Health & Behavior Study Group

* Not currently running *

The Health & Behavior Study Group will focus on developing skills for intervening effectively at the intersection of physical and emotional health.  This study group is for healthcare and mental healthcare professionals eager to join with others on a similar path leading to proficiency with a wide range of skills for promoting health behavior change.  Such professionals might work in a range of settings, from private practice to hospitals to the developing niche of primary care behavioral health.  This group may also be ideal for professionals preparing to work in such settings and looking to fill gaps in their education and training.

Why a study group?  The study group format has some advantages over existing formats.  The social aspect and support are an improvement over self-study. I think the ongoing process will be a more effective way of learning than stand-alone workshops.  The small group size will be conducive to active discussion and interaction and permit us to respond to individuals’ interests and needs on an ongoing basis.  This group’s primary role will be to organize and support participants’ active learning and to do so in community with others with similar interests.

Topics may include:

  • Brief cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for many health and mental health concerns
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Managing anxiety and depression in healthcare settings
  • Promoting health behavior change in obesity and diabetes
  • Using principles of behavior modification
  • Using mindfulness skills to promote health behavior change
  • Improving medication compliance
  • Improving compliance with health promotion interventions
  • Managing chronic pain
  • Brief interventions for alcohol and substance use
  • Intervening with the five behaviors behind most chronic disease (what we eat, how much we eat, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol use)
  • Evidence-based treatments
  • CBT for Insomnia
  • Treating common physical health and mental health comorbidities
  • Chronic disease management
  • Promoting wellness and primary prevention of illness

Learning modalities:  We will use a variety of modalities to promote such skills, from didactics to case presentation to experiential exercises.  Participants will be expected to do some reading or self-study outside group and to attend relevant trainings on their own. This group will serve to organize and support participants’ learning.

Group format:  There will be two group formats.

  1. Small group meetings at my workshop space in Portland (25 Middle Street) for participants who work or live in Portland and can attend a midday meeting.
  2. Small group virtual meetings (interactive webinar) for participants who live away from Portland or whose schedules preclude attending in-person.  You will need a computer and decent internet connection to attend virtual meetings.

Innovative formats that make use of technology.  I also envision bringing others with particular expertise into the course.  This may include guests at the actual study group (or participating from a distance online) or some other format.  One example of how we might use innovative formats to improve the content and process of the study group:  One month we may review an article on a health & behavior topic (e.g., diabetes, health anxiety, brief CBT for sleep), have discussion, and pull out specific concepts to pursue further.  Participants can read a follow-up article and have online discussion between meetings.  We can formulate questions and then have someone with particular expertise (e.g., one of the journal authors) respond to these questions, either online during the next study group or by video recorded interview that I conduct during the intervening month.

Both group formats will meet for 60-90 minutes over the lunch hour, once monthly.  Day of week/month to be determined.

Cost:  Groups will be priced modestly, estimated at $20-$25 per meeting.

Please contact me at to share your interest, discuss details, and reserve your place in groups as they form.

2 thoughts on “Health & Behavior Study Group

  1. Hi Joel. I love this idea! It is an area I am very interested in and I have been taking some steps to shift the focus of my practice. I ‘m a little unclear on the structure of the group. Are these topics you will be presenting on or will we all participate in idea sharing and brainstorming? Please keep me posted for sure as the groups develop. I can’t be there in person but can be virtually. Thanks!


    • Hi Carol. I’m glad you are interested. I imagine a bit of both formats. Consistent with my own experience doing day-long and half-day workshops, the literature seems to offer little support for stand-alone CE workshops as a good way to disseminate evidence-based treatments. I would like to present topics, help folks organize their own study, use the forum to process and brainstorm, and provide a time and place for people to come back and process their experiences while they try out new approaches and proficiencies. I am modeling this after another study group that I run in Portland, the ACT Study Group, which has gone quite well using such format. I think it is a more natural way to develop proficiency with any skill. I will be sure to post updates and keep you in the loop as the group comes together.

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