Obesity Behavioral Medicine Program

The Obesity Behavioral Medicine Program offers psychiatric and behavioral services to overweight and obese individuals, 18 years and older. Weight management services offered through this program include comprehensive evaluation and consultation, individual and group treatment, and maintenance intervention (e.g., relapse prevention).  

Services Offered

Evaluation and Treatment

The Obesity Behavioral Medicine Program provides evaluation and behaviorally-based treatment of overweight and obese patients. Overweight is typically defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9, and obesity as a BMI of 30 or over. Our behavioral self-management approach to weight management includes assessment of disordered eating behaviors (e.g., binge eating, emotional/compulsive eating), individual and group-based cognitive-behavioral treatment of disordered eating behaviors, and psychosocial intervention. Behavioral weight management also includes an emphasis on maintenance of healthy behaviors once weight loss is achieved.

One of the specialty areas of this program is the pre- and postsurgical psychiatric management of bariatric surgery patients. Our staff works closely with the Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery, a Center of Excellence in Bariatric Surgery. Patients planning to undergo bariatric surgery are required to undergo psychiatric evaluation, and the Obesity Behavioral Medicine Program has developed a specialized program to meet the needs of surgical patients. Presurgical evaluations are conducted by Dr. Coughlin, Dr. Seide, and Sharon Praissman, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.         

After initial evaluation, patients in need of further psychiatric services can be referred to one of our program’s affiliated psychiatrists, Dr. Ramen Chahal, who works with a number of highly qualified and specialized obesity behavioral therapists in our Community Psychiatry Program, including Maura Murphy and Jill Varelli. 

Group Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention

The Obesity Behavioral Medicine Program offers group-based treatment for binge eating and other eating behaviors (e.g., emotional and compulsive eating) related to overweight and obesity. These groups typically occur over 6 to 8 weeks and are closed (i.e., have a start and stop date and are for screened patients only).

Cost of Visits

For Information about insurance coverage, referrals, and co-payments as well as making an appointment, please call 410-550-6337. Fax: 410-550-5992


Director:  Janelle W. Coughlin, Ph.D.

Obesity Behavioral Medicine Program
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
5300 Alpha Commons Drive, 4th Floor,
Baltimore MD 21224

Clinic Providers

The Obesity Behavioral Medicine Program is staffed by an interdisciplinary team composed of a psychologist, two psychiatrists, two social workers, a psychiatric nurse practitioners, and graduate trainees.  The team works closely with the Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery and  Community Psychiatry Program at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.  

Director:  Janelle W. Coughlin, Ph.D., Psychologist

Janelle W. Coughlin, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  She is the Director of the Obesity Behavioral Medicine Program and Associate Director of the Center for Behavior and Health.  She is a licensed psychologist with clinical and research expertise in obesity and eating disorders.  Her work in obesity includes development and delivery of in-person, telephonic, and internet-based behavioral lifestyle interventions, training and supervision of clinicians delivering these interventions in large-scale research trials (Weight Loss Maintenance, WLM; Practice-based Opportunities for Weight Reduction, POWER), and pre- and post-surgical psychiatric management of bariatric surgery patients. Dr. Coughlin is also interested in the treatment of eating disorders and has been involved in research assessing psychosocial and biological aspects of these conditions.
Psychological evaluations for bariatric surgery with Dr. Coughlin can be scheduled at 410-550-6337.

Sharon Praissman, MS, CRNP-A/PMH

Sharon Praissman is board certified as an Adult (medical) and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.  She oversees Access To Wellness, a program of the Community Psychiatry Program at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, which works to improve the physical health of people with chronic mental illness. Her research interests include health and wellness in people with mental illness, obesity and weight management, and mindfulness. 
Psychological evaluations for bariatric surgery with Sharon Praissman can be scheduled at 410-550-0104.

Raman Chahal, M.D., Psychiatrist

Maura Murphy, LCSW-C

Maura Murphy is a Social Work Psychotherapist at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She has worked at Hopkins since July, 2008 offering therapy to adults with multiple issues. Her work in obesity includes working with pre and post-surgical bariatric patients and exploring with them the many issues involved around these life changes. Ms. Murphy uses various treatments including Cognitive Behavioral therapy with her clients. She also had some experience working as an intern at the Sheppard Pratt Eating Disorders Unit. 

Jill Varelli, LCSW-C

Jill Varelli is a licensed clinical social worker with over 10 years of experience at Johns Hopkins Bayview’s Community Psychiatry Program. Ms. Varelli specializes in working with individuals who struggle with co-morbid mental health and substance abuse issues as well as pre-and post surgical bariatric patients. She employs an integrative approach to therapy, utilizing both behavioral and insight oriented approaches to help people reach their goals.