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What kind of treatments are available?

Mental, emotional and behavioral health treatment and care options

Following an evaluation, a mental health professional at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU can make a recommendation about the type of treatment that is most appropriate for a child.

The treatment options can range from therapy support to medication to hospitalization, and sometimes include many forms of care as part of the larger treatment plan for your child or teen.

What are the different levels of care my child can receive for a mental health or behavior health disorder?

Communities offer different levels of mental health care for children. They range from short-term and more supportive services for children experiencing mild problems to more intensive and specialized services for children with severe mental health issues.

These different programs vary in terms of their intensity, comprehensiveness, frequency and duration. They also differ in terms of where the services are provided. Some are provided in more protective and structured environments such as psychiatric hospitals; others may be offered in a clinic or office in the community. 

The level of care that a child receives is generally adjusted as their level of need changes. The care options available include:

  • Office-based or outpatient services 
  • Family support services 
  • Intensive case management 
  • Home-based treatment services 
  • Day treatment program 
  • Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) 
  • Partial hospitalization (day hospital) 
  • Emergency/crisis services* 
  • Inpatient hospital treatment 
  • Therapeutic Group Home 
  • Residential treatment facility

How much does this care typically cost? 

These services are often available without cost to the family. Most other services can be paid for using Medicaid or other private insurances. If a family does not have insurance for a child, there may be free or low-cost options available through FAMIS. 

Voluntary vs. involuntary hospitalization 

In some instances, a child or adolescent may not be willing to go into the hospital for treatment. In these cases, a designated mental health professional can evaluate the child and then, if appropriate, ask a judge or magistrate to issue a temporary detention order (TDO), which can mandate that a child or adolescent receive inpatient care. 

Therapy services available for mental, emotional and behavioral issues

A number of different types of therapy are used to treat mental, emotional and behavioral problems among children and adolescents. Some therapies may work better than others for a particular child or situation.

 It is important for parents and caregivers to educate themselves about the various therapies, and to be actively involved in developing a treatment plan. A treatment plan is a written document that outlines how therapy should ideally proceed. 

Types of therapy support services offered at CHoR include:

  • Psychotherapy 
  • Individual therapy 
  • Family therapy 
  • Group therapy 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 
  • Cognitive therapy 
  • Behavioral therapy 
  • Interpersonal therapy 
  • Dialectical behavior therapy 
  • Multisystemic therapy 
  • Play therapy 
  • Art/Music therapy 

What medication options for your child who has been diagnosed with a mental health problem?

Medication is sometimes used in the treatment of mental health problems among children and adolescents. Research has shown medication to be effective in reducing or eliminating the symptoms of a variety of problems including: 

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 
  • Eating Disorders 
  • Bipolar Disorder 
  • Psychosis (though disorders) 
  • Severe Aggression 
  • Sleep problems 

Medication can only be prescribed by a medical doctor, usually a pediatrician or child psychiatrist. Before a doctor recommends medication as part of treatment, they will complete a comprehensive evaluation to gain a complete understanding of a child's problems.

Although medication can have a significant impact on mental health symptoms, it is often only one part of a larger treatment plan for a child. 


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