2 business days for a response.
- If you use a language other than English, call the toll-free family interpreting line: 866-583-1527.
Providers, see how to refer a patient.
Paying for Care
The Adolescent PHP is available for families covered by Washington Apple Health (Medicaid), Medicaid Managed Care Plans and other types of insurance.
- Learn about mental health insurance coverage at Seattle Children’s.
- Learn more about paying for care at Seattle Children’s, including insurance coverage, billing and financial assistance.
If you have questions about your insurance coverage or the estimated cost of the Adolescent PHP, call your insurance to learn more.
In a crisis?
If you, your child, family or friend needs help right away, call or text 988. Chat is another option. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources. The Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States.