Gunderson BPD Programs

Helping individuals with personality disorders build rewarding lives.

Call us today to learn more about treatment options.

The Gunderson programs include world-class residential and outpatient treatment options for individuals with borderline personality disorder and other severe personality disorders, including those who experience co-occurring psychiatric conditions such as trauma-related disorders, substance misuse, 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.

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.

The programs’ cutting-edge treatment methods benefit from clinical research conducted at McLean and around the globe.

Patients come to McLean from across the country and all over the world to benefit from our unique and unrivaled BPD treatment programs.

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McLean offers world-class treatment for individuals struggling with borderline personality disorder. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options.

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 employing treatment models such as:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) 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.
  • Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) is a rigorously structured psychodynamic therapeutic approach rooted in object relations theory, and represents a nuanced and empirically validated intervention tailored to address disturbances in self-identity, interpersonal relationships, and affect regulation characteristic of individuals diagnosed with BPD.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy for PTSD (DBT-PTSD) integrates DBT principles with trauma-focused cognitive techniques and exposure interventions for childhood trauma, fostering self-acceptance and compassion.
  • Radically open DBT (RO-DBT) targets disorders characterized by excessive self-control by promoting flexibility, openness, and social connectedness in individuals who struggle with perfectionism and overly controlled, rigid, or inhibited behavior.

Group therapy covers a broad range of topics including mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, skills generalization, emotion regulation, symptom education, 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 use treatment.

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.

“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

Family Involvement in Patient Care

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.

At the Gunderson Residence, family is involved in a weekly family therapy session, a multifamily group aimed at providing education, support, and skill-building for families, and weekly check-in calls.

At the Gunderson Outpatient Program, family is involved in weekly family therapy sessions and participate in weekly parent groups, which provide education, support, and skill-building.

Learn more about BPD treatment at McLean

Levels of Care

To accommodate the growing demand for DBT services as well as the broad range of needs of our patients, we offer both residential and outpatient treatment.

Components throughout the continuum of care include intensive DBT treatment, individual and group therapy, mindfulness practice, and skills coaching.

Gunderson Residence

Gunderson residential care includes around the clock treatment for cisgender women, transgender women, and nonbinary individuals assigned female at birth.

Most of our patients are ages 21 and up, however, we may make exceptions for some younger individuals.

While at the Gunderson Residence, patients receive twice weekly individual psychotherapy, regular medication management and medical oversight, once weekly family therapy, four to five groups per day, and have continuous access to skills coaching by our DBT-trained staff.

Patients have a rigorous daily schedule. Morning is usually reserved for group sessions. Following lunch, patients have clinical appointments or work on treatment-related goals. Afterward, patients are encouraged to go to the gym and/or self-help meetings at off-site locations. Community dinner is followed by evening group. The rest of the evening, patients have social time until curfew.

With a minimum stay of 60 days and an average stay of four to five 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, our open-door setting is designed for community living in modern townhouses less than two miles from Harvard Square and four miles from downtown Boston.

60-Day Immersion Track

We also offer a 60-day track focused on evaluation and skills. This short-term immersion track offers comprehensive psychiatric consultation, assessment, and diagnostic clarification aimed at clarifying core issues through a lens of personality functioning. This is paired with a dedicated focus on skill development in the domains of mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, mentalization and the capacity to reflect on what goes on within and between oneself and others, and more.

With a minimum stay of 60 days, this immersive experience aims to provide a rich, meaningful, and cost-effective opportunity for patients to clarify diagnoses, identify core issues, acquire essential skills, and construct a viable plan for next steps in treatment aligned with the needs identified throughout the assessment process.

Gunderson Outpatient Program

Our specialized, outpatient care has an emphasis on skill building, while working toward patient self-reliance and establishing occupational, academic, and social opportunities in the community.

The Gunderson Outpatient Program offers hybrid programming with some groups online and other programming in person on the McLean Belmont campus.

Our outpatient services operate Monday through Friday in the morning, 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. Group therapy and medication management within the program is fully insurance-based. The individual and family therapy is private pay.

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

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.

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: 617.855.4250
Email: @email

Gunderson Outpatient Program

Phone: 617.855.3452
Email: @email

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 $1,750 per day with a minimum stay of 60 days. Individuals stay with us an average of four to five months. We are a self-pay program and do not accept insurance or any third-party reimbursement.

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 $8400, paid up front. Additional treatment is $1400 per month.

For more information on services included in the Gunderson Residence day rate, please see below.

Treatment Team

Program Leadership

Photo of Dr. Karen Jacob

Karen L. Jacob, PhD, Program Director, Gunderson Residence

Dr. Jacob has an extensive clinical background in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for patients living with 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.

Photo of Brandon Unruh, MD

Brandon Unruh, MD, 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.

George W. Smith, LICSW

George 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.

Photo of Joe B. Flores, MD

Joe 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.


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.

Accommodations

The Gunderson programs are dedicated 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 offers both virtual and in-person care. In-person appointments take place at McLean’s Belmont campus in the Adult Outpatient Services in the Service Building.

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Gunderson Residence is designed for community residential living in 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 they 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.

2 people standing with coffee cups in kitchen

The Gunderson Residence is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near to McLean’s main campus in Belmont

At the Gunderson Residence, we prioritize nutrition. Our skilled chef creates delicious, nutritious meals (lunch and dinner) to support a healthy lifestyle and aid in recovery. Whether you have special requirements such as vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, our chef ensures dietary needs are cared for.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are the Gunderson programs located?

The Gunderson Residence is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Gunderson Outpatient Program offers care online and in person. In-person appointments take place at McLean’s Belmont campus in the Adult Outpatient Services located 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 cisgender women, transgender women, and nonbinary individuals assigned female at birth 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, women, and nonbinary individuals 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. We can assist with smoking cessation as needed.

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?

Visitors are permitted, following program policies. Visiting hours are Sundays 8am-12pm and visits are arranged in concert with the clinical team, family, and patient.

Please speak to the patient’s treatment team for more information. Additional details can be found on the Visitors page.

Are cell phones and other electronics allowed?

At the Gunderson Residence, technology (including, but not limited to, cell phones and computers) are confiscated upon arrival at the program. Following completion of the first phase of treatment, patients are considered for technology privileges. At this point, the individual and their treatment team make a technology usage plan that works best with their treatment goals.

Those who are permitted to hold and use their cell phones and computers, must follow guidelines to prevent disruption of the program and other residents. Cameras and other recording devices are not allowed. Technology may be confiscated if not used appropriately.

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

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.

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 U.S. and around the world, which delivers feedback on the patient care experience.

What is included in the Gunderson Residence day rate?

Clinical services such as:

  • 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 offered 2-4 times monthly
  • Nursing care and coordination
  • Clinical residential counselors skills coaching
  • Treatment review and case management as needed

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

What is not Included in the Gunderson Residence day rate?

Clinical services including:

  • 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 services:

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

For those who require Kosher meals, we work with a Kosher catering company for an additional cost.

McLean Is Here to Help

If you or your loved one is struggling with borderline personality disorder, call us today to learn more about the Gunderson BPD Programs. Our admission staff will talk you through our treatment options.

617.855.4250 (residential) or 617.855.3452 (outpatient)