Dr. Lois W. Choi-Kain

Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD

McLean Hospital Title
Harvard Medical School Title
  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry


Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD, is the director of the Gunderson Personality Disorders Institute. The institute provides training and supervision for numerous proven treatments, including mentalization-based treatment (MBT), dialectical behavioral therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (DBT-PTSD), transference focused psychotherapy (TFP), and general psychiatric management (GPM). She works nationally and internationally to expand teaching efforts on borderline personality disorder and its evidence-based treatments and engages in research to study resources for training clinicians who need direction and patients who need access to informed care. With her mentor, John Gunderson, Dr. Choi-Kain developed a training program for GPM and has been expanding its applications.

In 2009, Dr. Choi-Kain developed the Gunderson Residence, an specialized residential program for adult women with severe personality disorders. In 2013, she founded the BPD Training Institute, a major center for proliferating awareness of and evidence-based care for severe personality disorders. Dr. Choi-Kain has also developed training clinics in McLean’s Adult Outpatient Services for treatment approaches such as MBT and DBT-PTSD.

Research Focus:

Dr. Choi-Kain actively conducts research and publishes original studies, reviews, and clinical perspectives on BPD and its evidence-based treatments. Her research focuses on personality disorders, attachment, psychotherapy, and implementation of care.

Through mentorship of post-doctoral fellows, residents, psychology interns, practicum students, and research assistants, Dr. Choi-Kain has been involved in several research studies. A major focus of her research is on access to care for patients with personality disorders. Recent research projects include an analysis across 21 countries that found a dearth of providers certified in “specialist” BPD treatments.

An added focus of Dr. Choi-Kain’s research is functional impairment in BPD. The longitudinal course of BPD indicates persistent functional impairment despite symptomatic remission. Dr. Choi-Kain studies factors related to functioning in BPD, such as social cognition and mentalization.

Taken together, these findings pave the way for a BPD care landscape in which treatment is more accessible and more effective in helping patients not only achieve remission but also functionally recover.

Dr. Choi-Kain’s other research topics include briefer forms of empirically validated treatments for BPD and the relationship between attachment, mentalization, and BPD. Other work involves treatments for narcissistic personality disorder and the development of adaptations of general psychiatric management to other settings and populations.

  • Julia Jurist, Clinical Research Assistant
  • Sam Mermin, Business Office Manager
  • Aayushi Sangani, Clinical Research Assistant
  • Jenna M. Traynor, PhD, Research Associate
  • Marcelo Brañas, MD, University of Sao Paulo
  • Hilary S. Connery, MD, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Marcos Croci, MD, University of Sao Paulo
  • Haya Fatimah, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Ellen Finch, MA, Harvard University
  • Paul Links, MD, FRCPC, McMaster University
  • Sara Masland, PhD, Pomona College
  • D. Bradford Reich, MD, McLean Hospital
  • Boyu Ren, PhD, Harvard University
  • Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Carla Sharp, PhD, University of Houston
  • Maria Svernell, Karlstad University
  • Igor Weinberg, PhD, McLean Hospital
Selected Publications:

Choi-Kain LW, Gunderson JG. Mentalization: ontogeny, assessment, and application in the treatment of borderline personality disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2008 Sep;165(9):1127-35.

Choi-Kain LW, Albert EB, Gunderson JG. Evidence-based treatments for borderline personality disorder: implementation, integration, and stepped care. Harvard Review of Psychiatry. 2016;24(5):342-56.

Iliakis EA, Sonley AKI, Ilagan GS, Choi-Kain LW. Treatment of borderline personality disorder: is supply adequate to meet public health needs? Psychiatric Services. 2019;70(9):772-781.

PubMed search for Dr. Choi-Kain


Book cover Handbook of Good Psychiatric Management for Adolescents With Borderline Personality Disorder

Handbook of Good Psychiatric Management for Adolescents With Borderline Personality Disorder
edited by Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD, and Carla Sharp, PhD
(American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 2021)

Book cover - GPM and DBT

Good Psychiatric Management and Dialectical Behavior Therapy: A Clinician’s Guide to Integration and Stepped Care
edited by Anne K.I. Sonley, JD, MD, FRCPC, and Lois W. Choi-Kain, MD, MEd
(American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 2020)

Book cover - GPM for BPD

Applications of Good Psychiatric Management for Borderline Personality Disorder: A Practical Guide
edited by Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD, and John G. Gunderson, MD
(American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 2019)

Book cover - BPD and Mood Disorders

Borderline Personality and Mood Disorders: Comorbidity and Controversy
edited by Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD, and John G. Gunderson, MD
(Springer, 2015)

Education & Training

  • 1996 AB in Social Studies, Harvard-Radcliffe College
  • 1998 MEd, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • 2002 Doctorate in Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University
  • 2002-2003 Internship in Preliminary Medicine, Carney Hospital
  • 2003-2006 Residency in Psychiatry, Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program, Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital
  • 2005-2006 Chief Administrative Resident, McLean Hospital
  • 2006-2008 Psychosocial Fellowship, McLean Hospital
  • 2006-2009 Program for Minority Research Training in Psychiatry (PMRTP) Fellowship, American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education (APIRE) and National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH)
Board Certifications:
  • 2005 Medical License, Board of Registration in Medicine, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • 2007, 2017 Psychiatry, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • 2008 Certification of Reliability, Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) by Drs. Mary Main and Eric Hesse, Teachers: Drs. Deanne and David Pedersen


Phone: 617.855.3933
Office Address: Belmont campus - Administration Building, Room 210