Decision Making in Behavioral Emergencies: Acquiring Skill in Evaluating and Managing High-Risk Patients

Pages: 210
Item #: 4317332
ISBN: 978-1-4338-1664-2
List Price: $69.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $49.95
Publication Date: January 2014
Format: Hardcover
Availability: In Stock
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For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories


When a client or patient presents who is suicidal, potentially violent, and/or at risk of being victimized, this is considered a behavioral emergency, a situation that requires immediate response. The goal of this book is to help clinicians increase their ability to manage stress and decrease its negative impact when making decisions about the assessment and care of these patients.

The author presents models for decision making and stress training, guidance for teaching how to evaluate and manage behavioral emergencies, decision support tools, and a discussion of legal and ethical considerations. This very practical approach to required competency will be a valuable resource for psychologists and any other mental health professionals who work in a clinical setting. It is the only known work that advocates for a decision-making model appropriate to the circumstances in which behavioral emergencies often occur.

Table of Contents




  1. Evaluating and Managing Behavioral Emergencies and Crises: An Overview
  2. Decision Making Under Stress: Theoretical and Empirical Bases
  3. Training to Reduce Stress in Dealing With Behavioral Emergencies
  4. Mental Practice for Decision Making During Behavioral Emergencies
  5. The Use of Decision-Support Tools in Behavioral Emergencies
  6. Training for Decision Making With Experience Near or Actual Behavioral Emergencies
  7. The Stress of Legal and Ethical Issues in High-Risk Cases
  8. Coping With the Emotional Aftermath of Negative Events




About the Author

Author Bio

Phillip M. Kleespies, PhD, was awarded his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Clark University in 1971. He is a clinical psychologist in the Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.

Dr. Kleespies has more than 40 years of experience in working in emergency department, urgent care clinic, and inpatient psychiatry settings with patients who are at risk of such behavioral emergencies as suicidal behavior, violence, and interpersonal victimization. In 2013, he was recognized with the Outstanding Clinician Award presented by the VA Section of APA Division 18 (Psychologists in Public Service).

Dr. Kleespies has also been an active supervisor and teacher to psychology interns and psychology postdoctoral fellows with an interest in evaluating and managing patients at risk to self and others. His research interests have included the development of a database for the study of self-injurious and suicidal behavior in veterans and the impact of patient suicide and suicidal behavior on the treating clinicians.

Dr. Kleespies has authored and coauthored many publications, and he has made numerous presentations on behavioral emergencies and related topics. He is a contributing author and the editor of the books Emergencies in Mental Health Practice: Evaluation and Management (1998) and Behavioral Emergencies: An Evidence-Based Resource for Evaluating and Managing Risk of Suicide, Violence, and Victimization (2009). In addition, he is the author of the book Life and Death Decisions: Psychological and Ethical Considerations in End-of-Life Care (2004).

He has served as a member of the VA Boston Ethics Case Consultation Team, the VA Boston Palliative Care Consult Team, and the VA Boston Violence Threat Assessment Committee.

Dr. Kleespies is a diplomate in clinical psychology of the American Board of Professional Psychology and an APA fellow. He was the founding president of the Section on Clinical Emergencies and Crises, Section VII of APA Division 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology), and he remains involved with the section as advisor to the Executive Board.

Reviews & Awards

A fantastic book for initial training, but even the most seasoned clinician will likely pick up numerous pieces of helpful information from this text. Kleespies ties together the aspects of this book skillfully and includes current research to reinforce the main points throughout. Thus, this book will prove to be a helpful toll for any practicing clinician.
Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior

Presents a fresh look at what are necessary diagnostic and treatment skills.

It is inevitable that clinicians will face behavioral emergencies and [this book] provides practical ideas on how to proceed. It will especially be useful to practitioners with little experience. However, seasoned veterans can benefit from this book as well.
Doody's Review Service

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