Working with suicidal patients: A reflective workshop
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Working with Suicidal Patients: A Reflective Workshop

Working with Suicidal Patients:

A Reflective Workshop for Professionals

This workshop was approved by the British Psychological Society (BPS) Learning Centre and delivered on two separate occasions at BPS’s London Office for the purpose of Continuous Professional-Development (CPD).


The workshop aims to add knowledge and facilitate reflection whilst presenting information on the impact (both personal and professional) and implications of working with suicidal patients*, in particularly those patients who ultimately kill themselves.


Previous research on the impact of patients’ suicidality on professionals outlined the vital role of training institutions in preparing trainees to deal with such events in their practice (Brown 1987). However, recent research provides evidence that many qualified professionals still feel largely unprepared to deal with the consequences of clients’ suicidality. In particular, how senior practitioners also feel they lack a space for open and safe reflection. Such lack of preparation and professionally containing spaces may lead to proliferation of stigma associated with unresolved patient suicidality and completed suicides. Thus, professionals may end up facing one of the most challenging events in their professional lives feeling alone and unprepared.


Thus, this workshop’s main aim is to facilitate reflection in light of peers’ reports regarding their response to patient suicidality, and wider research findings. It attempts to put professionals’ experiences in context by exploring their subjective experiences and emotional responses, as well as the perceived stigma and pitfalls often associated with this type of work.


Consequently, the overall benefits of the workshop are manifold and include:

1. Broadening professionals’ awareness of the personal and professional impact of patient suicidality on professionals;

2. To facilitate reflection and also hopefully reduce the stigma often associated with such experiences;

3. Reviewing ways of coping within and outside the professional setting; and lastly

4. It touches on some legal challenges following a patient’s death.


*For the purpose of this workshop, “suicidality” is conceptualized as a constellation of self-destructive manifestations, which according to Hales (2008) may be understood as lying on a continuum from less severe DSH to completed suicides.


Target Audience

The workshop is suitable to all mental health professionals who have worked or may come to work with suicidal patients, in particular patients who may attempt a serious suicidal act and ultimately kill themselves. The workshop was designed with both advanced practitioners and trainees in mind. This is due to our research findings that senior professionals felt they lacked a space where safe exploration and reflection could be facilitated. However, according to past research, trainees and recently qualified professionals are often not adequately prepared by training institutions to cope with the consequences of this type of work.



9.30 starts

16.30 ends

There is scheduled lunch break in between



Gislene Wolfart (DPsych, CPsychol, AFBPsS)


Contact us

Please contact us if you would like to be informed when the next workshop will be, or if you would like to request for this workshop to be delivered at your Training Organisation, Health Trust or Service.


Participant Feedback

This workshop was delivered on 2 separate occasions at the BPS London Offices. In 2013, the great majority of delegates felt it was (i) relevant to their practice, (ii) met their learning objectives; and (iii) rated delivery as “Excellent”.


“I found the workshop incredibly helpful in guiding my thinking and aiding reflection about key issues relevant to my day-to-day clinical practice. The facilitator created a safe and contained space for difficult issues to be openly discussed. The presentation, practical exercises and materials provided were of excellent quality.”


“Thank you to the Facilitator and yourselves for putting on such an important, but often taboo subject, that can leave Psychologists (at all levels) feeling vulnerable, isolated and unsupported at a time of their great need for reassurance and acceptance from their colleagues.  It has highlighted a need for a clear process to be put in place, within many workplaces, so that should this happen to someone they know where they can turn to to get help and support at this important time.”


“An excellent and highly professional presenter who brought together theory, practice and sufficient time for personal reflection in a safe and though-provoking manner. It helped to know there are more of us out there facing the same stressors and dilemmas.”


“Very helpful to have discussions about findings, and other people’s experiences”


“Excellent, interesting topic. Good variety. I … found the whole experience very enjoyable. The research base was particularly useful, as was the personal reflections of all attendees.”


“Very well covered with good detail and examples. Thought provoking. It has made me consciously consider the impact upon staff whom I work with and of working in mental health generally.”


“Thank you so much for the day, I really enjoyed it!”

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