Bridgewater State Hospital

Programs and Services Description Booklet


The Massachusetts Department of Correction's Mission

Promote public safety by managing offenders while providing care and appropriate programming in preparation for successful
re-entry into the community.

Manage * Care * Program * Prepare

Vision Statement

The Massachusetts Department of Correction's vision is to effect positive behavioral change in order to eliminate violence, victimization and recidivism.

Bridgewater State Hospital’s Mission

As a Department of Correction institution as well as the Commonwealth's only strict security psychiatric hospital, the mission of Bridgewater State Hospital is to promote public safety, provide court ordered statutorily mandated evaluations of its patients, and treat mentally ill adult men who by virtue of their mental illness are in need of hospitalization under conditions of strict security.


I.  Educational Programs

The purpose of the Division of Inmate Training and Education is to provide comprehensive academic programs and services that will assist offenders in becoming more productive citizens upon release.  To this end, all programs focus on the needs of the individual to cope with and to make a positive contribution to an increasingly more technological society.


All sentenced inmates at Bridgewater State Hospital will be required to take the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) and a self-scoring Occupational Interest Survey.  The TABE test provides a grade level in math, reading, and language. If this testing indicates that additional special education or oral testing is needed, it will also be administered.  Speakers of other languages are given the Basic English Skills Test (BEST).  Our Education Counselor will discuss educational alternatives with the inmate when transferred to Bridgewater State Hospital and will place the inmate in appropriate classes or on waiting lists. 

Adult Basic Education

Adult Basic Education (ABE) (Literacy Development) is a program servicing those who are learning to read and write, or who are functioning at or below the fifth grade level. The goals of the ABE program are to increase its students' functional literacy level, provide its students with the capability to make a smooth reentry into their community upon their release and thereby reduce the Commonwealth's recidivism rate. 

Pre-Adult Secondary Education

The Pre-Adult Secondary Education (Pre-ASE) programs are designed to prepare intermediate level students for entrance into the Adult Secondary Education program. The focus of instruction is on math, English, grammar and usage, writing skills, and reading comprehension.

Adult Secondary Education

The Adult Secondary Education (ASE) program is specifically geared toward preparing a student to successfully take his or her High School Equivalency Exam.  The classes focus on math, writing, social studies, reading and science, as well as reading comprehension and study skills.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

English for Speakers of Other Languages is a language development program geared to the adult with limited English proficiency.  The main emphasis of this program is to provide limited or non-English speakers with the fundamentals of speaking, reading and writing English, so they may be mainstreamed into existing academic classes.  The three-level program is taught exclusively in English and is available to those students whose native language is something other than English.

High Set & Pre-High Set (High School Equivalency) 

The Pre-High Set and High Set High School Equivalency program has taken the place of the Pre-GED and GED program. 

Life Skills

Life Skills comprises components of most academic classes.  Basic information involving money management, resume writing, and other basic skills much needed for daily life in the community are included.

Special Education

This program is designed to provide individual or small group instruction to all inmates under the age of twenty-two who have been diagnosed with learning or developmental disabilities. Individual testing is utilized to determine functional levels, strengths, weakness, and learning styles.

Computer Technology

The goal of this program is to familiarize each student with computer technology and how its capabilities can be utilized to accomplish various tasks.  The focus is on skills needed to function effectively in an office environment.  Students are provided with hands-on experience in the areas of basic literacy, keyboarding, word processing, data base use, spreadsheet use and simple programming. Instruction prepares students to take the Microsoft Office User Specialist (MOS) certification test A shorter, 12-week course, IC3, has also been added as a pre-requisite to the MOS certification program and will also ensure that inmates will have some computer experience upon release, with the certification that is available upon successful completion of the IC3 program.


This program includes techniques on the production, care, and management of plants, flowers, vegetables and shrubs including the instruction and practice in the methods of plant propagation, pruning, cultivation, and fertilization.  Recreation staff, inmate and patient volunteers also manage a large scale vegetable garden onsite.  Vegetable crop yields are donated to local shelters and food pantries annually.


II.  DOC Staff, Contractor and Volunteer Facilitated Programs


Violence Reduction Program

The Violence Reduction Program targets cognitions that contribute to violent behavior. The goals of the program are to decrease violent behavior and the likelihood of institutional disturbances.  During the program inmates identify the specific cognitions which have led to their violent behavior.  Once identified, they are taught pro-social strategies and skills to diminish the likelihood of continued violence. 

Alcoholics Anonymous

A volunteer facilitated working support program where inmates learn about triggers to their behavior, understand past behavior and learn how to build a new, healthier sober lifestyle.

Narcotics Anonymous

Staff supervised, volunteer facilitated discussion/support/fellowship group that focuses on the twelve steps of narcotics anonymous and providing community information as appropriate.

Religious Services

The Department provides a variety of religious services, which are supervised and coordinated by chaplain staff.  Volunteer clergy and community churches assist chaplains in the provision of services.  Chaplains provide regular religious services, religious education and pastoral care.  In addition, chaplaincy services include Religious Education Groups, Prayer Groups, Fellowship Meetings, Parenting Groups, Family Religious Services, Religious Seminars and Holy Day Observances.  The Department recognizes that Chaplaincy Services are important in changing criminal behavior by helping the inmate develop pro-social values.

Fatherhood in Action

This program is designed to teach fathers specific skills for developing positive, engaged relationships with their children.  A strong focus will be to improve one’s self esteem while taking responsibility for raising their children to be emotionally strong and succeed in school and the community.

Companion Program

This program is designed to emphasize the mutuality of both the inmate workers and the patients. Successful programs such as this identify and stress ways that both parties give, and receive opportunities to exchange education, skills and friendship. 

Re-entry and Employment Readiness Workshop

The 10-day Re-entry and Employment Readiness Workshop meets for 2.5 hours per day and is offered to inmates and patients who have a defined release date.  During the Reentry and Employment Readiness Workshop, reentry planners facilitate curriculum designed to assist inmates in the development of the necessary skills that are needed for successful transition back into the community. The focus of the workshop is employment readiness to include resume building, cover letter, job application, mock interviews and how to maintain employment.  The workshop also includes social support, housing plans, financial awareness and budgeting, educational referrals, criminal impact and attainable goal setting. Every inmate and patient who attends the workshop will receive and Employment Readiness Release Portfolio.  This release document can include identification, resume, cover letter, practice job applications, WOTC forms, Federal bonding, MassCor work verification, transcripts, certificates, and licenses.  Once the inmate or patient has completed the workshop, the portfolio is stored within the institution and distributed on the day of release.

Preparing for Release: Re-entry Discussions

Re-entry focused discussion groups are offered on a monthly basis to patients and inmates.  Discussion groups are facilitated by DOC employees, contractors, volunteers, and community agencies. 

Men’s Health Series

Monthly discussion groups focused on physical and emotional wellness are offered on a monthly basis by contractor staff to patients and inmates.

Seventy x Seven

Chaplain facilitated program that focuses on forgiveness, examining loss, coping and creating hope. 

BSH Newsletter-“The Bridge”

The newsletter, which specific to Bridgewater State Hospital, provides the hospital a tool to share information with the inmates, staff and family members. The newsletter highlights program opportunities and other hospital information.

Library Services

Library Services encompasses both law and general library services.  Institutional libraries are equipped to provide full library services and are staffed by a professional librarian.  The general library is an information center for the institution, supporting, broadening and strengthening the institution's programs through materials and in-library programming such as literacy.  Print and non-print materials are selected to meet the needs of a culturally, linguistically and educationally diverse population.  Law collections contain Federal and State materials.

Able Minds

Staff facilitated book discussion group designed to shift criminal thinking and teach inmates interpersonal problem solving skills. 

Law Library Clerk Training

This staff facilitated program available at all Department of Correction facilities with full law libraries provides pre-employment training in basic legal research and use of electronic legal resources for potential inmate law library clerks. The objective of the class is to familiarize the student with the structure of the law from the Federal and State levels from the Supreme Court to the Massachusetts Court of Appeals.  Participants are taught basic control keys and search techniques for Lexis.


III.  Rehabilitative Programs


Developmental Service Program

The Developmental Service Program is staffed and funded by the Department of Developmental Services.  This program prepares patients for release by making referrals for eligibility with DDS.  A major component of this program is social skills training. 

Day Treatment Program

This is a structured rehabilitative treatment program for committed patients with a history of non-compliance with insight oriented treatment modalities. Groups will focus on skill development in the following areas: Stress Management; Communication; Goal Development; Social; and Cooking skills.  This group is designed for patients who are treatment resistant to traditional types of therapies.  Full time sessions are offered in the morning from Monday through Friday and are 2 hours in length.  Part time sessions are offered twice per week for 1.5 hours. 

Younger Men’s Group

This group is for patients who are under the age of 30 with age appropriate activities.  These groups occur two times weekly for 90 minutes each.  Breaks are included.

Older Men’s Group

This group is same as above, but with age appropriate activities for men over 50.

Goals for all Day Treatment groups:

  1. Patients will increase self-confidence and self esteem.
  2. Patients will develop skills to function in insight oriented groups and /or groups with less structure.
  3. Patients will work on establishing and meeting personal goals.
  4. Patients will incorporate specific skills into daily living skills.
  5. Patients will improve social functioning and interpersonal skills

Bridge Program

The Bridge Program is designed to provide patients with an opportunity to learn basic work skills, while increasing patients level of functioning, thus preparing them for the return to a less secure setting. 

Patients must be committed and will be selected based on criteria including but not limited to past work history and level of functioning.  Patient’s work schedules can be modified to coordinate with other areas of the patient’s treatment.  Patients will be placed in either morning or afternoon work groups.

  1. Patients will learn basic work skills in a safe, structured and supportive therapeutic environment.
  2. Patients will develop self esteem and self worth through successful participation in a goal oriented work place.
  3. Patients will improve interpersonal skills to help them succeed as a member of a work team.
  4. Patients will learn to utilize available treatment programs within a correctional setting to help prepare them for their return to a less secure setting.
  5. Patients will learn skills required to obtain future employment; either in a correctional setting or in the community.
  6. Patients will develop an understanding of the importance of balancing their daily routine (work, leisure, ADL’S).

Advanced Relaxation

This skill building group is offered to committed patients who are experiencing anxiety and/or disorganized thought patterns.  Patients must be able to tolerate gentle exercises and guided imagery in a group setting for an hour and fifteen minutes. This group involves a “pre” and “post” self-assessment, which raises the patient’s awareness of the potential to reduce the intensity of emotional/physical distress.   The purpose of this group is to bring conscious awareness to the mind/body connection to effect change.  This group will utilize quiet music and verbal instruction in progressively slow to moderate movement, using breath work to facilitate relaxation and decrease disorganized thinking.  Group discussion will follow movement and meditation, allowing patients to process their experiences and assess outcome changes.

  1. Patients will develop relaxation skills.
  2. Patients will decrease disorganized thinking.
  3. Patients will develop a connection between physical and emotional experience.
  4. Patients will develop skills to assess changes in their internal experience.
  5. Patients will identify areas of pain/ tension through progressive body awareness and intentional breathing techniques.
  6. Patients will learn to utilize exercise, breath work and guided imagery to gain better control of thought patterns and promote a positive state of body and mind.

Expressive Therapy

This group is for committed patients who may benefit using art, writing and music to facilitate emotional awareness.  Patients will be presented with an assignment each session, relating to feelings, achievement, loss, values, relationships or other topics as need arises.  Patients will have 10 to 20 minutes to complete their task. They will then be encouraged to share their work with others in the group with an emphasis on non-judgmental observation and feedback.  No artistic experience or skills is necessary.

  1. Patients will use artistic media to express feelings, issues, insight, goals, etc…
  2. Patients will use the group setting to develop trust and non-critical attitude towards self and others.
  3. Patients will develop appropriate and creative outlets for self-expression 

Expressive Music

This group is for committed patients with limited social skills who enjoy making music.  Participants will be provided with a variety of percussion instruments to select from and to play along with recorded song on CD’s.  Patients will be encouraged to learn the difference between music and noise and work towards cooperative group sounds.

  1. Patients will learn to distinguish between music and noise.
  2. Patients will learn to work cooperatively towards a common goal.
  3. Patients will be encouraged to explore music as an outlet for feelings.
  4. Patients will utilize music as a form of expressive communication.



This is a time-limited group offered to patients who want to learn about how their nutritional intake affects their overall health.  Focus is on heart healthy eating recommendations and why eating healthy can improve our physical and mental wellness over time.

  1. Patients will learn about the different food groups, what nutrients are found in each group and why important for our well being.
  2. Patients will understand how to read food labels and make healthier food choices.
  3. Patients will demonstrate a good understanding of appropriate portion sizes in meal planning and in snack choices.
  4. Patients will make healthier canteen choices.
  5. Patient will learn the benefits of exercise.
  6. Patients will understand nutrition recommendation for various medical conditions.


This is a unit-based group led by medical staff. This group is offered to patients to educate them to their medication regimen.  This group will discuss the following areas: medication efficacy and compliance; interaction with other psychoactive substances; side effects and contraindications. This is a time-limited group that will utilize handout, videos and discussion.

  1. Patient will identify medications and the symptoms that they address.
  2. Patient will identify side effects.
  3. Patient will identify risk factors involved with combing psychotropic medications with non- prescribed substances.


Psycho Educational Substance Abuse

This group is for both committed and non-committed patients.  The group is offered in the Minimum Modular, as well as, on the units.  Participants in the group are assessed as positive for Psychoactive Substance Abuse Disorders.  This assessment is made upon admission to Bridgewater State Hospital.  Referrals are made by the patient’s treatment team.  Groups are provided in both Spanish and English.

The purpose of the group is to create an environment and opportunity for the individual to effectively identify, understand, and ultimately treat his substance abuse problem.  This type of environment is created through an open discussion format. This allows for a group member to recognize the problem on his own terms and to ultimately develop a response or plan. 

These groups address all aspects of recovery, including problem identification, relapse prevention, and if appropriate, discharge planning.  The focus of the group is determined by the members and where they are in terms of their recovery.  Each group is composed differently and the Substance Abuse Coordinator determines the membership.

  1. Members will understand the impact substance abuse has on their health, psychological and social functioning.
  2. Members will accept substance as a problem.
  3. Members will develop skills and motivation to take action in order to address their substance abuse problems.
  4. Members will be able to recognize triggers and circumstances leading to potential for relapse and develop a plan.
  5. Members will be able to identify resources in the community that support their recovery plans.


Basic Communication Skills

This is a group that is offered to committed patients.  This group helps individuals who have difficulty with basic communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal.  The basic skills will be discussed: body language; eye contact; language; conversation topics and generally accepted social practices.  This group uses lecture, activity, role-playing and discussion to educate patient.  When a patient has met the goals of the group as determined by group leader, the patient may be referred to Advanced Communication Skills. 

  1. Patients will incorporate appropriate verbal and non-verbal communication into conversations.
  2. Patients will begin; maintain and end conversations.
  3. Patients will incorporate and interpret specific communication skills discussed during groups into their daily routine.


This is a unit based group for patients with a history of treatment resistant to groups and activities currently being offered through the rehab department.  Referrals will be generated by the treatment team and rehab liaison. 

  1. Patients will develop an ability to tolerate group settings.
  2. Patients will develop the ability to express thoughts and feeling.
  3. Patients will develop and practice social skills.
  4. Patients will develop an interest in group therapy and/or activities.
  5. Patients will develop an ability to give/receive feedback.

Stress Management

This group is for patients who have difficulty handling stressful situations.  Patients will be required to tolerate a group setting; as well as display a willingness to try a variety of stress management techniques.   Some of the techniques used will be guided imagery, meditation, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.  This group may utilize video, audio tape, group discussion, and handouts.

  1. Patients will develop awareness into the physiological and emotional signs of stress.
  2. Patients will be able to identify personal life stresses.
  3. Patients will develop an understanding of how stress can affect pain. 
  4. Patient will learn stress management and relaxation techniques.
  5. Patient will identify maladaptive patterns to managing stress and develop new strategies.
  6. Patients will learn cognitive therapy techniques; such as re-framing; prioritizing, and letting go.

Violence Prevention

This group is offered to patients, who have difficulty managing their anger.  Patients are assigned to groups that are appropriate to their cognitive functioning. This group uses a relapse prevention model and focused on the psycho-dynamic issues of anger; the link between mental illness and violence; physiological issues of anger and coping strategies.  The group uses discussion based on patient experience; education; lecture and role-play.

  1. Patients will be able to identify consistent patterns of coping with anger.
  2. Patients will be able to identify triggers to anger and violent behavior.
  3. Patients will be able to identify early warning signs to anger; (i.e. physiological).
  4. Patients will identify the connection between mental illness and violence.
  5. Patient will take responsibility for their behavior.
  6. Patient will identify the impact of their anger and violence on their victims, victim’s family and the community.
  7. Patients will discuss the concepts of empathy and remorse.

Transition to Prison

This group is offered to committed patients who are serving a sentence or have been awaiting trial at a House of Correction.  This can be a short term or long term transitional group for committed patients.  The focus of the group is to help patients begin to adjust to leaving BSH; and to learn skills required to survive/ cope in a prison setting.  This group uses discussion based on patients experience and education.

  1. Patients will identify concerns that impede with their transition to a penal environment.
  2. Patients will be able to identify mental health resources available in a penal environment.

Competency Restoration

This group is offered to both evaluation status and committed patients who have been found incompetent to stand trial. This group focuses on educating patients on all aspects of the courtroom and trial procedures. This group uses lecture; videos; role-playing and discussion.

  1. Patients will identify deficits that resulted in incompetent to stand trial status.
  2. Patients will identify roles of courtroom personnel.
  3. Patients will identify courtroom procedures.
  4. Patients will identify coping strategies for dealing with eventual trial.

Community Social Skills/ Transition to DMH

This group is offered to committed patients who have been identified by their respective treatment teams to be eligible for DMH transfer. This group can be long term or short term, depending on the needs of the patient.  This group focuses on the patient’s re-integration into a structured community setting.   This group uses discussion, education, and video.

  1. Patients will identify potential stressors and concerns involved with transitioning to a less secure setting.
  2. Patients will identify past maladaptive strategies for coping and disabling behavior patterns.
  3. Patients will identify relapse triggers and early warning signs of de-compensation.

Chronic Mental Illness

This group is offered to committed patients who have been diagnosed with a mental illness.  The focus of this group is to educate patients on their mental illness.  Patients will also develop coping strategies.

Topics include acceptance of diagnosis, understanding and management of symptoms, understanding of triggers and relapse prevention, medication, stigma, developing supports, and crisis management.   Patients are assigned to group based on their individual needs.  This group will utilize a variety of educational tools including videos; tapes; lecture and discussion.

  1. Patients will develop insight and acceptance of illness.
  2. Patients will increase understanding of symptoms and diagnosis.  Patient will develop an understanding of personal triggers to de-compensation, and develop the ability to manage symptoms in a safe manner.
  3. Patients will develop coping strategies in dealing will supports, family, stigma, providers, medications, etc.
  4. Patients will develop crisis plan.
  5. Patients will identify how their illness has affected their family, friends and the community.

Advanced Communication Skills

This group is offered to committed patients.  This is a time limited psycho-educational group designed to introduce participants to effective communication skills.  Patients need to be able to tolerate a group setting and have the ability process abstract concepts.  This group will learn to identify communication styles, and to express their needs assertively in everyday situations.  This group will utilize handouts, group discussion and role-play.

  1. Patients will identify assertive, aggressive, passive and passive-aggressive styles of communication.
  2. Patients will identify situations in which they tend to lack assertiveness.
  3. Patients will discuss and practice listening and self-awareness skills.
  4. Patients will examine the role of judgements, labels, criticism, and blame in effective communication.

Expressive Writing

This group is for committed patients interested in using writing as a form of self-expression.  Patients must be interested in writing and be comfortable with expressing their thought in a written format.  Patients must also be willing to share their work with other group members.  Groups will begin with a discussion of a topic; then patients will be asked to write about that topic.  Patient will then share their work and give each other feedback.

  1. Patients will increase self-expression and awareness.
  2. Patient will increase ability to recognize feelings and how to express them.
  3. Patients will increase ability to give and receive feedback.
  4. Patients will use creativity to work towards personal goals.
  5. Patients will discuss communication and interpersonal skills.
  6. Patients will develop personal goals for managing stress.


Awaiting Trial

This group is offered to committed patients who are currently awaiting trial and/or incompetent to stand trial.  This is a general discussion group, which focuses on the patient’s pre-trial issues. Topics include general information, coping strategies and general support.

  1. Patients will demonstrate understanding of trial process.
  2. Patients will identify develop coping strategies for pending trial.
  3. Patients will provide support to other patients based on their own experiences.

Family Issues

This group is for treatment-motivated, committed patients with unresolved family issues that contribute to current interpersonal dysfunction.  Areas of discussion will include: definition of “family”  (traditional/ non-traditional); member’s roles, including expectations and responsibilities, communication styles; conflict resolution; positive/ negative coping skills; genetic/ environmental variables; abuse issues; and more.   

  1. Patients will gain insight into the dynamics of their family of origin.
  2. Patients will learn to differentiate between family dysfunction and acceptable “norms”.
  3. Patients will learn to relate experienced upbringing to current coping-mechanisms and impaired interpersonal skills.
  4. Patients will gain insight into positive and effective interpersonal relationships. 

General Psychotherapy

This group is for committed patients regardless of their cognitive functioning level.  This group provides an open forum where members are encouraged to determine the topics and participate freely.  Topics may range from general discussion groups to intensive insight oriented psycho-dynamic groups.  This group will utilize a variety of tools including discussion, written material and audio-visual.

  1. Patients will identify topics for discussion.
  2. Patients will actively participate in group discussion
  3. Patients will identify personal needs and areas for growth.
  4. Patients will develop personal short term and long term goals for therapy.

Grief and Loss

This group is offered to committed patients who are struggling with grief issues, resulting from the death of loved ones.   Patients will be required to tolerate a group setting and encouraged to respond to other group members who may express intense affect at times.  This group is to educate patients on the phases of the grief process and relate them to personal experience.  Pre-trial patients grieving the loss of their alleged victims are not appropriate referrals to this group.

  1. Patients will learn about the phases of the grief process.
  2. Patients will identify where they are in this process and discuss personal obstacles to moving forward.
  3. Patients will learn to express feelings associated with loss in appropriate ways.
  4. Patients will experience feelings associated with loss in order to achieve potential resolution and ultimate acceptance.

Feelings Group

This group is for committed patients who have difficulty identifying and/or managing emotional affect.  Patients are encouraged to express thoughts and feelings that may be attributed to those emotional states.  This group focuses on discussions and writing activities based on patients’ experiences, while utilizing concepts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. 

  1. Patients will identify emotions.
  2. Patients will identify emotions that interfere with their daily functioning and well being.
  3. Patients will develop coping strategies to effectively deal with overwhelming emotions.
  4. Patients will be educated on the concepts of empathy and remorse.

This group is offered to committed patients who are fathers.  It is not a requirement that participants have current contact with their children.  The group focuses on all aspects of fatherhood; i.e.: the role of the father who has a mental illness; the role of the father who is incarcerated; issues of loss; and contact with children.  This group uses discussion; lecture; written material and audio-visual.

  1. Patients will discuss the role of being a father while being incarcerated.
  2. Patients will discuss and identify loss of traditional role of fatherhood and develop skills that are needed to be a father while incarcerated.
  3. Patients will develop parenting skills. 
  4. Patients will provide support to other patients based on personal experiences.     

Older Men’s Discussion

This group is for committed patients over the age of fifty.  This group will provide a safe and comfortable environment for these patients to interact with each other on a social level.  Group discussion and activities will be consistent with the interests of those over fifty. 

  1. Patients will develop and practice interpersonal skills.
  2. Patient will develop trust and feel comfortable disclosing personal issues.
  3. Patients will actively participate in ongoing discussions.

Violence Prevention Specialized

This group is offered to committed patients with history of either a conviction or finding of NGI for a sexual offense.  The group is designed to motivate, educate, and prepare patients for further focused sex offender treatment either through the Department of Corrections or the Department of Mental Health. This will involve using treatment using an empirically based model (Good Lives) which is concerned with individuals’ ability to formulate and select appropriate goals, appropriately evaluate life situations, construct adaptive plans, and to act freely in the implementation of these plans.  This also includes components of cognitive therapy, offender character values and assessment as well as relating personal goals to avoidance of sexual violence.  A series of workbooks will be used to assist patients and track their progress.

  1. Patients will practice identifying and challenge irrational beliefs.
  2. Patients will identify costs of not changing and benefits of changing behaviors.
  3. Patients will identify personal goals and how hey relate to offending behavior.
  4. Patients will identify the consequences of their behavior on victims.
  5. Patients will discuss their charges and prepare a statement regarding their readiness to change.
  6.  Patients will “take responsibility” for the offense.

Problem Solving

This group is offered to committed patients who have impaired judgment that interferes with their decision making abilities.  (i.e.: patients who sabotage treatment).  Patients are provided with a “problem solving model” of making decisions. Patients are encouraged to provided specific incidents where this model may be helpful and discuss this in group.  This group uses discussion, education, role-playing, and cognitive behavioral approach.

  1. Patients will identify problems that interfere with decision making process.
  2. Patients will discuss issues that interfere with current level of functioning.
  3. Patients will identify and practice problem-solving skills.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

This group is offered to committed patients who have been diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder.  In addition, this group is offered to all patients who have been identified as being able to benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  Patients will also be required to understand abstract concepts and able to tolerate feedback and a group setting.  Patients will learn to be able to identify and assess areas that need improvement. (I.e., panic, anxiety, depression, obsessions, phobias, anger, problem solving, hot thoughts, limited thinking, core beliefs, pain management, etc,) Patients will learn and utilize specific CBT skills (i.e., relaxation, imagery, flooding, sensitization, reframing thoughts, etc.) that have been proven to be beneficial in these identified areas.  Discussion, lecture, written exercises, role-play, and homework will be used.        

  1. Patients will be able to assess and identify areas that require improvement.
  2. Patients will be able to identify general thoughts, physical sensations, feelings and moods, as well as, mood fluctuation.
  3. Patients will learn, discuss and utilize CBT techniques as needed.
  4. Patients will follow through on homework assignments.
  5. Patients will learn to identify their consistent thought patterns and how they affect their feelings, moods, physical sensations and behaviors.
  6. Patients will learn how to replace counter-productive thought patterns with more effective ones to deal with both emotional and physical pain. 

Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT Skills)

This group is offered to committed patients who have difficulty with emotional lability and are crisis prone.  This group is a training group based on the concepts taught by Marsha Linehan’s book; “Dialectic Behavior Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder”.  Patients will be taught concepts related to “mindfulness; emotion regulation; distress tolerance; and interpersonal skills.  These skills are taught to patients to assist them with tolerating feelings that they perceive as overwhelming.  Patients will be required to complete homework and to bring personal experiences to group. 

  1. Patients will learn, discuss and practice mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal skills.
  2. Patients will identify feeling that they perceive as overwhelming.
  3. Patients will develop skills to effectively manage crisis situations.

Living a Valued Life

Living a Valued Life is an ACT based time-limited group of about 14 weeks.  ACT therapy is skills based group that focuses on accepting all thoughts and feelings (despite being painful) in a manner which allows you to become less fused with them so that you can live a life that is in accordance with your values.  It has many similarities to DBT (mindfulness components, being nonjudgmental focusing on values).  It will consist of discussions and experiential exercises.

  1. Patients will be challenged to recognize that happiness is living a valued, meaningful life and not the feeling of being happy all the time.
  2. Patients will begin the process of giving up the illusion that they are in control of their thoughts, memories, and feelings.
  3. Patients will begin to accept all their thoughts, feelings, and memories despite being painful.
  4. Patients will continue to practice being in contact with the present moment.
  5. Patients will begin to identify values.
  6. Patients will identify and practice ways to be committed to action and live accordingly to their values.

Houses of Healing

Houses of Healing is an Emotional Awareness/Emotional Healing course based on the “Houses of Healing” book authored by Robin Casarjian.  This course in emotional literacy skills is based on a belief in the intrinsic potential, dignity and worth of each person.  The course is designed to promote self-esteem; to foster emotional and spiritual growth; and to encourage responsibility and accountability in oneself and toward others.  Aspects of the course include: meditation and stress-management techniques; cognitive reframing; acknowledging, working with and healing childhood trauma; transforming anger, resentment and unhealthy guilt/shame; working with forgiveness; acknowledging and working with grief/loss and nurturing spiritual growth.

Patients who are referred for this course should be committed to attending the 12-week course each week and completing the self-work assignments, including the assigned chapters for reading.  Patients must be clinically able to address issues related to trauma, grief/loss and acceptance of responsibility for self.  This course digs deep into these areas in an effort to build a heightened sense of self-awareness, emotional growth and inner healing.

  1. Patients will practice relaxation and meditation techniques to improve focus and self awareness.
  2. Patients will identify areas of childhood loss and trauma and effectively process feelings associated with these experiences to move on to achieve their healthy adult self.
  3. Patients will accept responsibility for times that they have hurt others and further seek ways to make amends in whatever way is possible and safe.
  4. Patients will demonstrate responsibility for self and their own personal growth through commitment to attend all courses, complete all self-work assignments and engage actively in all exercises pertaining to the course.

Paranoia Group

This group is offered to committed patients.  This group is an open ended group in which patients can discuss symptoms of disorganized thought or paranoia in a trusting environment.  This group gives patients the ability to develop coping skills, as well as, increase reality testing.  This group will use several modalities including; education, reality testing, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.  Use of printed material and audio-visual tool is also a component of this group.

  1. Patients will discuss their own experiences with delusional and paranoid thought.
  2. Patients will develop an ability to share these experiences with other group members.
  3. Patients will develop coping skills; such as reality testing. 

NGI Psychotherapy

This group is for committed patients who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity.  The group focuses on assisting patients to understand and accept this status, as well as having a mental illness.  This group discusses the connection between violence and mental illness.  This group uses discussion and education.

  1. Patients will accept their mental illness.
  2. Patients will identify triggers and stressors in order to prevent relapse.
  3. Patients will identify symptoms of mental illness.
  4. Patients will identify and understand the connection between mental illness and violence.
  5. Patients will identify how their behavior effected the victim, victim’s family and the community. 

Younger Men’s Discussion Group

This group is offered to all committed patients who are under the age of 30.  Patients should also be eligible for release within the next five years.  This group provides an open forum where patients can discuss any topic related to being hospitalized at Bridgewater State Hospital.  Patients are encouraged to determine the topics for discussion.

  1. Patients will identify topics for discussion.
  2. Patients will actively participate in group discussion.
  3. Patients will identify personal needs and areas for growth.
  4. Patients will develop short term and long terms goals.
  5. Patients will develop skills to help them reintegrate into the community. 



This group is offered to committed patients. Patients will listen to calming music and/ or prepared relaxation tapes using imagery or progressive muscle relaxation.  Patients are provided a quiet, stress free environment to promote relaxation and personal reflection.  This group will meet daily from Monday through Friday.

  1. Patients will increase relaxation skills and decrease overall stress.
  2. Patients will use relaxation techniques to elicit relaxation responses, thus decreasing the intensity of anxiety and pain. 

Current Events

This group is offered to committed patients.  Patient will be able to review articles from several newspapers (i.e., Globe, Herald, & USA Today).  Local; state and national and international issues are discussed.  Patients are encouraged to discuss and evaluate these issues.  This group will meet daily from Monday through Friday.

  1. Patients will be exposed to current events and news.
  2. Patients will be encouraged to share their personal opinions.
  3. Patients will increase social/ communication skills by participating in group discussions.

Sports Rap

This group is offered to committed patients, regardless of functioning level.  The focus of this group is to allow patients to socialize within the context of a structured group.  This group also allows patients with an interest in sports to participate active discussion about this subject.  This group will also introduce patients to a number of leisure activities.

  1. Patient will increase social skills.
  2. Patient will increase awareness of leisure activities.

This group is offered to committed patients. A video of a famous individual will be viewed.  Details of that person’s life and accomplishments will be discussed.  Patients who have interest in learning about well known personalities are encouraged to attend.  This group will meet weekly for one hour.

  1. Patients will be encouraged to participate in group discussions to promote social and communication skills.
  2. Patients will receive the opportunity to learn about famous people. 

Music Appreciation

This group is designed to introduce patients to a wide variety of different music styles; including: rock and roll; hip-hop; rap; heavy metal; easy listening, classical, and jazz; etc..  Patients will discuss the history of music; artists and current trends.  This group will meet weekly for one hour and utilize audiotapes; compact discs and videos. 

  1. Patients will develop an understanding and appreciation for various styles of music.
  2. Patients will appropriately discuss music preferences.
  3. Patients will give and receive feedback regarding music choices and opinions
  4. Patients will recognize importance of music as a form of leisure.             

History/ Interesting Places

This group is offered to committed patients. This is a group that meets weekly for one hour.  A video tape of historical events or famous people or places is shown and then discussed.  Patients that have an interest in this area are encouraged to attend.

  1. Patients will have an opportunity to learn about and discuss famous and/ or historical events.
  2. Patients will increase social and communication skills.


Recreational Programs IV

The Department offers a wide variety of staff supervised recreational and leisure time activities designed to reduce inmate idleness and teach pro-social skills to use their time constructively. The following recreational programs are currently offered at Bridgewater State Hospital: Basketball, Bean Toss, Bingo, Board Games, Cardio, Weight Lifting, Ping Pong, Tournaments, Volleyball, and Walking Club. 

Revised 8/7/14