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.

Psychiatry Grand Rounds: Grand rounds are held most Fridays every month during which time a faculty lecturer will present on up and coming topics within or related to the field of psychiatry for approximately one hour. These presentations are open for attendance by faculty, residents, and students.


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.


Clinical Psychopharmacology: This eight month course focuses on the psychopharmacology of mood disorders, psychotic disorders, anxiety disorders and personality disorders. It provides a pragmatic foundation for psychiatry residents to learn evidence-based approaches to prescribing psychiatric medicine. The course also covers the pharmacology of medication classes to help residents develop an understanding of medication selection based on mechanisms of action and side effect profiles.

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.


Advanced Neuropsychopharmacology: This eight month course provides an in-depth survey of the neurobiology of mental illnesses including mood disorders, psychotic disorders, alcohol and substance use disorders and neurodegenerative disorders. Principles of neuroscience as they relate to psychiatric illnesses will be discussed. Moreover, the course includes several special topics such as neuropsychological testing, neuroimaging and late life mental illness to give residents an exposure to a broad range of psychiatric topic areas.

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.


Preparing for Work Post-Residency: In this monthly class, the Psychiatry Department Chairperson, Dr. David Steffens, helps residents prepare to take on a position post-residency. Topics include shaping the resident’s desired job description, enhancing negotiating skills, employment contracts, financial issues related to practice, risk management issues, reflection on transformative experiences during residency training, and maintaining professional connections post-residency.

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.