Elective Opportunities

There is a great diversity of electives offered to residents, with the selection updated annually. The current elective areas of study are listed below. Additional electives may be designed to match individual residents' specific interests.

Psychotherapy/Academic Electives

  • CBT in Schizophrenia
  • Penn Student Counseling and Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.)
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Outpatient Group Therapy
  • Trauma at the Center for Treatment of Anxiety
  • Training at the Beck Institute
  • Family Psychoeducation, Family Therapy
  • Time-Limited Outpatient Group Therapy in a Clinic Setting
  • “In Treatment” Discussion Group
  • Traumatic Stress: theory and history
  • Existential issues in psychotherapy
  • Spirituality and Psychiatry
  • Practical Applications in Forensic Psychiatry seminar


Clinic Electives

  • ACT team (assertive community treatment)
  • Early psychosis at PEACE program (Psychosis Education, Assessment, Care, and Empowerment)
  • Early psychosis at PERC program (Penn Psychosis Evaluation and Recovery program)
  • Adult Developmental disorders clinic
  • Mood Disorders Comprehensive Consultation Service (CCS) elective
  • Neuormodulation Therapies (TMS, VNS, DBS & DCS, & ECT) elective
  • Southeast Asian Program
  • Homeless Outreach
  • Geriatric psychiatry clinic
  • Neuropsychiatry clinic
  • Behavioral Medicine Pain Clinic
  • PENN Epilepsy Center Outpatient Epilepsy Clinic
  • Transplant Service Psychiatry
  • Treatment Research Center: Substance Abuse Clinic
  • Inpatient Child Psychiatry at Horsham
  • Oncology Elective
  • Movement Disorders
  • PTSD Clinic
  • Co-occuring substance use and PTSD 
  • Polytrauma Clinic
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Cognitive Remediation in Severe and Persistent Mental Illness
  • Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center
  • Homeless Outreach
  • Nursing Home Consultation
  • Illness Management and Recovery Group
  • Psycho-oncology
  • Palliative care


Research Electives

  • Psychopharmacology Research Elective
  • Substance Abuse Clinical Research
  • Adolescent Smoking Prevention Research
  • Mood Disorders Research
  • Addiction Community Treatment Program Research
  • Basic Neuropsychopharmacology


Away Electives

  • Rural psychiatry elective in coastal Maine
  • Rural psychiatry elective in Lancaster PA with Amish and Mennonite communities
  • Global psychiatry elective in Botswana
  • Indian Health Service in Arizona



Women's Health

The Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness, provides clinical consultation, evaluation, diagnosis and treatment, related to women’s behavioral health across the lifespan and in the context of female reproduction and hormonal events. Residents will learn about psychopharmacology and psychotherapy of pregnant and postpartum women. We will focus on differential diagnosis, treatment and ethical/legal issues. In addition, we will cover other important women’s mental health topics including infertility, pregnancy loss, PMS/PMDD and perimenopause. This elective is usually available only for PGY-4 residents given the complexity of the cases that present to the clinic. During the weekly half-a-day clinic, we evaluate and treat women with behavioral health issues that go from a simple consultation on their medication regimen for other psychiatric comorbid conditions before becoming pregnant, to treating postpartum depression or psychosis. Dr. Sarah Mathews, one of Penn’s experts in psychiatric women’s health, supervises residents closely so we can provide the best evidence-based care for patients that present during such an important and critical time in their life cycle.


DBT Skills Group

A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills group has been continuously offered in the Penn Behavioral Health Resident Psychotherapy Practice (RPP) since 2009. The DBT skills group is led by PGY-3 and PGY-4 residents who are engaged in the DBT elective, and is supervised by faculty member Elizabeth Hembree, Ph.D.

DBT is a theoretically based and empirically supported treatment developed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. Originally developed as an intervention for acutely suicidal and self-harming individuals, the treatment targets of DBT have expanded greatly, and it is now also implemented as a treatment for multi-diagnostic, treatment-resistant populations. DBT is a program of comprehensive cognitive behavioral therapy blended with dialectical philosophy and the principles and practices of mindfulness.

The DBT skills group meets for 2 hours once per week in the Outpatient Clinic, where residents teach DBT principles, guide acquisition of behavioral skills, lead mindfulness practice, and facilitate group discussion. Sessions are audio-recorded to allow detailed feedback and supervision by Dr. Hembree. Residents also coordinate participant commitment and enrollment, and participate in weekly DBT Consultation Team meetings, didactics, and supervision with Dr. Hembree.


Horizon House Community Psychiatry Elective

The elective at Horizon House provides residents the opportunity to experience community psychiatry in the context of recovery-oriented oriented care. Three types of services that can be experienced include: the Wellness Alliance, a Community Integrated Recovery Center (CIRC) that provides state-of-the-art psychosocial rehabilitation; Fairmount Primary Care Center, a co-located primary care clinic within Horizon House; and an Assertive Community Treatment team, a field-based team approach to community mental health. The selective will give residents a chance to work directly with the teams involved in various participants’ recoveries. This experience will include interactions with certified peer specialists (CPS), recovery coaches, occupational therapists, drug and alcohol specialists, benefits counselors, and other mental health professionals, including the opportunity to shadow an individual patient through various experiences. The rotation would also provide exposure to fieldwork in various treatment settings, including correctional facilities, personal residences, inpatient hospitals, and residential care facilities. The selective will include one-on-one supervision with the current public psychiatry fellow as well as a several readings on the recovery movement. The goal of this selective is to learn about recovery, psychosocial rehabilitation, integrated health care and leadership in a multidisciplinary setting. Participation will provide residents competency in community-based work and serve as a unique exposure to a recovery-based psychiatric rehabilitation program.


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