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Modern Therapist Reflections on Preventing a School Shooting

Curt and Katie chat about an incident within Curt’s practice. We look at how therapists are called upon to make challenging risk assessments. We look at threat to other assessments including threats of serious violence. We explore the therapist’s experience during these intense risk assessments and the tasks that follow. We identify action steps for trauma informed support.


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

In this podcast episode we explore a therapist’s role in preventing a school shooting

Recently, Curt was called upon to make an intense risk assessment that required administrative steps to prevent threats of violence. We thought it would be helpful for other modern therapists to understand the experience from a therapist’s perspective, so we can support each other and get the support we need.

What is involved for therapists to complete risk assessments for threats to self and others, including threats of serious violence?

“Everybody did their job…the kid talked, the kid allowed the parents to come in and out of the session, and the parents did their jobs in responding and in a really good way for the particular moments that things were in. In fact, this is part of what ended up being so frustrating for me is that everybody did their job. We were able to calm things down. And in California, this is still a Tarasoff situation…there’s still a responsibility to warn and protect in this situation.”  –  Curt Widhalm, LMFT

  • Both harm to self and others assessments are indicated
  • How to determine whether a homicide assessment is appropriate
  • Calming the situation, decreasing dysregulation
  • Understanding plans and current thought processes
  • Going through the protocol related to duty to warn, including calling law enforcement and the school

What is the experience of a therapist during and after an intense risk assessment?

“A lot of people did a really good job of asking how I was doing. And I was fine. But it wasn’t the question that I needed to be asked.…There was just kind of this looming feeling that I needed to be asked, ‘What are you going through?’ And I think that that’s a very substantially different question than just ‘How are you doing?’”  –  Curt Widhalm, LMFT

  • Deep mindfulness
  • Goal driven conversation (toward safety planning)
  • Frustration and overwhelm related to required reporting to law enforcement
  • Having to switch gears for the next session
  • Potential rupture and loss of client
  • Trauma response, anger, frustration

What kind of support is important for therapists when they have responded to threats of a school shooting?

“Asking the other question; asking, What are you going through? What was that like for you? How are you taking that in? Using therapist skills would have been helpful…because…I just didn’t see any of that. That’s the biggest issue…as therapists [after something intense] we can put on our blank slate, even though we don’t like it, we can put it on pretty easily, we can function and compartmentalize emotional content, because we do it all the time. And so I didn’t ask the question, because I didn’t realize I needed to. But thinking about it now, of course I needed to.” –  Katie Vernoy, LMFT

  • The question of “how are you doing” is less effective in these crisis situations than “what are you going through?”
  • Using a trauma informed approach to provide adequate, planned support
  • The tendency of therapists to compartmentalize that requires more attention from colleagues than others facing these types of crisis situations
  • Plans and best practices for managing these types of incidents

Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Post Incident Intervention for Team Members

from Curt’s Group Practice

  • Facilitate mutual support with a supervisor or manager as soon as reasonably possible in either a one-to-one or group setting depending on the individual(s) affected preference
  • Provide an opportunity to identify additional clinical support
  • Increase levels of social cohesion with other members of workplace
  • Identifying potential helpful and harmful coping responses
  • Arrange a follow-up individual meeting
  • Provide option for sharing experience in team consultations


Our Linktree:


Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

Risk Factors for Suicide: What therapists should know when treating teens and adults

What Therapists Should Actually Do for Suicidal Clients: Assessment, safety planning, and least intrusive intervention

Therapist Self-Care episodes

Managing Vicarious Trauma: An Interview with Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Are You Even Trauma-Informed? An Interview with Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Choosing Yourself as a Therapist: Strategies to address burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma – An Interview with Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Liability Hot Potato: Defensive Therapy practices that give clients inadequate care

Responding to Mass Shootings

Mass Shooters and Mental Illness

Who we are:

Picture of Curt Widhalm, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcast; a nice young man with a glorious beard.Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Picture of Katie Vernoy, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcastKatie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


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Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):

Transcripts do not include advertisements just a reference to the advertising break (as such timing does not account for advertisements).

… 0:00
(Opening Advertisement)

Announcer 0:00
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe, and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm, and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm 0:15
Before we get into this episode, today, we wanted to share that content of this episode discusses working with clients who talk about school shootings. The case that is being discussed in this episode has given their permission to share this story with our audience.

Curt Widhalm 0:30
Welcome back modern therapists. This is the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm, with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast for therapists about the things that we go through in our profession, the reactions that we have to clients, and the things that show up in our practices. And this one, may be a little bit of a vulnerable episode for me, because I had an incident that came up in my practice that didn’t make the news. And generally, that would be considered a good thing. But this is really something where trying to help anybody else who might end up in these situations to be able to hopefully not have the same experience that I did. So we’re recording this about, I don’t know, five or six weeks after an incident that had come up with a client of mine, we’re going to keep a lot of the details very, very big and distant and appropriate for being able to share here and make this a little bit more about my experience through this. But we’ll just say, what happens when you stop a school shooting?

Katie Vernoy 1:46
When I hear you ask that question, “How do you stop a school shooting?” I think of how hard it is to even imagine being in that space. Even though I’ve worked in a lot of high acuity, a lot of teens, teens that were on probation, teens that were in very serious situations. And I know you can’t share much. But I think my first question is, how did you get to that assessment? Let’s just say you’ve got to you’ve got a teen in crisis.

Curt Widhalm 2:15

Katie Vernoy 2:15
And how did you? Well, first off, was this a team that you expected it of? Like? Was this somebody that you were constantly having to do harm to other assessments for?

Curt Widhalm 2:28
This was not somebody that I was expecting in this space.

Katie Vernoy 2:33

Curt Widhalm 2:34
And it was surprising to me that it started off with a unplanned session. Parent in the situation said, “Hey, can we get in today?”

Katie Vernoy 2:50

Curt Widhalm 2:51
There’s been something that happened and we want to get in. So it was originally something where I went through, based on the reaction, I’m doing a suicide assessment first. And…

Katie Vernoy 3:08

Curt Widhalm 3:08
…a lot of the markers were there. And doing just good clinical work and talking through things the severity, as far as immediate crisis response for suicide diminished quite a bit just during our discussion.

Katie Vernoy 3:25
And just so folks know, we do have a whole couple of episodes on really good suicide assessment, we’ll put a link to those in the show notes. We don’t need to go into suicide assessment…

Curt Widhalm 3:35

Katie Vernoy 3:35
…more than you want to right now.

Curt Widhalm 3:37
Right. Despite doing really good clinical work at that moment, to take out the immediacy of the suicide assessment, I had asked if there was lingering feelings and wanting to act out against other people, and just as kind of a bridge towards is there a ‘threat to others’ piece here, and that became affirmative, very quickly.

Katie Vernoy 4:02
Okay, so you had a suspicion? I’m not, you’re not going to tell us why. But you had a suspicion that there might be a desire to act out towards others. There was there was a relational piece to what would the crisis was and so you asked, is there some danger to others? You did that assessment, because that was present. How often do you think a secondary threat to others assessment is needed in, you know, once you’ve completed the suicide assessment?

Curt Widhalm 4:32
I don’t know. Out of all of the assessments, the risk assessments I’ve done throughout my career, there was just a piece of this that seemed like that one was necessary. Now, you know, from the legal end of things; you should at least ask. Like, I can say that rationally here outside of the immediacy of the situation everyone should ask all the time. At worst, people are gonna say no. I mean, or maybe at best, at best people are gonna say no.

Katie Vernoy 5:04
Nothing wrong with not wanting to hurt other people.

Curt Widhalm 5:07
But it’s something where it’s already just kind of a high alert response sort of situation, and particularly when it’s not an expected thing. Those of you out there who work on crisis management, you know, PET teams, those kinds of response sorts of things. My hat is completely off to you, and knowing going into those situations that, all right, that’s probably standard protocol for you. But I have a practice that’s not that. I have a practice of, well to do high achieving sorts of people that I’m not out responding in crisis situations a lot.

Katie Vernoy 5:46
So strong suicide assessment. It sounds like there was a bridge to harm to others assessment that you’re saying is probably good practice. But the way you’re talking about it, it was almost like there was some spidey sense tingling around: something, something else is here. And I need to assess it. Probably a good practice, just make sure you’re asking the question, but I mean, you’re not saying it. But I’ll say it. I don’t know that I always go there after I get through a suicide assessment. And it feels like okay, the immediacy is not there. And so I think this is a really good reminder for all of us that sometimes, especially in relational situations, but we’re relational beings, if someone is, you know, needing an in depth suicide assessment based on their level of suicidality. Homicidality or harm to others is a natural leap, and we should be assessing for it.

Curt Widhalm 6:42
Right. Yeah.

Katie Vernoy 6:43
Okay. Okay. So so back to your story. So the harm to others assessment became affirmative. Sounds like that would have been shocking to you. Based on on just the little bit that you’ve said about this is not someone that this was the space that that you expected them to be in. How did you feel? How did you kind of what were you processing in that moment when there was an affirmative assessment of harm to others?

Curt Widhalm 7:08
It was, in the moment, just keep the client talking. Just like I went with, there seems to be productive space here, there seems to be productive space to validate feelings. And the more that is able to be expressed, the more that we can get through the immediacy of the feelings, to then be able to kind of make a rational, alright, we’re through things, we’re not in big emotional mind anymore, we can kind of let the pieces fall where they may, Once we’re through the the big feelings driving these desires. So initially, my thoughts were, okay, this is happening, I’m going to just continue to facilitate feelings here, I’m going to help this kid just talk.

Katie Vernoy 8:03
So was the goal processing to try to decrease the dysregulation? Was it trying to get to a certain point or just being in space?

Curt Widhalm 8:14
It was just to be able to get through the dysregulation for the client to feel like there’s somebody that understood that this wasn’t just kind of, you know, fighting an emotional response with somebody else, but just being able to have somebody in their space that felt like somebody on their side.

Katie Vernoy 8:37
When I have been in crisis situations, my internal feeling becomes excruciatingly mindful, very present to the present moment. There is nothing else that exists in the world and I’m just being in space and I’m, I have a goal. The goal is to be able to finish the session eventually, or the conversation eventually and have everybody safe. But, but it becomes very, very still. That’s kind of what I’m picturing. Is, am I, am I close?

Curt Widhalm 9:05
Yeah. You’re describing it very well. Yeah.

Katie Vernoy 9:08
Okay. Okay. So, so when you’re, when you’re talking, you’re very present. There’s a harm to others flavor to it. There’s a concern. When did you become concerned that this could be a school shooting? Like how quickly in that assessment was where you’re like, oh, my gosh, this could be a school shooting.

Curt Widhalm 9:31
It was pretty quick once the once the client started talking, and I just kind of went with, okay, what, what are you thinking next? How do you see that working out? What do you think, you know, what would you do with this? And it just unfolded. There was not a lot of needing to pry things out. And I think it was just because I was able to establish a lot of trust in in the process up to that point that was, okay, here’s, here’s what I’m going to do just kind of naturally came out at that moment.

… 10:10
(Advertisement Break)

Katie Vernoy 10:12
So I don’t know the story, so I can’t share information. So I’m going to kind of go based on my guesses on what happened as far as all of this. Is that you would have to do the same thing you would do any any other harm to others assessment means, access, you know, all of those different things. And my assumption, since you have framed it as stopping a school shooting is that there was an access to a gun of some sort or or a number of guns, you don’t have to affirm any of this. And and and so it became about some practicalities of how do you actually create safety here in a way that makes sense. And we have an episode on defensive practices that speaks about what you may want to not do that we’ll also link into the show notes. But, but I think to me, I, I get to this place of, I can see folks immediately jumping to hospitalization, I can see folks immediately jumping to, you know, I’ve even heard people like, give me the weapon. Like there’s different things where people go really astray here. And so whether you want to talk specifically or broadly about getting to the practicalities of it, that would be I think helpful for our audience, especially folks that have not been, that are not as versed in risk and crisis as we are. And certainly we aren’t even as good as all those risk assessment folks that you’re talking about that do this on a daily basis. So you’re in space, things are unfolding, how do you get to the practicalities of safety?

Curt Widhalm 11:47
So the access to a weapon was not 0%.

Katie Vernoy 11:54

Curt Widhalm 11:55
I’ll just leave it at that.

Katie Vernoy 11:57

Curt Widhalm 11:58
So it wasn’t something that was immediately available, but it was not 0%. And just kind of getting through that space, one of the fortunate things of this particular situation is that I wrote down my feelings a couple of days after this happened, just kind of process where I was at, and kind of going through some of these notes. It’s just like, everybody did their job, like the kid talked, the kid allowed the parents to come in and out of the session, and the parents did their jobs in responding and in a really good way for for the particular moments that things were in. And so it wasn’t, you know, just like, Alright, who who do we pass this off to in the immediacy to like intervene. In fact, this is part of what ended up being so frustrating for me is that everybody did their job. We were able to calm things down. And in California, this is still a Tarasoff situation, this is still a reasonably identifiable victim or victims. And even though things in the moment are calmed down, there’s still a responsibility to warn and protect in this situation. And so this is the part that just is so I don’t know, it’s it’s such a an isolated, unique feeling that; all right, I’ve calmed everything down. Now I need to break the news to you that even though the immediacy of the threat is gone, we still have to get law enforcement involved.

Katie Vernoy 13:41
Yeah, and just for folks, not in California, Tarasoff is our duty to warn.

Curt Widhalm 13:46
And so then there’s just kind of the very understandable, like anger response from people in the room, that’s just like…

Katie Vernoy 13:55

Curt Widhalm 13:56
We, we got through this, we, we did what we were supposed to do. And now we need to go and talk with law enforcement about this. And, and just dealing with a lot of, you know, anger, being blamed in that situation, that there’s that immediate trust that was just established that, you know, just kind of, you know, ended up going away. And I feel very fortunate that everybody continued to do their job after that. Like the family cooperated, the LAPD and all of their wonderful responses to things in the past. My understanding is that it was the right kind of touch from them in that situation and being able to talk with the family afterwards. So there’s just a lot that even though all of the right steps were done, it just was like, Okay, we’re we’re doing our jobs here. We’re taking this, you know, what we don’t need to make this bigger than what it is. And now we’ve still got this responsibility here.

Katie Vernoy 15:08
The responsibility with the duty to warn feels familiar to me in some of the interactions I’ve had around a need to do child abuse reporting with adult clients so that they, they come clean, they’re start talking about stuff, they kind of commit to do better. But there has been child abuse that I have to report and it just is like, Okay, we’ve come to this, this, this trust, we’ve come to this place of connection. And it’s a deeper connection, because things are out in the open. There’s been really deep conversations, it’s been a crisis conversation, and then the therapist hat shifts to almost like the administrator hat of like, and these are my responsibilities. And now, I can’t consider you, almost, in what I have to do next, what my responsibilities are next. And there’s huge repairs, it potentially need to happen. But it’s such it feels like such a breach, I think for the clients. And so to me, I just I’m thinking in this moment, session out of nowhere, deep connection, huge focus, big risk. There’s this reaction of, Oh, I’ve calmed it down. The relationship is there. And now I’ve got to be an asshole. And how isolating that is because you can’t even really talk to anybody about it.

Curt Widhalm 16:32

Katie Vernoy 16:34
It’s hard.

Curt Widhalm 16:36
Just going through my notes on this, my next session after that was pretending that the floor was lava.

Katie Vernoy 16:49
With the client you had the floor was like the next client that came in…

Curt Widhalm 16:52

Katie Vernoy 16:52
You played the floor is lava?

Curt Widhalm 16:57
I, I would love to say, you know, just like a 40 year old, just like business executive. No, it was just like having to switch gears to like, here’s, here’s the next space. Just going through some of my notes on this like, Alright, so, next session, I’m in the play therapy room and pretend that the floor is lava. Pretend that the floor isn’t lava. I’m doing my job. I consult. I’m told that I did the right thing. The news doesn’t report on what didn’t happen. Family messages me, kid isn’t coming to the next day session. In the two days afterwards, there’s three more school shootings. The news that didn’t happen because of my session would have been not even in the top three school shootings of the week.

Katie Vernoy 17:48

Curt Widhalm 17:51
I’m assured that the kid is getting further treatment by the family. And I shared in consultation. I shared in you know, with people like Katie, people on my team, just hey, this happens. A lot of people did a really good job of asking how I was doing. And I was fine. But it wasn’t the question that I needed to be asked. And that’s really kind of what I want this episode to be is having that response plan for yourself, and, or your team or the environment for when these situations happen. Because if you’re a mental health provider, and you’re listening to this, and you know that a colleague is going through something, we’re very good at trying to get people to talk about how they’re doing. And in kind of that critical, sort of period immediately afterwards, I was fine. There was a plan for me to follow. That’s why duty to warn exists.

Katie Vernoy 19:00

Curt Widhalm 19:01
It didn’t make anything that much harder to go and do my next sessions. But there was just kind of this looming feeling that I needed to be asked, “What are you going through?” And I think that that’s a very substantially different question than just “How are you doing?”

Katie Vernoy 19:23
I think it is, I think it is. I hadn’t really thought about that in that way. I mean, to me, ‘How are you doing’ is I mean, it’s a good question to ask, but it’s also we typically, you know: ‘How are you?’ ‘Fine.’ Like we don’t as a society, honestly answer that question. And I think to me, from the outside, as a colleague, I see you as someone who deals with risk and assessment and all of these things pretty commonly and I think you’re also someone who you can share your emotions. I’ve seen it and you know, I think that that’s not abnormal, but you also are like many therapists, but certainly like probably like me as well, you overperform. And so I didn’t realize, I said, How are you doing? expecting an answer an honest answer, but I didn’t dig deeper because I didn’t see anything of note. And I didn’t realize you were going through it. And I think asking the other question; asking, What are you going through? What was that like for you? How are you taking that in, you know, using therapist skills would have been helpful, because I just, you know, it was one of those things we get into the day to day grind. And I just I didn’t see any of that. And I think that’s the biggest issue isn’t it? Is that we don’t, as therapists, we can put on our blank slate, even though we don’t like it. We can put it on pretty easily, we can function and compartmentalize emotional content, because we do it all the time. And so I didn’t ask the question, because I didn’t realize I needed to. But thinking about it now, of course I needed to.

Curt Widhalm 19:48
And that’s really the, you know, as much as, as much as I put in place, from my understanding of things, a trauma informed workplace, that any of us are prone to these kinds of things. And having something to follow as a team, as a practice, even as an individual that is in place for you, when you go through these things. That makes it to where you acknowledge that trauma can happen. You acknowledge that this is not something that was planned for the day. This is not something that most people deal with in a normal situation, and that there is going to need to be something in place to take that into account before it even happens.

Katie Vernoy 21:04
I wish we didn’t have to take that into account, though. But the fact that that I mean, that just hit me so hard when you said that there was three more school shootings within the next week.

… 21:59
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Curt Widhalm 21:59
Within the next few days.

Katie Vernoy 22:01
Oh, my god, yeah. So unfortunately, this is going to be relevant to more therapists than we want it to be.

Curt Widhalm 22:08
Right. And, and the situation that I was working on didn’t even happen. And so you know, as we deal with just gun violence and stuff as a profession, there’s even outside of the immediacy of the aftermath of these situations, it doesn’t change what ends up happening to those who who do our job. Like, I get a gold star for doing my job that something didn’t happen in, here’s really a big piece of it is the absolute lack of feeling like anything was resolved. In this situation, you know, the client left my office, I got a couple of messages from parents afterwards updating me on placement and that kind of stuff afterwards. And it’s still just like the work that we had been doing in, you know, I worked very personally with a lot of the clients that I have, but the work that ended up happening afterwards, it just feels like it was there. And then it’s unresolved and it’s gone. And so there’s not even processing back with the client that, hey, here’s what happened to us in this situation. There’s no like, Oh, we got through this. And things turned out positively.

Katie Vernoy 23:31
Yeah. I think it would be very, very hard for me to sit with that. How are you sitting with that, with the lack of resolution.

Curt Widhalm 23:41
It was really hard for like, the first week or so. And it’s still hard. Like I said, this is again, date of recording is well over a month after this happened. And airdates is going to be several months after that. So we’re putting this out a little bit distantly from the event just to editorially give ourselves some opportunities with this. But…

Katie Vernoy 24:07

Curt Widhalm 24:08
I mean, it still brings up a lot of feelings for me. Just going back and even looking through my, my personal notes about this situation. Like there’s a lot of still just kind of anger about the situation. Like I know that this lie and this protocol is put in place for protection. And being on the other side of things ends up making it feel like okay. The the system in this case worked. And somebody who, in a very emotional space in their life, had some feelings, made some communications that still ended up drastically altering their life based on who they were talking to and allowing the system to catch them where they were at. And it’s something where, you know, if I, you know, put this in, you know, Alright, I’m gonna go and teach law and ethics students about, you know, duty to warn and duty to protect sort of things. Being removed from those situations, all of that is really, you know, yes, those things should be put in place. When you know the people intimately and you’re the one responsible for it, that is a feeling that as I’m sitting here, it’s just like, I feel so compassionate for where this particular kid was. And theoretically, where they still are, as I’m talking about it ends up just kind of making it so surreal. Like, I can go and talk about, you know, court cases that happened 50 years ago that led to this protocol being in place, and it’s just kind of like, yes, that is what happened, but to have it really in front of you. And especially the first time like I, I hope that nobody gets really good at this feeling. It’s something that just is, oh, I don’t know who else to really connect of like, Oh, you’ve also gotten through this experience?

Katie Vernoy 26:12
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I asked this before we recorded and I think the, the the question I have that I think it’s important to kind of touch base on a little bit is, I’ve made calls on my clients around child abuse, like I mentioned earlier, and it has drastically changed their lives. And it even you know, all the pieces, but the way you’re describing it feels different. And so can you quantify kind of the difference of reporting child abuse on a family versus stopping a school shooting?

Curt Widhalm 26:41
You know, the part that I haven’t talked about is calling the school. You know, the duty to warn.

Katie Vernoy 26:50
To warn the identified…?

Curt Widhalm 26:51
Yeah. Hey, I’m a mandated reporter. This is not what a school is used to hearing maybe about child abuse sorts of things. This isn’t that.

Katie Vernoy 27:02

Curt Widhalm 27:03
That this threat was made. I mean I’m just kind of throwing my hands up here. I know, nobody can see this. But it was just kind of like, there’s what I wrote down to just be like, hey, school, here’s the information that I am telling you. I know, you know that the kid isn’t supposed to be going to school today based on what parents had told me. But just so you know, good luck with how you communicate that to your staff. And I’m resource. Bye.

Katie Vernoy 27:34
Yeah, wow. Yeah. So it’s, that’s a, that’s a hard call to make.

Curt Widhalm 27:40
And just, you know, I’ve supervised people before who’ve had to make Tarasoff calls to like law enforcement. Where they’ve had to, like, teach law enforcement, like, Alright, here’s what your job is in this situation where you’re supposed to intervene, but it’s that call to the intended victim or victims that’s just like, you don’t know, me, I know, this is a shocking phone call. There’s probably feelings that you’re supposed to have. I’m not your therapist. And I also don’t want to leave a lot of loose feelings on this, you know.

Katie Vernoy 28:15

Curt Widhalm 28:16
It was definitely a call that, you know, I did let them know that law enforcement had already been told, that there had been intervention that ended up happening. And, you know, so there was just kind of like, Alright, I’m ruining somebody else’s day, because you start off a school day getting a call, and like, Okay, this is sitting in the background, and now somebody else is just on edge.

Katie Vernoy 28:42

Curt Widhalm 28:44
At the time of recording, I’m still working through what my practice’s protocol is going to be on this because it’s not just me who works on my team, but by the airdate of this episode, there’s going to be something as far as a policy in place for my practice, that is something I’m happy to share. Like, I don’t want anybody else to go through this. And I’m consulting with some people to have what is best practices when it comes to kind of these incidents and being able to have kind of some internal structures to do this. So we’ll be happy to share that in our show notes over at And really, just if you are somebody who’s going through this, Hey, thank you, first of all, for doing your job. But also just really being compassionate to yourself and knowing like, oh, even though I might be fine, there’s just something that I need to talk about in a way that isn’t just business as usual. We’ve all had tough sessions. We’ve all you know, done our best to turn around and go show up for the next client. But there really is something deeper than, hey, I’m having a reaction to this, it’s being able to process that on a deeper level. So take care of yourselves and hopefully have something in place before you need it.

Katie Vernoy 30:16
So my takeaways are, make sure that you’re really versed in risk assessment, what your responsibilities are, and all of that, because you might be able to do the same thing and stop a school shooting. And there may be a whole other whole other episode that we can do on duty to warn, risk to others or harm to others assessments, because I think there’s some of this stuff in here that I wasn’t totally familiar with. So I, we may want to do another episode on that. But additionally, it’s recognizing the impact on yourself and how you can get support and you’re talking about like, you’re gonna put policies in place. I can also see kind of questions to ask or things that could be kind of what what do you need to be processing through? And so, yeah, well, we’ll have that ready before we put this out, and we can put that into our show notes or on our website or whatever, so that you can grab those things and, and have some trauma informed processing for something like this.

Curt Widhalm 31:14
So once again, our show notes over at Follow us on our social media, join our Facebook group, the Modern Therapists Group to continue the conversation about this kind of stuff and about our episodes. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy.

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