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Do psychiatry residents identify as psychotherapists? A multisite survey

Nicole M. Lanouette, MD

Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA

Christina Calabrese, MD

Department of Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, San Diego, CA, USA

Andres F. Sciolla, MD

Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA

Robin Bitner, MD

Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA

Georgian Mustata, MD

Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA

Jennifer Haak, MD

Department of Psychiatry, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA

Sidney Zisook, MD

Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA

Laura B. Dunn, MD

Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA

BACKGROUND: Psychiatric training was once synonymous with learning psychotherapy, but current psychiatric trainees face many options for integrating psychopharmacology and psychotherapy into their future practices, including providing primarily medication-focused visits. We examined psychiatry residents’ attitudes towards learning psychotherapy, practicing psychotherapy in the future, and overall identification as psychotherapists.

METHODS: We surveyed residents from 15 US residency programs during 2006-2007. The survey included 36 Likert-scaled items inquiring about residents’ attitudes towards their psychotherapy training and supervision, their level of psychotherapy competence, the role of psychotherapy in their psychiatric identity, and their future practice plans. Four items asked about personal psychotherapy experience. Here we describe findings related to attitudes concerning being a psychotherapist and future practice plans.

RESULTS: Among 249 respondents, most (82%) viewed becoming a psychotherapist as integral to their psychiatric identity. Fifty-four percent planned to provide formal psychotherapy, whereas 62% anticipated psychopharmacology would be the foundation of treatment for most patients. Residents with personal psychotherapy experience and first-year postgraduate residents (PGY-1) were more likely to identify as psychotherapists, plan to pursue further psychotherapy training postresidency, and anticipate psychotherapy being central to their future practice.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite concerns about the diminishing role of psychotherapy in the practice of psychiatry and in psychiatrists’ professional identity, most psychiatric residents view psychotherapy as integral to their professional identities and future practice plans.

KEYWORDS: residents, psychotherapy, professional identity

ANNALS OF CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY 2011;23(1):30–39

CORRESPONDENCE: Sidney Zisook, MD, Professor and Director of Residency Training, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-9116 USA, E-MAIL: szisook@ucsd.edu
Annals of Clinical Psychiatry ©2011 Quadrant HealthCom Inc.

 
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