First Episode Psychosis (FEP) Program

Who we treat

To be treated in our FEP Program, young people must:

  • Have experienced a recent first episode of psychosis; examples include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder with psychotic features
  • Have had psychosis symptoms present for less than one year
  • Be 12 years old through 18 years old at the time of intake; after intake, we provide care for two years, up to age 21
  • Be a resident of Philadelphia County
  • Be willing to engage in treatment; families must also be willing to engage

The program is unable to treat individuals who are in the “prodrome phase” (pre-symptoms) or who are at “high risk” for developing psychosis. The CHOP FEP Program is not appropriate for patients with an intellectual disability or intellectual developmental disorder, as the specific treatment utilized in the program has not been shown to be effective for this population.

We accept the same insurances that CHOP Behavioral Health accepts, including Medicaid and many private insurances.

How to know if my child has experienced psychosis

Here are signs and symptoms of psychosis your child may have experienced:

  • Feeling unsure whether or not something is real
  • Feeling paranoid or suspicious of people, places or experiences
  • Behaving in ways that are not typical for the young person
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Feeling low levels of motivation
  • Having confusing thoughts
  • Communicating in confusing ways, or in ways that are not typical for the individual
  • Hearing or seeing things that others do not
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Not wanting to do things that once brought your child joy
  • Changes to sleep and appetite

With the help of the FEP Program multidisciplinary team and early treatment, symptoms can be addressed. We support young people and their loved ones through this experience.

What to expect when you are referred

After a referral is made to the FEP and program criteria are met, you will be contacted to participate in a “phone screener.” This is designed to help our team members know more about your child, and whether or not our specific services will be helpful. After the screening call, the FEP team will meet and determine the need for a comprehensive evaluation appointment with one of the program’s two psychiatrists. At this in-person evaluation appointment, program criteria will be assessed in-depth and we will begin to create a collaborative plan to start care or provide the best referrals for the individual.

We coordinate with inpatient psychiatric units, partial hospitalization (daily, all-day) programs or intensive outpatient programs, and current treatment providers, as needed, to support the young person coming in for an evaluation. This is particularly important after the young person has completed treatment at a higher level of care.

What to expect during treatment

The FEP Program is a Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) program, which includes:

  • Personalized medication management from our psychiatrists
  • Family psychoeducation
  • Weekly resilience-focused individual therapy from our licensed clinicians
  • Specialized support with school and/or work and help with any needed accommodations
  • Peer support from an individual with lived experience who is a graduate of a CSC program

Family-centered care is a key component of our treatment philosophy. A young person’s first episode of psychosis affects the young person and also their family and loved ones. In the FEP Program, we encourage the involvement of family members in the young person’s treatment. The young person and their parents/guardians areinvolved the evaluation process and care planning, following the model of shared decision making. The program also provides individual family psychoeducation sessions, supporting family members to support their loved one.

For referrals, please email fepreferral@chop.edu with the young person’s name, date of birth, parent/guardian name and contact information, young person’s primary address, current treatment providers and their contact information, and psychosis symptoms and when they started.