Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU)

What is the PBMU?

Children with complex mental health issues may need to stay overnight in the hospital at times for treatment. When this happens, we have a specialized unit where we treat children ages 3 to 17 who are in psychiatric crisis. This unit is the PBMU. 

PBMU DiningPBMU Living Room

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.

Hotlines for Youth (PDF) provides other options for immediate help for children and teens. (Also available in Amharic, Arabic, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.)

Services We Offer

The PBMU provides short-term (7 to 10 days), evidence-based care. Our goal is to help stabilize your child’s behavior by helping with their immediate crisis. Parents and caregivers are expected to remain actively involved during the entire admission. After your child is stabilized, we work on helping them return home and to their community.

A focus on solutions

Our team uses solution-focused interventions. This includes developing new skills to cope with stress and better understand what is driving your child’s behavior. In the PBMU, children, teens and families can learn how to manage emotional and behavioral problems in a safe and caring environment.

Coaching to name and control emotions

We use a program based on a behavior-management system of natural and logical consequences. Staff are “coaches” and promote 3 life standards and values:

  • Respect self.
  • Respect others.
  • Respect community.

We teach, coach and reinforce skills to identify, name and control emotions (emotion identification and regulation). We also teach skills to help tolerate distress, such as skills to manage anger or to relax.

We are trained to provide care without using seclusion or restraint, and we strive to avoid “hands-on” interventions.

Family involvement for the best results

You play an important role in helping your child succeed back at home, in school and in your community. So, we want you to take part in all aspects of your child’s care in the PBMU, like education sessions and family evaluations. Your child’s care team will talk with you about any services that may be helpful. We invite you to tell us things that will help us know and care for your child.

Support to help your child transition

While your child is in the PBMU, we will make plans with you to get any ongoing care your child will need after their stay. When your child is ready to leave Seattle Children’s, the PBMU team will provide support to make the transition as easy as possible. The skills learned during your child’s stay can help your child and family cope and prevent crises in the future.

Learn more about what to expect in the PBMU.


How to Get Services

Patients are admitted to the PBMU only after they come to an emergency room and providers there decide they would benefit from an inpatient stay.

Who's on the team?

To take complete care of your child, we have people on our team from many areas of healthcare, including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurse practitioners, mental health therapists, board-certified behavior analysts, pediatric mental health specialists, nurses, registered dietitians, educators, occupational therapists and speech and language pathologists.



Advanced practice providers

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Mental health therapists and board-certified behavioral analysts

  • David Aisenberg, LICSWA

  • Kassandra Bradberry, LICSW

  • Kirstie Catlin, LICSW

  • Nadia Cervantes, LICSWA

  • Maryan Edin, LMHC

  • Rand Goldman, LMFT

  • Amanda Marchese, LMHC

  • Ben Packard, LISCW

  • Amber Pettit, LICSWA

  • Andrea Portillo, LICSWA

  • Alexis Savage, LMHC

  • Ivyanne Smith, LMHC

  • Christine R Sogn, LICSW

  • Andy Song, BCBA, LMHCA

  • Claire Stepherson, LMHCA

  • Evelyn Tseng, LMHCA

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To Inspire Change, Javi Shares Her Mental Health Struggles (Video. 2:54)

Javia Barria started struggling with her mental health as a middle schooler and received care at Seattle Children’s and other healthcare facilities. She shares her story to support others going through similar challenges and in the hopes of ending the mental health stigma and creating a more compassionate community.

Have insurance questions?

Paying for Care

Learn about paying for care at Seattle Children’s, including insurance coverage, billing and financial assistance.