Teaching Psychodynamics to Psychiatric Residents through Psychiatric Outpatient Interviews

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Abstract

Objective

This study evaluates whether a course that was designed for first-year psychiatric residents and that specifically addressed psychodynamic principles fostered residents' progress in knowledge, skills, and attitudes regarding these concepts.

Methods

The course was given in the 2005 academic year to all residents (N = 18) in their first psychiatric postgraduate year at the Department and Institute of Psychiatry, University of São Paulo, Brazil. The residents were assessed in the first and last sessions of the course through a written test that was blindly rated by two independent judges. Residents were also interviewed to observe whether psychodynamic concepts had been integrated into actual practice. Their responses were subjected to content analysis. Significance was tested using analysis of variance or nonparametric tests when necessary. Agreement between the judges was tested using intraclass correlation coefficients.

Results

The judges demonstrated a high level of agreement. The difference in mean scores before and after the course was such that the total score increased by a mean of 2.5 points (total test score was 10 points). Additionally, residents started to undergo personal psychotherapy after the course. They reported that this course had markedly improved their relationship with patients. They emphasized the opportunities for self-reflection and gaining insights into themselves and patient treatment issues.

Conclusions

This initial study indicates that this educational method can effectively promote psychodynamic knowledge, skills, and appropriate attitudes for managing psychiatric outpatients among residents. The course was very well received by the residents, and a similar method can easily be instituted within other residency programs that pursue integrated teaching methods.

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