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Comprehensive Suicide Risk Assessment & Intervention: Work with Clients with Compassion and Confidence

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Sally Spencer-Thomas, PsyD, MNM
12 Hours 42 Minutes
Dec 18, 2019
Product Code:
Media Type:
DVD - Also available: Digital Recordings


The epidemic of suicide continues to wreak havoc in the lives of millions of Americans.

With suicide rates on the rise, the need is urgent for clinicians who can recognize warning signs earlier, intervene with current and proven strategies, and even inoculate clients against the chance of suicidal thoughts emerging in the future. It’s a daunting challenge that has undoubtedly left you feeling confused, overwhelmed, and even scared.

Don’t let fear push you away.

This recording will transform how you view and work with suicidal clients and give you the clinical tools you need to save lives. Over the course of the program, you will dive deeply into a comprehensive approach to suicide risk assessment and intervention. You will gain confidence and a heightened sense of compassion that are essential to understanding where clients are on their life journeys and how you can instil hope and a renewed desire to invest in lives that are worth living.

Finish this recording feeling confident and capable to work with suicidal clients and guide them out of the darkness and back into the light!



This online program is worth 12.75 hours CPD.



Sally Spencer-Thomas, PsyD, MNM's Profile

Sally Spencer-Thomas, PsyD, MNM Related seminars and products

Sally Spencer-Thomas, PsyD, MNM, sees suicide prevention and mental health promotion from a host of perspectives. Clinical Psychologist. Mental Health Advocate. Faculty member. Researcher. And suicide loss survivor. She was moved to work in suicide prevention after her younger brother, Carson, a Denver entrepreneur, died of suicide after a difficult battle with bipolar condition.

Dr. Spencer-Thomas has been an invited speaker at the White House on the topics of mental health and suicide prevention and has held leadership positions for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, the American Association for Suicidology, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

She has won multiple awards for her leadership including the 2014 Survivor of the Year from the American Association of Suicidology, the 2014 Invisible Disabilities Association Impact Honors Award, the 2012 Alumni Master Scholar from the University of Denver, the 2015 Farbarow Award from the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the 2016 Career Achievement Alumni Award from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology.

Dr. Spencer-Thomas has a Doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Denver, a Masters in non-profit management from Regis University, and a bachelor’s in psychology and studio art with a minor in economics from Bowdoin College. She has written four books on mental health and violence prevention.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Sally Spencer-Thomas receives compensation as a professional speaker and published author. She receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Sally Spencer-Thomas is the president of United Suicide Survivors International and is a member of the executive board for the American Association of Suicidology. She is co-chair of the Workplace Special Interest Group for the International Association of Suicide Prevention and is a member of the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


  1. Describe how to overcome fear and personal bias when working with suicidal clients.
  2. Examine the latest hot topics in suicidology and their impact on improved assessment and intervention efforts.
  3. Determine the appropriate circumstances for applying upstream, midstream, and downstream approaches to suicide prevention.
  4. Explain how to implement earlier identification and triage as valuable components of comprehensive risk assessment and intervention.
  5. Choose language that imparts compassion and avoids stigma for use in all stages of work with suicidal clients.
  6. Contrast various suicide assessment tools to better inform clinical decision-making.
  7. Ascertain key indicators of imminent suicide and develop a strategy for determining when and how to hospitalize clients.
  8. Reduce access to lethal means by implementing a multi-systemic approach that incorporates the suicidal person’s social connections into their safety plan.
  9. Articulate the “stop, drop, and roll” of suicide prevention effectively to clients so that it can be accessed in crisis situations.
  10. Employ a collaborative safety approach to help clients survive a suicidal crisis while avoiding the pitfalls of suicide contracting.
  11. Utilize measurements of post-traumatic growth to assess clients’ progress in adapting more healthy response mechanisms.
  12. Make sense of the unique nature of suicide grief to improve the clinical options offered in response to it.



Prepare to do suicide work with compassion and confidence

  • Self-Reflection: Time to unpack our own baggage
  • Countertransference
  • Our own history with suicide


Evaluate the latest developments and their impact on assessment and intervention

  • The latest data, and what to do with it
  • Mental health and suicide
  • Alcohol and suicide
  • Opioids and suicide
  • Additional forms of trauma and suicide
  • Aspiring to Zero Suicide
  • Why “Means Matter”
  • Understanding the many forms of the suicidal mind
  • Soul exhaustion


Determine where to enter the prevention stream, and how to navigate successfully

  • Upstream, midstream, and downstream approaches
  • Build resilience and crisis inoculation
  • Earlier identification and triage
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Learn from the experiences of suicide attempt and loss survivors


Elicit key information from clients

  • The many paths to suicide
  • Communicate caring: Language to impart compassion and avoid stigma
  • Suicide risk assessment
    • SAFE-T
    • Ideation, plan, means, intent
    • Level of risk
  • Standardized assessment tools to augment clinical judgment
  • Obtaining collateral information
  • Types of questions to uncover suicidal ideation
    • What if they say “No”?
    • What if they say “Yes”?
  • Behaviour chain analysis
  • Why “No Suicide” contracts are dead
  • Best practices in risk assessment


Help clients regulate emotions and feel safe, valued and connected

  • Set up a safety agreement that is more likely to be followed
  • Reduce access to lethal means (C.A.L.M.)
  • The “Stop, Drop, and Roll” of suicide safety planning
  • Treatment strategies built on preserving choice and dignity
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
    • Relapse prevention plans
    • When and how to hospitalize


Help clients reinvest in a life worth living

  • The PIE of life – brainstorm possibilities of growth
  • Narrative psychology and the power of storytelling
  • Cultivate social connection and re-engagement
  • Choice and perspective
  • Foster gratitude and a spirit of contentment after loss
  • Measurements of post-traumatic growth


Implement suicide grief and trauma support

  • Understand the unique nature of suicide grief
  • Peer-based support: Connect clients to other survivors of loss
  • Access and reclaim compassion

Target Audience

  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Counselors
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Case Managers
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Other Mental Health Professionals
  • School-Based Counselors
  • School-Based Psychologists
  • School-Based Social Workers
  • School Administrators



Overall:      5

Total Reviews: 2


Susan D

"This was one of my favorite online courses I have taken through Pesi. I learned so much and really appreciated how genuine, accessible and knowledgable the speaker was with us. I will be highly recommending this course to my colleagues!! I bought the books she referenced and am grateful for the immense resources she imparted to us. I feel more capable and confident in helping suicidal clients having taken this course. Thank you!"

Derek G

"This was a thorough and helpful presentation with lots of further directions"

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