Working with Suicidal Clients 2018 Workshops

Designed for today's health practitioner, this workshop meets the requirement of the Matt Adler Suicide Assessment, Treatment and Management Act of 2012, and is open to anyone in the healthcare field.


WINNER OF FOREFRONT'S 2015 SUE EASTGARD TRAINING EXCELLENCE AWARD for commitment to designing and delivering state of the art training for health professionals in the prevention of suicide.

Next Workshop Date: September 21, 2018

Download Brochure - Working with Suicidal Clients

Overview of Working with Suicidal Clients Workshop

Suicide represents a major public health concern and frequent reason for seeking mental health treatment. Despite the frequency of this problem, clinicians may feel uncomfortable assessing, managing and treating suicidal clients or providing consultation to colleagues working with suicidal clients. 

In an effort to equip clinicians with the skills needed to work with suicidal clients, in 2012 Washington State became the first state in the nation to require training in suicide care for licensed health professionals. Wellspring Counseling’s workshops are offered to build confidence in working with suicidal clients and to meet the requirement of the law.

The law requires all mental health professionals to have completed the training by the end of their first full CEU cycle after January 1, 2014.*  Note: If your first full CEU reporting cycle is due this calendar year, you must compete this training by your reporting date, usually your birthday.

Developed and taught by two experienced practitioners, Jeffrey Sung, M.D. and R. Keith Myers, LICSW, this six-hour, lecture- and video-based educational workshop is designed for therapists and other healthcare workers who address suicide risk in diverse clinical settings, from emergency assessment to long-term psychotherapy.

By taking this workshop you will learn:

  • Approaches to suicide risk assessment, management and treatment that everyone can use regardless of theoretical orientation.
  • Psychodynamic and other theories of understanding suicide.
  • Treatment targets in psychotherapy to resolve suicide risk.
  • How to recognize and manage emotional responses to suicidal clients and completed suicide.
  • Common problems that arise in the treatment of suicidal clients.

Subscribe to our email list to keep in touch and be kept up-to-date about upcoming programs and classes.

Questions? Call our Wellspring Education Line: 206-902-4266 or email us.

* While the law that was passed in 2012 required training for LICSWs, LMFTs, LMHCs and psychologists, it was expanded in 2014 to include all medical personnel.  We welcome and can provide CMEs for psychiatrists and other physicians, as well as CPEs and CEUs for psychologists and mental health counselors interested in learning more about working with suicidal clients. Chemical Dependency Professionals (CDPs) may also take three hours of this training and earn 3 CEUs.  In 2015 we partnered with the Washington State Chiropractic Association to provide specialized suicide training for chiropractors.   

Workshop Dates & Cost

Each workshop runs from 9:00am - 4:30pm. The cost for 6 CEUs is $175 for online registration or $185 if paid by check. Those earning 3 CEUs are charged $100 for the first three hours of instruction, online registration only. Pre-registration is required.

All Workshop Dates will be held in Seattle at South Seattle Community College, Georgetown Campus, 6737 Corson Ave S, Seattle

Workshop Hours: 9:00am - 4:30pm

Friday, September 21, 2018


AAPCSW, NWAPS, WSSCSW, or SPSI members pay a discounted price using the Promo Code provided to you by your membership organization. Organizational discounts may not be retroactively credited once a registration is submitted.

Download Workshop Brochure & Registration (print and fill out if paying by mail)

Group discounts may be available if 10+ individuals register from the same business or agency. Call 206-902-4266 to see if your group qualifies.

Six (6) CEU, CME, or CPE Credits available. Three (3) CEUs may be earned for three hours of training by Chemical Dependency Professionals (CDPs). See "Continuing Education Credits" tab below for more information. 

Did you Know? Wellspring Counseling is a social enterprise that helps fund Wellspring Family Services' free community service programs. A portion of the fees collected through our counseling and training programs provides support to thousands of vulnerable children and families in King County each year. 

Workshop Instructor

Jeffrey Sung, M.D. is an acting instructor with the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Since 2002, his clinical responsibilities have included direct service and consultation in the care of individuals facing homelessness, medical illness, substance use and psychiatric conditions. He has taught psychodynamic theory, suicide risk assessment and managing response to patient suicide to psychiatrists, psychiatry residents, primary care providers and social workers. In addition to work with the university, Dr. Sung also maintains a private practice.

Workshop Topics 

  • Managing personal responses: Work with suicidal clients elicits emotional responses in the clinician that must be understood and managed for effective work to proceed.
  • Establishing a therapeutic alliance: Suicidal clients may or may not share the clinician’s priority of resolving suicide risk. Specific techniques may be useful in establishing a therapeutic alliance when these priorities conflict.
  • Developing a framework for conceptualizing suicide: Why do people die by suicide? Many theories have been proposed to answer this question. A clinician’s framework for conceptualizing suicide will influence how risk assessment, management and treatment proceed.
  • Conducting a risk assessment and properly documenting it: Suicide risk assessment involves gathering accurate information regarding risk factors, protective factors and warning signs of suicide. The information is used to formulate a level of risk and guide subsequent clinical work. Structured assessment tools and interviewing techniques from evidence-based treatments for suicide help to provide a framework for risk assessment.
  • Crisis planning and ongoing monitoring: Suicide risk fluctuates over time. Crisis planning manages risk by developing a multi-step plan for responding to periods of heightened risk. Ongoing monitoring uses assessment tools to estimate risk over time and respond appropriately.
  • Adolescent suicide:* Certain risk factors, protective factors, and warning signs are more commonly seen in adolescents. Understand similarities and differences between adult and adolescent risk assessment, management and treatment.  
  • Veterans and suicide risk:** Explore risk factors and cultural issues particular to veterans and, most importantly, provide guidelines and resources on how to manage suicide risk among veterans.
  • Treatment planning: After the initial assessment, the clinician may make a recommendation for treatment that focuses on managing and resolving suicide risk.
  • Long-term work with suicidal clients: Resolving suicide risk may involve recognizing and addressing long-standing patterns of thought, emotion and behavior.
  • Responding to completed suicide: Despite therapeutic efforts, clients may ultimately die by suicide. Having a plan to respond to this dreaded outcome can help to organize personal, clinical and administrative responsibilities that arise from this event.  

* Adolscent suicide will be addressed in-depth in the January 27 and May 12 workshops only.
** The workshop will devote at least 30 minutes on the subject of suicide risk and veterans starting with our September 15, 2017 workshop. (The VA Suicide Data Report 2012 found that veterans account for approximately one in five suicide deaths in the United States. In keeping with this finding, all six hour trainings in suicide care for medical professionals are required to devote at least 30 minutes to addressing suicide risk among veterans.)

Learning Objectives

  • Understand attitudes and approaches that facilitate or block suicide risk assessment.
  • Facilitate clinical interviewing to gather accurate information about suicide risk.
  • Describe risk factors, protective factors, and warning signs associated with suicide risk.
  • Develop an approach to decision-making regarding overall suicide risk.
  • Generate a plan for suicide risk management and crisis response, based on modifiable risk factors.
  • Understand and describe a framework for treatment that seeks to resolve suicide risk. 
  • Apply an understanding and technical considerations for working with suicidal adolescents and veterans.

Wellspring Training: a Practitioner’s Best Choice

This workshop is designed for therapists and others in the practice community by professionally active practitioners.

Evidence-based treatments for suicidal individuals have great value in describing protocols for effective treatment. At the same time, clinicians are often presented with complex or unexpected scenarios for which no standard protocols exist. 

This workshop addresses this dilemma by reviewing principles of evidence-based treatments with suggestions on how to implement these in your work with suicidal clients. Our research-informed, clinically-focused approach also seeks to add texture and depth to clinical work by applying psychodynamic understanding to research-derived material.

With a focus on assessment of suicide in the acute phase, practitioners also get a practical and theoretical understanding of working with individuals whose suicidal intent may vary over the course of longer-term psychotherapy.

Video examples of suicide assessment and management produced specifically for this workshop are used to augment your overall learning experience.

More About Working with Suicidal Clients

Working with Suicidal Clients is a six hour, lecture based workshop designed to build your confidence in working with suicidal clients or consulting with colleagues in diverse clinical settings from emergency assessment to long-term psychotherapy. In every setting, effective work with suicidal clients begins with establishing a therapeutic alliance and extends to specific strategies and techniques that are relevant to suicide. This workshop distills fundamental principles of work with suicidal clients from existing practice guidelines and treatments to help clinicians feel confident that their work is comprehensive and based on best practices.

In addition to covering initial suicide risk assessment (including screening and referral) and management,this workshop addresses treatment strategies for ongoing psychotherapy with suicidal individuals. We will cover psychodynamic as well as other theories of understanding suicide. This workshop will also help practitioners distinguish between the management of suicidal behavior and the treatment of underlying psychological factors that contribute to suicidal ideation and intent.

The Matt Adler Assessment, Treatment and Management Law

In 2012, the Washington State legislature passed the Matt Adler Suicide Assessment, Treatment and Management Act. The law is in effect as of January 1, 2014, and requires that licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health counselors, psychologists, and licensed social workers receive six hours of training in suicide assessment, treatment, and management every six years. There are certain exemptions for state or local government employees and community mental health workers whose employers provide at least six hours of suicide training every six years. For licensed counselors not exempted by the law, the first training must be completed by the end of the first full continuing education reporting period after January 1, 2014 or the first full continuing education period after initial licensure, whichever occurs later. These hours will count toward the total thirty-six hours of continuing education required every two years under current law. The Act states that approved suicide training programs must cover training in suicide assessment, including screening and referral, suicide treatment, and suicide management.

Licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health counselors and licensed social workers applying for initial licensure on or after January 1, 2014 may delay completion of the first training required for six years after initial licensure if he or she can demonstrate completion of a six-hour training program in suicide assessment, treatment, and management if that training was completed no more than six years prior to the application for initial licensure. 

View the Bill

Recent Developments and Legislation

Recently, the Washington State Department of Health developed guidelines for addressing Suicide Risk Among Veterans.

HB2315 was signed by Governor Jay Inslee March 27, 2014. This legislation:

  • Requires most medical professionals to complete a one-time six-hour training in suicide assessment, treatment, and management that is approved by the relevant disciplining authority.
  • Requires the department of social and health services and the state health care authority to jointly develop a plan for a pilot program to support primary care providers in assessment and provision of appropriate diagnosis and treatment of individuals with mental and behavioral health disorders and track outcomes of the program.
  • Requires the secretary of the department of health to convene a steering committee and, in consultation with the steering committee, develop a Washington State plan for suicide prevention.

Continuing Education Credits

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of 

The American Psychoanalytic Association and the Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. 

The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of 6.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. 

This Program has been approved for 6 CEUs by the Washington State Society for Clinical Social Work for LICSWs, LMFTs, LMHCs, and all Associate categories. This presentation also meets the requirements of WAC 246-924-240 (Definition of Category of Creditable CPE for psychologists).

Timing of Training

The Matt Adler Act requires licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health counselors, psychologists, and licensed social workers to complete a training program in suicide assessment, treatment, and management. The law states that the first training must be completed during the first full continuing education reporting period after January 1, 2014 or the first full continuing education period after initial licensure, whichever occurs later. 

This language created some confusion, so Wellspring worked with the prime sponsor of the law, Rep. Tina Orwall, Forefront, the organization created out of the Matt Adler Act, and lobbyists for professional organizations, all of whom in turn worked with the Department of Health to change the interpretation of the language in the law.

The result is that the Secretary of Health, John Wiesman, DrPH, MPH, issued a formal interpretive statement indicating that, “appropriate training received on or after January 1, 2014, but before the first full reporting period” is acceptable. This means that any training taken after January 1, 2014 will count toward the requirements of the law, and anyone who has taken Wellspring’s Working with Suicidal Clients workshop, will receive full credit for the training.

View Letter from the Secretary of Health

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at

We thank our Workshop co-sponsors for their support of this important training:  
American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social WorkNorthwest Alliance for Psychoanalytic StudySeattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and Washington State Society for Clinical Social Work.