Mission & Overview

The mission of The Bridge is to decrease substance abuse, promote recovery and healthy lifestyles, and encourage successful community and family involvement among its adolescent clients. The Bridge strives to achieve this mission by providing a comprehensive continuum of culturally sensitive services to address clients’ physical, psychological, emotional, familial, social, educational, vocational and spiritual needs.

The Bridge is committed to providing integrated, culturally sensitive mental health and substance abuse treatment services. Our program model draws from a variety of clinical models and theories, including Systems Theory, Family Systems Theory, Attachment Theory, Interpersonal Theory, the Ecological Model, Behavior Modification and Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Approaches. The Bridge recognizes substance use as one part of a complex problem syndrome requiring a comprehensive, multi-systemic intervention strategy to ensure that change is enduring. Interventions target multiple risk and protective factors, with a particular focus on co-occurring psychiatric distress, trauma, and family issues.

Our program philosophy focuses on peoples’ strengths and assets rather than on weaknesses or deficits. We seek to reinforce positive behaviors and to develop each person’s unique talents. People receive regular opportunities to succeed and to celebrate these successes through regular ceremonies and events.

Behavior Modification Approaches and The Bridge Level System

A structured Phase System that includes clear goals, expectations, rewards and increased responsibility serves as an effective behavior modification model and helps reinforce pro-social behavior. The Phase System defines behavioral objectives and skills that are progressive and related to successful adjustment in life. As people demonstrate responsible behavior, we offer more privileges. The Bridge Phase System also allows people to chart their progress and celebrate their successes. Although the Phase System is clear and prescribed, people move through the phases at their own pace, based on their individual progress and needs.

The Bridge also uses a daily point system to track and reward each resident’s behavior. Residents receive a numerical value based on their behavior and participation in the various clinical, educational, skills building and recreational activities included in the highly structured treatment day at The Bridge. Residents can move up and down The Bridge Level system based on their progress toward achieving important treatment goals, as well as their progress on Daily Point Sheets. Performance on Daily Point Sheets also entitle Bridge residents to participate in various recreational activities and to receive some items from The Bridge Store.

Family Involvement

Recognizing the central role that families play in adolescent development, The Bridge program model seeks to include families in all aspects of treatment. The Bridge’s location within Philadelphia helps to facilitate this intensive family involvement. Improving family function is essential to ensuring that clients can sustain positive change during treatment once they leave treatment. Helping families to develop a better understanding of their child’s addiction and/or mental illness, to improve their knowledge of appropriate disciplinary techniques, to modify their natural social network and to improve their supportive listening and communication skills helps support The Bridge residents’ treatment gains once they return home. Families participate in bi-weekly family sessions and receive frequent homework assignments. Families also participate in weekly or monthly theme-based family nights designed to promote and celebrate the familial system.


The Bridge is a nonprofit behavioral health treatment and youth opportunity program for adolescents and their families seeking to overcome substance abuse, mental health issues, truancy and other challenges. The Bridge provides a comprehensive continuum of services including a residential substance abuse treatment program for 27 adolescent males and females (the only one in Philadelphia); an outpatient treatment program for people of all ages; a licensed private school; a home-based Continuing Care Program to support its residential program participants, and the West Philadelphia E3 Youth Opportunity Center, which helps out-of-school youth and youth returning from juvenile justice placements develop academic, vocational, and life skills.  The Bridge also operates The Villa program, which is a congregate care level II facility where youth ages 14-18 live and go to school along with receiving mental health and drug and alcohol therapy when needed. 

The Bridge’s residential program opened in 1971 and in 1980, we added the outpatient program in response to neighborhood demand to serve both adolescents and adults. The Bridge began managing the West Philadelphia E3 Center in July 2005. Located on 13 wooded acres in the Fox Chase section of Northeast Philadelphia, The Bridge residential program currently serves 38 adolescent males between the ages of 14 and 18. In the past 35 years, The Bridge has served more than 15,000 people challenged by addictions and multiple other issues.

In November 1994, The Bridge joined forces with Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC, formerly The Philadelphia Health Management Corporation) as a nonprofit subsidiary. PHMC is a nonprofit public health institute that builds healthier communities through partnerships with government, foundations, businesses and other community-based organizations. It fulfills its mission to improve the health of the community by providing outreach, health promotion, education, research, planning, technical assistance and direct services. The Bridge receives fiscal, personnel, marketing, program development, and quality assurance support from PHMC.


To obtain a copy of The Bridge’s Annual Report, please email Evan Miller, Senior Program Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..