The Integrated Brain Health Elective provides both clinical and research training. This program is designed to launch careers in psychology with a focus on the integration of mind, brain, body and behavior. Interns will receive multidisciplinary training that provides:

1. The latest knowledge and hands-on skills with patient, caregiver and dyadic interventions that focus on:

  • Preserving health and preventing chronic illness through lifestyle change (e.g., mindfulness, healthy eating, exercise, adaptive thinking, social networks)
  • Optimizing management of chronic illness
  • Promoting recovery and preventing chronic illness after injury or surgery.

2. Experience working within multidisciplinary, integrated, clinical and research teams in inpatient (e.g., Neuro-ICU, general ICU) and outpatient (e.g., mild closed head injury clinic, brain health clinic) settings.

3. Experience delivering integrated, manualized, in-person or virtual skills interventions to diverse populations (e.g. patients with chronic pain, orthopedic pain, neurofibromatosis, stroke, individuals who are deaf) as part of ongoing clinical trials.

This curriculum overlaps with the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Elective and Behavioral Medicine Elective, but the research interests of interns in this track should be primarily in the integration of mind-body-brain-behaviors to promote health, well-being and resilience. 

Treatment, Assessment & Evaluation

An effort is made to expose interns in the Brain Health Elective to diverse cases, while also catering toward their specific training needs and clinical and research interests.

Outpatient Experience

Interns see patients and caregivers as part of a multidisciplinary collaboration across Neurology, Psychiatry and the Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program. Interns also receive referrals from genetic counselors for skills training for healthy individuals with a family history of genetic conditions, then work collaboratively to develop and deliver lifestyle interventions to delay or prevent onset of genetic illness. In addition, interns also see patients with various medical conditions as part of clinical research conducted in the Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program.

Inpatient Experience

Interns see patients and their families as part of the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit (through a collaboration with the Neuro-ICU) and the Intensive Care Unit (through a collaboration with the Division of Psychiatry & Medicine). Interns learn to deliver empathic, direct and brief skills training using a cognitive and dialectic behavioral approach in close communication with the medical team.

Supervision

Interns receive both individual and group supervision designed to provide training, support and perspectives on the care of patients and their families. Typically, interns carry approximately eight cases, with some as a part of ongoing clinical trials. Treatment is both individual and group, in person or virtual.

Consultation

Interns provide consultations to medical patients in the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit, general ICU or directly triggered from inpatient medical practices.

Research

Successful applicants to this elective will have demonstrated a commitment to clinical research through in-progress or completed research publications, presentations, awards or small grants. Ideally, interns have fully completed their dissertations (or nearly completed them) before starting the internship. The goal of this track is to prepare interns for a career in academic research, so one day per week is protected time to spend on dissertation completion, writing manuscripts and preparing small grants.

Interns have ample opportunities for clinical research in a variety of topics, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Orthopedics
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Mild closed head injury
  • Various neurological conditions

Interns are also supported to develop new research collaborations in medical practices that fit the mission of this program. Research opportunities include manuscript development using existing data, along with developing new research ideas. Interns will be guided on research choices and progress by research supervisors.

Prior to the internship, a typical intern has:

  • 3-5 peer-reviewed publications in press (or published by the end of the internship year)
  • 2-3 conference presentations nationally and locally

Interns who stay on as postdocs are encouraged to also develop a grant proposal idea during the second part of the internship year.

Mentoring

A successful career requires effective mentoring. In addition to supervision, interns receive mentoring and career planning within the Integrated Brain Health Program, and are aided to secure additional mentoring within specific areas of research as needed.

Faculty

The Integrated Brain Health Elective is overseen by Ana-Maria Vranceanu, PhD, head of the Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program.

Didactics

  • Behavioral medicine seminar (weekly, first part of the year)
  • CBT seminar (weekly, first part of the year)
  • Fundamentals of behavioral health interventions (weekly, second part of the year)
  • Introduction to grant writing and mechanisms (weekly, second part of the year)
  • Group clinical supervision and case conferences
  • Group research supervision

Supervision

  • 3 hours: Individual supervision (1 hour research-focused, 1 hour clinical, 1 hour clinical research)
  • 1 hour: Group supervision (clinical)
  • 1 hour: Integrated brain health weekly supervision (research)
  • 1 hour: Additional clinical supervision specific to individual rotations

Award

The Mass General/Harvard Medical School Predoctoral Internship in Clinical Psychology received the "Outstanding Training Program" Award in 2011 by the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT).

Postdoctoral Training Opportunities

The Integrated Brain Health elective offers the option of transitioning to a research postdoctoral fellowship to interns who demonstrate outstanding performance and commitment to clinical research in an academic medical center during the internship year. Interested interns are encouraged to organize their research activities such that they can make a smooth transition to a fellowship year if positions are available.

 

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