Section VII Home

Behavioral Emergencies Update

Fall/Winter 2004-5

Section on Clinical Emergencies and Crises
American Psychological Assn.
Section 7 Contact Info

In this issue...

The President's Column

Ethical Issues in Research on Behavioral Emergencies and Crises

Subtle Differences between Self-Injury and Suicide in Adolescents

Section VII in Hawaii

Conference Photos

What is Suicidal Behavior? Definitional Problems in Research and Practice

Congratulations to Our Newly Elected Members

A Message from the Treasurer

Notes from the Editor


The President's Column

Lanny Berman, PhD, ABPP
American Association of Suicidology

For those of you who never have had the pleasure of drafting a president’s column for a membership newsletter, you might be interested in understanding the process.

First, there is the demand, usually expressed by a copy deadline (date).  I am already late on that.

Second, there is the daunting challenge (aka a behavioral [cognitive] emergency) of deciding what to write about (I am hoping that an answer appears to me as I freely associate through this).

Third, there is the conceptual frame governed mostly by the self-statement that NOBODY REALLY READS THIS ANYWAY, except for the fact that those of you who just read that line proved me wrong.

Fourth, therefore, I must return quickly to the daunting challenge noted in my second point above!

Thus, it is within my awareness, that, as you read this, my tenure as president is over. On 1 January (well, probably not functionally until 2 January), Dean Kilpatrick assumes this role (and the responsibility to write to the membership).  He will be the most capable of presidents -- I wish him the very best and offer him my hindsight that 12 months goes by in about three!

 Which leads me to the point I raised in the first, and now, similarly, the last, of my columns. Only incremental movement occurs in short periods of time (and 12 months is a very short period of both perceived and real time).  In that first column I vowed to continue to develop what our founding president Phil Kleespies started, that of promoting/advocating for education and training of psychologists  toward competencies in behavioral emergencies and crises. This is exactly what we have done this year – made incremental progress – such that, if we can sustain (here, Dean, I am offering you some advice) this effort, we will see significant change in our lifetime!

 Institutional change and changed mindsets take time, sustained effort (I recall what I was taught during my years of training about how many times I might have to give the same interpretation to a patient before that patient “got it”), and inordinate patience.  This year, we have moved toward developing a strategy, a logic model, wherein we can specify our short- and long-term goals and those activities associated with getting there.  All of our discussions have been by teleconference with but the exception of meeting briefly face-to-face in Honolulu last August.  For a volunteer board, with no budget to speak of, and real-life demands, the fact that we have “met” as often as we have and have sustained, no less made progress, are noteworthy accomplishments for which I want to publicly applaud my colleagues on the board.

 And now it remains for the next several years of Section VII board members to do their part toward meeting these goals. As therapists, we know well the time and effort involved to effect change. My parting appeal to you is to offer up a few hours of your year to getting involved in that effort. When asked to run for election, please consider seriously that yours are skills we need. Particularly in a small section of a large APA Division, there simply is not a never-ending pool of others who are going to make change happen.

 So, I am only writing this column for those of you who have a vested interest in reading it. This way, I have increased the odds that, when I retire, I will have a vested reason to read your presidential columns in each and every issue of this newsletter.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to be part of this process.