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Assessment and Intervention with Suicidal Clients: 3-Video Series
Suicide challenges even the most seasoned mental health professional. In this richly instructive and deeply moving three-volume series, John Sommers-Flanagan and colleagues demonstrate invaluable assessment and treatment skills for working with diverse clients along the spectrum of suicidality.
Do you dread working with suicidal clients? If so, you’re not alone. But anxiety from burdensome beliefs that you must assume the “expert role” and that it is your responsibility alone to stop clients from self-harm or suicide may actually undermine your potential clinical effectiveness. John Sommers-Flanagan offers an alternative, research-based approach that emphasizes working collaboratively with clients to help them to develop strategies to improve their lives so they orchestrate and implement better options than ending it. As he emphatically asserts, “No-suicide contracts are out; collaborative safety planning is in!”

In this unparalleled series of enlightening clinical demonstrations and in-depth discussions, viewers will acquire powerful tools for use during assessment and intervention. Sommers-Flanagan seamlessly blends strategies for revealing all facets of client suicidality with techniques designed to uncover hope and resources both within and around them.

Whether using the Mood Rating Scale with a Suicide Floor during assessment, or the Safety Planning Form during treatment, you will develop and deepen not only your competence but your confidence with these highly challenging clients. If working with suicidal clients leaves you feeling anxious, ill-equipped and isolated, then this compelling and deeply-instructive video series is just the resource you need. 

To order an individual title in this series separately, click on the title of your choice in the list below.

In this Series…

What therapists are saying…

"One of the most accurate and easy to understand approaches to assessing and intervening with suicidal clients utilizing multiple case vignettes. Dr. Sommers-Flanagan does an outstanding job of presenting clinical tasks that every clinician needs to know, as well as collaborating with suicidal clients through identifying protective factors, not only risk factors. This video series provides clinicians, graduate students and clinical training programs with a wonderful mechanism to advance their competence in suicide assessment. In my opinion, it is one of the most useful resources available to assist in suicide assessment training of helping professionals."

--Ken McCurdy, PhD, Associate Professor, Gannon University; Disaster Mental Health Counselor, American Red Cross
"Dr. John Sommers-Flanagan does a marvelous job of assessing and interviewing with several clients who struggle with suicidal ideation. His manner is natural, personable, calm, compassionate, insightful, and engaging. We are impressed with the way he makes a connection with clients and encourages them to express their key concerns. We also appreciate that he emphasizes not only special knowledge and skills, but the primacy of the relationship in making accurate assessments. Those who view this video will acquire important guidelines in interviewing suicidal clients."

--Marianne Schneider Corey, MFT & Gerald Corey, EdD Co-Authors Groups: Process and Practice, Becoming a Helper, and many others
"This video comprehensively addresses a sensitive, often anxiety-provoking topic for both beginning and seasoned clinicians. Using a framework that addresses both our academic and experiential understandings of suicidality, Dr. Somers-Flanagan effectively demonstrates his approach to this nuanced and difficult work. Observing his work with a range of diverse clients and his integration of theoretical technique and strategies associated with assessment, intervention, safety planning, and goal-setting is invaluable. Dr. Somers-Flanagan provides a narration that helps viewers to reflect on his approach in real-time and consider the ways in which they might incorporate these skills into their own clinical practice. For counselor educators teaching Crisis, Trauma, Assessment, & Diversity courses, this three-volume set provides an excellent supplementary resource."

--Brittany L. Pollard, PhD, Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
"An engaging and practical resource, Dr. Sommers-Flanagan presents concepts and techniques with both depth and relatability. The demonstrations for each part of the counseling process reflect real-world situations counselors may face in their practice. With their focus on a culturally responsive, collaborative approach to counseling, these videos would be perfect for graduate courses on suicide assessment and intervention or basic counseling skills"

--Quentin Hunter, PhD, Assistant Professor, Lindsey Wilson College
"I first encountered John Sommers-Flannagan in graduate school through his classic work on Clinical Interviewing, so I was delighted when I learned he partnered with psychotherapy.net to produce a series of videos on Assessment and Intervention with Suicidal Clients. This is the series I wish were available to me in graduate school when I first started working with clients in crisis and would be a strong addition to a crisis intervention training course. As a clinician in private practice, watching the series helped me feel more confident in my own assessment skills while also offering me updated research on assessment and intervention. John’s style is warm and personable and his voice overs explaining what he was thinking during the interview process will be with me in the consulting room the next time I sit with a client in crisis."

--Julie Clay, LPC, Harrisonburg, VA
In Depth
This video series offers clinicians of all levels the opportunity to sit right alongside Sommers-Flanagan and colleagues. This front-row experience will deepen your knowledge of suicidality in its many forms from passive to active, acute to chronic, and indirect to lethal. It will also prepare you to better appreciate the racial, religious, gender, systemic, and developmental conversations that form the foundation of effective intervention. You will hone your skills with suicidal clients by watching Sommers-Flanagan at work.

Sommers-Flanagan’s clinical demonstrations focus primarily on the individual; however, you will also gain unique insights and strategies for integrating the suicidal client’s family into your clinical work. Compelling conversations around the duty to protect, the intergenerational transmission of trauma, and effective use of hospitalization will add to your clinical repertoire.

You will watch Sommers-Flanagan work with a challenging array of suicidal clients, each struggling to find meaning in their lives and reasons to live.
  • Michelle is a recently-divorced mother who seeks relief from the punishing symptoms of depression, inertia and self-doubt that lead her to contemplate suicide. 
  • Cory is a proud 22-year-old college student and citizen of the Lakota-Sioux nation who, upon returning from the Iraq war, finds his family and his tribe in disarray and his life without meaning.
  • Kennedy and Jackson are teenage high school students who are experiencing unbearable suicide-triggering distress related to their respective parents’ marital discord and with whom we see effective use of the Mood Rating Scale and Suicide Safety Plan.
  • Jeannie is a middle-aged, soon-to-be-retired, and recently-widowed woman who while not actively suicidal, struggles to find hope, satisfaction and a reason to live.
  • Kay is a deeply distressed and intensely suicidal 40-year-old who struggles with tormenting childhood memories of her deceased schizophrenic mother, and battles daily to fend off suicidal thoughts and urges. 
  • Connie is a middle-aged suicide teacher/educator who lost her husband to suicide four years before and tries to cope with lingering feelings of pain and guilt while attempting to forgive herself.
  • Chase is a 35-year-old gay male who is socially isolated, hopeless and in acute emotional pain, and who finally yet reluctantly agrees to collaborating on a new treatment plan that begins with hospitalization.

You will also deepen your insights and clinical skills by watching instructive clinical interviews with diversity specialists.
Victor Yalom interviews Rona Hu, MD, Medical Director of the Acute Inpatient Unit at Stanford. Their culturally-sensitive conversation guides us in understanding Asian-American beliefs around collectivism, shame, saving face and family connection in the context of suicide assessment and treatment planning.

Sommers-Flanagan interviews Murray Pierce, a minority student advisor at the University of Montana and juvenile probation officer. Mr. Pierce identifies some of the unique challenges of engaging and supporting minority youth and their families in the suicide assessment and early intervention process.

With suicide rates rising dramatically in the U.S. and globally, and suicide being the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. for young people aged 15-24, mental health professionals need the best resources at their disposal. This video series should be in every clinician’s toolbox. 

By watching and engaging with this training series, you will:
  1. Articulate strategies for assessing the suicidal client’s strengths and resources, both internal and external
  2. Describe the full range of interventions with suicidal clients from assessment through hospitalization
  3. Incorporate contextual factors including race, age, gender and religion into your clinical work with suicidal clients

Length of Series: 7:56:31

English subtitles available

John Sommers-Flanagan, PhD, is a professor of counselor education at the University of Montana. He is also a clinical psychologist and mental health consultant with Trapper Creek Job Corps. He served as executive director of Families First Parenting Programs from 1995 to 2003 and was previously co-host of a radio talk-show on Montana Public Radio titled, “What is it with Men?”

Primarily specializing in working with children, parents, and families, John is author or coauthor of over 50 professional publications and nine books. Some of his latest books, co-written with his wife Rita, include How to Listen so Parents will Talk and Talk so Parents will Listen (John Wiley & Sons, 2011) and Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context and Practice (2nd ed., John Wiley & Sons, 2012), Clinical Interviewing (5th ed., Wiley, 2014), and Tough Kids, Cool Counseling (2nd ed., ACA, 2007). In his wild and precious spare time, John loves to run (slowly), dance (poorly), laugh (loudly) and produce home-made family music videos.
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