Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit

What to Expect

Your Child’s Stay in the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU)

How do we set goals for the hospital stay?

When you arrive on the unit, we will ask you to share your immediate concerns about your child. Your child’s treatment team will work with you to decide what your child can accomplish during their short stay. We also will work with you on goals that will take longer to reach. Your child may need ongoing outpatient care to reach some goals.

Our goals are to:

  • Stabilize your child’s immediate crisis
  • Offer education about your child’s diagnosis and behaviors
  • Assess if a medication might help manage your child’s symptoms
  • Help build skills to manage crisis behaviors outside of the hospital
  • Help your family access resources in the community

What will my child do during their stay?

While in the PBMU, your child will follow a daily schedule designed to match their age or needs. They will meet regularly with a team of providers (such as doctors, nurse practitioners, therapists and pediatric mental health specialists) and take part in groups with other children. See sample schedules:

When can I visit my child?

Parents, guardians and caregivers are not considered visitors. You may be with your child anytime day or night. (Learn about main campus amenities.)

All other visitors may visit from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from noon to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. To schedule a visit outside of these times, the patient’s parents should contact their clinical team directly.

Visitors age 18 and under must be accompanied by their parent, the patient’s parent or another adult approved by the patient’s parent.

More about visiting, phone calls and what’s allowed on the unit

How long is the average PBMU stay?

A stay on this unit is usually about 7 days. This means most children and teens may still have symptoms when they leave the hospital. For all of our patients, the care plan will need to continue at home and in the community.

Our aim is to help you reduce these challenges over time. This will be more likely if the work we start here continues with your community providers.

For some families, follow-up may include care through Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine clinics.

When will my child go home?

Every patient is different. The length of stay depends on your child's situation. Most stays are about 7 days, but it depends on your child's situation.

From the moment your child is admitted, we will talk with you about what we need to do before your child may go home. We will answer your questions and provide you with all of the resources you need. The specific requirements your child will need to meet before they may leave are called “discharge criteria.” Your healthcare team will work with you and your child each day to meet these criteria.

What else might affect the length of my child’s stay?

Your child may not show the same distressing behaviors on the unit that they do at home, at school or in the community. We cannot work on behaviors we do not see. We may have to send them home without addressing your concerns. This is often frustrating to parents and caregivers.

Sometimes children and teens do not feel like their problems are as concerning as you and the outpatient providers feel they are. Because of this, children and teens sometimes refuse to participate in the treatment process. This can make it hard for us to accomplish as much as you or we would like.

What are the risks of a PBMU stay?

Our unit serves children and teens who struggle with emotional and behavioral problems. Your child may see behaviors you might find distressing and would prefer they not see. This may include the use of curse words; aggression; and psychiatric symptoms like self-harm, purging, mania and psychosis.

Paying for Care

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

Treating Patients With Eating Disorders: What to Expect (Video. 12:05)

Parents and staff share what you can expect from Seattle Children’s Eating Disorders Refeeding Program on our inpatient PBMU.