DBSANCA support group member interview (Suburban)

When attended: Five days, the second week in July, 2012


About the intake/admissions process

Admission is immediate if one comes from inpatient.  Otherwise there may be a delay. Insistence that one needs the program helps to speed the admission process. One initially has an assessment that takes about an hour and touches psychological history, current symptoms, understanding of one’s problems and many other items. A referral from a psychiatrist or therapist is necessary unless one has previously attended the program.

About the program

There are usually about 10 participants in the program. They seem to average about 20-30 years old, had a variety of diagnoses, and were in the midst of some kind of crisis.

The staff was extraordinarily professional and highly qualified for what they did.

Each day was structured each hour. Between each hourly session there was a 10-15 minute break during which the staff communicated what occurred in that session. The common theme of that session was then carried through to the next session. This was highly effective in working in depth on any one issue, be it anger, toxic relationships, assertiveness, etc.

The first hour was an individual assessment of each participant (“how are you feeling today”; “are you suicidal”; “did you eat your meals while at home”; “what is your anxiety and/or depression level”; etc.)

The second hour was led by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist and was an open session for anyone to raise an issue of concern. The subsequent hours were led by social workers, art therapists, chaplains or  educators (i.e., pharmacists).


There are three benefits for a participant: protection, community, and medication review. A participant is protected from hurting himself during the day program. One is part of a community during the day. And the psychiatrist reviews and recommends any necessary medication revisions.

General background :

The program started about 10 years ago.  Its major objective is to help patients reduce their acute symptoms and hopefully bring them back to their baselines so that they can continue with outpatient providers.  The program averages 10 patients at any given moment. However, the program has the capacity to split into groups when there are more than 10 patients.  There will be days when they have 15-17 patients.

Approximately half of the patients come from the inpatient unit at Suburban Hospital.  The rest are referred to the program by their psychiatrist or therapist. Typically they are individuals who can’t get out of bed, who can’t do their work at their place of employment. Patients have to be 18 or over, they range from 19 to 56 years old.  They are very mixed in terms of both racial/ethnic backgrounds and gender.

Schedule and duration of the program

Patients in partial hospitalization attend the program 5 days/week, sometimes 4 days.  Patients in intensive outpatient care come 3 days/week. All have the opportunity to come on Saturday.  They also offer for individuals in intensive outpatient care the opportunity of coming in three days a week at night from 5 to 9 pm.  The duration depends on the needs of the patient; the average is three weeks.

A typical day start with an assessment.  Patients rate themselves on the depression/anxiety scale, the extent to which they are suicidal.  They also work out their goals for the day.  This is followed by psychotherapy. Psycho education follows and is based on what came out of the first session of the day.  There are also, once a week, a meditation group, a spirituality group, and an art therapy group. The program provides tickets for patients to have lunch at the cafeteria, which gives them a nice opportunity to socialize.

The program does discharge planning.  If a patient has special needs she/he is referred to a special program.

Intake process

Before doing the intake a referral form needs to be filled in either by the hospital (in the case of patients transitioning from inpatient care) or a psychiatrist/therapist (in the case of patients coming in from the outside). The actual intake takes one and a half hours. During intake patients identify their goals for their stay in the program.,

Patients usually start the following day.  Having a waiting list is not frequent as the program tries to accommodate everyone who is interested in participating at a given time.

Therapeutic approaches used

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the principal focus of psycho-education whereas in group therapy the primary focus is on psycho-dynamic therapy.  Meditation and spirituality are also a part of the program.

Number and qualifications of staff

There are six almost full time social workers. Everybody is licensed: the clinical social workers, the professional counselors.  The director who does the psychotherapy group has a PsyD.  The program also has a psychiatric nurse who runs the medication group.

Availability of a psychiatrist and, if so, nature of role with patients

All patients see a psychiatrist once a week for medication management; if a patient is having real problems he/she can see the psychiatrist twice a week.


Program staff does discharge planning for each patient.  If there are special needs the patient is referred to a special program.

Whether this person would sign up again with this program?


Whether this person would recommend this program to other DBSA members?