I was reading the blog of Dr Michael Yapko today, he is a clinical psychologist as well as being a learning Ericksonian Hypnotherapist. Yapko’s books are certainly required reading on the courses I teach. He touched on a subject which I believe is important for both experienced and new therapists alike. It is about suicide and the predictability of same.
For most practitioners the fear that a client will commit suicide is a very real concern and perhaps is one of the more unique aspects of the work of a psychotherapist. Of course in our real lives we may be touched by suicide, however, as a psychotherapist there is perhaps a greater sense of responsibility for our clients in ensuring their safety.
However, research has shown that the ability of sucide prediction has not improved in the past fifty years. This figure was shocking to me. Despite advances in the treatment of mental health conditions over the past half century we are no better at prediction than we were in the late 1960’s.
Saying this does not mean that we as practitioners should not be alert to the risk of suicide, we must be. However, saying that we as a profession need to get much better at this in order to help keep our clients safe.