Psychiatry and
Behavioral Sciences

Didactics Overview

Thursday afternoons in the Stanford psychiatry residency program are dedicated to our didactics curriculum, which features a series of courses designed to correspond with residents' clinical assignments and growth in clinical skills.
In addition to these courses, our clinical services also hold their own didactic sessions for residents who are rotating on those services.

PGY1 Didactic Curriculum

Essentials of Psychiatry - This is a year-long integrated seminar series designed to introduce residents to psychiatric case conceptualization, interview techniques, assessment and management of psychiatric illness, biological and psychological treatment options, systems issues, and critical scholarship in the psychiatric context.  The course is taught by a multidisciplinary team of faculty and covers key topics for new residents including: Emergency Psychiatry, Mood Disorders, Substance Disorders, Psychotic Disorders, PTSD, and Introduction to Consultation/Liaison Psychiatry.  (11 3-hour sessions, 34 2-hour sessions)

Mindfulness Seminar (Elective) - This is an experiential activity, using techniques of Meditation, Yoga, Relaxation, and Inner Focusing, intended to provide incoming residents with tools with which they can better cope with and neutralize the stresses of dealing with patients' emotionally charged personal contents, so as to free their intimate personal worlds from the potential spillover generated by close therapeutic encounters and to offer inner resources for personal growth and development.  (12 1-hour sessions)

PGY2 Didactic Curriculum

SMART Training: Safety Management And Response Techniques -
Purpose: The purpose of SMART is to provide a safe, therapeutic environment for both patients and staff.
Philosophy: The SMART philosophy is a clinically based, proactive and least restrictive approach to managing potentially assaultive behavior.

SMART principles are part of the overall treatment plan and involve a therapeutic and empathetic approach towards understanding and managing difficult patient behaviors. Escalating or potentially assaultive behavior is seen as part of a continuum for that patient’s behavior, not a separate crisis. (1 3-hour session)

Scholarly Concentration Workshop - In this course, residents are introduced to critical thinking skills, both in reference to the literature and to be applied to their own scholarly work.  We review the program requirement for a scholarly project and potential scholarly concentration topics for each resident.  (9 1-hour sessions)

Introduction to Dynamic Psychotherapy - This is an eight month course introducing topics such as the dynamic unconscious, implicit and explicit memories, psychological case formulation, boundaries and therapeutic frame, ethics, the usefulness of both the patient's and the therapist's emotions, ego functions, defenses, therapeutic neutrality and empathic listening, types of psychotherapeutic interventions, transference and countertransference, working through, meeting therapeutic goals, and termination.  Therapeutic goals in dynamic psychotherapy usually include improving self-perceptions and self-esteem regulation, improving relationships with others, improving characteristic ways of adapting, and improving other ego functions.  The course is taught by a group of faculty at Stanford or in private practice.  

Introduction to Ethics in Psychiatry - This class is designed to introduce the ethics of patient care, conduct of research protocols, and professionalism.  Led by our department chairman, Dr. Laura Roberts, the course is interactive and guided by real world examples and cases.  (6 1-hour sessions)

Integrative Neuroscience for Psychiatry: This course provides residents with an overview of modern neuroscience methods and findings, and their relationship to diagnosis, treatment and etiology of psychiatric disorders. Emphasis is put on integrating a clinical perspective with neuroscienjce insights. The overall focus is on a transdiagnostic approach wherein neural circuits underlying particular neurobehavioral systems are examined as they relate to particular types of symptoms or areas of dysfunction in multiple psychiatric disorders. The framing of this course also incorporates cutting edge ideas in neuroscience research, in a very approachable fashion, and is consistent with framing of the field by leaders, such as the National Institute of Mental Health. The course is taught by an acclaimed team of faculty, including National Academy of Science/Institute of Medicine physician scientists. (24 1-hour sessions)

Advanced Inpatient Psychopathology and Psychopharmacology - This 9-month course reviews the major mental health disorders encountered in the inpatient setting.  The course is taught by a a team of multidisciplinary faculty who cover key inpatient topics including psychosis, mood, anxiety, substance and eating disorders, somatoform, pain, HIV and sleep disorders. Lectures are based on required readings and the most up-to-date research exploring the epidemiology, pathophysiology, phenomenology and somatic treatments while utilizing case examples to illustrate key concepts.  (30 1-hour sessions).

Introduction to Cognitive Behavior Therapy--This course is intended to teach basic cognitive and behavior treatment strategies for treatment of psychiatric disorders.  The course also presents basic cognitive and behavior models for understanding patient psychopathology as well as case conceptualization principles to guide treatment planning.  In addition, residents are encouraged to practice application of the cognitive and behavior strategies they are learning in ways that serve their own mental health promotion.  The course includes required reading, including "Learning Cognitive Behavior Therapy" by Jesse Wright, Monica Basco, and Michael Thase. (12 1-hour sessions)

PGY3 Didactic Curriculum

Development - This is a course that looks at human development from infancy to old age from a psychoanalytic (object relations theory) perspective that explores vital aspects of experience which promote mental and emotional growth and those which impede it.  It covers not only developmental milestones in each phase of development but also focuses on the two modes of operating in the world characteristic of all humans: one based on the fear of survival and the other on the fear of causing harm and their dialectical relationship. Learning how development proceeds, we also become acquainted with developmental challenges and how they manifest in us and in the lives of our patients. (12 1-hour sessions)

Case Formulation


Advanced Dynamic Psychotherapy

Couples and Family Therapy — This seminar introduces residents to the theoretical premises of the family-systems approach to the assessment and treatment of couples and families. Residents acquire the conceptual and practical skills required for interviewing, assessment, and treatment planning. Drawing on Minuchin’s structural approach to family therapy, we consider the technical challenges that clinicians frequently encounter when working with couples and families. Next, we look at major contributors to the field and current evidence-based approaches to couples and family treatment, identifyjng the assumptions that underlie and differentiate these models. Finally, applications of the family-systems theory and practice in psychiatric, medical, and community settings are discussed.  (12 1-hour sessions)

Advanced Outpatient Psychopharmacology - This is a two-quarter lecture series which builds on the PGY2 Psychopathology and Psychopharmacology course.  It is designed to prepare residents for outpatient practice with a focus on major psychiatric disorders like depressive and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety, personality disorders and eating disorders. It also covers (1) "how to get started" (e.g., scheduling, compliance, etc.), (2) combining medications with psychotherapy interventions, (3) ethics, and (4) clinical pearls.  It further includes key topic areas like somatic treatments such as ECT, child and geriatric psychopharmacology, mood disorders in women, and substance abuse treatment.  The course is taught by faculty experienced in both clinical as well as research aspects of these topics.  Case presentations and a course syllabus are a central part of the teaching methods.  (22 1-hour sessions)

Substance Use Disorders - Substance use disorders are highly prevalent in patients who receive care from psychiatrists, and have substantial influence on lives of patients.  This course provides a neuroscientific and clinical understanding of substance use disorders, reviews brief and extended intervention options, and equips resident to respond to a range of case presentations including dual-diagnosed individuals. (12 1-hour sessions)

Leadership, Scholarship and Career Development Workshop - In this class, we continue the discussion of individual scholarly projects that began in the PGY2 year.  In addition, we discuss a variety of potential career paths in psychiatry and the necessary prerequisites for individual career choices post residency. (12 1-hour sessions)


PGY4 Didactic Curriculum and Electives

Religion & Spirituality

GLBT Issues in Clinical Practice - This course is intended to familiarize the future clinician with issues relevant to the assessment and treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered populations.  The course focuses on a context of anthropological, historical, biological and past treatment approaches before addressing the internal emotional realities, coming out process and couple dynamics relevant to an understanding of various clinical approaches. Case discussions are then encouraged for illustration and didactic value. The transgender experience is looked at in terms of differential diagnosis, theoretical understandings and treatment interventions. A session dedicated to an examination of paraphilias serves as contrast and elucidation for diagnosis, treatment and conceptual clarification. Given time, an audiovisual presentation involving the mass media depiction of alternative sexualities will be offered. (12 1-hour sessions)

Issues in Psychiatric Practice

Countertransference Seminar - This experience is intended to develop awareness, sophistication and expansion of the subjective realm of the resident participants. The experience fosters a greater understanding of the extent to which the therapist's subjectivity impacts the assessment of a patient, the directions of treatment and the emotional tone of the therapeutic dialogue; these are seen as critical for effective psychotherapy. The experience includes some theoretical concepts related to subjectivity and intersubjectivity, case presentations with an emphasis on situations that are emotionally challenging or difficult for the therapist to understand, and the sharing/processing, with other class members, of subjective impressions going on while the experience unfolds. In addition, a sharpening of the observational dynamics of the group in the here/now is encouraged by the role of an impartial observer being rotated amongst the participants, later shared with all. (24 1-hour sessions)

The use of dreams in psychodynamic psychotherapy - This one-quarter elective for PGY4 residents is designed to address the theoretical and clinical approaches to dream analysis.  Readings and lectures will range across the spectrum of psychoanalytic, neurological, object relations, Jungian, ego psychology and self psychological approaches to the dream.  Numerous clinical examples from the instructor’s practice and from residents' patients will be used to review and demonstrate how, when and why discussion of dreams is a useful aspect of psychotherapy. (12 1-hour sessions)

Introduction to Object Relations - This one-quarter elective for PGY4 residents focuses on the broad range of object relations theory and practice as it relates to psychodynamic psychotherapy.  Readings and lectures address the evolution and development of object relations and its use in a broad range of therapeutic situations. Examples from readings and the instructor's 40 years of practice will be used to illustrate theoretical and clinical issues. (12 1-hour sessions)

Sex Therapy

Certification Review


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