S.A.F.E. Intensive® Temporarily Closed

Self-injury is a choice.
There is only pain, not relief, in self-injury. Self-injury negatively affects all portions of a person’s life-physical, mental, emotional and social. There is no compromise with self-injury. The goal of treatment is complete abstinence.

S.A.F.E. INTENSIVE® is a world-renowned treatment program that has helped thousands of people successfully end self-injurious behavior. It has been in operation since 1986. A team of experts uses therapy, education, and support to empower clients to identify healthier ways to cope with emotional distress. The S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES® philosophy and model of treatment focus on shifting control to the client, empowering them to make healthier choices, including the choice to not self-injure.

S.A.F.E. INTENSIVE® is a comprehensive residential treatment program for clients age 12 through late adulthood who engage in repeated self-injurious behavior.  The multidisciplinary treatment team uses individual, group, and family therapies to support and empower individuals to make healthier choices when dealing with emotional distress.  Clients participate in programming 7 days a week with an average length of stay of approximately 4 weeks (30 days) depending on  individual needs and treatment plan for each client. The program is voluntary and ,therefore, clients must be motivated to stop the self-destructive behavior.  Upon admission a safety contract is signed, in which the client agrees to refrain from any self-injurious behaviors for the entire length of treatment.  This includes, but is not limited to, direct forms of self-injury such as cutting and burning, as well as indirect forms of self-injury such as restricting or purging food.  If a client engages in any form of self-injury while in the program, the treatment team will determine if a written warning, probation, or discharge is warranted.  Premature discharges, transfers, and extensions of programming, are determined by the treatment team and are based on individual needs and quality of participation in the program

Clients are expected to actively participate in all groups, complete sixteen writing assignments and two role plays, as well as participate in individual and family therapy. Family therapy is often conducted via telephone since many people come long distances to enter the program.  All forms of self-injury will be addressed, including issues surrounding food and substance abuse.  Clients will be given help in identifying alternatives to self-injury and will be expected to utilize the various tools provided by the program.  Clients are responsible for following their individualized treatment plans and adhering to recommendations made by the treatment team for both emotional and physical health as well as abiding by all terms specified in the safety contract and facility policies.

Program overview:

  • The program operates 7 days per week
  • Self-injury evaluation and intake screening at no charge
  • Individual, group, milieu, and family therapy
  • Impulse control management
  • Education and support
  • Medication management
  • Case management
  • Collaboration with referring professionals
  • Aftercare planning

Treatment Team:

  • Psychiatrist
  • Clinical Therapist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Behavioral Health Support Staff
  • Expressive Therapist

Program Requirements

  • Sign the S.A.F.E. No Harm Contract
  • Identify alternative ways to manage impulses
  • Actively participate in all groups, including individual and family therapy
  • Address all forms of self-injury, including food and nutrition issues

S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES® Medication Philosophy

The S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES® philosophy is centered on individuals expressing feelings rather than suppressing them or acting on them. This philosophy extends to the use of routine and PRN medications. The goal for S.A.F.E. patients is to experience core affect and learn to tolerate their feelings. We believe that the least amount of medication possible should be prescribed. For example, anti-anxiety agents mask the patient’s true affect. If a patient is anxious we want them to learn that they can tolerate the anxiety (versus reaching for medication to suppress it), and learn to process the underlying issue. This subsequently teaches the patient appropriate ways to manage their feelings and provides them with a sense of mastery over their emotions. Therefore, anti-anxiety medications and changes in prescription medication should not be prescribed unless absolutely necessary and in consultation with the treatment team. In addition to emotional distress, many of our patients report somatic complaints. With regards to PRN medications (pain relievers, anti-anxiety, and other dis-inhibitors) patients will be asked to perform alternative activities such as verbally processing their issue, using one or more of their alternatives and/or completing a PRN medication log prior to requesting or taking the medication.

Appropriate Candidates

Males and females (12+ years) whose self-destructive behavior negatively impacts their lives are eligible.


Many commercial insurance plans will pay for this treatment. Unfortunately, Medicare will NOT cover the program.  Coverage by Medicaid is Limited and determined by the state in which the client resides-clients may contact us via or 800.DONTCUT® (366-8288) for more information.  Each insurance company has its own set of criteria for admission and each policy has its own unique package.  The patient services/intake department will be able to assist in determining individual policy coverage.