Explore This Treatment Program

The Behavioral Medicine Program (BMED) at Massachusetts General Hospital provides specialized care at the intersection of psychology and health for patients impacted by both medical and psychiatric conditions through clinical work, professional training and research.

Since the program's founding by Steven A. Safren, PhD in 2004, the treatment programs and research conducted by the Behavioral Medicine Program have emphasized the use of validated, state-of-the art treatment interventions based on the latest research to help patients reach their best levels of mental and physical health.

The Behavioral Medicine Program (BMED) specializes in providing cognitive behavioral therapy-based interventions that are typically short-term, skills-based and tailored to the patient's individual needs.

Who We Serve

Referrals to the BMED program are typically received for the following types of patients:

  • Patients with chronic illness and a mental health condition (e.g., depression) who would benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy interventions
  • Patients experiencing distress that may be affecting their health (e.g., a cardiology patient who may benefit from stress management)
  • Patients who may need help coping with an acute or chronic medical condition (whether or not they have a psychiatric diagnosis). For example, treatment may target adjusting to a new diagnosis, improving self-care or increasing adherence to medical treatment.

Our Treatment Model

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the primary treatments applied within the BMED program. CBT focuses on helping the individual develop personal coping strategies with the goal of solving current problems changing unhealthy patterns of thought, behavior and emotion. While it was originally developed for the treatment of depression, CBT has proven highly effective for treatment of mental health conditions across many medical diagnoses.

The BMED program has extensive experience in applying CBT to medical conditions such as HIV, diabetes (Types 1 & 2), cancer, epilepsy, pain and sleep problems. Our faculty also conduct clinical research aimed at developing new treatments and expanding our understanding of how to improve the way current treatments are applied.

What You Can Expect from Treatment

Treatment typically begins with an initial evaluation with your doctor over one or two visits. Once the evaluation is completed, the patient and provider will discuss treatment goals and a plan for achieving these goals.

The length of treatment varies but typically lasts 8 to 16 weekly sessions. Providers in Behavioral Medicine regularly coordinate care with other Mass General providers involved in the patient's care.

A Collaborative Approach to Care

The Behavioral Medicine Program (BMED) works closely with other medical departments within Mass General including:

Our Research

BMED is at the forefront of research focused on developing, validating and disseminating psychosocial interventions to help individuals with a variety of health and medical issues. We conduct research both domestically and internationally across three continents. To learn more about the specific projects we are currently conducting or to learn about enrolling, please visit our Behavioral Medicine Research page.

Learn more about BMED research 


Professional Training

The Behavioral Medicine Program (BMED) is very involved in training the next generation of behavioral medicine researchers through both predoctoral and postdoctoral training opportunities.

Predoctoral Internship

Predoctoral trainees can apply for the APA-approved clinical Internship in Clinical Psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Within the internship, there are two intern spots for the Behavioral Medicine Elective available each year.

The Internship in Clinical Psychology includes the following rotations:

  • Outpatient Psychiatry
  • Weight Center
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Blake 11

Learn more about rotations

The Internship in Clinical Psychology also offers other potential rotations:

  • Gastroenterology Service
  • The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health

Learn more about the internship

Postdoctoral Training

The BMED Program provides additional training in clinical and research methods by offering postdoctoral fellowships. Since 2004, BMED has trained numerous postdoctoral fellows, many of whom stay on to become full-time faculty at Mass General/Harvard Medical School. Other fellows have taken tenure-track positions in academic psychology departments.

These fellowships depend on the status of various internal and external funding mechanisms. Typically, we know about the availability of postdoctoral positions for July or September after the end of January of that year.

Global Psychiatric Research Training

We also offer a postdoctoral training opportunity through the Global Psychiatric Clinical Research Training Program, a National Institute of Mental Health-funded T32 fellowship organized in collaboration with the Division of Global Psychiatry at Mass General. This fellowship is a protected time clinical research fellowship devoted to providing training to fellows interested in clinical research careers in global mental health. Fellows are mentored by Conall O’Cleirigh, PhD.

Training opportunities may be available at a few different sites:

  • Cape Town, South Africa: focused on evaluating nurse-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy intervention for HIV medication adherence and depression
  • India: focused on HIV prevention among men who have sex with men

More details about the fellowship can be found Mental Health Innovation Network's website. For more information about potential clinical research opportunities available in the upcoming year, please email Christina Psaros, MD.