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.
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.
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
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.
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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