Family-Based Youth Suicide Risk Management Training

Register for our Fall 2024 live online workshop here:
September 19-20, 2024

How often do adolescents present in therapy with suicide ideation? Or unexpectedly reveal these thoughts during a session? When do we tell caregivers? How do we tell caregivers? Do we send adolescents to the hospital or create a safety network to keep them at home? What level of risk are we comfortable managing in our practice? 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 family based suicide risk management practices to help therapists and clinical staff manage suicide concerns when they arise. First, we discuss trauma informed care, adolescent and family development and the national concern about adolescent suicide risk. Then we teach a family-centered care approach to risk assessment and safety planning. Finally, we teach strategies for engaging families into the treatment process and how to conduct a first family session. Lecture, discussion, experiential exercises, and therapy videos 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 focuses on mental health staff responsible for managing high risk clinical assessments and treatment of suicidal youth. This might include psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, family therapists and mental health counselors. Other professionals who work with youth might also gain skills from this training.

Program Objectives

  • List the important aspects of a risk assessment.
  • Explain importance of a family generated safety plan.
  • Explain the barriers to engaging families in treatment.
  • Describe the decision making process of what level of care is needed to match the level of risk.
  • Describe strategies for dealing with family resistance to treatment.

Training Options

Private trainings: This workshop is offered as one full-day or two half-days. It can be conducted either in-person or online. We can also work with your organization to provide a briefer talk focused on one or more of these topic areas.

Public trainings: We typically offer a public training for general enrollment once or twice a year. The format is a two half-day live webinar.