Section VII Home

Behavioral Emergencies Update

Fall/Winter 2005/6
Section on Clinical Emergenices and Crises
American Psychological Assn.
Section 7 Contact Info

In this issue...

The President's Column

The Role of Positive Psychology in the Study and Prevention of Suicide

Section members in press

Clinical Emergencies and Crises at APA

The definitional problem strikes again

Members at APA, August 2005

Section VII Board Members


The President's Column

Dean G. Kilpatrick, PhD
Medical University of South Carolina

As I noted in my first President’s column, Section VII has an important mission that is to upgrade standards, training, and skills of psychologists as well as psychologists in training in managing behavioral emergencies. Although the importance of this mission is apparent to us, it is perplexing that everyone does not appreciate the need to address behavioral emergencies, particularly because these are life and death situations that also pose major liability problems if they are mishandled. Clearly we have a lot of work to do to make our case by sharpening our message.

We have not achieved our mission this year, but we have made progress. The Division VII offerings at the 2005 American Psychological Association Convention in Washington, DC did an excellent job in presenting cutting edge work on the broad array of behavioral emergencies that we are trying to address. Phil Kleespies arranged a well-attended, firstrate continuing education workshop highlighting evidenced-based evaluation and management of suicide, assaulting violence, and violent victimization of vulnerable groups. Section VII also organized an outstanding symposium on assessment and treatment of adolescent violence. My Presidential Address attempted to demonstrate that there are important linkages among suicidal behaviors, assaulting violence, and victimization. Other offerings included a session on Self Injury, Suicide, and Hope, a Symposium titled “Firearms and Clinical Practice” and an invited address presented by Marsha Linehan, recipient of the Section VII Lifetime Achievement award. I believe that these presentations helped educate our fellow psychologists about the importance of behavioral emergencies and also helped increase their knowledge about how to address them more effectively.

Another event happened this year that brought home the importance of knowing how to address behavioral emergencies. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita produced massive property damage, but produced even larger effects on the psychological well-being of its survivors as well their fellow Americans who watched with dismay as these natural disasters produced human disasters and behavioral emergencies. Psychologists and other mental health professionals throughout the nation were challenged to address behavioral emergencies among evacuees, and I have heard from many of them that they wished they had better training and expertise. Clearly, the types of behavioral emergency training and skill development we advocate are useful following major disasters as well as in more mundane everyday practice. This is yet another justification for our mission.

I would be remiss not to thank some of my colleagues who have contributed much to Section VII during the past year. As always, our Treasurer, Phil Kleespies, has been the glue that holds us together. Our Past President, Lanny Berman, has given sage advice, not to mention an Oprahesque performance at the APA workshop. Our President Elect Alec Miller organized a terrific program at APA. Our Secretary, Paul Duberstein, contributed greatly to our Board discussion and decisions. Last but not least, our Student Representative, Jennifer Muehlenkamp, has brought her important perspective as a student to organization. Thank you one and all.