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Behavioral Emergencies Update

Volume 3, Issue 2
Spring 2002
Section on Clinical Emergenices and Crises
American Psychological Assn.
Section VII Contact Info

In this issue...

Posttraumatic Growth and Crisis (DeBrule & Range)

Integrated Assessment (Hillbrand)

Suicidal Patient Age and Critical Risk Factors (Bongar)

Section VII 2002 APA Convention Program

Task Force Update

Section VII Considerations

Minutes from the Section VII Business Meeting

Publication Highlights

Special Offer for Section VII Members



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The President's Column
Integrating Science and Practice in the Evaluation
Management of Behavioral Emergencies

by Dale E. McNiel, Ph.D.

     The theme of my year as President of Section VII (Clinical Emergencies and Crises) of the APA Division of Clinical Psychology is integrating science and practice in the evaluation and management of behavioral emergencies. The Section brings together a diverse group of psychologists who share the goals of improving service, education, and research in the area of clinical emergencies and crises. The terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 brought national attention to behavioral emergencies related to violence, suicide, and victimization. Many members of Section VII contributed substantial time and energy to responding to this crisis. I have been repeatedly impressed over the year at how members of Section VII bring their training in the science of clinical psychology to bear on addressing the very applied problems associated with behavioral emergencies.
I would like to point out a few examples:

APA Convention. Bruce Bongar, Ph.D., Chair of the Section VII Program Committee, has organized an excellent program for the APA convention in Chicago, August 22 - 25, 2002. Highlights will include presentations by Ariel Merari, Ph.D., on suicidal terrorists; David Clark, Ph.D., on his research related to understanding suicide; Bruce Bongar, Ph.D., and colleagues on treatment of risk factors for suicide; and Dale McNiel, Ph.D., on evidenced based assessment of risk of violence to self and others.

Training Survey. Phil Kleespies, Ph.D., and student members, Jason Spiegelman and Daniel DeBrule, have completed a survey of internship sites that provide training in behavioral emergencies. Programs that provide such training will be posted on the Section VII listserve to allow prospective interns to identify sites that will provide formal training in clinical emergencies and crises.

Awards. This year the Section will give awards to psychologists who have made outstanding contributions to the major foci of the section, violence (Christopher Webster, Ph.D.), suicide (David Clark, Ph.D.), and victimization (Dean Kilpatrick, Ph.D.). Each of these individuals has made sustained research contributions that have led to improvements in clinical practice. In addition, the Student Research Award will be given to Holly Anton.

Work with Training and Education Organizations. Several members of Section VII, including Phil Kleespies, Ph.D., Bob Yufit, Ph.D., Bruce Bongar, Ph.D. and Dale McNiel, Ph.D. have participated in meetings with representatives of organizations concerned with training psychologists at the predoctoral, internship, and postdoctoral levels. These organizations include the American Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), the Council of University Directors of Clinical Programs (CUDCP), and the National Council of Schools of Professional Psychology (NCSPP). Central to these discussions has been the issue of developing ways to enhance the training of psychologists in behavioral emergencies. Research has shown that most psychologists confront behavioral emergencies such as suicide, violence, and victimization, often during their training years, yet frequently they feel that they have received only limited systematic education and training in the topic. Members of Section VII are working with these training organizations to develop practical ways of incorporating the empirical knowledge about behavioral emergencies into enhancing the preparation of psychologists for responding to them.

Brochure. Bob Yufit, Ph.D. has been hard at work developing a brochure designed to aid clinicians by summarizing some important issues to consider when evaluating people who may be at imminent risk of suicide or violence.

Membership. As a relatively new Section of the APA Division of Clinical Psychology, many opportunities are available for active participation. Members may participate in various task forces, initiatives, and committees of the Section. For members who work in practice settings, participation in the Section provides an opportunity for contact with other psychologists with substantial interest and experience in behavioral emergencies. For members in academic settings, participation in the Section offers the opportunity for active involvement in psychology at the national level, as well as a forum to interact with those with research interests in clinical emergencies and crises. For student members, there is an opportunity for assuming significant responsibilities in the organization.

Clinical emergencies and crises represent an exciting area of clinical psychology that holds considerable opportunity for the future. Section VII offers a home for those scientists and practitioners with substantive interests in the area. I look forward to seeing many of you at the APA convention in Chicago.