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Seminar Detail

Suicidal Clients and Self-Harm Behaviors: Clinical Strategies to Confidently Address Two of the Most Daunting (and Potentially Lethal) Scenarios You'll Work With

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

This event is not currently available for purchase.

For more information: Call (800) 844-8260
Course Description:

Suicidality is one of the scariest scenarios we work with. Your job literally becomes a life-or-death situation …one in which you hold a great deal of responsibility. Suicidal clients under extreme distress can leave you feeling overwhelmed and questioning your next move, and revelations of self-harm have you searching for answers they didn’t teach you in school.

  • How do I differentiate self-injurious behavior from suicidal behavior?
  • Can self-harming lead to suicidal behavior?
  • How do I protect my license and livelihood when working with suicidal clients?
  • What do I do when crises situations arise?
  • When, and how, do I hospitalize clients?
Given the high probability of encountering a client considering suicide or engaging in self-harming behavior at some point in your career, the preparation of graduate programs is not enough. With so much as stake you need to be ready to skillfully assess and manage suicide risks and self-harming behavior!

Attend this candid one-day seminar and leave feeling fully equipped to address the intricacies that affect your clients’ choices to live or die. Beneficial to both seasoned and fledgling mental health practitioners, our experienced instructor will provide you with comprehensive approaches to effectively work with clients who present with suicidal and self-destructive behaviors.

Key Benefits of Attending:
  • Risk assessment strategies that protect not only clients, but you as the clinician.
  • Front line strategies derived from the evidence-based efficacy of CBT and DBT.
  • Answers to difficult questions on suicide and self-harm that clinicians often struggle with.
  • Effective treatment techniques, applicable across various populations and therapeutic settings.
  • Tips on decision making that provide you with guideposts for determining when crisis intervention is needed in contrast to long-term treatment.
Go beyond grad school curriculum and get the practical real-world strategies and advice you need to confidently and capably treat suicidal and self-harming clients!

  1. Establish how a risk management strategy that accounts for both acute and chronic risk factors can help clinicians to identify clients at increased risk of suicide completion.
  2. Discriminate between suicide behavior and self-harm behavior and articulate how this informs the clinicians therapeutic approach.
  3. Explore how counter-transference can interfere in the treatment of social patients and learn how clinicians can manage emotion through awareness and self-restraint.
  4. Incorporate coping strategies into treatment plans for Non-Suicidal Self Injury that help clients manage triggering situations without engaging in self-harm.
  5. Communicate how to differentiate between morbid ideation and suicidal ideation, and establish how this information informs clinical approach.
  6. Articulate how social media, technology, and “tele-therapy” impact the clinician’s role in treating suicidal ideation, intent or plan.

Clients at Risk:

Co-Occurring Disorders and Special Populations
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Trauma and stressor related disorders
  • Substance-related and addictive disorders
  • Risks in special population groups
    • adolescents, veterans, LGBTQ, and the elderly
The Relationship between Suicide and Self-Destructive Behavior
  • Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI)
  • The latest research on what drives self-harming behavior
  • Is self-harm an attention-seeking behavior?
  • Does self-harm lead to suicide?
    • The question of intent
    • Maladaptive coping mechanisms and avoidance
  • Clinical screening approach for NSSI
Legally Sound Suicide Risk Assessment
  • 10 essential components of a thorough risk assessment
  • Chronic and acute risk factors
  • Distinguishing morbid ideation vs. suicidal ideation
  • Imminent/chronic suicide risk
  • Self-care and consultation
  • Formal assessment tools for suicide
Manage Self-Harm Behaviors and Build Functional Coping Skills in Your Clients
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Teach clients techniques to increase awareness of impulsive behavior
  • Communication and expressing avoided emotions
  • Replacement behaviors
  • Research limitations and treatment risks of psychotherapeutic approaches
Suicidal Behavior Treatment Strategies: CBT, DBT and Crisis Management Skills
  • Strategies to manage countertransference
  • Integrate the four key elements of crisis intervention into treatment
  • Strategies from CBT and DBT
  • Psychopharmacological intervention and management
  • Long-term care concerns and strategies
  • Tele-therapy & Social media
    • APA Guidelines
    • Texting – should you?
    • What to do when the suicidal client contacts you by phone/social media?
  • Research limitations and treatment risks of psychotherapeutic approaches
When (and How) to Hospitalize Clients
  • Ethical, legal implications and case studies
  • Confidentiality and minor clients
  • Informed consent and state-specific laws
  • Voluntary vs. involuntary commitment
  • When and how to use law enforcement
Target Audience

  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Counselors
  • Teachers
  • School Administrators
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Case Managers
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Other Mental Health Professionals


Meagan N. Houston, Ph.D., SAP, has specialized in providing suicide treatment in a wide variety of settings and populations for over a decade. She has experience in high-risk settings where the application of suicide prevention, assessment and intervention occurs daily. Dr. Houston treats clients who present with a variety of psychological and behavioral disorders – which lend themselves to acute and chronic suicidality. She emphasizes the use of empirically-based approaches when conducting suicide risk assessments. She has also provided her expertise in the area of treating suicidal clients and self-harm behaviors, as the published author of Treating Suicidal Clients and Self-Harm Behaviors: Assessments, Worksheets & Guides for Interventions and Long-Term Care (PESI, 2017).

Dr. Houston is employed full time with the Houston Police Department Psychological Services Division, and maintains a part-time private practice in Houston, Texas. She worked in the federal prison system. She has provided psychological, psychoeducational, and chemical dependency programs at private practices and college counseling centers. She has also provided geropsychological services to nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Meagan Houston is in private practice. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Meagan Houston has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.
Credits listed below are for full attendance at the live event only. After attendance has been verified, pre-registered attendees will receive an email from PESI Customer Service with the subject line, “Evaluation and Certificate” within one week. This email will contain a link to complete the seminar evaluation and allow attendees to print, email or download a certificate of completion if in full attendance. For those in partial attendance (arrived late or left early), a letter of attendance is available through that link and an adjusted certificate of completion reflecting partial credit will be issued within 30 days (if your board allows). Please see “live seminar schedule” for full attendance start and end times. NOTE: Boards do not allow credit for breaks or lunch.

If your profession is not listed, please contact your licensing board to determine your continuing education requirements and check for reciprocal approval. For other credit inquiries not specified below, or questions on home study credit availability, please contact or 800-844-8260 before the event.

Materials that are included in this course may include interventions and modalities that are beyond the authorized practice of mental health professionals. As a licensed professional, you are responsible for reviewing the scope of practice, including activities that are defined in law as beyond the boundaries of practice in accordance with and in compliance with your professions standards.

The planning committee and staff who controlled the content of this activity have no relevant financial relationships to disclose. For speaker disclosures, please see speaker bios.

PESI, Inc. offers continuing education programs and products under the brand names PESI, PESI Healthcare, PESI Rehab and Psychotherapy Networker.

Addiction Counselors
This course has been approved by PESI, Inc., as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for 6.0 CE in the Counseling Services skill group. NAADAC Provider #77553. PESI, Inc. is responsible for all aspects of their programming. Full attendance is required; no partial credit will be awarded for partial attendance.

This intermediate activity consists of 6.25 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Massachusetts Counselors: CE credit is available. This program has been approved for 6.25 1 MaMHCA/MMCEP hours for re-licensure, in accordance with 262 CMR. Expires: 02/20/2020. Full attendance is required; no partial credits will be offered for partial attendance.

This course is designed to qualify toward your professional development requirement. The program is 6.25 clock hours in length.

Massachusetts School Personnel: This course may be applicable for 6.25 Professional Development Points toward your Professional Development Plan per the Massachusetts Department of Education recertification guidelines; check with your licensing authority for more information.

Marriage & Family Therapists
This activity consists of 380 minutes of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. You should save this course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Massachusetts Marriage & Family Therapists: This activity has been certified by NEAFAST on behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions, for LMFT professional continuing education. Full attendance at this activity qualifies for 6.0 contact hours. Certification #: PC-PC-040031.

Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and Clinical Nurse Specialists
This activity consists of 6.25 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from this activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

This live activity consists of 6.25 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline and the certificate of completion you receive from this live activity. Contact us for more information on your state board or organization specific filing requirements. American Psychological Association credits are not available.

Social Workers
PESI, Inc., #1062, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. PESI, Inc. maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: January 27, 2017 - January 27, 2020. Social Workers completing this course receive 6.25 Clinical Practice continuing education credits. Course Level: Intermediate. Full attendance is required; no partial credits will be offered for partial attendance. A certificate of attendance will be awarded at the end of the program to social workers who complete the program evaluation.

Other Professions
This activity qualifies for 380 minutes of instructional content as required by many national, state and local licensing boards and professional organizations. Save your course outline and certificate of completion, and contact your own board or organization for specific requirements.

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