Under the direction of Judith S. Beck, PhD, and led by Marjan Holloway, PhD, this experiential workshop will provide an overview of evidence-based cognitive behavioral strategies that can be used for the treatment of military personnel and veterans with suicide-related ideation and/or behaviors. Instruction on both outpatient and inpatient delivery of the interventions will be provided. Emphasis will be placed on risk and protective indicators for the military and veteran communities.

First, participants will learn about basic cognitive behavioral strategies for structuring sessions – including setting a collaborative agenda, prioritizing items on the session agenda, assigning action plan(s), measuring progress, and eliciting feedback. Second, participants will become familiar with Aaron Beck’s cognitive model for suicide as a framework for conceptualizing and treating their patients. Third, the components of an efficacious and brief 10-session outpatient and an adapted 6-session inpatient cognitive behavioral treatment protocol will be reviewed.

Emphasis will be placed on specific techniques of intervention (e.g., assisting clients with the suicide “story” narrative, building skills such as emotion regulation and problem solving, instilling hope, preventing relapse, planning for safety) in order to assist providers in maximizing the safety of individuals at risk for suicide. Opportunities to learn about helpful online tools and resources will be provided. Attendees will practice learned strategies within a group setting and questions about expected implementation challenges will be addressed.

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Workshop Objectives

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the public health significance of suicide among military personnel and veterans.
  2. Use the cognitive behavioral model to conceptualize military personnel and veterans with suicide-related ideation and/or behaviors.
  3. Structure cognitive behavioral sessions, set goals, assign action plan(s), and elicit/provide feedback.
  4. Assess for motivation, ambivalence, and readiness for change to best tailor the treatment.
  5. Identify underdeveloped and overdeveloped skills that exacerbate suicide risk based on the cognitive behavioral case conceptualization.
  6. Implement cognitive and behavioral strategies within each of the three phases of an efficacious cognitive behavioral outpatient protocol for the prevention of suicide.
  7. Complete a step by step safety plan with military personnel and veterans with suicide-related ideation and/or behaviors.
  8. Describe the treatment phases of Post Admission Cognitive Therapy (PACT), as an adapted inpatient treatment program for the prevention of suicide among military personnel and veterans.
  9. Monitor suicide risk and manage suicidal crises throughout the course of treatment.
  10. Use web-based and research-based resources to deliver effective suicide prevention practices.
  11. Identify therapist maladaptive cognitions often activated by work with suicidal military personnel and/or veterans.
  12. Understand the importance of self-care and the warning signs of professional burnout.

Recommended Reading

Applicant Prerequisite

This course is appropriate for those with an intermediate to advanced level knowledge in the mental health or medical field.

Doctorate or master’s degree (or equivalent degree for practitioners outside of the US) in a mental health, medical, or related field. Core 1 Workshop recommended.

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