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Psychotherapy Curriculum

The Psychotherapy Division is responsible for developing a comprehensive psychotherapy curriculum for psychiatry residents, and for promoting, supporting, and coordinating psychotherapy clinical, education, and research activities within the Department.

Upstate Model of Psychotherapy Training

At SUNY Upstate in Syracuse, we believe that psychotherapy is more than just a set of theories and techniques. We believe that every encounter between psychiatrists and their patients should be empathic and therapeutic (psychotherapeutic), even if the primary intervention is changing medications. Thus psychotherapy is a key aspect of a psychiatrist's professional identity and a basic way of relating to patients.

Some key assumptions of our training model include:

  • Psychotherapy is less about doing something to a patient than a way of being with a patient. It involves staying close to experience while paradoxically maintaining reflective space.
  • No model of psychotherapy, whether psychodynamic or CBT, is going to be effective without the therapist having empathic and reflective capacities.
  • Empathic and reflective capacities are not simply skill sets that can be taught. These capacities are built upon a supportive environment that minimizes stress, fosters connection with peers, and provides opportunities to share emotions and experiences with others.

Sequential Training Objectives:

  • Focus on restoring empathic capacity through experiential learning.
  • Teach common factors and key concepts.
  • Train discrete models, e.g. CBT, psychodynamic, DDP, DBT, play therapy, etc.

Psychotherapy-Related Didactics for Residents


  • Cornerstone Program (first month). This introductory program helps prepare residents for assuming responsibility on the wards. It provides both a basic knowledge base, as well as opportunities to share backgrounds and experiences with other incoming residents.
  • Psychiatry Clinic (on-going). This program fosters reflective functioning through discussion of clinical experiences, role playing, family of origin discussions, video recorded and live patient interviews, and other experiential activities.
  • Family therapy consultation program on 4B Inpatient Unit (on-going PGY-I and II).
  • Mentorship program (on-going). Each PGY-I resident is assigned a senior resident or junior faculty member, who meets weekly to provide support and facilitate discussion about experiences during residency.


  • Post-Freudian Personality Theory (6 months). Introduces key concepts, such as ego defenses, internal objects, splitting, and personality organization.
  • Biopsychosocial Formulation (6 months). Each resident in the seminar presents a case over 3 classes. We review the history, observe a video recording, and then everyone writes a formulation of that case.
  • Common Factors in Psychotherapy (on-going). This course teaches residents to apply common factor skills, such as active listening, building and repairing the alliance, setting expectations, establishing the frame, motivating, and using transference and countertransference.
  • Psychotherapy supervision employing common factor methods of two outpatients for every resident.
  • Introductions to CBT, DBT, DDP, play therapy, and SCT.


  • Case Supervision (on-going). Dedicated supervisors provide weekly supervision of CBT, psychodynamic therapy, child, family, and combined medication management/supportive psychotherapy.
  • Monthly Case Conference. Dr. Gabbard utilizes a case-based format to review key concepts from his book, Long-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Basic Text.
  • Self, Society, and Culture (6 months). Engages individual reflections on the family, cultural and religious contributions to each resident's sense of self and how these contributions affect their interactions with others as therapists.


  • Elective opportunities to develop advanced competency in at least one of the following modalities: CBT, DBT, DDP, SCT, MI, combined meds/therapy, couples/family therapy, group therapy
  • Dedicated adolescent, geriatric, and group therapy supervision


  • Applied mindfulness: Embodied imagination, Gita Ramamurthy, all PGY, 2 sessions
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy case supervision, PGY IV, Robbi Saletsky, all year
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy group participation, PGY IV, Robbi Saletsky, 13 sessions
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy case supervision, PGY III & IV, Jean Shook, all year
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills group, PGY III & IV, Jean Shook, all year
  • Dynamic Deconstructive Psychotherapy seminar, PGY III, IV, Robert Gregory, 45 sessions
  • Eating Disorders, therapy interventions, PGY II, III, IV, Kathleen Deters-Hayes, 4 sessions
  • EMDR, PGY III & IV, 4 hrs/week, Sandra Kaplan, 12 sessions
  • Fairy tales, PGY I, III & IV, Gita Ramamurthy, 5 sessions
  • Family Therapy, group consultation, all PGYs, David Keith, 1 hr/week, all year
  • Psychoanalytic Study Group, all PGY, Lynn Stormon, monthly, 12 sessions
  • Psychotherapy Journal Club, all PGY, Robert Gregory, monthly, 12 sessions
  • Resident-run support group, all PGY, 1 hr/week all year
  • Systems Centered Psychotherapy, Richard O'Neill, PGY III & IV, 30 sessions