The major focus of Dr. Weerasekera's academic career has been to develop and implement an empirically based psychotherapy training program. Together with a team of module coordinators, she has developed a curriculum that teaches residents in seven modules. These are client-centered, cognitive-behavioral therapy (anxiety and depression), psychodynamic, interpersonal therapy, family therapy, group and couple therapy. All brief therapies are manual guided, audio or videotaped, and utilize therapist rating scales to assess therapist competence.
The original Postgraduate Psychotherapy Program was published in Academic Psychiatry, 1997. Evaluation of Competency of overall Program published in Academic Psychiatry, 2003. Program is nationally and internationally recognized. Dr. Weerasekera has been Invited to present at Canadian and U.S Academic Institutions, and the program has been adopted at several universities. Site visited for American College of Psychiatrists “Creativity in Education Award”, 1998 finalist. Received “Award for Excellence in Education”, Association of Chairs of Psychiatry of Canada (2000); “Teacher of the Year for Canada”, Association of Academic Psychiatry (2001); McMaster University’s President’s Award for Excellence in Course Design (2002); and “Education Award”, Association of Academic Psychiatry (2003); and APA’s (2010) “Irma Bland Award for Excellence in Teaching Psychiatry Residents”. The Program expanded over 2006-2011 to include a web-based training program.
Each psychotherapy module is organized into a web module with content information being presented in multiple forms including clinical vignettes so as to demonstrate expert modeling of clinical skills, essential to learning. Pre-post test are also presented in each module and resident performance is monitored throughout training. In addition to this an interactive “virtual therapist” assesses therapist clinical competence giving immediate feedback to promote learning. WBL is integrated with traditional methods so that this knowledge can be applied and tested in classroom sessions with an instructor. This permits multiple methods of evaluation. This program was developed to provide residents with an innovative, efficient means to learning the psychological treatments for patients with psychiatric disorders. This course has been presented at the annual meetings of the Association for Academic Psychiatry, American Association of Directors of Residency Training (AADPRT), the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA). The presentation at AADPRT has been posted on their web site. As a result of strong interest expressed for universal access the website was beta-tested at the University of Southern California, and University of Buffalo, and marketed for institutional access in March 2011.
Link to Psychotherapy Training e-Resources: http://pter.mcmaster.ca