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The Adolescent Inpatient Unit is a co-educational acute-care behavioral health inpatient unit for adolescents ages 12-17. We provide comprehensive treatment for children and young adults with a wide range of behavioral health conditions who require short-term intensive treatment. Patients are referred through hospital emergency departments.

We understand that you may have concerns about your child’s safety and treatment progress. That’s why our treatment team works together with you and your child to identify problem areas, stabilize the most serious difficulties and develop a plan for ongoing treatment in the community or another facility upon discharge.

Our team is dedicated to meeting your child’s unique needs. His or her care will be coordinated by a team of experienced behavioral health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, psychiatric rehabilitation therapists, and mental health workers.

Our approach

The skilled and compassionate specialists at our Adolescent Inpatient Unit are dedicated to providing the highest standard of care and evidence-based treatment, including diagnostic evaluation, risk assessment, psychopharmacology, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented treatment focused on problem solving and changing maladaptive (harmful) patterns of thinking or behavior in order to improve how your child feels. DBT is a form of CBT that was originally developed for chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. However, DBT has now been adapted for adolescents with suicidality, self injury and other high-risk behaviors as well as those with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse. DBT combines standard cognitive behavioral techniques with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness. Both CBT and DBT are focused on the use of coping skills to stabilize safety concerns and improve your adolescent’s life outside of the hospital.

Our therapy program is composed of multiple treatment modes:

  • Therapeutic milieu
    The “milieu,” or therapeutic environment, helps patients manage intense emotions and unsafe urges, provides a predictable and safe environment, and reinforces adaptive behaviors and coping skills. The milieu includes structured programming and a token economy system. The day is highly structured to help adolescents accept responsibility for their behaviors and develop adaptive coping skills to improve their symptoms, return to their home and community, and reduce the likelihood for future hospitalizations.

A morning Community Meeting, including all patients and staff, begins each day with a mindfulness practice. As part of the token economy, patients are awarded “points” on their “point sheet” for participation, good emotional and behavioral control, and effective coping. Points contribute to a patient’s status level and his or her ability to obtain privileges, such as using the unit iPads, as well as demonstrating a patient’s progress toward discharge readiness.

  • Skill groups
    Group therapy is the primary way our adolescents learn coping skills in five core areas: emotion, behavior, cognitive, self and interpersonal relationships. Patients are provided with DBT skills groups each weekday, including a skill acquisition group for learning new skills and a skill strengthening and generalization group for reviewing skills homework and engaging in fun activities to further apply skills knowledge. Groups include all five adolescent DBT skill modules: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness and middle path.

In addition to DBT groups, adolescents are provided with other therapeutic and recreational groups during the week and on weekends, including art therapy, dance movement therapy and pet therapy.

  • Individual and family therapy
    Our team recognizes the importance of individualized care for each patient, so each adolescent is provided with individual and family psychotherapy either by a psychology or social work staff member or by his or her psychiatrist. Sessions generally focus on helping adolescents learn healthier ways to deal with triggers, intense emotions and maladaptive urges. Family therapy generally focuses on promoting more effective family communication, creating a safety plan to prepare for the adolescent’s return home, and determining follow-up treatments and related services.
  • Consultation team
    In addition to daily team meetings, a core team of our intensively trained behavioral health specialists meets weekly to discuss the DBT program and the patients’ clinical needs.

Upon admission, your child will be assigned to a primary psychiatrist who works under the supervision of the unit chief or assistant unit chief overseeing his or her treatment plan. A comprehensive diagnostic evaluation is performed upon admission. If any medications are necessary, they will be used with your consent and thoroughly monitored by the primary psychiatrist. We recognize the importance of you and your child fully understanding his or her treatment, so your child’s doctor will explain expected benefits and potential side effects of medication.

Discharge planning is an integral aspect of our treatment approach. We collaborate with families to develop comprehensive discharge plans, which may include referrals to outpatient treatment, partial hospital programs, intensive day treatment programs, therapeutic schools, special education services, in-home services and/or longer-term hospital programs.

P.S. 23, an accredited New York City Public School, provides education on our Adolescent Inpatient Unit. P.S. 23 employs licensed teachers experienced in working with adolescents with special needs. There are two classrooms, each with a teacher and a paraprofessional. Teachers and clinical staff work together to ensure that the adolescent’s treatment, such as individualized goals or specialized behavior plans, continues in the classroom setting. For any questions or concerns regarding P.S. 23 while your child is on the unit, you may contact the unit to speak with the teachers or contact the school guidance counselor at (718) 264-4880.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact the Adolescent Inpatient Unit at (718) 470-5750.

Our team


Psychiatry residents, child and adolescent psychiatry fellows and medical students rotate throughout the year. They are supervised by Dr. Saito and Dr. Krakower, who are licensed and board certified in psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry.


  • Madeline McGee, PhD
  • Alison Tebbett, PhD

Psychology externs, interns and fellows rotate throughout the year and serve as primary therapists. They are supervised by Dr. McGee and Dr. Tebbett, who are licensed psychologists.

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