The Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program: An Interview

By: Pine Rest Staff

Group of diverse smiling teens standing togetherThe Pine Rest Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program is a short-term, intensive treatment program designed specifically for adolescents (12-17) with significant mental and/or emotional problems. Teens accepted in the programs don’t require inpatient care, but need more support than seeing an outpatient therapist once a week.

Amy Jachalke, LMSW, and Aren Lord, LMSW, from the Adolescent Partial Program talked with us so we could learn more about this unique program.

Who is the adolescent partial program for?

Amy: Teens who come here don’t display a significant need for inpatient care, but they need more support than seeing an outpatient therapist once a week. The defining factor is safety – they are able to safely be at home in the evenings while seeking treatment.

What types of diagnoses do you treat here?

Aren: We treat most mental health disorders in the adolescent partial program; we most commonly treat anxiety and depression. We also treat other mood disorders, eating disorders, PTSD and ADHD. Really, we treat most mental health disorders here in the partial program.

What types of treatment do teens receive?

Amy: We have a 90-minute group therapy session each day. The adolescents work on processing emotions and feelings with peers, and they receive support from peers in a safe environment. Every morning we have a 45-minute group with the case managers, where students check in on how they’re doing. Students rate how they’re doing with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and things like sleeping and eating. This helps us determine their safety, and their progress towards discharge.

We also do programming that includes journaling and reflection time. We want kids to recognize the importance of how their eating, sleeping, and exercising contribute to their mental health. We support these healthy habits by providing gym time (basketball, volleyball, badminton, soccer, walking, using chalk outside) and providing nutritious lunch and snacks.

Aren: Our structured groups are activity and topic-focused. Topics include communication, safety planning, coping skills, support systems, distress tolerance, and problem solving. We work on meeting kids where they’re at, and form our content around what kids are dealing with, like family dynamics, LGBTQ identity, bullying, substance use, school avoidance, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Who really benefits from this program?

Amy: Teens dealing with any type of a mental health diagnosis can benefit from partial. We determine goals for each adolescent based on his or her needs. Our treatment team includes psychiatrists, activity therapists, nurses and case managers.

We keep track of their goals, as does the patient. At morning check in, we review goals and talk about growth and how we can help them accomplish their goals. They also receive individual care in group therapy, as we will tailor the content to the needs of that particular group.

Teens who need to work on practicing healthy mental health skills really benefit, as they’re able to go home and practice what they’re learning, and then return the next day to process how things went.

What feedback do you receive from adolescents and parents after their time in the program is complete?

Amy: Parents are thankful their child is back on the right path. They like to hear that we work from a strengths-based perspective, meaning that we get to know each kid and use their individual strengths and assets to help them grow and to promote healing.

Often we hear from teens…

  • “The first day is the hardest, and then it gets better.”
  • “I feel like it’s going to be OK.”
  • “I feel like I have a plan to return to school and have the tools to cope with it.”

Aren: Teens tell me they don’t feel so isolated and alone anymore. They like that they can relate to others. They often tell me, “I never learned these skills before!”

How does the program support parents?

Amy: We offer two parent classes each week, and ask parents to attend one of those sessions. Parents learn about the specifics about the program, what to expect, how to prepare for discharge and generally how to support your teen. Outside of this class, we are support parents as their teens stabilize and return home.

Aren: The partial program provides crisis stabilization, and we help parents gain tools to help their children be successful.

Are there any other helpful information you’d like to pass along?

Aren: A partial program for younger kids is available on our inpatient unit. Kids and teens are seen by a psychiatrist every day!

Amy: Teens can drive themselves here! Sometimes insurance companies will pay for the cost of gas; and some families can claim the mileage on their taxes, too.

We encourage confidentiality, including asking students not to share their last name or where they go to school. If we have students who go to school together, we will make adjustments for them.

Is summer a good time to consider the partial program?

Aren: Summer provides less distraction. Often teens experience fewer anxiety-provoking situations when they’re not in school. They don’t have to worry about their grades and all of the other pressures of school, which can be helpful in dealing with more underlying issues. And they’re not wondering about what their peers are thinking.

Really, any time is a great time to work on your mental health!

Amy: Summer is a great time of year because students generally have more free time and won’t be missing school. We are also able to use the outdoors as part of therapy!

Adolescent Partial Program

Pine Rest Campus, 300 68th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49548
8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Monday – Friday

Partial Program Brochure

For more information or admissions call 616.455.9200 or 800.678.5500.


This article was published as part of our Community Partners newsletter for medical professionals and other professionals to discuss trends and advances in psychiatry and psychology at Pine Rest, mental health screenings, professional education opportunities and more. If you’d like the newsletter emailed to you, please visit our Community Partners page and sign up.

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