The aim of this Masterclass is to explore the context of working therapeutically with clients at risk of suicide, with specific consideration of health, education, schools and independent practice settings, taking into account the importance of personal views and perspectives of suicide and how they can be present in the therapeutic process. Additionally, there will be a consideration of the literature on unacknowledged responses in working with suicide potential and how they can inhibit an exploration of risk. It will also address specific ways in which therapists might actively explore suicide potential with their clients, using therapeutic discourses to inform an active engagement with risk.
Session One: The Context of Working with Risk (2 hours)
The purpose of this session is to consider the context of working with clients at risk of suicide. Specifically, the session will consider the following key areas:
- What is meant by ‘risk’ in the context of therapeutic and practice work
- The importance of the working context with suicide risk, with specific consideration of health, education, schools and independent practice settings
- Policy, procedure or guidelines: what each has to offer to inform practice
- Risk and protective factors in working with suicide potential – help or hindrance
Session Two: Personal and Professional Impact of Working with Suicide Risk (2 hours)
The purpose of this session is to consider the importance of personal views and perspectives of suicide and how they can be present – knowingly or unknowingly – in the therapeutic and practice process. Additionally, there will be a consideration of the literature on unacknowledged responses in working with suicide potential and how they can inhibit an exploration of risk. Specifically, the session will consider the following key areas:
- The importance of practitioners understanding their own views and beliefs about suicide in relation to the therapeutic and helping process
- An exploration of the literature surrounding the unacknowledged impact on the therapist
- Ways in which personal responses might be present in the therapeutic process
- How practitioners might ‘ground’ themselves sufficiently to actively engage with a therapeutic exploration of risk
Session Three: Exploring Suicide Potential (2 hours)
The purpose of this session is to consider specific ways in which practitioners might actively explore suicide potential with their clients. Drawing on risk and protective factors generally, but using therapeutic discourses to inform an active engagement with risk. Specifically, the session will consider the following key areas:
- Considering ways of asking the ‘suicide question’ such that both the practitioner and client can use that information to inform keep-safe behaviours
- A consideration of ‘keep safe’ plans (as opposed to ‘no-harm contracts’) and their relevance to working with risk
- How the development of a ‘keep safe’ plan with clients can be embedded into the therapeutic process
- Reviewing risk with clients and affective communication with others, where necessary and appropriate.
Dr Andrew Reeves, Associate Professor in the Counselling Professions and Mental Health
Andrew has been a counsellor/psychotherapist for over 30 years and has worked across a full range of working contexts, including health, social care, education (secondary and tertiary) and third sector, as well as an independent practitioner. He has additionally supervised practitioners for their work with clients across a full range of settings.
He is an Associate Professor in the Counselling Professions and Mental Health at the University, as well as Director, Colleges and Universities for the Charlie Waller Trust.
Prior to becoming a counsellor/psychotherapist Andrew qualified as a social worker and worked in a Social Services setting. Initially with vulnerable adults, he then specialised in working with children and families and with young people, both therapeutically and also as a child protection social worker. He remains a Registered Social Worker with Social Work England. He was Lead Author on the development of the curriculum and content for the MindEd and Counselling MindEd e-learning resource. He was Approved under the Mental Health Act (1983) to undertake statutory Mental Health Act assessments and working for several years in an out-of-hours emergency mental health crisis team.
His specialist area of practice is with young people, men, with people who present with suicide risk and those who self-injure and self-harm. He has written extensively on these subjects, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Counselling and Psychotherapy Research journal for six years.
He is Immediate past-Chair of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), which he headed up for 5 years. As such, Andrew is leading a number of national and international initiatives in the development of counselling and psychotherapy, including in the developments of pluralistic therapy and single-session therapy.
He is author of the highly successful Introduction to Counselling and Psychotherapy: From Theory to Practice, 2 Edition with Sage, and the forthcoming text, Standards and Ethics for Counselling in Action, 5th Edition with Professor Tim Bond (Sage) – amongst other books, chapters and professional articles.Research:
- Therapeutic interventions with suicidal clients
- Practitioner experiences of working with risk in therapy
- Working with self-injury and self-harm
- Supervisory tasks and supervisor anxieties when supervising risk in therapy
- Clinical interventions with students
- Counselling and psychotherapy with children and young people
- Men’s mental health and their access to and use of therapy
As an Associate Professor at the University of Chester, he teaches on the DProf (professional doctorate) in Counselling and Psychotherapy / Psychological Trauma and supervise on the PhD programme. Over the years Andrew has delivered highly-regarded workshops to many thousands of therapists, psychologists, mental health workers and teachers and has a national and international reputation for delivering engaging, inclusive, insightful and humorous training workshops.