Gunderson

Helping Individuals with Personality Disorders Build Rewarding Lives

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Overview

Gunderson offers residential and outpatient treatment for individuals with borderline personality disorder and other severe personality disorders, including those who experience co-occurring psychiatric conditions such as substance use, eating disorders, depression, or anxiety. Our self-pay programs are best suited to those:

  • Who have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other complex personality disorders
  • Who are seeking treatment for core issues related to personality disorders such as emotion dysregulation, self-harm, suicidality, and relationship difficulties
  • Who struggle with self-image problems, feelings of self-doubt, intense fear of abandonment, and low self-worth

The Gunderson programs—Gunderson Residence and Gunderson Outpatient Program—offer highly specialized therapeutic approaches that integrate evidence-based therapy models with the goal of improved interpersonal and relationships skills and reducing self-destructive behaviors.

For more information or to make a referral, please call 888.657.5699 (residential) or 617.855.3452 (outpatient).

Our Harvard Medical School-affiliated clinicians strive to develop effective treatment plans for individuals who struggle with narcissistic, antisocial, histrionic, paranoid, avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality traits. By focusing on creating personalized plans to meet the specific needs of the individual, our expert staff combine different aspects of an array of therapies to provide patients with the structure needed to enact change in their lives. As a part of McLean’s Division of Women’s Mental Health, the programs’ cutting-edge methods benefit from clinical research conducted at McLean.

“This program helped me learn how to accept, understand, and express my emotions. The emphasis on community and group work allowed me to benefit from the wisdom and support of other patients. The Gunderson program saved my life.”– Former Gunderson patient

Gunderson residential care includes around the clock treatment for women ages 21 and over in an open-door setting. With an average stay of four months, the residence specializes in care for individuals who have previously been through several treatment programs as well as those who are seeking treatment for the first time.

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in close proximity to McLean’s Belmont campus, the Gunderson Residence is designed for community living in newly constructed townhouses less than two miles from Harvard Square and four miles from downtown Boston. Women come to the Gunderson Residence from across the country and all over the world.

Our specialized outpatient care for men and women has an emphasis on skill building, while working towards patient self-reliance and establishing occupational, academic, and social opportunities in the community. The Gunderson Outpatient Program is located within the Service Building on McLean’s historic campus in Belmont, Massachusetts, offering a pleasant and peaceful environment that is conducive to helping patients focus on their treatment.

The outpatient services operate Monday through Friday in the morning and afternoon, with each individual attending treatment for an average of 20 hours per week. The Gunderson Outpatient Program requires an initial six-month treatment period, though ultimately length of care is determined by each patient’s unique clinical needs. While most of our fees are self-pay, several of our services may be covered by insurance.

The Gunderson programs provide tools and guidance to foster the self-reliance individuals need to build a more balanced, productive, and meaningful life.

Gunderson in the News:
Dr. Mary Zanarini is at the forefront of borderline personality disorder research.

McLean’s Borderline Personality Disorder Training Institute provides crucial training for clinicians.

Treatment Approach

The Gunderson programs’ multidisciplinary team of clinicians are experts in borderline personality disorder (BPD). They use a range of evidence-based treatment and therapy models informed by cutting-edge research, allowing care to be customized to the needs of the individual based on the type and severity of specific symptoms. Those entering the programs receive a detailed evaluation in order for clinicians to establish a treatment plan that incorporates the best therapies and strategies for addressing symptoms, identifying challenges, and setting goals.

Our programs use individual and group therapy using treatment models such as:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which emphasizes the development of four skill sets: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance. DBT has proven to be one of the most effective ways of treating borderline personality disorder.
  • Mentalization-based treatment (MBT) is a therapy model that focuses on helping people to differentiate and separate their own thoughts and feelings from those around them.
  • General psychiatric management (GPM), which includes education for patients and their families and case management, was developed by McLean’s own John G. Gunderson, MD, a pioneer in BPD research and care.
John G. Gunderson, MD
Watch McLean experts speak regarding BPD treatment

Group therapy covers a broad range of topics including mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, skills generalization, emotion regulation, and family issues. Treatment may also include diagnostic assessment, medication consultation and management, family evaluation and involvement, case management, ongoing treatment review, toxicology testing, expressive therapy, vocational and educational counseling for transitional support, and coordination of care with referring clinicians and aftercare providers.

Ancillary health services may include psychological and neuropsychological testing and consultation, eating disorder services and nutritional counseling, treatment for trauma-related disorders, and substance abuse treatment.

Family and friends are often incorporated into treatment. A family member, most commonly a parent and/or partner, is asked to work with a family therapist. Family and friends are a valuable tool in a patient’s recovery and long-term success, providing reinforcement for positive change and meeting treatment goals.

Support and education for patients, families, and friends is also integral to treatment success. In addition to patient education, the Gunderson programs offer group therapy and educational workshops for families and friends targeted for the specific needs of supporting a loved one with BPD. McLean’s Borderline Personality Disorder Patient and Family Education Initiative also provides interactive and on-demand resources such as educational webinars to support individuals and families affected by BPD.

We also encourage patients to become involved with the larger community through part-time work, volunteer opportunities, and classes at local colleges and universities. The Gunderson Residence offers group activities such as community cooking, fitness, and community outings.

treatment team

Program Leadership

Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MDLois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD, Medical and Program Director, Gunderson Residence

Dr. Choi-Kain’s areas of specialization include attachment, personality disorders, and psychotherapy, along with an integration of evidence-based treatments for borderline personality disorder (BPD). In addition to her clinical work, she actively conducts research and publishes papers on BPD while also providing training for clinicians in general psychiatric management (GPM) and mentalization-based treatment (MBT) approaches.


Joe B. Flores, MDJoe B. Flores, MD, Medical Director, Gunderson Outpatient Program

Dr. Flores oversees intensive treatment for individuals with borderline personality disorder and other complex personality disorders. Along with the study of personality disorders, Dr. Flores’ primary clinical interest is to understand and engage the person behind the illness. Comprehension and engagement foster coherence, which can become an engine for change within an individual.


George W. Smith, LICSWGeorge W. Smith, LICSW, Program Director, Gunderson Outpatient Program

Mr. Smith has spent his entire career at McLean. After 14 years of inpatient work, primarily focused on family therapy, he became the program director of McLean’s first residential program for personality disorders in 1990 and started an intensive outpatient program in 1996. He is currently the clinic director of the Outpatient Personality Disorders Clinic and has been director of Outpatient Group Services since 1997.


Brandon Unruh, MDBrandon Unruh, MD, Assistant Medical Director, Gunderson Residence

Dr. Unruh’s clinical approach is anchored in the integration of evidence-based treatments such as DBT, MBT, and GPM. He has published on a variety of topics including medical ethics, general hospital psychiatry, and literature and medicine. His academic interests also include the examination of philosophical and spiritual issues from psychiatric and psychoanalytic perspectives.


Karen L. Jacob, PhDKaren L. Jacob, PhD, Director of Clinical Services, Gunderson Residence

Dr. Jacob has an extensive clinical background in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for patients suffering from mood, anxiety, and personality disorders, and is trained in mindfulness, mentalization, DBT, and biofeedback therapies. As an author of numerous papers and presentations, her current research interests include understanding the relative impact of different components of treatment on outcomes, as measured by both symptom and functional improvement.


John G. Gunderson, MDJohn Gunderson, MD, Senior Consultant

Dr. Gunderson is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and founder of McLean’s Borderline Center. His seminal studies on borderline personality disorder helped transform the diagnosis from a psychoanalytic construct into an empirically validated and internationally recognized disorder and earned him recognition as the “father” of this disorder. He also developed the evidence-based therapy general psychiatric management, which he and fellow McLean clinicians teach throughout the country.

Staff and Associates

Our multidisciplinary staff includes board-certified psychiatrists, licensed psychologists and family therapists, registered nurses, clinical social workers, a full-time occupational therapist, expressive therapists, and community residence counselors. This highly trained team has extensive background in the treatment of severe personality disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions. Our clinicians have experience working with patients from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds from across the country and around the globe.

The Gunderson programs operate within the Division of Women’s Mental Health, led by Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, MPH.

Books by Gunderson Authors

McLean Hospital staff have penned more than 50 books in recent years, including several titles by members of the Gunderson staff.

Accommodations

The Gunderson programs are committed to providing first-class treatment in a pleasant environment that is conducive to helping individuals focus on their treatment and recovery.

The Gunderson Outpatient Program, located on McLean’s main campus in Belmont, Massachusetts, offers a quiet setting for patients to work on skills and goal setting in an effort to build patient self-reliance and establish occupational, academic, and social opportunities in the community. Individuals have access to all that the McLean campus has to offer including serene, private grounds and patient educational resources and support groups.

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Gunderson Residence is designed for community residential living in newly constructed townhouses minutes from downtown Cambridge and Boston. The residence’s open-door setting offers each resident a modern and comfortable private bedroom and shared bathrooms so that she can feel safe and comfortable while focusing on treatment. Our courtyard provides a peaceful setting for residents to relax and is also available for family visits.

Gunderson bedroomResidents have the opportunity to cook their own food or have their meals catered. Our spacious, modern, and well-designed kitchen is ideal for community cooking classes or for residents who prefer to prepare their own meals. This warm and inviting area helps patients feel comfortable during their stay at the residence.

All living areas have been designed with the serenity of a home environment in mind—from quality furnishings and artwork to the peaceful surroundings of the grounds. Laundry facilities are onsite for convenience. Each resident also has a fitness membership to a premier sports club, which is included in the program cost.

Outside of the treatment schedule, the Gunderson Residence offers an array of onsite leisure activities, or patients can visit area bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants, museums, boutiques, and more. Located less than two miles from Harvard Square and four miles from downtown Boston, public transportation to various local sites is just steps from our front door.

Admission & cost

Admission

The Gunderson programs are suitable for individuals who seek intensive treatment for core issues related to borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other complex personality disorders, such as emotion dysregulation, self-harm, suicidality, and relationship difficulties, with or without co-occurring mental health conditions such as addiction, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. We can help arrange admission from most domestic or international locations.

The Gunderson Residence admits women ages 21 and older. The Gunderson Outpatient Program accepts men and women ages 18 and older.

We look forward to speaking with you about the treatment opportunities at the Gunderson programs. For more information or to make a referral, please contact an admissions coordinator:

Gunderson Residence
Phone: 888.657.5699
Email: mcleangunderson@partners.org

Gunderson Outpatient Program
Phone: 617.855.3452
Email: gundersonoutpatient@partners.org

We hope to answer your call directly or will return your call or email within one business day.

Prospective patients are interviewed and evaluated prior to admission to ensure the best chance of success. Independent motivation to change is an essential requirement and while family members or clinicians may see the Gunderson programs as a good fit, the individual must be ready to actively participate in recovery—regardless of outside factors such as pending legal charges. In addition, adequate levels of physical health and sobriety are reviewed to determine whether the level of care is appropriate for the individual.

Cost

The fee for the Gunderson Residence is $ 1,500 per day with a minimum stay of 60 days. Individuals stay with us an average of four months. We are a self-pay program and do not accept insurance or any third-party reimbursement. If you seek to use insurance for residential treatment, please consider the Hill Center for Women.

The Gunderson Outpatient Program is a self-pay program. Although many of the fees for the program will be out of pocket expenses, several services may be covered by insurance. Individuals commit to an initial six-month treatment period, though ultimately length of care is determined by the individual’s unique clinical needs. The initial six-month period is $8000, paid up front. Additional treatment is $1350 per month.

Included in Gunderson Residence Day Rate

Clinical Services

  • Twice weekly psychotherapy (appointments are a privilege and can be lost if the patient cannot meet expectations of the program)
  • Medication management
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Family educational online webinar led by Lois W. Choi-Kain, MD, offered 2-4 times monthly
  • NEA-BPD monthly workshops
  • Nursing care and coordination
  • Clinical residential counselors skills coaching
  • As needed treatment review
  • As needed case management

Non-Clinical Services

  • Private room
  • Meals and beverages
  • Linens and laundry detergent
  • Membership to gym
  • Weekly Sunday outings to nearby museums, movie theaters, outdoor activities, etc.
  • Holiday activities

Not Included in Gunderson Residence Day Rate

Clinical Services

  • Medications: prescribed and over-the-counter
  • Internal medicine, medical, or neurological consultations
  • Neuropsychological and psychological testing
  • Sleep study
  • Physical therapy
  • Pain management
  • Medical, gynecology, and dental care

Non-Clinical Service

  • Toiletries
  • Supplemental snacks
  • Transportation outside program outings
  • Spa services (hair, nails, etc.)

FAQ

Where are the Gunderson programs located?

The Gunderson Residence is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Gunderson Outpatient Program is located on the Belmont campus, in the Service Building. For more information on directions, parking, and local accommodations, please visit our Maps & Directions page.

Who benefits most from Gunderson?

Our residential program focuses on treating women with personality disorders, including those whose borderline personality disorder is complicated by other psychiatric illnesses. Although our outpatient program is geared for treatment of borderline personality disorder, we also serve men and women with mixed personality disorders, depression, and those experiencing symptoms related to personality disorders.

Is family involved in treatment?

Family involvement, with the permission of the patient, is highly encouraged and can have a profound impact on treatment and recovery.

At the Gunderson Residence, family members—most commonly parents and/or spouses—will be assigned to work with a family therapist weekly or every other week, in person or over the phone. Additionally, we provide web-based family education seminars.

Families are an integral part of the Gunderson Outpatient Program, and we advise family inclusion as an essential part of treatment. We start with educational meetings to orient the family members, and then move to addressing specific relationship issues.

Is smoking permitted?

The Gunderson Residence is non-smoking. No e-cigarettes are allowed.

Gunderson Outpatient Program patients are permitted to smoke in designated outdoor areas only. No smoking is allowed inside any of our buildings. Active smokers are encouraged to quit smoking and may choose to incorporate this into treatment as a component of recovery.

When are Gunderson Residence visiting hours?

Privileges for visitation will be determined by each individual’s clinical team and will require permission in advance. Visitation is not allowed during clinical hours or community activities.

Are cell phones and other electronics allowed?

Individuals at the Gunderson Residence are allowed to hold and use their cell phones and computers, except during treatment, with some guidelines to prevent disruption of the program and other residents. Photos are not allowed. Devices may be confiscated if not used appropriately.

In order to prevent disruption of the program and others, cell phone use is strongly discouraged during treatment and in the waiting room at the Gunderson Outpatient Program.

Is the individual’s time at the program kept private?

Privacy is of the utmost importance to Gunderson, and we ensure confidentiality through our highly trained, professional, and discreet staff. No third party, whether known to the patient or not, has access to medical records, health information, or any information about a patient’s stay without prior written authorization from the individual.

Are support and educational resources available?

From helpful online resources to self-help groups and more, McLean Hospital is committed to providing support and mental health education to aid patients and families on the path to recovery.

At the Gunderson Residence, we hold private, weekly webinars for family members to help educate them, provide regular patient updates, and address concerns and questions they may have. McLean’s Borderline Personality Disorder Patient and Family Education Initiative also provides interactive and on-demand resources such as educational webinars to support individuals and families affected by BPD.

Are support groups offered?

To complement our programs’ services and encourage individuals’ initiatives in their own treatment course, many self-help groups are hosted by McLean.

Is aftercare planning a part of the program?

The treatment team works closely with the individual as well as with family, significant friends, and outside providers to develop a personalized aftercare plan. Recommendations by staff are made based upon clinical needs, progress made during treatment, and long-term treatment goals.

Can former patients access their medical records?

All requests for medical records should be directed to McLean’s Health Information Management Department.

Does McLean gather patient feedback?

McLean is dedicated to maintaining high-quality and effective patient care. To ensure that those standards remain at the highest level, we utilize a number of feedback instruments and quality indicators. Among these tools are the Perceptions of Care survey, which monitors patient satisfaction, and BASIS-24™, a psychiatric outcomes measurement tool created at McLean and widely used in the US and around the world, which delivers feedback on the patient care experience.