Didactics, Seminars, and Conferences

The majority of our didactics and seminars are provided in a small-group format, providing ample opportunity for residents to interact and engage in active learning. As described below, most lectures target a particular developmental stage, and prepare residents for relevant milestones they are expected to master.

Our didactics are protected educational time. Before attending didactics, residents sign out to a covering senior resident, and all pages/calls are routed to the covering senior resident.

Inpatient Case Conference at UConn John Dempsey Hospital: Residents from various PGY years attend this conference, where inpatients are presented for interview and/or discussion with various rotating faculty. The emphasis is on interviewing techniques, criterion-based differential diagnosis and treatment interventions.

PGY1

Foundations of Psychiatry: This introductory course provides an orientation to the knowledge essential for a first year resident’s clinical assignments, including interactions with psychiatric patients and their families, and safe pharmacological management. Subsequent to this orientation, the course provides a thorough overview of the primary psychiatric disorders, focusing on assessment, intervention (including psychotherapeutic, psychopharmacologic, and psychosocial interventions), available research, and neuroscience. The course is team-taught by a variety of clinical faculty.

Interviewing, Listening, and Being Psychotherapeutic: This ten-month weekly seminar will afford residents the opportunity to participate in numerous observed clinical experiences in their first year. The seminar is divided into two halves, during the first half, residents will observe faculty interviewing inpatients, and they will discuss patient characteristics and interviewing techniques. During the second half of the seminar, residents will interview patients themselves in front of their peers and the interviews are discussed and critiqued. Discussion reviews clinical diagnosis, mental status, formulation, and treatment management. Particular attention is paid to interviewing styles, as different approaches are required for different patients. Residents are introduced to Brief Psychotherapeutic techniques and various indications and limitations. Everything we do as psychiatrists is therapeutic and this is emphasized.

PGY2

Clinical Psychopharmacology: This eight-month course provides an in-depth presentation of the psychopharmacotherapy of psychosis, major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, severe character pathology, as well as special topics. Links are consistently made between clinical aspects and neurobiology/neuroscience. An introduction to the conduct of clinical research is also included.

Subspecialty Topics in Psychiatry: This course provides a sampling of various subspecialty areas of practice within psychiatry, many of which will be experienced through clinical rotations during the second year. Topics include Forensic Psychiatry, Child-Adolescent Psychiatry/Developmental Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine, Clinical Neuropsychiatry, Geropsychiatry, and Research Methods in Psychiatry. It also includes an overview on the History of Psychiatry, intended to provide a deeper familiarity and appreciation for the origin of this noble profession.

Foundations of Psychotherapy Seminar: This year-long didactic series provides an overview of various psychotherapeutic modalities, and familiarizes residents with the evidence supporting these treatments, specific indications for each treatment, and techniques used in each of these therapies. Developmental and life span issues are addressed, as are cultural competence, and legal/ethical issues in the conduct of psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy Case Conference: This seminar allows residents to discuss their psychotherapy cases with peers and learn from the insight and guidance of two accomplished therapists. As cases are discussed, residents simultaneously learn practical skills in psychodynamic therapy and in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and topics from the didactic seminar are reinforced in a clinical context.

PGY3

Advanced Neuropsychopharmacology: This course covers a broad range of topics in neurosciences, neurobiology and neuropsychopharmacology that are relevant to clinical practice. The first third of the course reviews basic neuroscience concepts in preparation for more detailed assessment of psychopharmacological drug action in the brain. The next segment reviews translation of genetic, biochemical, and neuroendocrine data from animal models to development of therapeutic drugs relevant to treatment of psychiatric disorders. The final portion of the course examines the current mechanisms of drug action underlying treatment of specific disorders. A research module is included to discuss reviewing the literature, critical thinking, and experimental design/analysis. Residents are also assigned papers to present to the group for critical review.

PGY3 Psychotherapy Seminar: This weekly seminar covers topics relevant to the third year resident’s experience, including combined treatment, split treatment, and termination phase of care. It provides a more in-depth review of prominent schools and models of individual psychotherapy, family therapy, couples therapy, group therapy, and milieu treatments. Disorder-specific training is also provided to help residents become attuned to the unique needs of different populations. The roles of culture, ethnicity, and social resources are addressed, and relevant research and clinical implications are discussed.

Psychotherapy Case Conference: As PGY3 residents begin to accumulate more long-term therapy cases, and this session provides residents with ample opportunity to learn from each other and to integrate didactic learning into clinical practice. We follow a number of cases in depth and practice finding focus and identifying techniques that are best suited for these particular patients, while learning to apply psychodynamic theory to our work.  Selected readings are chosen to enhance the clinical topics addressed.

Live Psychotherapy Observation Course: This weekly class focuses on experiential learning of psychotherapy. In this course, psychotherapy sessions between residents and their patients are viewed through a live camera feed. Two licensed therapists and the other residents observe the psychotherapy session while discussing it in real time. They later provide additional support and feedback to the interviewer. The leaders are trained in a range of theoretical orientations, including: Psychodynamic, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and other skills-based and supportive therapy interventions; thus, the group is provided with the opportunity to conceptualize and intervene in various ways with their patients.

Outpatient Case Conference at Talcott Outpatient Clinic: Residents present challenging patients from their outpatient caseload with an emphasis on transference, countertransference, and treatment interventions.

Public Sector Psychiatry: This six-month seminar series investigates a variety of central issues in public sector psychiatry. Areas discussed include comprehensive care for chronic mental illness, systems of care, continuity in treatment, multidisciplinary issues, historical and political aspects, and specialized current treatment programs and strategies. There is also a focus on cross-cultural issues.

PGY4

Contemporary Health System Issues: This course includes a series of presentations by experts in public health and administration. It focuses on issues in the evolving health care field, with particular emphasis on service delivery, politics, and administration. A portion of the course focuses on career options.

Special Topics Seminar: This course includes a review of advanced topics in clinical psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, neuroscience relevant to psychiatry and psychotherapy, and it includes a “Life After Graduation” component to help residents have a smooth transition to the “real world” as residency comes to an end.