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University of North Carolina


The Basics

The University of North Carolina Department of Psychiatry’s  outpatient program aims to integrate biological and psychosocial perspectives on mental illnesses, including addiction and substance abuse. Since its start in the late 1990s, UNCDP’s goal has been to provide its diverse clientele with a broad array of evidence-based clinical treatment. The outpatient program is medically supervised, cost-effective and staffed by experienced, licensed clinicians.

Treatment and Staff

Those seeking treatment at UNCDP are initially evaluated and assessed. Based on the initial intake evaluation, an individualized treatment plan is created to suit each client’s needs.

UNCDP usually recommends a combination of individual therapy and group therapy. For the first month of treatment, most clients see a therapist once a week and attend group sessions three times a week. Staff psychiatrists can prescribe medication to clients as needed.

At the onset of treatment, UNCDP employs Motivational Interviewing (MI), followed by specific techniques based on the individual. For example, a client with a dual diagnosis is likely to focus on DBT.

In keeping with its promise to provide a wide range of evidence-based treatments, UNCDP offers gender-specific group therapy, groups that use the Seeking Safety model for both men and women, DBT groups, CBT groups, Stages of Change groups, experiential therapy groups and multifamily systems groups.

UNCDP highly recommends 12-step programs for its clients, as the combination of peer support and evidence-based programs has been shown to be most effective at treating substance abuse problems.

The maximum amount of therapy offered is 12 hours per week. There is no set length of time for treatment at UNCDP, although the average length of treatment is around six months.

All of the clinicians at UNCDP are trained in the Satir Family Systems model of therapy, and its philosophy is integrated into nearly every client’s program. Satir involves the participation of clients’ families, including children as young as eight, and tries to examine and understand past patterns in order to create more functional individuals and families.

There are six clinicians on staff at UNCDP. While all UNCDP therapists must be at least a LCSW or licensed clinical addiction specialists, most of the staff are licensed for both social work and addiction.

While some clients have been referred by doctors or the court system, the majority at UNCDP are there of their own volition.

Because UNCDP’s outpatient program is part of a state hospital, it does not turn anyone away for lack of ability to pay. It offers a free health care program for those who qualify and accepts private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. The program refers clients in need of detox to appropriate facilities.


Perhaps because of its location in a wealthy, highly educated part of North Carolina, many of UNCDP’s clients are white-collar workers, including techies from nearby Research Triangle Park, University of North Carolina students, and professors, lawyers, doctors and other professionals.

According to a UNCDP representative, “professional” clients sometimes present a unique challenge to therapists as they often “intellectualize” or try to “outsmart” their addictions. Along with their dual-certifications, the clinicians at UNCDP are skilled at “going toe-to-toe” with clients intellectually, if need be.

UNCDP’s diverse clients may come from different socioeconomic groups, but they share the same therapy groups. This melting-pot approach can result in both substance abuse recovery and interesting friendships.

In Summary

With its connection to a well-known university, experienced, educated staff and focus on a wide variety of evidence-based recovery methods, it makes sense that so many people choose this outpatient program. UNCDP’s mandate to not turn any clients away for financial reasons makes it a good choice for paupers as well as princes.

UNC Department of Psychiatry
Third Floor, Medical School Wing D
Campus Box 7160
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

University of North Carolina Department of Psychiatry Cost: $988.80 (30 days). Reach University of North Carolina Department of Psychiatry by phone at (919) 966-5217 or by email at [email protected]. Find University of North Carolina Department of Psychiatry on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

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