Suicide Assessment and Intervention Training for Mental Health Professionals


Presenters: Larry Berkowitz, EdD & James McCauley, LICSW

In 2012, the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, issued by the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, set providing training to mental health providers as a key objective. Schmitz et al. (2015), reported that suicide is the most significant behavioral risk factor faced by psychologists and other mental health professionals; up to 97% of mental health professionals will encounter a suicidal client. In April 2014, a Monitor article cited then APA president Nadine Kaslow, PhD, who reported that most, psychology graduate students are trained only on suicide statistics and risk factors, not in clinical methods of conducting meaningful suicide risk assessments. In response to this identified need, our nationally recognized suicide prevention and trauma response center created this workshop for Psychologists and other mental health professionals which focuses on suicide risk assessment and crisis intervention with the goal of increasing practitioners’ knowledge, confidence, and competencies in managing suicide risk. Updated annually, it reflects current best practices and the most recent empirical evidence. The training was accepted into section III of the National Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s Best Practices Registry, which acknowledged programs adhering to established standards for training in suicide prevention. The training builds and expands upon the foundation provided in graduate training in psychology and other mental health fields by reviewing the most current information on risk factors and warning signs for suicide, improving assessment skills through demonstration of clinical interviewing training using an evidence-based screening tool, as well as providing information on crisis intervention, postvention approaches (response after a suicide death), standards of practice, legal issues and a discussion about managing the emotional impact on the psychologist of working with individuals at risk for suicide. Teaching methods address a range of adult learning preferences including case examples, PowerPoint slides, an video interview with a suicide attempt survivor, skill practice and audience discussion. Participants receive copies of the presentation and materials, including a safety plan, demographics sheet, and an evidence-based screening tool, that will enhance clinical practice.

Specific learning objectives:

1. Describe the scope of the problem of suicide
2. Provide a clinically accurate definition of the suicidal state of mind
3. Identify a plan for managing personal reactions to suicidal clients
4. Identify and distinguish suicide warning signs and risk and protective factors based on the most current research and evidence
5. Identify and demonstrate several different ways to elicit suicidal ideation and history of suicidal behaviors
6. Use an evidence based suicide assessment tool
7. Identify strategies and tools to formulate/assess risk
8. Describe how understanding a client's ambivalence about suicide and the idea that clients often perceive suicide as a coping strategy, may help to better engage and collaborate with suicidal individuals.
9. Describe differences in suicide rates and risk and protective factors related to different racial and cultural groups.
10. Develop a safety plan collaboratively with a client
11. Describe standards of care for psychologists related to providing adequate assessment and care for individuals with suicidal behaviors that meet ethical and legal standards.

Program Code: SA16
Credits: 6
Fees: $150 for CE credits; $75 for no CE credits


  • When

  • Saturday, October 26, 2019
    9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
    Eastern Time

  • Where

  • William James College
    1 Wells Avenue
    Newton, Massachusetts 02459

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