Psychiatric Residents in Psychotherapy

During your residency in psychiatry in The Netherlands you have to have at least 50 sessions of psychotherapy. This is done for several reasons.

The first one is of course the notion that in performing psychotherapy, the relationship is the very instrument of the treatment. Residents in psychiatry should be aware of their own feelings about their patients — a process called countertransference.

Another advantage is the awareness of what it means to be in psychotherapy for a patient. And sometimes residents can benefit from the treatment of their own complaints. Sometimes this therapy is useful for their own complaints and can be followed by further psychotherapy.

But this privilege is under attack by more neuroscience oriented Heads of Departments of Psychiatry in The Netherlands.

That is why I fully endorse the statement made in a recent article in the New York Times: ‘Have You Ever Been in Psychotherapy, Doctor?’

But even as we have been swept off our feet by sexy neuroscience, my field is in danger of losing touch with the rich psychological life of patients, something that is reflected in the waning popularity of therapy during residency training.

And this one

We can effectively relieve symptoms and increase functioning, but we still have to help our patients live with illness.

Psychiatry or medicine is not only knowledge but also an art.