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Psychotherapy therapy is a voyage of discovery. When spoken by the patient, and received without tumult by the therapist, isolating experiences and fears can be stripped of their power to limit and to harm. The patient’s need for symptoms and defenses must be explored, understood, and worked through before previously unknown aspects of the self can be integrated in a more stable and fulfilling life. Used creatively, talking is the channel through which a patient’s challenges and discoveries can be expressed and examined with the therapist and with other companions in the therapeutic enterprise, such as fellow members of a group or family. To be therapeutic, the process of understanding must be integrated with a process of change.

Psychotherapy Modalities

The psychotherapies are a variety of psychological treatments that help relieve symptoms and improve functioning in patients suffering from psychiatric disorders and psychological problems. Empirical evidence supports the use of a variety of psychotherapies as part of the treatment of patients with psychiatric disorders across the lifespan.

Training for Residents

Given the evidence for the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic treatment for a wide range of psychiatric conditions, graduating psychiatrists should be knowledgeable and sufficiently skilled to deliver some of these treatments to patients with psychiatric disorders.

Developmental Model

Fundamental skills focusing on alliance development should precede the learning of specific skills or therapies.  Learning of individual therapies should precede the learning of systemic therapies.

Therapeutic Alliance

The therapeutic alliance is defined as the fundamental relationship between the therapist and the patient, which is made up of the following three components:

  • A bond (relational component)
  • Mutually agreed-upon goals
  • Tasks (means to attain goals)

Therapist Attributes

  • Warmth
  • Genuineness
  • Respectfulness
  • Capacity for Empathy

Basic Therapeutic Techniques

  • Empathic Reflection
  • Affective Exploration
  • Supportiveness
  • Facilitation of the expression of affect
  • Attention to the patient’s experience

Positive Outcome

Expression of positive therapist attributes and consistent and effective use of basic therapeutic techniques have an impact on positive therapeutic outcome.  They are key capacities to learn and demonstrate in psychotherapy training.

Period of Training

Training in the evidence-based psychotherapies must involve no less than a full 32 weeks or eight months of the 60-month period of training (1200 hours). A period of 3 hours per week for PGY 2-5 residents is protected for Psychotherapy training.

  • Structured didactic learning
  • Patient treatment
  • Supervision

Levels of Knowledge

Proficiency: the resident is the primary therapist with one hour of weekly supervision

Working knowledge: participation as an observer or co-therapist

Basic or introductory knowledge: didactic seminars or structured learning activities


  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
  • Supportive Therapy
  • Crisis Intervention

Working Knowledge

  • Behavioural Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
  • Family or Group Psychotherapy
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Basic Knowledge

  • Brief Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
  • Mindfulness Training
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Relaxation


Structure for Psychotherapy Training for Queen's Psychiatry Residents

Pre-requisites for Resident Psychotherapy Practice

1.   Over the summer term, all PGY 2 residents will read the basic review of the fundamental principles 
      of psychotherapy, Introduction to Psychotherapy (Bateman, Brown, and Pedder). 

2.   The summer didactic sessions on Case Formulation and Psychotherapy Interviewing Skills are 
      also required before beginning psychotherapy practice.

3.    In early September, all residents (who have not previously participated in this workshop) will 
       participate in the day-long workshop, Personal and Cultural Awareness.

PGY 2-5 Mandatory Didactic Training in Psychotherapy

The Basic and Intermediary CBT courses will be offered on alternative academic years and are mandatory for all residents. A workshop on Psychodynamic Psychotherapy will also be included in the curriculum, and completion will be mandatory for all residents. One full-day Introduction Workshop in Cultural Competency and follow-up seminars, expanding residents’ self-awareness, knowledge-base, and skills with regard to both professionals’ and patients’ cultural identities, including ethnicity, race, class, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, and others, will be offered to help psychotherapists improve service delivery by increasing their understanding of how cultural factors influence psychiatric treatment. Residents must demonstrate attendance at all seminars on Cultural Competency before graduation.

Schedule for Resident Psychotherapy Education and Practice

At the beginning of each psychotherapy module rotation, residents will be assigned appropriate readings related to that modality and will review the PTeR section that covers the modality. Residents will demonstrate to the supervisor that these materials have been understood and that the resident has basic knowledge about the modality.

1.   PGY 2 Residents will provide individual Supportive Psychotherapy to patients from an outpatient 
      clinic at HDH at 2:30 PM on Fridays, and, directly after they treat their patients, they will participate 
      in group supervision sessions from 3:30-5:00 p.m., each Friday for eight months. Fundamentals 
      and common factors in all psychotherapy modalities will be learned during these group sessions in 
      the context of case supervision. Minimum 20 patient sessions in Supportive Therapy.

2.    At the beginning of the PGY 3 year, residents will be assigned their long case supervisor,and they
       will begin supervised practice in psychodynamic psychotherapy throughout their PGY 3 year. 
       Minimum one year for long case in psychodynamic psychotherapy.

3.   Couple and Family Therapy will be practiced at both the working and proficiency level during the 
      Child and Adolescent rotation in PGY 3. Residents who wish to enhance their Couple and Family 
      Therapy practice may have the option of taking on additional cases supervised by an experienced 
      Family Therapist outside the parameters of their Child and Adolescent rotation.

4.   In the PGY 4 year, residents will be assigned supervisors for their CBT (Minimum 16 sessions) and 
      IPT training, and practice in these modalities will continue throughout their PGY 4 year.

5.   Crisis Intervention Psychotherapy will be practiced and supervision logged longitudinally 
      throughout  residency while residents are on call in the ER and during other rotations in which 
      emergencies arise. Minimum 20 logged sessions in Crisis Intervention Psychotherapy.

6.   Other psychotherapy modalities, such as DBT, Group Psychotherapy, Motivational Interviewing, 
      Mindfulness, and Relaxation, will be learned and practiced at the working and/or proficiency levels 
      throughout the PGY 3, 4, and 5 years, depending on the individual schedules and interests of the 
      residents. Residents who wish to enhance their working knowledge (and logged hours) of both 
      DBT and Group Psychotherapy may do so during an elective at the Personality Disorders Service. 
      If the elective is more than one block, proficiency in Group Psychotherapy can be achieved during 
      this rotation.

7.   Residents who wish to develop a higher level of proficiency in any psychotherapy modality may
      see additional patients and/or increase the length of a psychotherapy modality rotation.

Personality Disorders Service: Elective Rotation

Personality Disorders constitute a challenging aspect of any psychiatric practice.  The RCPSC recommends that the resident have exposure  to all aspects of these disorders.  Training Site: Personality Disorders Service, Providence Care - LaSalle Mews. A 3-block rotation at Personality Disorders Service is mandatory for PGY-4 psychiatry residents.

Medical Expert:

  • Take an appropriate history and conduct a mental status examination in order to diagnose personality disorders
  • Document treatment history and outcome
  • Conduct a thoughtful and reasonable diagnostic work up
  • Formulate a treatment plan based on the biopsychosocial approach
  • Observe a range of psychotherapeutic groups designed to treat patients with personality disorders
  • Become familiar with psychodynamic and dialectical behavioural therapy treatment approaches with patients suffering from personality disorders
  • Learn and observe common factors in the delivery of effective psychotherapy


  • Learn the elements necessary to establish therpeutic relationship with patient(s)     
  • Demonstrate the ability to serve as a model for healthy interpersonal relating and to communicate deeply and creatively while at the same time maintaining appropriate professional boundaries
  • Communicate effectively with physician colleagues, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and all other professional colleagues, respecting the unique expertise of all


  • Work constructively in a multidisciplinary team, acknowledge the special role of all health care professionals in care of patients
  • Collaborate with other specialists in the community involved in the care of patients
  • Collaborate with family members regarding the health of patient and family


  • Understand the crucial importance of resource management and cross-discipline resource allocation and utilization

Health Advocate:

  • Be able to implement a model of care to provide a framework for improving quality of life for individuals suffering from personality disorders and their families


  • Become familiar with basic literature on common factors in psychotherapies and transference-based, mentalization, and dialectical behavioural therapies


  • Develop awareness of biased attitudes often shown toward patients with personality disorders
  • Demonstrate sensitivity and awareness of differences and needs regarding patients from a range of cultures, races, religions, sexual orientations, and gender identities
  • Deliver highest quality care to this patient population with compassion, integrity and respect

This experience will enable a psychiatry resident to observe a wide range of psychotherapeutic groups focused on the four modalities of dialectical behavioural therapy including: Seeking Safety,  Goals, People Skills, Mindfulness, Managing Powerful Emotions, Art, Values.