Preventing Client Suicide

Preventing Client Suicide

An interview with Norine Vander Hooven, LCSW about assessing suicide appropriately for our clients from the beginning of treatment. Curt and Katie talk with Norine about what therapists often miss with their clients and how to treat suicidality when it comes up.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. We are human beings who can now present ourselves as whole people, with authenticity, purpose, and connection. Especially now, when therapists must develop a personal brand to market their practices.

To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

Interview with Norine Vander Hooven, LCSW

Norine Vander Hooven is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been in practice for 32 years. She specializes in trauma, anxiety, suicide prevention, and life transitions. Norine is also certified in EMDR therapy, and is in training to be an EMDR therapy consultant. She uses this to work with people with PTSD, anxiety, and traumatic life events. Norine provides clinical consultation for therapists, as well as she works with young adults and adults in her private practice. Learn more at

In this episode we talk about:

  • Norine’s story and how she entered into suicidology
  • How to appropriately assess for Suicide Risk from the beginning of treatment
  • What needs to be asked in your intake
  • The fear that therapists have in deeply looking at suicide with clients
  • The importance of exploring traumas from birth for clients
  • Why “die by suicide” is so much better than “committed” suicide
  • What #notsix means (how many people are actually affected by a single suicide)
  • Risk factors for suicidality: lack of belonging, feeling of being a burden, capability
  • What therapists often miss when assessing for suicide
  • The need to understand the client’s perception of the level of crisis around suicidality
  • Old school assessments and safety contracts that are not useful, and what to use instead
  • Who is most at risk for suicidal thoughts
  • What to consider in assessing for suicidality with clients who don’t appear to be at risk
  • Different types of suicidal thoughts
  • Searching for hope and forward thinking in life
  • Types of treatment modalities to address all types of suicidal thoughts
  • How to successfully assess, safety plan, and address suicide head on

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Relevant Resources:

We’ve pulled together any resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below are 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!

Contact Norine on her website at:

Resources on Norine’s website:

American Association of Suicidology – Extensive resources and they also have a group for Clinicians who have lost clients or loved ones to suicide

Language Matters by Jonathan Singer

#notsix – research by Dr. Julie Cerel

Thomas Joiner, PhD: Interpersonal Factors for Suicidology (this article no longer seems to exists, so the link leads to a search for similar articles)

NY Times Article – Stacey Freedenthal

Helping the Suicidal Person – Stacey Freedenthal

Dese’rae Stage’s Website Live Through This – stories of suicide attempt survivors

Dr. Bart Andrews Story on Live Through This

Relevant Episodes:

When Clients Die

Connect with us:

The Modern Therapists Group on Facebook

Get Notified About Therapy Reimagined 2020 (and TR2019 Virtual Conference)

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, the CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, 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:

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 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:


Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

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