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

Hillside Atlanta’s Intensive Adolescent Day Treatment Program

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.



Our Intensive Outpatient Mental Health Care Program for Atlanta Teens

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


Treatment Length & Duration

Clients are expected to participate in treatment Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for 6 weeks. Parents are expected to attend the parent groups and engage in weekly family therapy on campus.


Programming Schedule & Treatment Breakdown

Each week, clients will participate in a minimum of 12 hours of DBT sessions, which include traditional DBT Skills training groups, an individual DBT session, a Family DBT session, and advanced experiential DBT therapy groups. 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. As in any comprehensive DBT program, clients and their families are also encouraged and expected to use their DBT Coaching calls with their respective therapists during non-treatment hours, including evenings and weekends.

Each week of treatment, clients will receive approximately:

  • 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)
  • 10 hours of Academic work (see below for more additional information)
  • 4 hours of Recreational Therapy (including Therapeutic Drumming, Art, and Horticulture Therapy)
  • 10 hours of Milieu Therapy (including Solution Focused Peer Group, Goals Group, Skills Generalization and Practice groups as well as psychiatric care and medication management)

For a total of 40 hours of Therapeutic treatment weekly.


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

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 attention training, the cultivation of compassion for self and others, resiliency skills, systems thinking, and ethical discernment. SEE Learning includes helping students cultivate character and ethical discernment in addition to practical skills.

Experience DBT – An Academic & Educational Component

Participants in our Experience DBT Program will have approximately two hours daily to work on their educational requirements. Upon admission, our staff will meet with parents to determine what educational requirements can be met during the day. We encourage participants to bring their Hospital/Homebound work, online coursework access and laptop, and/or school work from their home schools. Parents must engage with schools to try and obtain assignments so that participants can stay up to date with their home school work. Our staff will communicate with parents weekly and be willing to collaborate with the schools for a seamless transition upon discharge.

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 strictly to allow participants to complete work from their home schools so that they do not fall too far behind.


Board-Certified Day Program Clinicians & Staff

Hillside’s Experience DBT clinical focus is to provide comprehensive and intensive DBT treatment in a way unlike any other Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) or adolescent day programs.

Experience DBT is led by Elizabeth Lopez, LCSW, RPT, intensively-trained DBT therapist and Adam Silberman, MD, who received intensive DBT training from Alec L. Miller, Psy.D – the developer of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents (DBT-A) protocol. 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.

To learn more about our Day Program or to schedule treatment for your teen, contact us today.

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