Getting started at Benson-Henry

Hello blogsophere!

This week marks my second week as a research assistant intern at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. The Benson-Henry Institute  is a clinical psychology institute running out of the psychiatry department at MGH where we focus on health care and research relating to mind body medicine. Specifically, the Benson-Henry Institute studies the relaxation response, which is essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response in the body. The BH not only studies what types of exercises and techniques can elicit the relaxation response (i.e. yoga, meditation, etc), but also how the relaxation response affects our health. Studies published out of the BH have found that the relaxation response can help cancer patients, patients suffering from various mental disorders, and just about everybody else. Some of the published work by the Benson-Henry Institute can be found here.


If you Google on Google images, “relaxation response,” this is what comes up. At Benson-Henry, we emphasize the interaction of the mind and the body in health and health care.

There is always a lot going on at BH! We have multiple studies in constant motion, as well as patients interacting with doctors, and lab work through the hospital.

As a research intern, I am lucky enough to get to work with lots of different studies. This week, we are finishing up and organizing data for a 5-year longitudinal study on stress reduction. Next week, I’ll be starting data collection and entry on a study on myeloma and its interaction with the relaxation response.

One of the other great parts about this internship, aside from really getting my hands dirty in the research realm of clinical psychology, is getting to learn about everything else and everyone else who works at MGH. Benson-Henry has wonderful ties with various parts of the hospital, from the psychiatry department to the biomedical labs. For instance, every Thursday, the psychiatry department hosts grand rounds. Though most of the interns assumed this meant walking around the hospital following a doctor, grand rounds is actually one day a week to showcase some of the work and research that simultaneously occurs sometimes behind-the-scenes in the department. Today, we heard from an intern who is about to get his PhD and wrote his dissertation on adolescent depression. He talked about how gender, race, and therapy affect depression trends. As I was walking out of the lecture with another intern from Brandeis, we reflected on how incredible it was that we were able to understand so much of the talk because of the psychology courses we had taken. We knew how his study was formatted, and we were familiar with the tests he used to understand and measure depression, and we felt comfortable asking questions.

Finally, one of the coolest parts about grand rounds is that they all take place in the Ether Dome, the site of the first surgery at Mass General. Below is a picture of the Dome.

Eliana Rosenthal ’16’