Acute Therapy Service

The Acute Therapy Service (ATS) initiative aims to support service users during a mental health crisis by providing an alternative to the existing in-patient model. Each service offers a safe and containing, therapeutic environment for service users with emotional and behavioural dysregulation, supporting those who present with low mood and who are deemed a risk of suicide and/or self-harm. Those who use the service often have complex needs arising from personality difficulties. This means they can struggle managing emotions, experience relationship difficulties and have difficulty problem solving.

These services are guided by Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) principles and enhance coping strategies to manage emotions during the current crisis and in the future.

Each service is psychologically led, and provides structured therapeutic input. An evidence-based group programme is provided in addition to practical, Occupational, Nursing and Social support. Service users are also offered a specialist psychological formulation to support their recovery and future care planning. 

The ATS Services include:

  • ATS Central (based in Preston) 
  • ATS North (based in Blackpool)     
  • ATS East (based in Blackburn).


Evaluation of outcomes has shown that the ATS services have been both innovative and cost effective. There have been positive responses to ATS from service users, families and professionals. ATS works closely with Complex Care and Treatment Teams (CCTT), Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT), Crisis Resolution/Home Treatment Teams (CRHTT) and other professionals involved in service users’ care. 

Referrals to the ATS can be made by the CMHT, CCTT or CRHTT when seeking an alternative to admission. The inpatient wards also refer to ATS to facilitate a service user’s early discharge from hospital. Referrals are made by calling the service directly, and if suitable service users are then contacted to discuss ATS and invited to attend on the next available day. 

The ATS service has been nominated for a number of local and national awards and is the 2017 winner of the LCFT Chief Executives Award for Excellence.

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