Experience DBT — A Specialized Day Treatment Program in Atlanta, Georgia

Other Programs: Residential | Virtual Outpatient | Intensive In-HomeCommunity Intervention

A Specialized Day Treatment Program in Atlanta, Georgia

Experience DBT is a 30-day, intensive adolescent day treatment that features experiential, immersive, and comprehensive DBT programming for teens ages 13-17 in Atlanta, Georgia. The curriculum is grounded in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Social Emotional Ethical Learning (SEE Learning.) The treatment goals are for clients to acquire and effectively apply the skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, to feel and show empathy for self and others, and to establish and maintain relationships while living with their family.


teen and mom with dbt therapist

Experience DBT is a partial hospitalization program for teens that can provide significant benefits for you and your family. Our Day Program provides an alternative to residential care and acute-level care for those individuals that require more than regular outpatient treatment can offer. Day programming can also be one of the most appropriate treatment options as the client transitions back into the home and community environment from higher levels of care. 

Day (or Partial Hospitalization) Program, as a level of care, has been studied and proven effective as an alternative to hospitalization in treating adolescents with severe emotional health problems. Additional benefits of participating in a Day Program as an alternative to inpatient hospitalization include keeping the client in the community and family settings, avoiding the stigma associated with psychiatric hospitalization, increasing treatment acceptability and lowering the cost of treatment.

Day Program Treatment Services

The 30-day commitment to treatment is recommended in order to teach all of the DBT skills modules, complete the SEE curriculum and allow for additional experiential therapeutic engagements such as Horticultural Therapy, Expressive Art, and Recreational Therapy.

Individual DBT Therapy, Family Therapy, Psychiatric care including any necessary medication management, and parent groups, are built into the weekly schedule to ensure individualized care and maximize successful treatment outcomes.

Teens ages 13-17 and their families. Day program clients are typically able to maintain safety in the home environment, however, are in need or more intensive therapy and medication management than regular outpatient services. Teens who have severe depression/anxiety or difficulties with completing routine daily activities, such as school, due to on-going psychiatric symptoms. Teens who have non-suicidal self-harming behaviors (NSSI) or passive suicidal ideations.

Most Day-program clients have had minimal hospitalizations. Teens who have completed treatment in more intensive treatment settings (residential or wilderness programs) and have made progress in stabilizing high risk behaviors may also find the day-program to be a good transitional treatment for the after care.

Treatment Length & Duration

Clients are engaged in a clinically intensive and experiential DBT program. Clients remain with the family in the home setting and come to campus Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for 6 consecutive weeks.

Clients and families will work with a multidisciplinary team consisting of Board-Certified Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, Masters-level Licensed Therapists, and Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist®.

Programming Schedule & Treatment Breakdown

Experience DBT activities offer creative and engaging ways for our therapists and staff to help our clients understand and practice DBT skills in real-world settings.

Each week of treatment includes:

  • 12 hours of DBT (individual, core skills group, experiential group, and family sessions)
  • 4 hours of Social Emotional and Ethical Learning (see below for additional information)
  • 8 hours of supervised academic work
  • 4 hours of Recreational Therapy (including art, and horticultural therapy)
  • 10 hours of Milieu Therapy (including Solution Focused Peer Group, Goals Group, Skills Generalization and Practice groups)

For a total of 40 hours of Therapeutic treatment weekly.

As in any comprehensive DBT program, clients and their families are encouraged to use their DBT Coaching calls with their respective therapists during non-treatment hours, including evenings and weekends.

Day Treatment Curriculum

Our 6-week treatment rotation covers:

  • Week 1: Mindfulness & Goals of Distress Tolerance (Part I): Becoming aware of thoughts and feelings and figuring out what to do with them
  • Week 2: Distress Tolerance (Part II): Getting through a crisis without making the situation worse
  • Week 3: Distress Tolerance & Emotion Regulation (Part I): Understanding and dealing with emotions
  • Week 4: Emotion Regulation (Part II): Creating a lifestyle for emotional stability
  • Week 5: Interpersonal Effectiveness: Communicating and maintaining healthy relationships
  • Week 6: Walking the Middle Path: Utilizing dialectics and validation

Treatment Fundamentals

Our teen treatment center program incorporates the following treatment fundamentals:

Social Emotional and Ethical Learning (SEE Learning)

SEE Learning is an educational program developed at Emory University’s Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics that incorporates a research-based approach to educating both heart and mind.

SEE Learning builds upon the best practices in social-emotional learning (SEL) programs and expands them to include new topics such as resiliency skills, the cultivation of compassion for self and others, ethical discernment, attention training and systems thinking. SEE Learning includes helping students cultivate ethical discernment and character as well as practical skills.

Hillside specializes in working with clients with mood & anxiety disorder, borderline personality traits/disorder, severe emotion dysregulation, self-harming behavior, over-controlled/perfectionism, suicidality, and clinically complex clients.

Our treatment modalities include: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), psychiatric medication management, individual therapy, family therapy, groups. Theraplay ® and Radically-Opened DBT (RO-DBT) are offered as clinically indicated.

Our treatment team has extensive experience treating adolescents with complex mental health symptoms, and we are highly trained in DBT.

Meet the treatment team

Our multidisciplinary clinical team is comprised of child and adolescent psychiatrists, masters-level clinicians, certified recreational therapists, nurses, and other mental health professionals.

Our treatment team has extensive experience treating adolescents with complex mental health symptoms. Our clinicians have been intensively trained in DBT and are seasoned DBT practitioners. We also have experience working with clients from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Hillside’s Experience DBT clinical focus is to provide comprehensive and intensive DBT treatment. The program is lead by Elizabeth Lopez, LCSW, RPT, an intensively-trained DBT therapist, and Dr. Rana Sibai-Drake, a board-certified child & adolescent psychiatrist. Our clinicians carefully designed our Experience DBT Day Program to be different from traditional adolescent Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP). 

The Experience DBT Day Program offers a comprehensive and skills-based curriculum intended to help our clients and their families learn and practice effective and healthy skills in their daily lives, in a real-world setting.

Explore a few common questions we receive about our Experience DBT program and our answers:

Q: Do you take insurance?

A: Experiential Day Program at Hillside is in-network with all major insurance plans including Tricare and Kaiser Permanente. We are also able to work with Commercially Managed Medicaid plans in Georgia: Amerigroup, CareSource, PeachState

Q: Who Benefits Most From Experience DBT?

A: Teens ages 13 to 17 who require more than regular outpatient treatment can benefit from Experience DBT at our teen mental health center. Our day program can also benefit those who need help transitioning from a higher level of care into their homes and communities.

Q: What is the family involvement during treatment?

A:  Family is involved with Experience DBT. Weekly Family Therapy is a required component of treatment. Parents are engaged in family therapy weekly as well as the Caregiver DBT groups on Tuesdays 4:00-5:30 p.m. and Family Psychoeducation session every other Friday via Zoom.

Q: What about School? Are Academics Offered?

A: Clients are usually on a hospital homebound agreement for academic work and are given approximately 8 hours during the week to work independently on school assignments. We do not offer academics, though we encourage participants to bring their Hospital/Homebound work, online coursework access and laptops to work on school work for two hours each day. Parents must coordinate with schools to bring assignments to the program so participants can keep up with their schoolwork and meet educational requirements. We also work with parents and schools to ensure a seamless transition at the completion of the program.

Please note that our Experience DBT program is not an accredited school program. Participants do not receive school credit from our institution. Any credit provided would come from the home school. The hours dedicated to education during the day are strict to allow participants to complete work from their home schools so that they do not fall too far behind.

Q: Where Is Experience DBT Located?

A: While Hillside's residential treatment program and Day Program share the same 13 acres campus with the front entrance at 690 Courtenay Drive NE, our Day Treatment Program has it's own building and separate entrance from our residential treatment program. The Day Program building is located at 1301 Monroe Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30306.

For more information, please visit our Directions page.

Q: Does Hillside Gather Patient Feedback?

A: We use measurement-based care (MBC) to improve mental health treatment outcomes. By gathering patient feedback through standardized and validated instruments, we analyze client outcomes. The data allows us to follow each client's progress while customizing their personalized treatment plans to each client's unique needs. We assess client changes every two weeks as they complete measures of emotion regulation, distress tolerance and mindfulness.

Arrange Experiential DBT Treatment for Your Teen

At Hillside, we offer Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) with highly trained therapists and individualized treatment services through four primary services: Residential Treatment, DBT Day program, Virtual DBT Intensive Outpatient Program, and Intensive In-home Therapy. Our programs utilize effective evidenced-based therapy by engaging our clients with interactive and experiential interactions such as recreational therapy and horticulture therapy.

If you're looking for a partial hospitalization program (PHP) near you in Atlanta, Georgia, look no further than Hillside's Experience DBT Day Program. Through DBT and Social Emotional Ethical (SEE) Learning, Experience DBT aims to help your child regulate their emotions, improve empathy and establish healthy relationships. 

Learn More About Our Adolescent Day Program and Other Mental Health Treatment Options

Hillside helps children and families thrive by providing outstanding residential and community mental health services for adolescents. Our adolescent partial hospitalization program in Atlanta, Georgia aims to help your child acquire skills to manage their emotions and behaviors so that they can thrive. To arrange Experience DBT or learn more about our Day Program or inquire about program admission for your teen, contact us today