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The First-episode and Early Psychosis Program (FEPP) at Massachusetts General Hospital evaluates and treats people who:
We also strongly support the use of education—of families, of medical professionals and of the general public—to decrease the stigma surrounding schizophrenia and psychotic illness and improve access to care for those who suffer from psychosis. We do not treat patients with co-occuring developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders.
People experiencing psychosis may wait months or even years before seeking treatment for several reasons:
It is also not uncommon for patients and their families to deny the problem altogether—or simply want to wish it away.
Part of our program's mission is to spread the message that psychosis rarely goes away on its own. In fact, the longer it goes untreated, the more severe it can become. The FEPP team specializes in the detection and evaluation of psychosis, which is often missed by general practitioners.
That's why many of the most successful FEPP patients are those who recognize and seek treatment for their symptoms of psychosis as early as possible.
Massachusetts General Hospital’s First-episode and Early Psychosis Program (FEPP) offers highly specialized evaluation, treatment and education for people in the early stages of schizophrenia or who may be experiencing psychosis for the first time.
Early intervention is the core of our program’s mission. Research shows that early diagnosis and treatment can help people recover from their illness more quickly. It can also lessen the problems typically associated with untreated psychosis, such as unemployment, substance abuse, hospitalization, disruption to relationships, interruption of education and suicidal behavior.
Our program offers:
Meet the clinicians who make up the provide care in the First-episode and Early Psychosis Program.
Abigail Donovan, MD serves as the director of the First Episode and Early Psychosis Program.
Accepting New Patients
Not Accepting New Patients
The First Episode and Early Psychosis Program also includes:
• Sarah A. MacLaurin, PMHNP-BC
• Alla A. Shapero, LICSW
At the First-episode and Early Psychosis Program (FEPP) we know from experience that getting you the help you need when psychosis first develops is critical to recovery. Our program offers a variety of services to assist in your recovery process:
Prior to your initial visit we ask that the following items are faxed to the First-episode and Early Psychosis Program:
All information should be faxed to 617-726-7541 prior to your appointment. Please keep original copies for your own records. This information will be carefully reviewed by a clinician prior to your appointment, which will greatly enhance the quality of your initial evaluation.
At your initial visit, you will meet with a member of our clinical team. The clinical team member will ask you questions about your medical history, mental health and medications to determine what treatments would be most beneficial.
Based on your initial visit, we will determine what treatment program will best meet your needs. You may be offered ongoing treatment through the First-episode and Early Psychosis Program (FEPP) or you may be directed to other appropriate treatment options.
Some of the treatments available at FEPP include:
If you enter the program, program participation is limited to two years. At that point, we will evaluate your need for continued treatment and can assist with a transition to appropriate care.
In Case of Emergency: If you have a psychiatric emergency, please call 911 or go immediately to the closest emergency room for evaluation.
We strive to schedule evaluations quickly after we have received a patient's complete clinical information. All second opinion consultations must be initiated by the treating clinician. All patients first undergo a full clinical evaluation by a psychiatrist who presents the information to a team of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers who specialize in diagnosing and treating people with schizophrenia to determine:
Occasionally a patient may disagree with our clinical determination regarding whether psychosis is present. In these cases, we can still help the patient manage problems areas such as sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression or stress-related problems. Treatment within the First Episode and Early Psychosis Program is limited to two years. At that point, we will evaluate the patient’s need for continued treatment and assist with a transition to appropriate care.
Our doctors and nurse practitioners aim to prescribe the lowest effective doses and fewest possible medications. We understand there is a need for balance in taking psychiatric medications, and we strive to ensure that the benefits outweigh any possible side effects. Open communication regarding medication is strongly encouraged.
We consider not only the psychiatric well-being of patients but also the physical well-being. An FEPP doctor may determine that medication may be an effective option to help patients:
Used in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy and family education and support, medication can also decrease stress so patients can participate more effectively in their therapy.
We believe comprehensive treatment includes both medication and therapy. FEPP offers a highly specialized treatment known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Originally developed to treat depression, CBT is a form of “talk” therapy that has been demonstrated to be highly effective in treating distress, anxiety and other symptoms associated with psychosis. A CBT therapist can help:
FEPP patients typically attend 16 sessions including three to four sessions of guidance and support for family members during the first six to eight months of treatment.
Education for patients and family members is a cornerstone of our care model. We partner with families to ensure they understand the disease and equip them with coping strategies. We also teach family members to assist patients with their recovery by:
Family Education and Support
Education for patients and family members is a cornerstone of our care model. We partner with families to ensure they understand the disease and equip them with coping strategies. We teach family members to assist patients with their recovery by:
Frequently Asked Questions about Schizophrenia
Frequently Asked Questions about the First Episode and Early Psychosis
FEPP is designed for people between the age of 14 and 40 who are either experiencing psychosis for the first time or who have been recently diagnosed with psychosis or schizophrenia. We believe good, quality treatment requires close contact between the patient, family and treatment team. For this reason, we can only offer treatment to patients in the greater Boston area.
Our aims are to aid patients with schizophrenia or psychosis by:
Call 617-724-7792. A staff member will contact you to get specific information which will help guide appropriate treatment or referral.
You can expect to be treated with dignity, respect and care at all times by our expertly trained team. A member of the staff will promptly return your call and assess if our program is the right one for you or your family member’s needs. If it appears as though this might be the case, you will be offered our next available appointment for a comprehensive assessment.
Research has shown that appropriate treatment delivered at the early stages of schizophrenia or psychosis has a huge impact on how well a person does in the long term. To that end, FEPP offers treatments such as medication, psychological therapy and family education directed towards this early phase of the illness.
We have the capacity to offer specialized treatment for two years in FEPP. After 2 years, we work with each patient on an individual basis to determine the best available treatment option.
First-episode and Early Psychosis Program (FEPP)
Massachusetts General Hospital
In Case of Emergency:
In case of a psychiatric emergency please call 911 or go immediately to the closest emergency room for evaluation.
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