Full-Day Set Number 7

Preventing Suicide in the Military: Innovations in Assessment and the Quest for Resiliency and Hope

Preventing Suicide in the Military: Innovations in Assessment and the Quest for Resiliency and Hope

Presenter: Shawn Christopher Shea, M.D.

To download this document as a pdf click here

For workshop inquiries contact us at: shea@suicideassessment.com


This full-day training provides front-line clinicians and suicide prevention coordinators with the state of the art skills necessary to tackle some of the most difficult situations facing experienced clinicians regarding suicide assessment, treatment planning, documentation of risk, and building resiliency. Having presented and/or consulted to facilities across the nation from the DoD and Tripler Army Base to a variety of VISNs and Vet Centers, Dr. Shea describes innovations that can be of value to our forces engaged or returning from OIF and OEF as well as our veterans and their families.

In the first workshop, Dr. Shea brings a fresh perspective – matrix treatment planning – to our efforts to transform the types of stalled treatment plans that may lead to suicide, as well as preventing suicide through the prospective building of a tougher resiliency in our soldiers and vets. In the next workshop, a sophisticated look is given to the concept of risk and protective factors, focusing on their immediate application to the clinical formulation of suicide potential (including detailed looks at the SAD PERSONS SCALE, the NO HOPE Scale and the new warning signs mnemonic from the American Association of Suicidology). Dr. Shea then proceeds to dissect the fine art of documenting a suicide assessment, providing tips for writing a sound document that is both a useful clinical tool and a written record that can keep the clinician “out of court.”

After lunch the focus shifts to direct methods of uncovering dangerous secrets. The first afternoon workshop is devoted to understanding five practical validity techniques: the behavioral incident, shame attenuation, gentle assumption, symptom amplification and denial of the specific – the cornerstones for effectively eliciting suicidal ideation and the types of problems that may lead to it for soldiers and vets from substance abuse to marital difficulties and domestic violence as well as the trauma of war. The final workshop of the day is devoted to a demonstration of how these validity techniques can be woven into a specific strategy for eliciting suicidal ideation the Chronological Assessment of Suicide Events (the CASE Approach). The highly acclaimed CASE Approach has been described by David Jobes Ph.D., a former President of the American Association of Suicidology, as follows:

“The CASE Approach moves the clinician almost imperceptibly into the secret internal workings of the mind and soul of the patient tormented by suicidal ideation. I believe that the CASE Approach is a remarkable conceptual and clinical contribution to the field of suicidology. It should be taught to any front-line clinician. It has the power to meaningfully save lives.”

All interviewing techniques will be clearly demonstrated through the use of videotape examples from actual client interviews.



  1. Be able to effectively apply the principles of matrix treatment planning and understand their relationship to the quest for a more resilient form of happiness and suicide prevention (including healing matrix effects, damaging matrix effects, and the Red Herring Principle).
  2. Be able to use the current state of the art regarding risk and protective factors to better formulate suicide risk, including the ability to utilize interviewing techniques for uncovering psychotic risk factors such as command hallucinations, feelings of alien control, and hyper-religious ideation.
  3. Be able to create better risk documentation by understanding how attorneys use the written document to attack or defend in malpractice suits and the “Seven Protective Principles for Suicide Documentation.”
  4. Recognize and be able to utilize the following five interviewing techniques for increasing validity: the behavioral incident, shame attenuation, gentle assumption, symptom amplification, and denial of the specific.
  5. Be able to utilize flexible strategies for weaving the above five validity techniques into effective methods of uncovering sensitive material related to suicide such as antisocial behavior, substance abuse, and violent ideation, while maintaining a powerful engagement.
  6. Be able to apply the CASE Approach to uncover hidden suicidal ideation, actions, and intent.

Sample Schedule


8:30 – 9:00 a.m

Workshop I

The Art of Matrix Treatment Planning and the Quest for Resiliency: Suicide Prevention in a New Light

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.


10:30 – 10:45 a.m.

Workshop II

Risk and Protective Factors in Suicide Assessment
and the Art of Sound Documentation

10:45 – 12:15 a.m.


12:15 – 1:15 p.m.

Workshop III

Innovative Interviewing Techniques for Uncovering Suicidal Ideation and Other Sensitive Material

1:15 – 2:45 p.m.


2:45 – 3:00 p.m.

Workshop IV

The Delicate Art of Eliciting Suicidal Ideation – The Chronological Assessment of Suicide Events

3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Shawn Christopher Shea, M.D. is an internationally acclaimed workshop leader and educational innovator in the fields of suicide prevention, resiliency, clinical interviewing, and improving medication adherence having given over 850 presentations worldwide. He has been a recipient of an Outstanding Course Award presented by the American Psychiatric Association for his presentations at their annual meetings. He is a frequent presenter at the annual meeting of the American Association of Suicidology and at the Cape Cod Symposium where his course has received the highest evaluation of the thirty courses featured over the summer. He has also presented at the Santa Fe Symposium, the Door County Summer Institute, and the Muskoka Summer Seminar Series from McMaster University.

Dr. Shea is the author of six books and numerous articles including one of the classic texts in the field of suicide prevention, The Practical Art of Suicide Assessment. His works have been translated into a variety of languages as diverse as French, Greek, Japanese, and Chinese. Both editions of his book, Psychiatric Interviewing: the Art of Understanding, have been chosen by the Medical Library Association for the Brandon/Hill List as one of the 16 most important books in the field of psychiatry.

His book on creating resiliency in difficult times – Happiness Is. – was chosen as a Brodart Library Gem, a Bowker’s title to Watch, and as the Philosophy Book of the Month by the Radical Academy. Former Surgeon General C, Everett Koop, M.D., Sc.D. provided the foreword to Dr. Shea’s latest book, Improving Medication Adherence: How to Talk with Patients About Their Medications which, in 2009, was chosen for Doody’s Core Titles list of the most important books in the fields of medicine and nursing.

Dr. Shea is the Director of the Training Institute for Suicide Assessment and Clinical Interviewing (www.suicideassessment.com), a training and consultation service providing workshops, consultations, and quality assurance design in mental health assessments. Dr. Shea is also in private practice.

To see Dr. Shea’s CV click here

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