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Digital Recordings

Listening to Suicidal Clients: How to Move Beyond Fear and Defensive Practice

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Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW
1 Hour 57 Minutes
Mar 30, 2022
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Digital Recordings


One of therapists’ greatest fears is losing a client to suicide. That’s not surprising, considering the grief and self-doubt that can follow, plus the possibility of a lawsuit or board complaint. The fear of client suicide can lead to “defensive practise,” in which therapists interrogate clients about their suicidal thoughts, pursue emergency care when it’s not truly needed, or take other actions to protect themselves legally and emotionally rather than to meet the clients’ needs. In this recording, you’ll learn to:

  • Understand healthy versus unhealthy fears about client suicide
  • Identify client-centred rather than fear-based practices with someone who has suicidal thoughts
  • Work as an ally, not an adversary, when a client is at risk for suicide
  • Feel less afraid and anxious with clients who have suicidal thoughts



This online program is worth 2 hours CPD.



Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW Related seminars and products

Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW, is an associate professor at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. Her psychotherapy and consulting practice focuses on suicide assessment and intervention.

Speaker Disclosure:

Financial: Stacey Freedenthal maintains a private practice. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.

Non-financial: Stacey Freedenthal is a member of the National Association of Social Workers; Colorado Society for Clinical Social Work; and the American Association of Suicidology.

Additional Info

Program Information

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


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  1. Evaluate the concept of “defensive practice” in the context of treating clients at risk for suicide.
  2. Analyze at least four fear-based practices often used with clients who have suicidal thoughts.
  3. Practice at least four client-centred practices for use with clients who have suicidal thoughts.
  4. Assess at least two ways that therapists can improve their competency when working with clients at risk for suicide.


  • Fears that commonly occur when therapists work with a client who has suicidal thoughts
  • Understanding the issues with “Defensive practice”
  • Examples of defensive practice & other fear-based techniques with suicidal clients
  • Examples of client-centred practice with suicidal clients
  • Practices for managing fear with suicidal clients

Target Audience

  • Psychologists
  • Physicians
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Art Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Other Behavioral Health Professionals



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