V214 Listening to Suicidal Clients

How to Move Beyond Fear and Defensive Practice

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 practice,” 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 workshop, you’ll learn to:

  • Understand healthy versus unhealthy fears about client suicide
  • Identify client-centered 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

Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW, is an associate professor at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work and a psychotherapist in private practice. She’s the author of Helping the Suicidal Person: Tips and Techniques for Professionals and created the website Speaking of Suicide.

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January 21, 2022

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