Susan McGurk, PhD

Professor; Cognitive Remediation Initiatives |

Susan McGurk

Susan R. McGurk, PhD, is Professor of Occupational Therapy, with secondary appointments in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, and is a member of the Center of Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University. McGurk is a neuropsychologist whose multi-faceted research program addresses methods and mechanisms in cognitive remediation, the role of cognitive impairments in employment, academic pursuits, and independent living in persons with serious psychiatric illness, and in other conditions affecting cognition and community functioning. McGurk and colleagues have developed the “Thinking Skills for Work” Program, a multi-component cognitive remediation program combining restorative task practice of cognitive skills and the teaching of self-management strategies designed to optimize cognitive and work functioning in persons receiving vocational rehabilitation services. The results of a recently completed, NIMH-funded, two-site, randomized controlled trial indicated the ability of the Thinking Skills for Work program to improve work outcomes in people who have failed to respond to supported employment, the evidence-based vocational rehabilitant program.  This is the first trial to date that has demonstrated the ability of cognitive enhancement program (Thinking Skills for Work) to improve rehabilitation outcomes in people who have failed to respond to an evidence based practice (supported employment). Dr. McGurk has been the recipient of a National Alliance of Research in Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) Young Investigator Award (1997-1990), a NARSAD Independent Investigator Award (2010-2012), the 2004 Rehabilitation Practitioner of Distinction Award by the National Rehabilitation Association, and the 2007 Gerard Hogarty Award for Excellence in Schizophrenia Research. She is the Principal Investigator of ongoing NIMH- and NIDILRR-funded randomized controlled trials evaluating the Thinking Skills for Work Program and other cognitive programs in persons with severe mental illness. Current work of interest addresses potential enhancement of neuroplastic cognitive remediation-related processes with physical exercise, as well as a large multi-site dismantling study of the specific components of cognitive enhancement that are essential to helping people with psychiatric illness achieve their employment goals.


 Areas of Expertise

  • Methods and mechanisms of cognitive remediation
  • Cognitive self-management strategies
  • Community based implementation of cognitive remediation programs
  • Supported employment
  • Psychiatric rehabilitation
  • Neuropsychology of psychiatric illness
  • Prospective research methods
  • Clinical trials


Selected Publications

McGurk, S.R., & Meltzer, H.Y.  The role of cognition in vocational functioning in schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia Research, 45:175-184, 2000.

McGurk, S.R., & Mueser, K.T.  Cognitive functioning and symptomatology in unemployed, supported employed, and independently employed clients with severe mental illness.  Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 191:789-798, 2003.

McGurk, S.R., Mueser, K.T., Harvey, P.D., Marder, J., & LaPuglia, R.  Cognitive and symptom predictors of work outcomes in clients with schizophrenia.  Psychiatric Services, 54:1129-1135, 2003.

McGurk, S.R., Green, M.G., Wirshing, W.C., Ames, D., Marshall, B.D., & Marder, S.M.  Effects of antipsychotic and anticholinergic effects on two types of spatial memory in treatment-resistant schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia Research, 68:225-233, 2004.

McGurk, S.R., Coleman, T., Harvey, P., Reichenberg, A., White, L., Friedman, J., Parrella, M., & Davis, K.L. Working memory performance in poor outcome schizophrenia: relationship to age and executive functioning.  Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 26:153-160, 2004.

Mueser, K.T., & McGurk, S.R.  Schizophrenia.  Lancet, 363:2063-2072, 2004.

McGurk, S.R, Mueser, K.T., Walling, D., Meltzer, H.Y., & Harvey, P.D. (2004).  Executive functioning predicts mental health service use in outpatients with schizophrenia.  Mental Health Services Research, 6:185-188, 2004.

McGurk, S.R., & Mueser, K.T.  Cognitive functioning, symptoms, and work in supported employment: A review and heuristic model.  Schizophrenia Research, 70:147-173, 2004.

McGurk, S.R., Carter, C., Goldman, R., Green, M.F., Marder, S.R., Xie, H., Schooler, N.R., & Kane, J.M The effects of clozapine and risperidone on spatial working memory in schizophrenia.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 162:1013-1016, 2005.

McGurk, S.R., Mueser, K.T., & Pascaris, A.  Cognitive training and supported employment for persons with severe mental illness: One year results from a randomized controlled trial.  Schizophrenia Bulletin, 31: 898-909, 2005.

Harvey, P.D., Friedman, J.I., Bowie, C., Reichenberg A., McGurk, S.R., Parrella, M., White, L., & Davis, K.L.  Validity and stability of performance-based estimates of premorbid educational functioning in older patients with schizophrenia.  Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 28:178-192, 2006.

McGurk, S.R., & Mueser, K.T.  Cognitive and clinical predictors of work outcome in clients with schizophrenia receiving supported employment services: 4-year follow-up.  Adm Policy Ment Health, 33:598-606, 2006.

McGurk, S.R, & Mueser, K.T.  Strategies for coping with cognitive impairment in supported employment.  Psychiatric Services, 57:1421-1429, 2006.

McGurk, S.R., Mueser, K.T., Feldman K., Wolfe, R., & Pascaris, A.  Cognitive training for supported employment: 2-3 year outcomes of a randomized controlled trial.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 164:437-441, 2007.

DeRosa, T., McGurk, S.R., Mueser, K.T., Morin, I., & Wiesen, T.  Clients’ perceptions of effective supports in vocational rehabilitation. Clinical Schiz & Related Disorders, 1:154-160, 2007.

Marshall, R., McGurk, S.R., Karow, C., & Kairy, T.  Problem solving abilities of participants with and without diffuse neurologic involvement.  Aphasiology, 21:750-762, 2007.

McGurk, S.R., Twamley, E.W., Sitzer, D., McHugo, G., & Mueser, K.T. A meta-analysis of cognitive remediation in schizophrenia.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 164:1791-1802, 2007.

McGurk, S.R. and Mueser, K.T.  Response to cognitive rehabilitation in older vs. younger persons with severe mental illness.  American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 11:90-105, 2008.

Lindenmayer, J.P., McGurk, S.R., Mueser, K.T., Khan, A., Wance, D., Hoffman, L., Wolfe, R., & Xie, H.  Cognitive remediation in persistently mentally ill inpatients: A randomized controlled trial.  Psychiatric Services, 59:241-247, 2008.

McGurk, S.R., & Wykes, T.  Cognitive remediation and vocational rehabilitation in schizophrenia.  Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 31:350-359, 2008.

Lindenmayer, J.P., Kaushik, S., Branch, C., McGurk, S.R., Khan, A., Li, H., Hoffman, L.  Does computerized cognitive remediation change brain activation patterns in schizophrenia: fMRI pilot data.  European Psychiatry, 23 (S2):S127-S128, 2008.

Nandlal, J.M., Bettazzoni, M., Priolo, T., McGurk, S.R., Flora, N., & Perrier, C. Augmented Education: Effectiveness of a new employment training and support model for people with mental illness. Canadian Council on Learning, 1:2-29, 2009.

McGurk, S.R., Mueser, K.T., DeRosa, T., & Wolfe, R.  Work, recovery, and comorbidity in schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia Bulletin, 35(2):319-335, 2009.

McGurk, S.R., Schiano, D., Mueser, K.T., & Wolfe, R.  Implementation of the Thinking Skills or Work     Program in a psychosocial clubhouse.  Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 33:190-9, 2010.

Rapp, M.A., Schnaider-Beeri, M., Purohit, D.P., Reichenberg, A., McGurk, S.R., Haroutunian, V., Harvey, P.D.  Cortical neuritic plaques and hippocampal neurofibrillary tangels are related to dementia severity in elderly schizophrenia patients. Schizophrenia Research, 116(1):90-96, 2010.

Wykes, T., Huddy, V., Cellard, C., McGurk, S. R., & Czobar, P.  A meta-analysis of cognitive remediation for schizophrenia: Methodology and effect sizes.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 168(5):472-85, 2011.

Mueser, K.T., & McGurk, S.R.  New tools for cognitive remediation and psychiatric rehabilitation of schizophrenia: Review of Integrated Psychological Therapy (IPT) for the Treatment of Neurocognition, Social Cognition, and Social Competency in Schizophrenia Patients by V. Roder, D.R. Müller, H.D. Brenner, & W.D. Spaulding.  PsychCritiques, 56, Release 16, Article 2, 2011.

Ferron, J.C., Brunette, M.F., McGurk, S.R., Xie, H., Frounfelker, R., Cook, J.A., Jonikas, J.A., McHugo, G.J. (2012). Do Symptoms and Cognitive Problems Affect the Use and Efficacy of a Web-Based Decision Support System for Smokers with Serious Mental Illness? Journal of Dual Diagnosis, 8(4):315-325, 2012.

McGurk, S.R., Eack, S.M., Kurtz, M., Mueser, K.T. Cognitive remediation and psychosocial rehabilitation for individuals with severe mental illness.  Rehabilitation Research and Practice, 2012.

Bowie, C.R., McGurk, S.R., Mausbach, B., Patterson, T.L., Harvey, P.D. Combined Cognitive Remediation and Functional Skills Training for Schizophrenia: Effects on Cognition, Functional Competence, and Real-World Outcomes. American Journal of Psychiatry, 169(7):710-8, 2012.

Lindenmayer, J.P., McGurk, S.R., Khan, A., Saurabh, K., Thanju, A., Hoffman, L., Valdez, G., Wance, D., Herrmann, E. (2013) Improving Social Cognition in Schizophrenia: A Pilot Intervention. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 39(3):507-17, 2013.

McGurk, S.R., Mueser, K.T., Mischel, R., Adams, R., Harvey, P.D., McClure, M.M., Look, A.E., Leung, W.W., Siever, L.J.  Vocational Functioning in Schizotypal and Paranoid Personality Disorders.  Psychiatry Research, 5;210(2):498-504, 2013.

McGurk, S.R., Mueser, K.T., Covell, N.H., Ciccerone, K.D., Drake, R.E., Silverstein, S.M., Medalia, A., Myers, R., Bellack, A.S., Bell, M.D., and Essock, S.M. Mental Health System Funding of Cognitive Enhancement Interventions for Schizophrenia: Summary and Update of the New York Office of Mental Health Expert Panel and Stakeholder Meeting. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 36(3):133-45, 2013.

Lord S.E., McGurk, S.R., Nicholson J., Carpenter-Song E.A., Tauscher, J.S., Becker, D.R., Swanson, S.J., Drake, R.E., and Bond, G.R. The potential of technology for enhancing individual placement and support supported employment. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 37(2):99-106, 2014.

Mueser, K.T., & McGurk, S.R.  Supported employment for persons with serious mental illness: Current status and future directions.  L’Encéphale, 40:S45-56, 2014.

Mueser, K. T., Penn, D. L., Addington, J., Brunette, M. F., Gingerich, S., Glynn, S. M., Lynde, D. W., Gottlieb, J. D., Meyer-Kalos, P., Cather, C., McGurk, S. R., Saade, S., Robinson, D. G., Schooler, N. R., Rosenheck, R. A., & Kane, J. M. The NAVIGATE program for first episode psychosis: Rationale, overview, and description of psychosocial components. Psychiatric Services, 66(7):852-61, 2015.

Milfort, R., Bond, G., McGurk, S.R., and Drake, R.E. Barriers to Employment among Social Security Disability Insurance Beneficiaries in the Mental Health Treatment Study. Psychiatric Services, 66(12), 1350-2, 2015.

McGurk, S.R., Mueser, K.T., Xie, H., Welsh, J.,  Kaiser, S., Drake, R.E., Becker, D., Bailey, E., Fraser, G.,  Wolfe, R., & McHugo, G.J. Cognitive Enhancement Treatment for People with Mental Illness Who Do Not Respond to Supported Employment:  A Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Psychiatry. 172(9):852-61, 2015.

Lindenmayer, J.P., Khan, A., Lachman, H., McGurk, S.R., Goldring, A., Thanju, A., Kaushik, S. COMT genotype and response to cognitive remediation in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research,168(1-2):279-84, 2015.

Keefe, R.S., Haig, G.M., Marder, S.R., Harvey, P.D., Dunayevich, E., Medalia, A., Davidson, M., Lombardo, I., Bowie, C.R., Buchanan, R.W., Bugarski-Kirola, D., Carpenter, W.T., Csernansky, J.T., Dago, P.L., Durand, D.M., Frese, F.J., Goff, D.C., Gold, J.M., Hooker, C.I., Kopelowicz, A., McGurk, S.R., Opler, L.A., Pinkham, A.E., Stern, R.G. 2016. Report on ISCTM consensus meeting on clinical assessment of response to treatment of cognitive impairment in schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia Bulletin, 42(1):19-33, 2016.

Khare, C., Mueser, K.T., McGurk, S.R. Vocational Rehabilitation for Persons with Serious Mental Illness. Current Treatment Options in Psychiatry: Special Section: Schizophrenia Other Psychotic Disorder, 3, 99-110, 2016.

Lo, S.B., Szuhanya, K.M., Kredlow, M.A., Wolfe, R., Mueser, K.T., & McGurk, S.R. A confirmatory factor analysis of the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery in severe mental illness.  Schizophrenia Research, 175: 79-84, 2016.

Lo, S., Watkins, M., & McGurk, S.R.  “Cognitive Remediation for Psychiatric Disorders. ‘Fact Sheet’” published on the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies’ website: (

McGurk, S.R.  Cognitive enhancement to improve substance abuse outcomes in persons with so-occurring disorders.  Journal of Dual Diagnosis, 12:72-3, 2016.

McGurk, S.R., & Mueser, K.T.  Editorial: Sustaining the long-term effects of supported employment for persons with psychiatric disabilities. American Journal of Psychiatry,   Published online: October 01, 2016.

McGurk, S.R., Mueser, K.T., Xie, H., Feldman, K., Shay, Y., Klein, L., & Wolfe, R. (2016).  Cognitive remediation for vocational rehabilitation nonresponders.  Schizophrenia Research. 175, 48-56, 2016.

Mueser, K.T., Kim, M., Addington, J., McGurk, S.R., Pratt, S.I., and Addington, D.I.  Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Quality of Life Scale and New Proposed Factor Structure for the Quality of Life Scale-Revised. Schizophrenia Research, 181:117-123, 2017.

Lystad, J., Falkum, E., Haaland, V., Bull, H., Evensen, S., McGurk, S.R., & Ueland, T. Cognitive Remediation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Occupational Outcome in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: A 2-year follow-up study. Schizophrenia Research, 185:122-129, 2017.

Lindenmayer, J.P., Ozog V., Khan, A., Ljuri, I., Fregenti, S., and McGurk, S.R. Predictors of Response to Cognitive Remediation in Service Recipients with Severe Mental Illness. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 40 (1):61-69, 2017.

McGurk, S.R. & Mueser, K.T. Introduction to special issue on cognitive remediation. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 40 (1):1-3, 2017.

McGurk, S.R., Watkins, M.A, Dalton, C.M., Deutsch, H., and Mueser, K.T. The Feasibility of  implementing cognitive remediation for work in community based psychiatric rehabilitation programs. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 40 (1):79-86, 2017.

Lindenmayer, J.P., Fregenti, S., Kang, G, Ozog V., Ljuri, I., Khan, A., Goldring, A, and McGurk, S.R. The relationship of cognitive improvement after cognitive remediation with social functioning in patients with schizophrenia and severe cognitive deficits. Schizophrenia Research, 185:154-160, 2017.

Twamley, E.W., Thomas, K.R., Burton, C.Z., Vella, L., Jeste, D.V., Heaton, R.K., & McGurk, S.R. Compensatory strategy training for people with severe mental illnesses in supported employment: A randomized controlled trial. Schizophrenia Research, S0920-9964(17):30471-1, 2017.

McGurk. S.R. Drake, R.E., Xie, H., Riley, J., Milfort, R., Hale, T.W., Frey W.  Cognitive predictors among work in social security disability insurance beneficiaries with psychiatric disorders enrolled in IPS supported employment. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 44(1):32-37, 2018.

Mueser, K.T., McGurk, S.R., Xie H., Bolton, E.E., Janowsky, M.K., Lu,W., Rosenberg, S.D., and Wolfe, R. Neuropsychological predictors of response to the cognitive behavioral therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder in persons with severe mental illness. Psychiatry Research, 259:110-116, 2018.

DeTore, N., McGurk, S.R., and Mueser, K.T.  What does the managing emotions branch of the MSCEIT add to the MATRICS cognitive consensus battery? Schizophrenia Research. In press.

Metcalfe, J.D., Riley, J. McGurk, S.R., Hale, T.,  Drake, R.E., and Bond, G.R. Comparing Predictors of Employment in Individual Placement and Support: A Longitudinal Analysis. Psychiatry Research. In press.

Teixeira, C., Mueser, K.T., Rogers, E.S., and McGurk, S.R.  Job Endings and Work Trajectories in Persons Receiving Supported Employment and Cognitive Remediation.  Psychiatric Services. In press.