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  • 2000 Association of Chairs of Psychiatry of Canada “Excellence in Education”
  • 2001 Association of Academic Psychiatry “Teacher of the Year/Region XI Canada”
  • 2002 McMaster University “President’s Award for Course Design”
  • 2003 Association of Academic Psychiatry “Educator of the Year Award”
  • 2008 McMaster University, Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences “Clinical Supervision Award”
  • 2010, May, American Psychiatric Association Irma Bland Award for “Excellence in Teaching Psychiatry Residents”
  • 2013, February American College of Psychiatrists’ Award for Creativity in Education, for Psychotherapy Training e-Resources (PTeR)
  • 2013, May, J.M. Cleghorn Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award, by McMaster Psychiatry Residents’ Association
  • 2013, September, Canadian Psychiatric Association’s Paul Patterson Award for Leadership in Creativity and Innovation in Education

Psychotherapy Program

N Snelgrove

Dr. Natasha Snelgrove

Psychotherapy Co-Lead
Assistant Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences​

Karen Rowa

Dr. ​Karen Rowa

Psychotherapy Co-Lead
Ass​ociate Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences​


The specific aim of our program is to graduate highly skilled young psychiatrists who are able to practice a variety of psychotherapies in an empirically informed manner with patients with general psychiatric disorders and other psychological problems. The focus in training is to teach residents the important general therapeutic skills as well as specific skills necessary in the treatment of specific disorders. The graduate psychiatrist will have the skills to develop a good therapeutic alliance with a patient, regardless of the therapy being practiced, including pharmacotherapy. They will be able to implement appropriate, effective psychotherapeutic treatment for patients with major mental illness. The program should further instill in our residents "open-mindedness" about the different schools of psychotherapy, so that it is more objective and amenable to evaluation of competence, a much needed direction in this field.


Psychotherapy training is completed longitudinally through our award-winning McMaster Psychotherapy Program. The McMaster Program is unique in providing comprehensive systematic clinical training in evidenced-based psychotherapies, working from the more simplistic and building up to the more sophisticated. Principles of each modality are taught during academic day seminars. McMaster residents then have the advantage of observing and practicing their skills using a virtual therapist via the Psychotherapy Training e-Resource (PTeR), developed here at McMaster. This allows residents to feel more prepared before they begin working with a patient in the modality. Residents audio-tape their weekly sessions with patients and then review the sessions during psychotherapy supervision. Modules are typically 16-20 sessions in length, with the exception of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy which is 40 sessions. 

McMaster Residents develop proficiency in each of:

  • Emotion-focused Psychotherapy

  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Depression

  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety

  • Group Therapy

  • Family Therapy

  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

  • Interpersonal Therapy

McMaster Residents develop working knowledge in each of:
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

McMaster Residents develop introductory knowledge in each of:
  • Brief

  • Mindfulness

  • Motivational Interviewing

  • Relaxation

Each individual module is integrated into the core rotations, allowing residents to develop their psychotherapeutic skills over time.  However, should a resident wish to have a patient experience in any of the above modalities, opportunities are available in which residents may participate.

Psychotherapy seminars teach basic principles and research in each area. Residents conduct therapy with the aid of manuals, and all sessions are audio or video-taped for ongoing feedback from expert supervisors.

Each of the modules is complemented by an online educational component, utilizing PTeR (Psychotherapy Training e-Resources). The online component of the program includes a series of modules designed to enhance and support learning in each of the psychotherapy modalities. Each online module includes an overview of the course, pre and post-tests, detailed reading lists and a session-by-session outline of classroom seminars (including PowerPoint presentations), supervision requirements, and videotaped vignettes which demonstrate the techniques used in the type of psychotherapy being illustrated.

Therapist competency is assessed by an objective evaluator using therapist rating scales to provide early and late session ratings of resident performance based on recorded audiotapes. The emphasis of the program is on providing a broad-based, empirically-oriented learning experience, teaching specific skills, establishing a positive therapeutic alliance, and connecting the teaching of psychotherapy to treatment of general psychiatric disorders. Success of this program has depended on active collaboration between disciplines, proponents of different psychotherapy schools, clinics and hospital teaching units, and specialty programs.

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