Episode #51 of the Charged podcast
The Behavioral Medicine (BMED) Elective provides experiences in an academic general hospital setting encouraging academic careers in psychology as it relates to health.
While the training experiences in this elective area overlap substantially with the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) elective area, the clinical research interest of the candidate should be primarily in health psychology/behavioral medicine.
Interns in this elective will receive training designed to provide:
- Up-to-date knowledge of health psychology clinical research methods and outcomes
- Knowledge about psychosocial prevention and intervention approaches as they relate to medical illness
- A foundation of experience in formulating and implementing empirically based CBT interventions
Treatment, Assessment & Evaluation
For the outpatient experience, interns have roughly half BMED patients and half CBT patients who do not have medical comorbidity. Patients are referred to Behavioral Medicine from the various medical services at Mass General.
The BMED elective provides interns with experience evaluating and treating patients with conditions representing a spectrum of medical diagnoses. The focus of the Behavioral Medicine Program is on brief interventions designed to enhance medical and psychiatric outcomes for patients. This is designed to maintain patient flow and allow responsiveness to the medical services. Therefore, the evaluation is key in terms of setting realistic and attainable goals. To ensure that experience with a variety of medical diagnoses is achieved, interns track the number of patients seen from each disorder or service. An effort is made to create diversity in each intern's case load.
Supervision, provided in both individual and group formats, is designed to offer a variety of perspectives on the care of patients. In all cases, supervision is designed to combine perspectives based on empirical research and enhanced with clinical experience. The clinical training requirement for BMED interns is eight patient-contact hours per week. Typically, interns schedule approximately 10 patient hours per week to insure a full eight hours of contact. BMED interns will learn the most up to date CBT approaches and will have the opportunity to specialize in health psychology interventions. Most treatment will be individual, however, group training and experience is available. BMED interns will also co-lead a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) group and attend DBT team meetings for six months.
BMED interns provide consultations to medical patients hospitalized at Mass General on an as-needed basis.
A successful applicant to the BMED elective will have demonstrated a commitment to clinical research as evidenced by an emerging history of completed research publications and/or presentations. To make the most of the clinical research training, an incoming intern would have their dissertation either nearly complete or complete before starting the internship. One of the main training objectives of the BMED elective is to solidify the interns' background and skills necessary for a career in academic research. As part of our commitment to the scientist-practitioner model, clinical research is a regular and protected part of interns' weekly activities.
Faculty from the psychiatry and medical departments offer a wealth of research opportunities including HIV, cancer, diabetes and oncology. The faculty from the psychiatry department's programs also offer expertise in treatment and psychopathology research, including multiple ongoing investigations of the nature and treatment of anxiety and affective disorders. Interns should discuss their research interests with each of their supervisors and program directors, and may choose to initiate independent research projects or join existing projects (where full data sets become available during the intern's training year).
Visit the Behavioral Medicine Program to see the faculty.
In addition to the internship core didactics, the following seminars are required:
- Behavioral Medicine Seminar (weekly)
- CBT Seminar (weekly)
- Group Supervision and Case Conferences
- 3 hours individual supervision - 1 hour research-focused, 1 hour BMED, 1 hour general CBT
- 1 hour BMED group supervision
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).
Post-Doctoral Training Opportunities
The internship year is the first step toward specialization in a behavioral medicine/health psychology clinical research area. To provide BMED elective interns with advance training in clinical methods and clinical research, the research teams in BMED at Mass General may offer Postdoctoral Fellowships in Clinical Research as it relates to health. 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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