This study examines how clinicians’ emotional responses to suicidal patients and their emotion regulation abilities are related to their treatment recommendations for these patients and to patients’ concurrent suicidal ideation and at one-month follow-up.
Adult psychiatric outpatients (N = 361) and the mental health professionals evaluating them for treatment (N = 43) completed self-report assessments following their first clinical meeting. Clinician emotion regulation traits, emotional responses to individual patients, and the recommended intensity of treatment were assessed. Patients were assessed for suicidal ideation immediately following the initial meeting and at a one-month follow-up. Moderation and mediation analyses were performed to examine the relationships between study variables.
Patient suicidal ideation at the initial clinical encounter was associated with increased negative emotions in clinicians with lower emotion regulation. Further, recommended treatment intensity was associated with clinicians’ negative emotional responses but not with patient suicidal ideation among clinicians with lower emotion regulation.
Treatment intensification is related to clinicians’ emotion regulation abilities. Clinicians’ attention to their emotional responses may facilitate improved treatment process and ultimately may improve suicidal outcomes.