McLean’s adolescent dialectical behavior therapy programs, collectively known as 3East, provide specialized care for teens and young adults.
Our programs focus on treatment for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and emerging borderline personality disorder (BPD). Symptoms of these conditions include suicidal thoughts and behavior, self-injury (such as cutting), disordered eating, drug and alcohol misuse, impulsivity, and significant interpersonal difficulties.
We’re here to make a difference in the lives of teens and young adults from across the country and around the world who live with mental illness. For more information or to make a referral, please call 877.626.8140.
To help patients build the skills and strategies they need to work towards recovery, the programs utilize intensive dialectical behavior therapy, known as DBT, to teach individuals how to regulate emotions, tolerate stress, build interpersonal skills, manage attention, and develop self-awareness. DBT has been clinically tested and proven to be effective in borderline personality disorder treatment and depression treatment in adolescents and adults.
3East is ideal for adolescents and young adults seeking:
- Borderline personality disorder treatment
- Depression treatment
- Anxiety treatment
- Post-traumatic stress disorder treatment
The programs in the 3East continuum are specifically designed to accommodate patients in different phases of the treatment and recovery process, from highly focused residential treatment to outpatient care. We have intensive treatment tracks for both boys and girls, and our day program (partial hospital) and outpatient program are coed. Family services are included in all programs. Length of stay, ages accepted, and location vary with each program. As most of the programs within 3East are self-pay, we do not accept insurance or assist with insurance reimbursement efforts. However, some fees may be recoverable through your insurance provider.
Our compassionate, multidisciplinary clinicians have chosen to specialize in working with this patient population and are dedicated to treating young people to address their individual challenges to help them make positive changes in their lives.
3East is well known for its commitment to working with young people to create tailored treatment plans to meet individualized goals. Our dedicated staff takes the time to get to know patients and their unique set of challenges, working closely with them and their families to address difficulties, build skills, maximize treatment outcomes, and transition successfully to aftercare.
3East is located on McLean’s Arlington campus and in nearby Cambridge, and is easily accessible to the greater Boston area and all its medical, psychiatric, and recreational resources. The programs offer a comfortable environment conducive to helping patients focus on their treatment. For our residential patients, accommodations are designed to provide a home-like setting while they are meeting with a member of their care team, participating in group therapy, or spending reflective time alone.
3East’s continuum of programs specializes in intensive dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)—a cognitive behavioral treatment approach that emphasizes the development of four skill sets: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance. An evidence-based therapy, DBT has been clinically proven to be effective in adolescents and adults with borderline and related personality disorders, along with other co-occurring disorders.
One of the core principles of DBT is the balance of acceptance and change. 3East’s intensive treatment provides the structure to help individuals acquire the skills they need to reduce or eliminate behaviors that are dangerous or are hindrances to self-growth and healthy functioning. Our expert clinicians use validation strategies and cognitive behavioral protocols to help teens and young adults stay committed to treatment as they attempt the challenge of changing well-established behaviors, like cutting or other types of self-harm.
Upon admission to each program, patients receive a thorough evaluation by a specialized clinician in consultation with the program medical director. The evaluation may entail discussion of both short- and long-term medication treatment options, preferred therapy modalities, family interventions, transitional care planning, and educational recommendations.
If needed, additional specialty consultations are available for eating disorders, neurology, trauma, educational testing, and attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD). Following the initial consultations, a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and clinical support staff works to identify issues that may support or reinforce a patient’s unhealthy behaviors, factors that may get in the way of more healthy and adaptive behaviors, and considers the individual’s history, personal circumstances, and diagnoses to develop a customized treatment plan for long-term growth.
Components of each program include mindfulness practice, classroom-based DBT skills groups, individual DBT, group therapy, skills coaching, and guidance for parents. At the residential level of care, we also provide case management, medication evaluation and management, milieu therapy, and recreational therapies including yoga, art, music groups, and additional services for parents.
“My family appreciates the staff’s caring attention, exceptional devotion, and staunch support of our daughter during a tremendously difficult time. It’s not an exaggeration that McLean saved her life.”– Parent of a former 3East patient
In addition to DBT, the programs also utilize DBT+prolonged exposure (DBT+PE)—an evidence-based therapy that has increasingly become the gold standard treatment for anxiety disorders and trauma. This approach exposes patients to the thoughts, memories, emotions, and settings related to specific traumas, fears, or invalidation and helps them learn to safely re-experience what they had been avoiding until the symptoms begin to diminish. Over time, patients will learn to effectively manage their fears and anxieties, and their symptoms will reduce in intensity.
At 3East, we strive for a balance of structure and flexibility so that our programs are well-rounded and can provide opportunities for individuals to incorporate their new skills into everyday activities. We organize short excursions to bookstores, craft stores, and restaurants, as well as to outdoor areas in nice weather.
Articles About 3East and Adolescent Mental Health
Read more about 3East’s unique approach to adolescent dialectical behavior therapy.
McLean Hospital researcher Dr. Mary Zanarini is at the forefront of borderline personality disorder research.
Learn more about mental health in boys and young men.
Dr. Michael R. Hollander answers questions on why teens cut and what parents can do to help.
Dr. Blaise Aguirre dispels common myths about borderline personality disorder.
Levels of Care
To accommodate the growing demand for DBT services as well as the broad range of needs of our patients, 3East offers several programs, from intensive residential treatment to more independent residential care to outpatient therapy. Components throughout the continuum of care include intensive DBT treatment, individual and group therapy, mindfulness practice, skills coaching, and parent skills training and guidance.
Intensive Residential Programs
Located on McLean’s Arlington campus, both the 3East Girls Intensive Program and 3East Boys Intensive Program are best suited for adolescents experiencing self-harm, suicidal thoughts and behavior, impulsivity, depression (including suicidal depression), anxiety, disordered eating, alcohol and drug addiction, and trauma/post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), who need concentrated treatment and the 24-hour care of a residential program.
The girls program is appropriate for girls and young women ages 13 to 20, while the boys program is appropriate for boys and young men ages 15 to 21. Patients are immersed in the DBT curriculum to build upon their progress and reach individual goals. Designed to engage patients in their treatment, each day is carefully planned with a combination of individual therapy, classroom-based skills training, focused group therapy, treatment assignments, leisure time, and recreational activities.
Each program has a minimum length of stay, which allows the treatment team to determine the most effective way for each patient to address individual challenges and achieve goals. It also provides patients and their family members with the greatest opportunity to learn the strategies necessary to begin integrating new skills into their everyday lives.
For young women who have completed the intensive program and are still in need of 24-hour care, we also offer intensive step-down care. Access to this less-intensive level of care is offered once the treatment team has determined the individual is clinically ready to transition into the program. The length of stay is determined by the care team and is largely based on individual treatment goals.
Day Treatment (Partial Hospitalization)
Aimed at individuals who are motivated to learn and practice DBT skills to manage their symptoms and improve their level of functioning in the community, the 3East Partial Hospital Program is a Monday through Friday outpatient day program for young men and women ages 13 to early 20s. The program is best suited for individuals not in need of residential care, who are learning DBT for the first time, or who are having difficulty effectively using outpatient DBT therapy. We also provide those who have stepped down from the 3East Intensive Programs the opportunity to strengthen their treatment achievements and generalize their skills use.
Located on McLean’s Arlington campus, the partial hospital program operates year round, weekdays from 9am to 3pm. The program accepts rolling admissions and is 20 business days (4 weeks) in length.
Our day program accepts up to 15 participants at a time and provides an intensive daily treatment structure, which facilitates faster skill acquisition. We focus on identifying behaviors that may hinder an individual’s capacity to advance to the outpatient treatment setting while teaching new skills that support ongoing healthy functioning.
Program components include group therapy (especially DBT skills groups), individual DBT therapy, transitional/vocational therapy, expressive arts therapy, skills coaching for students and their parents, and a weekly two-hour parent skills training and support group. Our expert clinical team also offers medication consultation, family therapy, and specialized consultations. Groups are kept to a small size, with one-on-one skills coaching readily available.
Our clinicians are all trained in DBT+prolonged exposure (DBT+PE), which provides focused treatment for those struggling with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or trauma. The DBT+PE protocol aims to help patients stop avoidance and instead confront trauma-related thoughts and situations using therapeutic strategies to effectively process the trauma. We offer a combination of DBT+PE treatment and education sessions to teach participants to successfully utilize their DBT skills. We provide both individualized and group therapy, as well as parent support.
Transitional Residential Care
The 3East Cambridge Transitional Residence is appropriate for teens and young women who would benefit from extended care before returning to live in the community, either with others or on their own. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near to McLean’s main campus, the ten-bed program is designed for women who have already received and benefitted from intensive DBT treatment, at McLean or elsewhere, and have not engaged in self-harm or suicidal behavior in the eight weeks prior to admission. Program participants make an initial three-month commitment but total length of time in the program depends on each individual’s progress and specific set of circumstances.
This community-based residence uses DBT and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) techniques, including an adaptation of DBT called “Accepting the Challenges of Exiting the System,” or DBT-ACES. Patients work to develop an effective balance of self-sufficiency and use of supports while participating in activities outside of mental health treatment, such as employment, academics, and/or volunteering. Clinical social workers, psychiatrists, transition specialists, and other program staff support individuals to progress toward their goals.
The program aims to help our patients transition to age appropriate levels of independence and enhance healthy functioning outside the treatment setting. Individuals work toward this goal by practicing both general life skills and DBT skills at the residence, in school, and while taking part in program offerings or other approved social, vocational, or educational activities. At this level of care, the clinical team further customizes the patient’s treatment plan to reach additional goals on the path toward recovery.
At the 3East DBT Outpatient Clinic, located at McLean’s Child and Adolescent Outpatient Services in Cambridge, Massachusetts, we provide treatment for adolescents and young adults between the ages of 8 and 22. We specialize in identifying and treating depression and risky behavior that may include suicidal ideation and suicidal thoughts, substance use, disordered eating, risky sexual behavior, and other forms of risk-taking. This coed program provides individual, family, and multi-family group sessions throughout the week.
Pre-Adolescent Outpatient Track (ages 8-12)
Program participants make a minimum 30-week commitment. Our treatment approach engages the patient and family in targeting treatment areas such as managing difficult or intense emotions, navigating interpersonal problems, tolerating distress, learning effective parenting techniques to manage emotions, reducing disruptive behaviors, and improving communication.
Adolescent Outpatient Track (ages 13-22)
Program participants make a minimum 20-week commitment. Our treatment approach engages the patient and family in targeting five treatment areas—confusion about self, impulsivity, emotional instability, interpersonal problems, and parent-teen problems. Upon reaching their treatment goals, patients are invited to participate in graduate groups, designed to help maintain accomplishments and provide continued support to teens and young adults as they strive to build a more fulfilling life.
Outpatient services in both tracks include weekly individual family therapy and weekly multi-family skills groups, weekly individual therapy sessions, and skills coaching to support effective use of skills outside of treatment.
Admission & Cost
The 3East continuum of care is designed to provide individualized programs for teens and young adults who have symptoms of self-harm/self-mutilation (such as cutting), impulsivity, depression, anxiety, disordered eating, suicidal thoughts and behavior, drug and alcohol misuse, and trauma including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Our expert clinicians use intensive dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to help individuals progress through treatment and build the skills and strategies they need to lead stable, meaningful, and productive lives. We accept patients from across the United States and around the world, and can help arrange admission from most domestic or international locations.
Our self-pay programs offer varying levels of care to address the specific needs, diagnoses, and challenges of each of our patients. The programs are specifically designed to provide options for patients at different phases of the treatment and recovery process.
For more information, or to make a referral, please contact an admission coordinator:
Residential and Step-Down Programs
Partial Hospital (Day) Program
We hope to answer your call directly or will return your call/email within one business day.
We work with families and referring clinicians to determine whether our programs are an appropriate option for each young person. A preliminary screening is conducted over the phone to gather as much pertinent information as possible and to explain our mission and the specifics of our programs.
Prospective patients and families or referring clinicians seeking partial hospital (day program) care should fill out the 3East Partial Hospital Program Referral Form. Once the form is returned to the program, we can help determine whether this is an appropriate option.
- 3East Girls Intensive Program: $1,435 per day with a 42-day minimum length of stay
- 3East Boys Intensive Program: $1,435 per day with a 42-day minimum length of stay
- 3East Girls Intensive Step-Down Program, with a daytime partial hospital program: $1,435 per day
- 3East Girls Cambridge Residence: $685 per day
- 3East Partial Hospital Program: $800 per day
- 3East DBT Outpatient Clinic: $5,500 self-pay service fee, with insurance covering individual therapy, family therapy, and medication management—length of stay is variable
The programs in the 3East continuum of care are primarily self-pay. Most programs do not accept insurance or assist with insurance reimbursement efforts.
Some treatment services in the 3East DBT Outpatient Clinic are insurance-based and outpatient program staff are available to answer insurance-related questions.
For more information on what is included in the residential day rate, see below.