Section VII Home

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



Some Issues for Consideration by Our Section
Robert I. Yufit, Ph.D.

There are a few issues which I believe our not so new Section should seriously consider, and I would hope to have some reaction from our members regarding them.

The title of our Section is “Clinical Emergencies and Crises.” The original focus for our attention was mainly the areas of suicide and self-harm behaviors, situations of violence, and victimization issues. These areas have usually applied to individuals, although a suicide-prone person driving his/her car with the intent to die by having a head-on collision with another car, or an enraged person with a gun in a school setting—obviously involves harm to others—without doubt.

While these areas pose enormous challenges in themselves, I am wondering if the word “Crises” in our title should be broadened to include situations of terrorism, which has certainly become a major source of anxiety to many, especially in the past 6 months? There are some in the APA who feel we should have a separate new Division focusing on how to handle the many consequences of terrorism, including anxiety, depression and the like. Is this too much to add to our purpose? Certainly violence and victimization situations create terror to a much smaller group of people, but I believe psychology could play a very useful role in helping others to cope with the fears of anticipation, as well as the consequences of actual behaviors in these arenas of action. In the most recent issue of the APA Monitor, APA President Zimbardo has issued a call for psychology to help society in this regard, and we are probably the most related APA Section to give consideration to such contemporary problems in our lives. Should we expand our focus to include terrorism as related to more global issues, or do we have enough to deal with already? Your reactions would be most welcome—directed to our Newsletter.

A second issue is one I have raised before, but I want to make a more specific request to those in our Section who would be interested in trying to develop a more comprehensive measure in the task of how to best assess suicide and violence potential. There are a number of assessment techniques for assessing and for screening for suicide and self-harm potential, and a lesser number of assessment procedures for the assessment of violence potential. I think most of us would agree that these areas are much too complex to be evaluated by a single tool—and I strongly believe that a Battery of such instruments should be developed. I have been working on a Suicide Assessment Battery for several years, and am well aware of the complexity of the task, to cover all the components, while striving for validity, reliability, sensitivity and specificity requirements. The task is difficult, but not impossible. I am most curious to know what those of you who work in these areas of assessment use, and how effective do you feel your assessment tools are, in accomplishing these tasks? Do we have several clinicians who could pool their resources to develop such Batteries of assessment techniques? Direct your responses to the Newsletter and/or to me—I am eager to know of your responses and interests. While the area of treatment is important, it depends on good assessment, and assessment is still neglected.