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Youth Suicide Prevention Training

How often do adolescent patients unexpectedly reveal their suicidal thoughts or intentions in the middle of a session? How often do we get a call from schools saying they found a suicide note in your patient’s book bag? Learning some practical, state of the art, empirically supported clinical strategies to manage a youth suicide crisis can improve clinical decision making and ethical practice.

This workshop provides an introduction to state of the art; empirically supported clinical strategies to help mental health professionals and others who come in contact with suicidal youth manage crises related to suicidal ideation and attempts. We first discuss trauma informed care, adolescent development and adolescent suicide statistics. Then using a family-centered care approach the workshop focuses on the topics of risk assessment, safety planning, and family engagement. Lecture, discussion, experiential exercises, and patient videos (when applicable) are used throughout the workshop.

Course Components

Risk Assessment

The essential components of risk assessment with adolescents struggling with suicidal thoughts and behaviors are reviewed. Risk and protective factors including family factors, as well as warning signs of suicide risk for adolescents are reviewed. Participants are also guided through factors to consider during the assessment process and how to ask caregivers to step out of the room during an assessment. Additionally, the process of screening is discussed, both in terms of the clinician’s stance and standard assessment tools and assessment questions. Finally, the decision making process of what level of care is needed to address an adolescent’s level of risk is reviewed. Participants are given the opportunity to practice assessing suicide risk.

Safety Planning

Safety planning is discussed from a family perspective. Why caregivers need to be included in the safety planning process with adolescents is reviewed. Additionally, clinical strategies to move from the assessment process to preparing youth and their parents for safety planning is discussed. We also teach important aspects of conducting the family safety plan including a review of the essential components of safety planning. (Please note however, this is not a safety planning training. If participants are unfamiliar with the safety planning intervention, we provide recommendations to receive training.) Participants are given the opportunity to practice several different aspects of the safety planning process.

Family Engagement

Caregivers are typically the gatekeepers to adolescents receiving mental health care, but may experience barriers to pursuing or engaging in treatment. We begin by discussing the importance of engaging families when working with depressed and or suicidal adolescents. We also teach clinical engagement strategies based on the principles of attachment-based family therapy to help reduce barriers to help seeking and increase caregiver motivation to find appropriate care for their child or participate in family therapy. Audience members have opportunities to practice these techniques during the workshop.

Target Audience

This workshop directly relates to the clinical work of all mental health professionals, medical professionals working with adolescents, school counselors and SAP team members.

Training Options

The Youth Suicide Prevention workshop is offered as a full day in person workshop covering risk assessment, safety planning and family engagement. If you are interested in a half-day workshop covering these topics or a briefer talk focused on one of these topics please contact Suzanne Levy, Ph.D. at sal89@drexel.edu or 215-571-3415.

Accreditation

We offer APA and PA ONLY LPC/LMFT/LSW/LCSW CEs for the full day workshop.