Introduction: When, in the judgment of a mental health professional, patient suicide risk and/or patient violence risk are considered imminent, they have been referred to as behavioral emergencies. Past surveys have suggested that education and training with these emergency situations have been inadequate. The present study was undertaken to obtain more current information on the training that psychologists receive in these areas of practice.
Method: All directors of APA-accredited graduate psychology programs and all directors of APA-accredited predoctoral psychology internship programs were asked to complete an online survey inquiring about such training provided in their programs.
Results: Results indicated that both sets of directors rated such doctoral training in suicide risk assessment and management as very important. Internship directors, however, were significantly more likely than graduate program directors to state that psychologists should be required to complete continuing education courses on other-directed violence risk. Serious gaps in training were identified; that is, only 59.2% of psychology graduate directors reported that their program offered training in safety planning for suicide risk and only 25.4% reported that their program offered training in safety planning for violence risk.
Conclusion: Given that serious injury and even death can occur from patient suicidal behavior and/or a patient violent behavior, the implications of these findings are discussed.