Suicide risk and assessment for counsellors and psychotherapists

Course overview

Suicidal distress is a complex phenomena that exists along a spectrum ranging from hopeless feelings and thoughts of death, through to active planning and suicidal acts that can end life. This one day practical workshop for counsellors and psychotherapists will raise awareness of common risk factors for suicide, possible early warning signs to look out for, how to engage a suicidal client in an effective and supportive way, how to assess the level of risk and decide on a plan of action. The support needs of staff and others who may be affected by suicide will be addressed throughout.

Course content

• What is meant by suicidality?
• A spectrum of suicidal distress
• Suicide trends and some statistics
• Who is at risk of suicide?
• Some possible causes of suicidal distress
• What is the relationship between suicidality and self-harm
• Suicidality and self-harm: assessment issues
• Basic principles for supporting a suicidal client
• What is the best way to engage someone who is suicidal?
• Common concerns about talking to suicidal people
• Useful questions to ask
• How to make a brief assessment of risk
• How to decide on a plan of action
• What are my options in an emergency?
• Who do I turn to for support and advice?
• Confidentiality versus safeguarding – getting the balance right
• Support needs of those affected by suicide
• Resources for suicide awareness and support


Learning objectives by the end of this one day course you should be able to:



• Define what is meant by suicidal behaviour
• Identify some of the common causes and risk factors for suicide
• Identify some possible warning signs of suicidal distress
• Identify useful questions to ask a potentially suicidal client
• Describe the basic elements of suicide risk assessment
• Describe the basic elements of a risk management plan
• Describe how to put together a simple action plan for the safe and supportive management of a suicidal person
• Identify the support needs of staff managing a suicidal client and those bereaved by suicide

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