Section 7 Home

Behavioral Emergencies Update

Volume 2, Issue 2
Spring 2001
Section on Clinical Emergenices and Crises
American Psychological Assn.
Section 7 Contact Info

In this issue...

Section VII Programming at APA Convention

Graduate Student Spotlight

Debate on End-of-Life Issues:

Dr. Yufit Comments on Dr. Werth Interview

Reply to Dr. Yufit

Dr. Kleespies Comments on Yufit-Werth Exchange

New Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide

Publication Highlights

Special Offer for Section VII Members



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The President's Column
Assessment of Suicide and Violence Potential:
Major Theme for 2001

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

     Greetings to all. I am honored to be your second President of our new Section VII of Division 12 of the American Psychological Association. A sincere thanks to Dr. Phil Kleespies for his productive year as our first President. He will continue to be active as our Past President, especially in his continued efforts to develop and implement a Task Force on Education and Training in Behavioral Emergencies. This is a much needed resource to provide structure for the clinician in crisis situations. Do let Phil know of your ideas in this area.

     In my year as President, I hope to emphasize an increasingly neglected area of assessment an area that is unique to psychologists. How can we increase the validity of existing assessment techniques for evaluating the risk of self-harm, self-destructive behavior, and violence potential? Can we develop better techniques than those existing? I think we can. I hope all of you will provide ideas and share your own experiences with assessment - good or bad. Assessment will be our theme at the 2001 APA meeting in San Francisco.

     While I do not know most of you (we now number more than 100 members), I would hope we could engage in collaborative efforts for both research and training. For example, Dr. Dale McNiel, our new President-Elect, has special interest in violence assessment and prevention. I would also hope you will help us enlist new members. Dr. Lillian Range continues as Membership Chair.

     Since I am asking you to share and collaborate, allow me to tell you about my background and interests. I am a native Chicagoan. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, am Board certified in Clinical Psychology by A.B.P.P., and am an Associate Professor in the Division of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Northwestern University Medical School. I currently spend most of my time in independent practice doing diagnostic assessment of suicide and self-harm potential of hospitalized adults, as well as individual psychotherapy (outpatient and inpatient), primarily with professionals in high stress occupations (also a research interest). Forensic work, utilizing psychological autopsy to distinguish accident from suicide, is also an area of work and interest. I enjoy organizational work and have been President of the American Association of Suicidology, the Illinois Association of Suicidology, and the Clinical Section of ABPP. I am the current Editor of Assessment for the journal Suicide and Life Threatening Behaviors.

     Over the past several years, I have been trying to develop a useful Suicide Assessment Battery, since I do not believe any one assessment technique can adequately assess suicide potential. One of the instruments in the SAB is the Time Questionnaire, which we developed. It examines time perspective, a most useful dimension for suicide assessment. This concept is modified from the Eight Stages of Life framework of my own hero in psychology, Erik Erikson, who I had the good fortune to know from my graduate school days - his seminal contributions have been most influential.

     Finally, I also hope we can contribute to Seligman's recent work in Positive Psychology--what are the strengths that help people cope with stress and adversity? Can we define these better and use this knowledge to help the more vulnerable persons who become so hopeless they give up and see life as being futile? We should also focus on this area, which needs more research, if we are to treat our patients more successfully. Your ideas in this area are most welcome.

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