Dr. Helen Riess

Affiliation: Harvard Medical School & Massachusetts General Hospital
hriess@mgh.harvard.edu and hriess@empathetics.com


Helen Riess, M.D., is Director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and Chief Scientific Officer for Empathetics Inc. She completed her residency and Chief Residency in Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Riess was a Rabkin Medical Education Fellow at Harvard Medical School and Mt. Auburn Hospital. She was also a Harvard Macy Institute Scholar. Her research team at MGH conducts translational research utilizing the neuroscience of emotions to enhance patient-clinician communication and relational skills. The team has demonstrated the effectiveness of Dr. Riess’s empathy training approach in pilot studies and a randomized controlled trial. The Empathy Program also provides clinician coaching and consulting services. Dr. Riess is a core member of the Consortium for Research in Emotional Intelligence (CREIO) and she is a faculty member in the MGH Psychiatry Residency Program and the Harvard Macy Institute.

Dr. Riess’s research has been awarded the 2013 Partners Healthcare Medical Education Research Award, the 2012 Harvard Coaching Institute Research Award, and the 2013 SUNY Medical University Endowed Gilbert Humanism in Medicine Lecture Award.  Dr. Riess is an internationally recognized speaker on empathy, recently giving a TEDx talk on “The Power of Empathy.” She has also recently given keynote talks at Madison Square Garden for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital Consortium, the New England Home Care & Hospice Conference, and the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Summit. Her empathy training curricula are implemented internationally in healthcare, business and education. She is Co-Founder, Chairman, and Chief Scientific Officer of Empathetics, LLC., a company that provides web-based empathy training and related relational skills solutions.


Gazelle, G, Liebschutz, JM, & Riess, H. Physician Burnout: Coaching a Way Out. J Gen Int Med, 2014; 1-6.

Riess, H, Kraft-Todd, G. Enhancing nonverbal communication with E.M.P.A.T.H.Y. Acad Med, 2014; 89:1108-1112

Kelley, JM, Kraft-Todd, G, Schapira, L, Kossowsky, J, Riess, H. The influence of the patient-clinician relationship on healthcare outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLOS ONE, 2014; 9(4): e94207. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094207

Phillips, M, Lorie, A, Kelley, JM, Gray, ST, Riess, H. Long term effects of empathy training in surgery residents: a one year follow-up study. Eur J Person Centered Healthcare, 2013; 1(2) 326-332.

Riess, H, Kelley, JM, Bailey, RW, Dunn, EJ, Phillips, M. Empathy training for resident physicians: A randomized controlled trial of a neuroscience-informed curriculum. J Gen Int Med, 2012; 27(10) 1280-1286.

Riess, H. Biomarkers in the psychotherapy relationship: The role of physiology, neurobiology, and biological correlates of E.M.P.A.T.H.Y. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2011; 19:1-13

Riess, H, Kelley JM, Bailey RW, Konowitz P, Gray ST. Improving empathy and relational skills in Otolaryngology residents: A pilot study. Otolaryngology –Head & Neck Surgery, 2011; 144 (1) 120 -122.

Riess, H. Empathy in Medicine: A neurobiological perspective. JAMA 2010; 304(14) 1604-1605

Riess, H.  Risk management for the supervising psychiatrist. Psychiatric Times 2009; 26(9):38-45.

Kelley, JM, Lembo, AJ, Ablon, JS, Villanueva, JJ, Conboy, LA, Levy, R, Marci, CD, Kerr, CE, Kirsch, I, Jacobson, EE, Riess, H, Kaptchuk, TJ. Patient and practitioner influences on the placebo effect in irritable bowel syndrome. Psychosomatic Med 2009; 71: 789-804.

Riess, H, Herman, JB. Teaching the teachers: A model course for psychotherapy supervisors. Acad Psychiatry 2008; 32:259-264.

Riess, H, Marci, CD. The neurobiology and physiology of the patient –doctor relationship: Measuring empathy. Medical Encounter 2007; 21(3):38-41.

Marci, CD, Riess, H. The clinical relevance of psychophysiology: Support for the psychobiology of empathy and psychodynamic process. Am J Psychotherapy 2005; 59: 213-226.

Gordon, C, Riess, H. The formulation as a collaborative conversation. Harv Rev Psychiatry 2005; 13:112-123.







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