Dominion Hospital

Partial Hospitalization Psychiatric Program

Address: 2960 Sleepy Hollow Road,
Falls Church, VA, 22044
Telephone contact:  (703) 536-2000
Individual Interviewed: Ashley Altman, Director of Adult Services
(oversees inpatient and adult partial hospitalization programs)
Date of interview:     August 6, 2012                


General background on the program:

Dominion Hospital, situated in a central location in Falls Church, Virginia, opened its psychiatric services program in 1972.  Sometime thereafter, the partial hospitalization program was started.  The objective of the partial hospitalization program is to empower patients to use their coping skills and their own resources to transition successfully back into their communities.

An average of 20 to 25 patients are in the partial hospitalization program on a given day. About half are individuals transitioning from the inpatient hospitalization program. The program serves individuals over 18 years of age; Dominion also has programs for adolescents and children.  Enrollment in the program is voluntary.

The patient population ranges significantly from day to day.  The program can treat adults from age 18 and above.  The patient needs to be able to care for her/himself outside of program hours.   There is a wide range of patients in terms of race and ethnicity. The male/female ratio varies from day to day.

 Schedule and duration of the program

The current hours are 9 am to 3 pm daily. The day starts with a community meeting, in which patients talk about their current issues and daily goals.  There is a psychotherapy process group led by a social worker, a nursing education group led by the nursing staff, and an expressive therapy group, such as dance, music, or art therapy. Also offered are a nutrition group led by a registered dietician and a pharmacy group led by a pharmacist. Lunch is included with the program.  The day ends with a wrap up group to help the patient plan for the evening at home and process the day’s events. Psychiatric nurses and psychiatric social workers staff the program.

 Intake process

Dominion Hospital has an intake office for inpatient and partial hospitalization that is staffed by licensed clinicians and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Treatment providers and potential patients may call 703-538-2872 anytime to schedule a mental health assessment. This assessment will ensure that the patient’s needs are met with the most therapeutic treatment approach.

Therapeutic approach(es) used

Dominion Hospital uses a variety of evidence-based approaches to mental health recovery. Some of these approaches include cognitive-behavioral techniques, mindfulness, 12 Steps, and yoga. The hospital regularly updates its practices to meet the ever-changing patient care needs.

 Number and qualifications of staff

The program employs psychiatric nursing staff, licensed clinical social workers, certified expressive therapists, a registered dietician, and a licensed pharmacist. In addition, a psychiatrist and an internal medicine physician see patients.

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

All patients are assigned a staff psychiatrist.  Psychiatrists see their patients 3- 5 times a week.  They meet individually with the patient to determine treatment goals and course of treatment.  Dominion psychiatrists are in touch with the individual’s private psychiatrist if s/he has one. All patients meet with social workers for follow-up when they leave so as to ensure a safe transition back to their communities.


At the time of discharge the social workers may make referrals to support groups such as DBSA. NAMI comes in once a month for the “In Our Own Voice” program.

Data, if available, on what happens to patients after they complete the program

None available.


Three of the DBSANCA support group members interviewed had participated in this program: one in 2012; one in 2006; and one twice in the mid 1990s. All had good experiences with the program. All indicated that they would sign up to attend the program again if they had the need.  All three recommended the program for other DBSA support group members. 

When asked what they particularly liked about this program they responded as follows: 

DBSA support group member that participated in the program in the mid 1990s:

(a) Doing goal setting was helpful; (b) The group therapy; (c) The fact she could socialize with other patients; (e) The staff were very nice. 

DBSA support group member that participated in the program in 2006:

(a) The group meetings were practical; (b) The therapists who ran the meetings were good; (c) It was good that they wanted to meet with family members; (d) It was helpful that they tried to make sure the patients were seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist when they we were discharged.

DBSA support group member that participated in the program in 2012:

(a) This program is very successful for those that are higher functioning who need a little boost to bet back on track. (b) If you are willing to work it is excellent; it is designed to be helpful in a quick period of time; (c) It was a great thing that we could hold each other accountable for achieving the goals we were setting; (d) The expressive therapy was by far the best; the therapist was also excellent.

In terms of aspects of the program that they did not like: One (1990s) indicated she didn’t find anything that she didn’t like.  The second (2006) felt that the psychiatrist assigned to him spent very little time talking to him. The third (2012) didn’t find the daily lunch particularly healthy.

For full texts of DBSA support group interviews:

DBSANCA support group member who participated in 2012

DBSANCA support group member who participated in 2006

DBSANCA support group member who participated in the mid 1990s