A team of prominent psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health specialists has joined Houston Methodist to offer a specialized program for the increasing number of adults disabled by overlapping medical and psychiatric conditions.


Led by Ben Weinstein, M.D., Houston Methodist Behavioral Health will offer a unique functional rehabilitation program to serve patients with chronic intertwined medical and psychiatric illnesses. These patients struggle to engage in a meaningful and productive life because of the complexities of their illness and, in some cases, by overreliance on pain medications. 


“Chronic medical conditions and other traumatic life experiences can often lead to the development of depression, making it more difficult for patients to manage or recover from their overlapping illnesses,” said Weinstein. “As symptoms worsen or are ignored, people become unable to fulfill their roles in life, such as working and parenting. This leads to further isolation and worsening of their physical and emotional health.”


Weinstein said the key to helping these patients recover is understanding that medical and psychiatric conditions are interrelated. Without addressing both conditions, neither will improve. Patients are often passed from one medical specialist to another without finding adequate or enduring relief. 


Individuals with chronic pain often have undertreated medical and overlooked psychiatric conditions and are left to rely on opioid pain medication to cope. Unfortunately, long-term opioid medication use does not effectively treat chronic pain and will not address the underlying issues. 


As the opioid crisis continues across the United States, Alok Madan, Ph.D., MPH, vice chair of psychiatry at Houston Methodist Hospital, said more focus is needed on caring for those who experience chronic pain and are already dependent on opioid medications.


In addition to Weinstein, chair of psychiatry at Houston Methodist Hospital, and Madan, the multi-disciplinary team at Houston Methodist Behavioral Health includes:

  • Major Bradshaw, Ph.D., specializes in how the brain affects behavior and how behavior can affect the brain;
  • Jared Broussard, MA, LPC, a rehabilitation specialist who specializes in acceptance and commitment therapy; 
  • James Flack, M.D., elected deputy chair of psychiatry at Houston Methodist Hospital, specializes in addiction and helping patients get off pain medicine;
  • Chris Fowler, Ph.D., specializes in caring for physicians, a unique patient group that has a high rate of burnout and a higher suicide risk than the general population;
  • Diana Freeland, LCSW, a social worker with decades of experience working with individuals, families, and health care employees;
  • Janice Jimenez, Ph.D., specializes in chronic pain and coping with chronic medical illness;
  • Renu Thomas, Ph.D., specializes in assessment, trauma, and family work. 


The Houston Methodist Behavioral Health team also offers a comprehensive therapeutic assessment, an intensive outpatient program, and minimally-invasive brain stimulation options. 


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