Photo ID: A police officer on the job with a picture of Dr. Andy Young to one side and with text overlay

Therapists on the Hostage Negotiation Team and Supporting Police Work: An interview with Dr. Andy Young

Curt and Katie interview Andy Young about hostage (crisis) negotiation and his work with SWAT and crisis negotiation in Lubbock, TX. Content warning: discussion of violence, suicide, and homicide. We talk about what therapists can do within police departments, the interplay between mental health and law enforcement, what that work looks like – especially when involved in crisis negotiation, and skills therapists need when working in these settings. We also look at trauma response and how it is handled when things go south.


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

An Interview with Dr. Andy Young

Photo ID: Dr. Andy Young Dr. Andy Young has been a Professor of Psychology and Counseling at Lubbock Christian University since 1996 and a negotiator and psychological consultant with the Lubbock Police Department’s SWAT team since 2000. He also heads LPD’s Victim Services Unit and is the director of the department’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team. He has been on the negotiating team at the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office since 2008 and is on the team at the Texas Department of Public Safety (Texas Rangers, Special Operations, Region 5). He is the author of, “Fight or Flight: Negotiating Crisis on the Frontline” and “When Every Word Counts: An Insider’s View of Crisis Negotiations.” He was recently added as a third author for the 6th Edition of “Crisis Negotiations: Managing Critical Incidents and Hostage Situations in Law Enforcement and Corrections”.

In this podcast episode, we talk about the role therapists can play in crisis negotiation

There have been many calls to defund the police and create roles for mental health professionals in law enforcement. Dr. Andy Young has already been doing this for 20 years. We talked with him about what that experience looks like.

What can therapists do for law enforcement?

  • Crisis counseling
  • Hostage or Crisis Negotiation support (advising on the negotiation)
  • Psychiatric consultation
  • Predicting violence or suicide, assessing subjects’ mental health

What is the interplay between mental health and law enforcement?

  • Police officers get 40 hours of active listening and mental health
  • Officers started out a bit stand-offish, reported increased mental load due to needing to protect mental health professionals at the scene
  • Finding value in taking mental health out of scope of law enforcement
  • There is a huge importance in developing relationship with the officers
  • Specialized training needed that can support integrating mental health providers into law enforcement teams

What does work look like for therapists in law enforcement and crisis negotiation?

  • Coaching on communication
  • Assessing the situation and the subject
  • Strategizing interventions to de-escalate the situation
  • Provide context and reassurance to law enforcement professionals
  • Hostage Negotiation calls are typically once to twice a month (and not every month).
  • There are successful outcomes 97% of the time

How do these law enforcement and mental health providers handle things when they go south?

“There’s me and other people like me – therapists who understand the law enforcement culture, and even are trusted by the law enforcement culture – where officers will reach out for additional assistance if they believe that they need it [after a traumatic incident]. And of course, me being around just walking through the halls of the police department, inevitably, somebody will say, ‘Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?’ and then it gets personal”. – Dr. Andy Young

  • Crisis support
  • Critical Incident Stress Management
  • Mental health providers who are accepted within the law enforcement culture
  • The political, investigative and personal elements of a lethal force incident
  • Processing and debriefing within the team

What skills should therapists have to work with law enforcement and hostage negotiation?

“People get to make decisions for themselves. And we might be able to coach people on how to land the airplane, but they get to land the airplane themselves. And in my office, that’s one thing. But out on the street where there’s guns or elevated positions that we can jump off of or innocent people that we can kill. It’s the same principle, but at its extreme, and it really tests a person about being able to apply that to yourself and your circumstances.” – Dr. Andy Young

  • Pragmatic and understanding the situation you’re in
  • Practical, knowing your own limits
  • Ability to manage emotional situations calmly
  • Navigating the extreme stakes out in the streets
  • Understanding law enforcement

The benefit of having a mental health provider on a hostage negotiation team

  • Training the team on mental health concerns
  • Improving “batting average” on successful outcomes
  • The importance of a well-trained team

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Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

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Special Series: Psychiatric Crises in the Emergency Room

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:

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

Katie Vernoy 0:05
Hey modern therapists. Before we get started, we have a content warning for you. We are talking about hostage negotiation, which includes discussion of suicidal ideation, homicide, suicide by cop, and other traumas and threats of violence. Please take care of yourselves.

Curt Widhalm 0:22
This episode of The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide is brought to you by Thrizer.

Katie Vernoy 0:26
Thrizer is a modern billing platform for private pay therapists. Their platform automatically gets clients reimbursed by their insurance after every session. Just by billing your clients through Thrizer, you can potentially save them hundreds every month with no extra work on your end. The best part is you don’t have to give up your rates. They charge a standard 3% processing fee.

Curt Widhalm 0:46
Listen at the end of the episode for more information on a special offer from Thrizer.

Announcer 0:52
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 1:07
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 things that we do, the things that come up in our sessions with clients, and we’ve taken a little bit of a turn over into looking at the world of law enforcement and various different aspects recently, and today we are joined by Andy Young. He’s a professor of psychology and counseling. A crisis counselor with the Lubbock police department and a hostage negotiator. And specifically today we’re looking into hostage negotiation, and how that can be a career path and the things that come up with it. Thank you very much for joining us.

Andy Young 1:50
Glad to be here. Thank you very much.

Katie Vernoy 1:53
We are so excited to have you. This is something that I’ve been wanting to learn about for a long time. And you and I had a nice conversation. But before we jump into the conversation, I wanted to ask you what I asked every guest that comes on. Who are you? And what are you putting out into the world?

Andy Young 2:09
Who am I? Well, I’ve been a teacher for 25 years and so that seems to come naturally. I’ve been a therapist for just about as long and so helping people educating people trying to edify people and help them grow. I guess that’s been a common denominator for me for quite a while. I think connected to that is trying to assist people who are hurting people who are in crisis, and trying to equip others to do the same.

Curt Widhalm 2:35
How do you get into a job like this? This doesn’t seem to be one that a lot of graduate schools are like, you know, go into hostage negotiation?

Andy Young 2:46
Well, unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of good advice there. Because that was minding my own business and they came and found me. They’re like, hey, you know what, we could probably use somebody with a mental health background on some of these call outs. How would you like to become a hostage negotiator? And of course, you know, that sounded sexy. So I was all about it. I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Curt Widhalm 3:06
So what does that look like? Do they just throw you at a cruiser and be like, Alright, here’s a walkie talkie and go from here.

Andy Young 3:15
So I got started with my local police departments doing on same crisis counseling at the request of patrol officers. So I got trained on that part, didn’t get thrown into a cruiser with a radio, they actually taught us how to use one and how to find addresses and how to work well with police officers. About six months into that work one of the supervisors for the negotiating team came and said, Hey, how would you like to join us? I was like, Sure, and didn’t get trained in hostage negotiating, just have my mental health background, being a therapist, counselor background, and then one day, they’re like, Hey, we got this going on. You want to help out? I was like, Sure. And I would recommend getting trained before they just get thrown into stuff like that, because holy moly.

Katie Vernoy 4:02
What is the training look like?

Andy Young 4:03
Generally speaking, officers who want to become hostage negotiators go to a 40 hour they call it a basic course. One week long, eight hours a day. Here are the basics of hostage negotiation. And when I finally got in on that class, I learned that the same basics that they taught us in counselor school, active listening, and all that stuff are the same things that they’re teaching these hostage negotiators. And so that, lucky for me, I had the same foundation going into it. It was the law enforcement part that I was like, Oh, wow, this is new.

Curt Widhalm 4:36
So what role do you play in these teams as compared to the law enforcement officers?

Andy Young 4:44
Generally speaking, I’m not going to be the officer, the negotiator on the phone, talking to the subject of whatever our call is. Over time, because I’m the old guy on the team and I’ve been doing it a while I often end up as the secondary negotiator who is coaching the other person who is directly in conversation with our subject. I think more often, especially early on, I was part of the group of officers who were assisting with the conversation and adding what I had from a mental health perspective. And so if the person we were talking to seemed to have a psychiatric condition, of course, that’s going to be in my wheelhouse. If it seemed that the officer was struggling with connecting with this person, and talking to them in a way that was productive, then I would probably throw in my two cents, write it on a note card and hand in some suggestions. So in the support role, and then, because of my background in predicting violence, or predicting suicide, that often comes up as well. And so getting consulted on those aspects.

Curt Widhalm 5:49
I know a lot in the recent news that there’s number of people in our field who have been pretty critical of law enforcement and some of the larger systemic issues that go along with that.

Andy Young 6:01

Curt Widhalm 6:02
And what has been your experience through the years as far as the interplay between the mental health system and law enforcement from kind of a practical standpoint?

Andy Young 6:13
So when I started in 2000, with the City Police Department, and they were introducing mental health professionals into the patrol division of the Department, I would say officers were a bit standoffish, skeptical, and having us go to their scenes actually added some cognitive load to that officer, because now he’s got another party that he needs, or she needs to look over their safety. It just made things a bit more complicated. And for those officers not really to know what value we bring to these situations. And they’re kind of stepping out in faith. It made it a little clunky to start with. But then once they realized, Hey, this, this is where a mental health professional can help reduce my load, can assist with this call, de-escalate people when when appropriate. And as we get to know individual officers, then it got a lot smoother. So skeptical to start with for sure. And then once they realized how we might bring some value to what they’re trying to do, and we’re all on the same side, got a bit smoother, and our call volume went up for sure.

Katie Vernoy 7:17
So when you were talking about how you would be on a call for hostage negotiation

Andy Young 7:22

Katie Vernoy 7:23
The question that popped into my head was kind of if you’re assessing kind of the mental health of the subject, and there’s there’s some things that are coming up, how might that impact what the what the officers on the scene do? Because it seems like there was some some big statements there like how to connect, how to assess for whether suicidality, homicidality supposedly like, you know, like, just kind of the the violence prediction. What weight does that carry? And how does that practically impact what the officers do?

Andy Young 7:52
I think the weight that it carries has everything to do with that person and their relationship with those officers and the trust that’s been developed over time. So when I started out, of course, there was skepticism. But then situations arose. One in particular, the first hostage situation that I was involved with, I had a couple officers come to me and say, how do you how do you think this is going to go? And I’m like, I think we’re gonna be here a long time. And then I think he’s going to kill his hostage. And then he’s going to try and kill a bunch of police officers, and then he’s going to try and kill himself. And 15 hours later, when that actually came to pass, that really got people’s attention. They’re like, Oh, is this guy a wizard? What? What is going on here?

Katie Vernoy 8:33

Andy Young 8:33
And so that early incident in particular, I think, developed some trust and some street credibility. And then once they got to know me better, and just the small dynamics of a working relationship, for better or worse, my two cents on the matter gained more and more weight over time. And my influence in the situation has grown a little bit as well, which I’m highly sensitive to. But yeah, I think starting out, the answer to your question is a lot different than it would be here today, 22 years later.

Curt Widhalm 9:04
What was your background before? You mentioned that you’re, you know, in the suicide, violence, homicide. Can you help our listeners understand a little bit more like they’re not just, you know, calling up random therapists off Psychology Today?

Andy Young 9:19

Curt Widhalm 9:19
What was your background, what was your background before that?

Andy Young 9:23
So I started with a police department when I was a little graduate student, freshly minted, licensed professional counselor in the state of Texas. Then I went on to get my doctorate, so I could keep my day job teaching psychology and counseling at a university. One of the classes that I taught at the university was forensic psychology, which then helped kind of beef up the prediction and violence and suicide risk assessment stuff. And so my training and experience continued to grow over the years. And then of course, I would get specialized training. The FBI came to town taught a two day class in psychological profiling. And so where I started and where I am today, again, just drastically different. And looking back to where I started is kind of like looking at your junior high school yearbook. Oh, yikes. What was I doing? And why did they trust me with as much as they gave me. But that specialized training in particular that FBI course and the negotiating courses, stuff that I never knew existed when I was a graduate student, or just finished my Master’s in Counseling,

Katie Vernoy 10:32
Focusing in on the here and now with you trained 22 years on the job, those types of things. What does a typical call look like? You know, and what role do you play in having an impact or improving the outcome?

Andy Young 10:46
So a typical call, I will go with the most recent one, we have a drunk person who is threatening suicide, former military, one of the patrol officers is on the phone with him trying to do escalation, de-escalation, but from a safe distance, because this man is making a lot of threats, as he’s got guns, has a history of suicidal intent. And that officer was like, Yeah, I need some assistance with this conversation. So negotiators get called out. So I show up on scene. I hop in the cruiser with this officer. And so now I’m trying to coach this officer on the conversation he’s trying to have with this individual, as the situation unfolds, and the SWAT team shows up and we get a better feel for this guy. You know what it doesn’t seem to be as much about I want to die today, as a much about I want to blow off some anger and I want to get a reaction out of people. And I want to be heard. Then, when the bosses come and say, Hey, Andy, what do you think? I’m like, You know what, this guy probably wants to fight with us. And we probably don’t want to give him what he wants. Like, okay, so what do you suggest? Well, I know typically, what we do is to take our big armored car and put it in front of the house and start loud hailing people in order to get them to realize there’s a show of force here, maybe you don’t want to fight with us. I think in this case, with a drunk Marine, we probably don’t want to do that. Maybe we want to have a lower profile. And it’s going to take longer, but I bet that works better for us in the long term. And so we gave it a try. Then the subject took propane tanks and position them around his backyard. And we’re like, yeah, okay, maybe we do want to keep our distance because this guy really his spoiling for a fight. But then over time, as we were not meeting his needs for fighting and for attention, he eventually was like, okay, my friend is here, because we told him his friend is here, I’ll come out and talk to him. And the end of it was quite anticlimactic. I think one of the, I don’t know, one of the side bits of this, you got all the SWAT guys up there in the armored car, just waiting and waiting. Because this went on for hours. We have one of our negotiators in the armored car with him. I got a text from the negotiator. He said, Hey, all the SWAT guys want to know what you think, how long is this going to take? And so I wrote back Smoke ’em if you got ’em. Our boy likes attention. We’re going to be here a while. And that seemed to kind of, you know, help with the action imperative. We got to do something. And we just got to wait this guy out till the alcohol and the android wear off. So there’s most recent example. I don’t know how glamorous that is. But there you go.

Curt Widhalm 13:24
I would have to imagine they this is a position where most of the successful ones are not glamorous. And that’s a good thing. And it’s you know, you’re ending up in the news, things have gone south.

Andy Young 13:37

Curt Widhalm 13:38
How do you handle when things go south?

Andy Young 13:41
Most recently? Well, not recently, we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of a call out. I’m on the team with the sheriff’s office as well. We got called out to a small jurisdiction, as our SWAT team is getting set up the individual with a 22 rifle just ambushed our officers killed a friend of mine and injured three friends of mine. That, you know, that’s a traumatic experience for all of us, including me. And so all the training that I have, and all the training I give to others about self care, and how do we get through traumatic events. That all comes to bear after something like that, plus funerals and media coverage. I think it’s real easy to underestimate the emotional toll something like that takes on all the officers and people involved in something like that. No one realize that when an officer of goes down, that’s a friend that’s family member that just got hurt. And that takes an emotional toll on people.

Katie Vernoy 14:37
What infrastructures in place to support kind of responding to that kind of trauma?

Andy Young 14:44
As far as like a therapeutic infrastructure?

Katie Vernoy 14:47
Yeah, I would just imagine I mean, there’s especially on a hostage negotiation team. That just seems very high stress. It seems like there’s a lot of opportunities for things to go south where officers get hurt. It could be the reverse where asubject gets hurt. I mean, it just seems like there’s so many opportunities for trauma. What’s in place for those folks?

Andy Young 15:06
A program we started a long time ago is called critical incident stress management, where we train officers in how to be beneficial, not therapeutic, but you know, beneficial to other officers after a traumatic incident. So, trying to address everybody before they go home after a traumatic event, and then follow up with them and have a group meeting where everybody gets to talk about the personal toll that this took on him. And then there’s me and other people like me, therapists who understand the law enforcement culture, and even are trusted by the law enforcement culture. So where officers will reach out for additional assistance if they believe that they need it. And of course, me being around just walking through the halls of the police department, inevitably, somebody will say, Hey, can I talk to you for a minute, and then it gets personal.

Curt Widhalm 16:02
You’ve been in this role for a while, which I have to imagine the people who start out in this role might think that they want to be in it, learn pretty quickly whether or not they can handle it. What does it take to make somebody a good negotiator or somebody who might have pursued maybe like a forensic psychology sort of background, and maybe wanting to get into this kind of stuff? What kind of skills and qualities really make for people who are able to stick around?

Andy Young 16:31
My background in counseling always starts with, it’s about the person, their personality, their demeanor, their emotional regulation. I’m a relatively compassionate and empathetic person. And yet in the law enforcement field that can be used against you by the people that you’re talking to. And so how do I balance trying to help people with I can only do so much for people who may not be amenable to growth or change. Being pragmatic, knowing your limits. And again, understanding the circumstances that you’re in. This is a law enforcement thing that we’re dealing with. This is very different than therapy in my office with somebody who wants to be there, understanding the difference. And at the end of the day, just like in my office, out on the street, knowing my limits, and how do I put things to bed emotionally and cognitively, for myself? How do I think about things in a rational way? That helps me regulate my emotions, knowing my limits? It’s an art because everybody is not the same. And so what works for me is not going to be the same that works for another therapist. I guess another big piece is how do we interpret the experiences we’ve been through? Because that interpretation has everything to do with how it affects us cognitively and emotionally. So I got a lot to say there. But there’s an opening. There’s an opening volley.

Katie Vernoy 17:56
Yeah. Well, I just I think about when a subject gets killed.

Andy Young 18:00

Katie Vernoy 18:00
And and I think that there’s both just the the trauma of that. But there’s also at this point, the kind of the political nature of a subject in these situations getting killed. And I don’t know what my specific question is, because I think about, there’s so that’s such a broad question, I guess, but to me, when I when I think about those pieces, my assumption is that the goal is to not have anyone die.

Andy Young 18:28

Katie Vernoy 18:29
And so talk a little bit about how it could turn to the place where a subject is now going to die, or, or has been killed and how the team handles that because to me, that seems like that would be the hardest thing. For me in considering trying to be in this kind of a crisis response situation.

Andy Young 18:48
Or your question brings to mind the experience I had in 2014, where a gentleman high on meth is in his brother’s house and tearing up the house. And his brother calls police and says, Hey, Stop, my brother I don’t like him doing this. Patrol shows up and the brother is in a closet. And he’s armed with a machete and a steak knife. And so they officers draw their guns because you don’t bring a knife or a taser to a knife fight. So out come the guns and that man high on meth is in his closet. And we have ourselves in negotiation. Negotiators got called I got there quickly because I’m motivated and I like this work. And I ended up standing behind the guys with the guns trying to have a conversation with this guy that quickly escalated to you know what, I want to die today. I want you police officers to kill me and I’m going to do this. And for about 10 minutes. I tried to talk him out of it every way that I could. And eventually that guy got to the point where he’s like, No, I’m gonna do this and he ran at the police officers with a machete. The officer next to me fired some beanbag rounds at him. So it’s a shotgun that shoots these big beanbags at ’em. But because we were so close together, he could only get a couple of shots in before that machete was too close to an officer. And so I essentially watched that man get shot and killed. And once that happened, and once that threat was stopped, it is very disorienting to go from a face to face conversation with somebody, to that lethal force incident, to the psychological aftermath of that incident that was afflicted upon all of us because of that individuals indecision, that individuals decision. And so then it becomes, like you’re saying, there’s the political, there’s the investigative, and there’s the personal. And our justice system is adversarial, that once something like that has happened, I can be held criminally responsible in our system for what happened in that room. And so the judicial system makes everybody not talk. Because I can incriminate myself if I talk, which is the opposite of my counseling experience was this is a very traumatic experience, we need to talk. Yeah, so it was real clunky. Luckily, I’ve worked out with the lawyers that I can have people sign my officers sign my paperwork. And now we have a privilege counseling relationship. And so we can go over here in this cruiser, and we can have that personal conversation, even though the adversarial, judicial and political system is right outside the window. And to give that officer and myself that opportunity to go holy crap, I cannot believe what we just went through. I can’t believe what I what I had to witness and what these officers had to do, and just let those emotions out without it being held against us. Anyway, am I getting at what you’re asking about?

Katie Vernoy 21:08

Curt Widhalm 21:10
It leads me to wonder, like, if I was to believe mainstream media, social media, about law enforcement these days, it’s every cop in America is going out and picking somebody to shoot today. And we we know that that’s wrong.

Andy Young 22:04

Curt Widhalm 22:05
But it does lead me to wonder how often does this actually happen? Because this seems to be what a lot of the outcry seems to be is getting more mental health people involved in these situations. It seems like you’ve been doing this for a lot longer than most of us have been practicing. That these things are in place. But because of things like this adversarial judicial system, we don’t get to hear about it. Because if that does get out, then there is those potential lawsuits.

Andy Young 22:36
That’s right.

Curt Widhalm 22:37
How often do these things actually happen?

Andy Young 22:41
As far as like officer involved shooting lethal force, someone has died?

Curt Widhalm 22:45
Or just like hostage negotiation situations, how often are you actually called out on this stuff?

Andy Young 22:53
Once a month, couple of times a month. We’ll go a couple months without a call. But I probably average, you know, a legit full scale, call out once a month. I did some research gathered some stats, 96.7% of the time, things end peacefully, and it’s all good to go. It’s that 3%, that gets amplified. And it’s the 3% everybody hears about and the 97% that nobody hears about. So that’s it seems to be right in line with what you’re talking about.

Curt Widhalm 23:24
For those who are still interested in…

Katie Vernoy 23:30
These stories.

Andy Young 23:32
Yeah, sorry about that. Talk about the 97.

Curt Widhalm 23:39
What advice would you have for people who might want to pursue this as a career path?

Andy Young 23:44
Well get trained. Stay in school kids don’t do what I did, which was jump into it and learn as you go. So yeah, educating yourself before you get into it. Having a realistic view of what this thing is, which is people get to make decisions for themselves. And we might be able to coach people on how to land the airplane, but they get to land the airplane themselves. And in my office, that’s one thing. But out on the street where there’s guns or elevated positions that we can jump off of or innocent people that we can kill. It’s the same principle, but at its extreme, and it really tests a person about being able to apply that to yourself and your circumstances. But once you realize what you’re getting into, go get educated and work with these people that you’re trying to assist. Get to know the officers, let them know what you’re able to give them and receive what they’re able to give you. But just going out to your local police department and making that offer is essentially how I got started, and I worked for a relatively large department when you have the majority of police departments are less than 20 officers. For mental health professional to go to their local sheriff’s office and go hey, if there’s anything I can do, let me know. I imagine they’re going to take you up on that offer, once they realize you’re trustworthy.

Katie Vernoy 25:05
I’m thinking about the benefit you’ve described and being able to describe the benefit of a mental health provider on a hostage negotiation team. I actually would like a more specific answer to that, because I think the first call you went out on you predicted what was going to happen. If that call were to happen today, with the experience and training that you have, do you think there might be a different outcome? Or maybe the better question is, if you were not on the team how does that shift the outcomes? How does that shift the interventions that are done by these officers?

Andy Young 25:43
If those officers are well trained, and well experienced. Well, let’s take the team that I’m on. If I’m out of town, and they go on a call out, we’ve been working together for so long, they’ve heard my stories, I’ve led training at times. Those guys are equipped, I would hazard to say they’re gonna be fine without me, because we’ve been working together for so long.

Katie Vernoy 26:08

Andy Young 26:08
A new team without a lot of experience and a lot without a lot of training. Research shows that, well, their batting average is going to go down just like you would see in any other any other field. The team aspect of this is very important. And to have all the different angles covered, you got the mental health, you got all that. I think that maybe gets to the essence of your question. If everybody is trained and experienced, and everyone’s background is present and honored, we’re probably going to hit that 97%. But yeah, if I’m not there, my team is going to be fine. The team at the sheriff’s office, they’re a bit newer. And so that might be a little different. But we’ve been working together for a while. So they have some ideas. When I’m out of town, I get a phone call sometimes anyway. There’s ways to mitigate inexperience as well.

Katie Vernoy 26:59
If I were to decide I want to go up to my local police department and say this is what a mental health provider can do for a hostage negotiation team. What are the points I should make?

Andy Young 27:11
Start out with, I understand law enforcement, and I’ve gotten trained in these things. And then when we get called out, you’re more often than not going to be dealing with somebody who has some sort of psychiatric condition. So of course, I can help our conversation and maybe even our decision making, when it comes to how to handle this, I can probably help that occur in a way that the chief of police or the sheriff would appreciate, as opposed to escalating to something that equals a lot of paperwork, and maybe some excess media coverage. Everybody on the negotiating team is trying to bring calm to the chaos. And that’s what a therapist is generally good at as well. And so that is something I imagine that you can bring to bear day in cognitive in the midst of a crisis, that’s usually a good influence as well. And so to kind of outline that in your initial pitch. Those are the first things that come to mind.

Katie Vernoy 28:06
Thank you.

Andy Young 28:07

Curt Widhalm 28:08
If there are people who are interested in finding out more about the work that you do, where can they look you up and reach out to you.

Andy Young 28:17
So I have a website for my books, and my books are stories, just kind of like what I told today. Here stories are doing on scene crisis counseling with patrol officers. Here’s some negotiator call outs. Here’s lethal force to consider, but it’s mostly stories. And so if you go to, D R Andy, you’ll find those books and that’s probably the safest way to get acclimated to this very different environment of applying mental health principles to exotic situations.

Curt Widhalm 28:54
And we will include a link to Dr. Young’s website in our show notes, you can find those over at Make sure that you follow us on our social media, join our Facebook group, Modern Therapists group and please consider being a patron or supporting us through Buy Me a Coffee and until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm. With Katie Vernoy and Dr. Andy Young.

Katie Vernoy 29:16
Thanks again to our sponsor, Thrizer.

Curt Widhalm 29:19
Thrizer is a new billing platform for therapists that was built on the belief that therapy should be accessible and clinician should earn what they are worth. Every time you bill a client through Thrizer an insurance claim is automatically generated and sent directly to the clients insurance. From there Thrizer provides concierge support to ensure clients get their reimbursement quickly and directly into their bank account. By eliminating reimbursement by cheque, confusion around benefits and obscurity with reimbursement status they allow your clients to focus on what actually matters rather than worrying about their money. It is very quick and easy to get set up and it works great with EHR systems.

Katie Vernoy 30:00
Their team is super helpful and responsive and the founder is actually a longtime therapy client who grew frustrated with his reimbursement times. Thrizer lets you become more accessible while remaining in complete control of your practice. Better experience for your clients during therapy means higher retention. Money won’t be the reason they quit on therapy. Sign up using and use the code ‘moderntherapists’ if you want to test Thrizer completely risk free. You will get one month of no payment processing fees meaning you earn 100% of your cash rate during that time.

Curt Widhalm 30:33
Once again, sign up at and use the code ‘moderntherapists’ if you want to test Thrizer completely risk free.

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