Suburban Hospital

Intensive Outpatient Program/Day Treatment Program

Address: 8600 Old Georgetown Road,
Bethesda, MD  20814
Telephone contact:  (301) 896-2586
Individual interviewed: Judy Gross, Program Coordinator
Date of interview:     October 16, 2012                                                



General background information about the program:

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 starts 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 psychodynamic 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.

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

None available.


One DBSANCA group member participated in the program for 5 days in July, 2012.  She was very pleased with the program.  She indicated that she would sign up for this program again if there were a need.  She also indicated that she would recommend this program to other DBSA members.

She pointed out three characteristics of the program that she was particularly impressed with: (a) The program provides protection (from hurting oneself), community, and medication review, (b) The staff are extraordinarily professional and highly qualified for what they do. (c) Each day is structured each hour. Between each hourly session there is a 10-15 minute break during which the staff communicate what occurred in that session. The common theme of that session is then carried through to the next session. This is highly effective in working in depth on any one issue, be it anger, toxic relationships, assertiveness, etc. 

DBSANCA support group member interview