Introduction: This curriculum provides a general introduction to psychotherapy for medical students. The goal of the course is to introduce students to four major modalities of psychotherapy (i.e., cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT], dialectical behavioral therapy [DBT], supportive psychotherapy, and psychodynamic psychotherapy), and to provide students with opportunities to compare the techniques, and indications, for these different types of psychotherapy. Methods: The curriculum is comprised of four 1-hour sessions. Each session features an initial instructor-led introduction to a specific type of psychotherapy, followed by review and discussion of a video demonstrating approaches that may be used in that modality of psychotherapy. Results: This course has now been implemented with several cohorts of third- and fourth-year medical students completing their core psychiatry rotations at the University of Minnesota Medical School. In order to assess efficacy of the curriculum, pre- and postcourse surveys were administered to an initial group of medical students (N = 10) participating in the course. Surveys evaluated students’ subjective perceptions of psychotherapy, subjective perception of ability to refer a patient for an appropriate psychotherapy, and objective knowledge of psychotherapy technique. Comparison of pre- and postcourse survey results indicated substantial improvement in students’ confidence in their ability to refer a patient for an appropriate type of psychotherapy. In addition, questions assessing objective knowledge of psychotherapy showed even greater gains. Discussion: Rotating students identified the course as one of their favorite didactics (out of approximately 20 total didactic sessions) during their rotation, suggesting high student satisfaction with the course. The inclusion of video content demonstrating concepts was identified by students as a particular strength of the course.
- Recognize that there is an evidence base supporting the use of psychotherapy as a treatment for a wide variety of psychiatric conditions.
- Feel more confident in their ability to identify an appropriate psychotherapy for their patients and more comfortable referring patients for psychotherapy when indicated.
- Describe specific approaches used in four psychotherapy modalities: supportive psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy.
- Aboul-Fotouh F, Asghar-Ali AA. Therapy 101: a psychotherapy curriculum for medical students. Acad Psychiatry. 2010;34(4):248-252. http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ap.34.4.248
- Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry. Clinical learning objectives guide for psychiatry education of medical students. Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry Web page. http://www.admsep.org/Clinical_LO_Guide_Outline_Format_Nov_07.pdf. Published November 2007.
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