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Behavioral Emergencies Update

Volume 1, Issue 2
Spring 2000
Section on Clinical Emergenices and Crises
American Psychological Assn.
Section 7 Contact Info

In this issue...

Section VII Programming at APA Convention

Training Providers of Emergency Services for Children in Violence Prevention

News from the American Association of Suicidology Conference

The Critical Need for Valid and Reliable Assessment

Volunteer Opportunities at the APA Convention

Graduate Student Spotlight

Section VII Election Results

Special Offer for Section VII Members

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The President's Column
Section VII's Recent Success and Future Directions
by Phillip M. Kleespies, Ph.D.
VA Medical Center, Boston

     Good news! At its March 23-26 meeting, the Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) of the American Psychological Association reviewed the "Report on Education and Training in Behavioral Emergencies" which had been submitted to the BEA in February by our Section's Task Force on Education and Training. I have received a memorandum from Dr. Robert G. Frank, Chair of the BEA, thanking the Task Force for submitting the report and stating that the BEA has asked the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC) to disseminate it to its respective constituencies. At this writing, the following Training Councils have stated that they will distribute the report: The Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology Programs (CUDCP), the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs (CCPTP), and the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs (CDSPP). In addition, Dr. Nadine Kaslow, a BEA member and the current Chair of APPIC (Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers) offered to have a shortened version of the report published in the APPIC Newsletter, and, in response, an abridged version has been submitted to APPIC for publication. Dr. Kaslow praised the work of the Task Force on this report as "invaluable to internship and postdoctoral trainers". She further offered to collaborate with us in making the full report available on the APPIC web site, something that should happen in the near future.

     As stated in the Task Force Report, behavioral emergencies such as patient/client suicidality, potential for violence, and vulnerability to interpersonal victimization can occur in virtually any clinician's practice. These emergencies confront us with the need to make decisions that can have very serious, possibly irreversible consequences. We are held responsible ethically and legally for observing a reasonable standard of care in what are often difficult and intense clinical situations. Yet, as clearly demonstrated in our Task Force Report, professional education in Clinical and Counseling Psychology currently provides very little systematic and formal training in the evaluation and management of such emergencies and related crises.

     I would like to thank the members of the Task Force - Alan L. Berman, Ph.D., Thomas E. Ellis, Psy.D., Richard McKeon, Ph.D., Dale E. McNiel, Ph.D., Matthew Nock, B.A., Heidi Resnick, Ph.D., Joe Scroppo, Ph.D., Edwin S. Shneidman, Ph.D., Jason S. Spiegelman, M.A., Anthony Spirito, Ph.D., and Robert I. Yufit, Ph.D. - for their assistance and contributions to making this report possible. I consider the very positive responses of the BEA and the leadership of APPIC as an excellent beginning to a process in which we are attempting to impact the graduate and internship education and training of Psychologist practitioners. With these responses as a base of support, we have now submitted the Task Force Report to the APA Committee on Accreditation and the Committee has agreed to place it on the agenda for their July, 2000 meeting.

     If we are successful with our agenda, my hope is that the Section will become very involved in helping to develop a curriculum for graduate education and training in behavioral emergencies. (A proposed curriculum is included in the Task Force Report.) At the post-doctoral level, I would hope that we might also become involved in the development of training modules or workshops on particular emergencies; e.g., evaluating and managing the potentially violent patient or assessing and assisting the victim of violence, and so forth.

     Beyond involvement in education and training, however, I hope that our Section will initiate other Task Forces or Committees on such topics as professional and forensic issues in behavioral emergencies and the status of research and science relative to behavioral emergencies. I hope that we may be able to encourage and support efforts to give an empirical base to emergency and crisis work and efforts to develop outstanding clinical programs. Such support might come through the programs that we sponsor at the APA convention as well as through awards for outstanding research, scholarship, and clinical service. We have initiated a newsletter (Behavioral Emergencies Update); however, my hope is that the future will see us as either affiliating with a journal focused on behavioral emergency issues or developing our own journal.

     Our web site has been established ( and our Task Force Report on Education and Training is now available for viewing there. The web site has a great deal of potential for future development. Thus, we might eventually be able to make bibliographies on particular emergency topics such as youth violence or suicide among the elderly available to our members. We might also put resources for clinicians who have been stressed by trauma work or by patient violence on the web site.

     It is clear that Section VII has a bright future. It is up to those of us who are involved at the ground level to make sure that it realizes its potential. I know that I speak for all of the members of the Board of Directors when I invite members to become active in helping to move the Section in some of the directions that I have noted. We are eager to hear about your ideas and interests, and welcome your input.


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