About Ellen O'Donnell, PhD

Ellen O'Donnell, PhD is co-director of the MGH Pediatric Behavioral Medicine Program and Director of Psychological Services for the MassGeneral for Children Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes Center and for Shriners Children’s Hospital, Boston. She is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and co-directs the child track of the MGH Internship in Clinical Psychology

Dr. O'Donnell specializes in supporting pediatric patients and their families in coping with chronic illness and acute burn injuries. She helped to develop an innovative pediatric multidisciplinary diabetes clinic where patients with Type 1 diabetes meet with multiple providers, including a psychologist, in one comprehensive visit. She consults to diabetes organizations JDRF New England, ADA, The Diabetes Link, and diabetes camps Clara Barton and Camp Joslin. Dr. O'Donnell also specializes in neuropsychological assessment and in working with children and adolescents affected by both medical illness and developmental or learning disabilities. 

Dr. O’Donnell’s research interests include better understanding the impact of learning disabilities such as ADHD on the management of pediatric chronic illness and the role of parenting in children’s adjustment to and coping with chronic illness. She has received funding from JDRF and other organizations to develop treatments that work for supporting children, teens and families impacted by Type 1 diabetes.  

Dr. O'Donnell's work has been published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence and Multiple Sclerosis Journal. She has co-authored chapters on learning disabilities in pediatric populations and on a parent guidance model for parenting with chronic illness. She is also co-author of the parenting book Bless This Mess

Clinical Interests:



Mass General Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
55 Fruit St.
Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care
Suite 6A
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-724-5600

Medical Education

  • PhD, Clark University
  • Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital

Accepted Insurance Plans

Note: This provider may accept more insurance plans than shown; please call the practice to find out if your plan is accepted.


Dr. O'Donnell's research focuses on the intersection of psychology and medical illness. She has piloted studies of the impact of executive function weaknesses on adolescents' diabetes management, of screening for depression in routine diabetes care and of the development of a program for transition age youth with Type 1 diabetes. In her role with the Mass General Brigham Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center, she was a co-investigator on local and national multi-site studies of the cognitive effects of pediatric onset multiple sclerosis and on a study of patient and family views in pediatric MS research needs, outcomes and methods.

Much of Dr. O'Donnell's research has focused on the impact of parenting styles on children's motivation, cognitive style, and emotional well-being. She is currently developing and piloting The T1D Parent Check-in, an intervention for families in the first year of a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.

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