Psychotherapy Training

All interns attend a seven-week didactic course on fundamentals of psychotherapy, focusing on core aspects of all psychotherapies. Clinical psychotherapy training begins on the inpatient units.  Interns work with an excellent team of psychologists to develop fundamental skills in individual and group therapy. On a weekly basis, residents receive didactics covering a broad range of psychotherapeutic theory and techniques including dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and trauma-focused therapies. Residents also can sit in on group therapy sessions run by inpatient psychologists and social workers.

Didactic series in the second year of residency include introductions to CBT, supportive, and psychodynamic theory and technique.  Residents on C/L, ED, and inpatient continue to apply supportive, CBT, and DBT techniques in patient encounters and receive supervision from psychiatrists and psychologists. All second year residents begin with one long-term therapy patient and receive supervision from a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Psychotherapy didactics in the third year of residency include multiple series. In the psychodynamic formulation series, residents are taught how to incorporate theory and developmental history into an overall case formulation. In series covering DBT, cognitive processing therapy (CPT), prolonged exposure therapy (PE), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), residents receive introductions to the theory and technique of these important techniques.

Clinically, residents can chose to enhance their long-term therapy experience by taking on more long-term cases, or they can elect to see patients in the Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) clinic. Both long-term and short-term dynamic therapy clinics encourage the use of video recording (with patient consent) for supervision, which occurs weekly in either individual or group format. All residents additionally practice and receive supervision in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy within either the Anxiety Disorders Clinic or Trauma Recovery Clinic

Residents in their final year of training have the option of continuing any of their psychotherapy clinics from the previous year or start in new ones. Additionally, they receive a comprehensive didactic series covering advanced topics in psychotherapy, including psychoanalytic diagnosis and personality organization, erotic and eroticized countertransference, and combining medication and psychodynamic psychotherapy. Clinically, residents may elect to pursue any psychotherapy offered within the VA, including, but not limited to, those described above.


Additional training opportunities

The West Los Angeles VA is very close to multiple major psychoanalytic institutes, including the New Center for Psychoanalysis (NCP), the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies (LAISPS), the Psychoanalytic Center of California (PCC), and the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis (ICP). All institutes offer an array of seminars and programs that are designed for individuals who want more in-depth exposure to psychoanalytic theory and technique. Many VA psychiatrists have participated in the psychoanalytic psychotherapy programs offered at these institutes.