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Behavioral Emergencies Update

Volume 3, Issue 1
Fall 2001
Section on Clinical Emergenices and Crises
American Psychological Assn.
Section 7 Contact Info

In this issue...

The 109th Annual APA Convention


Awards Presented

Minutes from the Section 7 Business Meeting

Helping Youth Cope with Terrorism

Task Force Update

Graduate Student Spotlight

Publication Highlights

Special Offer for Section VII Members



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The President's Column
Training Clinicians to Deal with Crisis Situations

by Robert I. Yufit, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.
Northwestern University Medical School

     I want to use this opportunity to communicate my recommendation to all of you to read three very impressive articles in the Summer, 2001 issue of Suicide & Life Threatening Behavior (Vol. 31, No. 2). These articles relate directly to the issues we all face as members of Section VII of APA Division 12.

The titles of two of the articles should catch the eye of any of us: "What would you say to the person on the roof?" (by Drs. Haim Omer and A. C. Elitzur), and "How would you listen to the person on the roof?" which is a response to the above article (by Dr. Israel Orbach).These two articles provide a very provocative dialogue and could certainly serve as the basis for a course in training clinicians to deal with such crisis situations. The task of trying to develop empathy with the person in a high state of suicide crisis is well presented. I hope you will read these articles and comment via our newsletter on the utility of the techniques presented. We should have an equal presentation in dealing with the violent-prone person, only there is a problem as to dealing with such a person at this stage of ideation, versus overt intention.

The third article also addresses an important issue: "Recognizing and responding to a suicide crisis" (by leading figures in suicidology, including Drs. Herbert Hendin, Terry Maltsberger, Alan Lipschitz, and colleagues). This work adds to the extensive material presented by our own Dr. Phil Kleespies, in his book, Emergencies in Mental Health Practice.

Materials such as these publications should serve as a core for education and training efforts, which we should be very attentive in trying to develop as soon as possible. In this issue, Dr. Kleespies provides an update on the efforts of the Section VII Task Force on Education and Training in Behavioral Emergencies.

While I indicated my focus this year would be on assessment of suicide potential, it is also important to have a method of teaching our clinicians how to use the techniques we develop. Many lives and much sorrow could be prevented if we had the adequate know-how to deal with these very complex situations.

Your reactions to these articles are awaited -- as well as your thoughts about our role in the problems of assisted suicide!