Many mental health problems experienced by adults arise in response to family crises, unusually high stress, and traumatic events. Brief adult services provide a variety of therapeutic services for adults experiencing severe psychological and/or interpersonal difficulties. Many services to adults are provided in a group therapy format. Since interpersonal relationship problems are almost always present, spouses and other family members may also be involved in treatment. Types of problems treated include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Severe relationship problems
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Adjustment to traumatic events

The needs for mental health by adults in the community are quite varied.  Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services aims its services at those who are unable to receive services in the private care sector and those who tend to experience more severe problems. Often these adults have a history of psychiatric hospitalization or have been involved in the criminal justice system. Therefore, the population being served are focused on the following six categories of adults:

  1. Those individuals over the age of 18 who suffer severe emotional,
    relational, or psychiatric problems, but who do not suffer from chronic,
    disabling mental illness of psychotic proportions.
  2. Those individuals involved in the court or correctional system for whom
    mental health services are deemed important to the individual and
    society in general.
  3. Those individuals referred for follow-up treatment following psychiatric
    hospitalization or from emergency services related to suicidal or violent
  4. Elderly individuals (over age 64) experiencing psychological problems
    associated with aging, including depression or other mental disorders.
  5. Those individuals who have been charged with a crime and for whom
    a forensic evaluation has been ordered to determine competency to
    stand trial, mental status at the time of offense, and/or pre-sentencing recommendations.

Mental health services to the populations described above include a broad range of clinical evaluations and treatment which are provided on an outpatient basis.

  • Clinical evaluations include psychological, psychiatric, medication,
    and forensic evaluations.
  • Treatment services include various modes of  psychotherapy and
  • Case consultation is provided to other agencies, including social
    services, schools, courts, and the Commonwealth Attorney’s office. 
    Psychiatric hospitalization referrals are made as appropriate.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), developed by Marsha Linehan, is an evidenced-based, compassionate, and non-judgmental form of behavior therapy that assists individuals diagnosed with and/or experiencing some symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT focuses on helping clients learn and apply coping and problem solving skills to improve their overall quality of life. The overarching goal of DBT is to help individuals work towards building a meaningful life worth living. In order to achieve this, clients learn how to tolerate and manage their emotions, control their behaviors, be mindful of the present moment, and interact more effectively with others.

DBT places emphasis on the therapeutic relationship in order to help foster an environment that promotes progress and improvement both in therapy and in daily life. DBT therapists focus on the importance of validating and accepting clients’ experiences and helping clients learn to accept themselves and their environments.

  • DBT therapists hold several assumptions about treatment and about clients. Some of these assumptions include:
  • Clients are doing the best they can and need to keep trying harder to improve their lives
  • Clients can and want to improve
  • Clients cannot fail in DBT
  • Clients may have not caused all their own problems and they need to learn how to solve them anyway.
  • The most caring thing a therapist can do is help clients change in ways that bring them closer to their own ultimate goals
  • Clarity, precision, and compassion are of the utmost importance in the conduct of DBT
  • Their therapeutic relationship is a real relationship between equals

Treatment includes 1 hour of weekly individual psychotherapy, 2 hours of weekly DBT skills class, and DBT telephone coaching as needed.

If you or someone you know is interested in receiving DBT please contact our Access program at 727-8515.

Here is a brochure (PDF) on the HAMHDS Dialectical Behavior Therapy program.