Seminar Offerings for 2015-16

Elective Seminar on the Arts and Psychiatry

What can the study of art bring to your psychiatry residency? There are many ways of increasing your understanding of patients, tracing the evolution of diagnoses, thinking more deeply about moral or ethical issues, observing how your patients and you communicate both physically and verbally and using different tools in the clinic.  This seminar offers you the opportunity of exploring how art can deepen your understanding of many aspects of psychiatry. If you would like to learn in a non-didactic engaging way this elective seminar is for you.

The seminar is being offered in the winter term. It will consist of 4 sessions from January to June on Wednesday evenings from approximately 6 pm to 9 pm (unless attending a performance). The small group allows for interesting discussion and the setting is usually very informal – someone’s home or a café for example. This year we will be looking at children’s literature and childhood development, doing an improvisational session with trained actors, going to the theatre and reflecting on different media can be used for autobiographical narrative and using film to explore different psychiatric concepts. The seminar is free and is entirely elective but a commitment to attend 4 out of the 5 sessions is required. There is no prior training required or background in the arts required.

The seminar is led by Anna Skrozewska with the help of artists and arts educators (e.g. actors, art therapists, TIFF program coordinators, museum staff etc)

Jan 27th
Feb 24th
April 13th
May 25th

The course is limited to a maximum of 10 participants. First come first served.

Respond via email.

Resident Creative Writing Group

We are a group of residents and fellows at the University of Toronto interested in sharing and improving our writing. We currently hold monthly meetings, capped at 10 attendees. Each meeting is co-facilitated by an experienced physician-writer or medical writer, who helps guide the discussion with the benefit of his or her experience. We welcome housestaff from any discipline, and with an interest in any genre of writing (narrative medicine pieces, poetry, fiction, memoir, creative non-fiction) as long as it’s written to be read.

Attendees are selected on a first-come, first-served basis, with preference given to residents who can regularly attend or who have work to present. Scheduling and location are to be determined by group consensus.
Participating housestaff will:

  1. Learn how to critique writing and be critiqued in a supportive environment
    2. Become comfortable with standards of confidentiality when writing about patients and peers
    3. Receive constructive feedback on writing
    4. Learn about the publishing process
    5. Learn about combining writing with medical careers
    6. Receive exposure to experienced physician-writers who can comment on all of the above.

For more information, including information about upcoming meetings and speakers, please contact Raffi Rush (PGY2, internal medicine) at


Theatre of Medicine/Staging Medicine

How does the structure and craft of great theatre work to unsettle our ideas of disease and healing?

This seminar invites residents across medical specialties to enter into the subjective experience of illness through the medium of theatre. In the Incubator at Toronto’s newly renovated Theatre Center we will read scenes from Chekhov, Shakespeare and Ibsen as well as contemporary playwrights.  As actors/reader we will enter directly into the world of – psychosis, suicide, cancer, and dementia for example – in order to see and understand these states freshly and deeply. Fuelled by this understanding we will write our own scenes with a staged reading of new work as a possible finale to the seminar.

The Seminar is led by Suvendrini Lena, neurologist and playwright together with renowned playwright Colleen Murphy. Murphy is a recipient of a Governor General’s Award for her play The December Man. Seminar can be taken for elective credit. Please contact course director for further details.

Participation is limited to 12-16 residents/fellows please register early.

Elective credit available.  Details may vary according to program.  Please contact course director for further information on dates/registration/location:

Telling Trauma Through Art

Seminar series led by Eva-Marie Stern, art psychotherapist, trauma therapist

The four-part seminar series offers a combination of discussion/case presentation/experiential reflection on psychological trauma and its treatment.  Participants will explore the ways images both illuminate states of mind related to trauma, and serve as a vehicle for its transformation.  The series is open to all psychiatry residents, medical students, and learners from other disciplines who enroll.  There is no cost for participation, and art-making experience/confidence is not necessary.

Time and place:

4 seminars per year – Wednesdays 6:00-7:30 (dates TBA)

Women’s College Hospital, 7th floor (room TBA)

To enroll, contact:


This seminar is designed to help participants understand trauma.  Trauma can be seen as the unspeakable which demands expression, and takes it in many non-verbal forms.  Secrets and silence are its common idiom.  In its treatment, psychodynamic therapy greatly benefits from fluency in the world of images.


  • a guided practice of looking at images made in and out of therapy,
  • participants’ own image-making, and
  • conversation about the consonance of visual marks and states of mind that create them,

learners can better grasp the languages of distress, the meanings of non-verbal expression, and explore ways of attending to what can’t yet be said.  The mind’s use of images in grasping, organising and resolving trauma is constant, creative and effective — whether or not these pictures are ever made tangible.  Images are the media of post-traumatic re-experiencing, avoidance, and intrusion.  How we understand and respond to them — whether in art, metaphors, body markings, dreams or flashbacks — significantly shapes treatment.

Topics to include:

  • Aesthetics and assessment
  • Symptom as art, art as symptom
  • Shapes of empathy
  • Dissociation in art and life
  • Creativity and our fear of it
  • Art and words: a false dichotomy
  • Art as attitude, not as modality
  • Knowing and not knowing what we see
  • Aesthetics of trauma: fragments, layers, gaps
  • Looking Together, a means of exploring images without needing to know