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Behavioral Medicine

Behavioral Health

“The strength of the Behavioral Health Unit lies in our comprehensive, multi-disciplinary program. As the only hospital-based psychiatric unit in Arlington, behavioral health patients with medical complications are able to receive coordinated care in a hospital setting.” — Ramanath Gopalan, MD, Chair, Department of Psychiatry.

From chronic depression to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia to obsessive-compulsive disorder and more, Virginia Hospital Center's Behavioral Health Treatment program provides an array of treatment options that can be customized to ensure that the recovery program meets each patient's unique needs.

We have developed a philosophy of care that we follow rigorously: we respect human potential and recognize the uniqueness of each individual. We integrate the patient's personal goals into the treatment program. And we strive, with each step, to help our patients move into independent and productive lives.

We use the specialized skills of experts who work closely together as an interdisciplinary team. The Behavioral Health team includes psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, speech therapists and art therapists. The team has meetings with the patient’s family to get them involved during a patient’s hospitalization, and case managers work closely with them on post-discharge plans, including coordinating with community services available in the county. Patients—and their families—take an active role in their own recovery, an essential step in ensuring their future success.

Inpatient Acute Care

A secured unit within Virginia Hospital Center, Inpatient Acute Care is designed to provide short-term treatment to stabilize behavioral health patients and get the therapeutic process underway in a safe, supportive environment. Inpatient Acute Care is staffed by highly trained and qualified behavioral health nurses, social workers, therapists and other health professionals. Working with the patient's attending physician, the team assesses each patient's condition and develops an individualized treatment plan to meet the patient's emotional, physical, social and spiritual needs.

Medical Therapies

Patients with severe depression may also be candidates for electroshock therapy (ECT). Once widely used, then overused, ECT use has been disputed. But recent research and clinical experience have shown that ECT can be highly effective in treating serious depression, when administered carefully, selectively and appropriately. At Virginia Hospital Center's Behavioral Health program, only a licensed behavioral health physician with specialized training in ECT administers this therapy.

Active Therapies

Although drugs and other medical therapies are extremely valuable in treating behavioral health disorders, group or individual behavioral health therapy and other expressive therapies continue to play vital roles in helping patients recover from these illnesses. Patients take an active role in their own recovery, an essential step in ensuring their future success in all aspects of their lives, by exploring their feelings, conflicts, fears, motivations, and personal goals.

Family Involvement

Patients with mental illness need strong family support to facilitate their recovery. And often the families themselves need support as well to help them cope with the disruptions and distress that mental illness can cause and learn how to best help their loved one with a behavioral health disorder.

Sensory Modulation

“Our sensory modulation program teaches patients self-calming strategies to regulate their emotions, so there is less physical or medical intervention needed. The environment on the Behavioral Health Unit is compassionate and patient-centered. Through sensory modulation, we are helping our patients develop positive coping skills—lasting skills that they can continue to use after they go home.” — Lori Howerton Burn, MSN, RN, Senior Director, Behavioral Health Services. Read more

Inpatient Services

1701 N. George Mason Drive | Arlington, VA 22205-3698 | tel 703.558.5000
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