A crisis response approach for suicidal teens


In my current position as a clinical psychologist based on a hlgh school campus, I often have occasion to meet with adolescents who are suicidal, some having recently made suicidal gestures. Despite the complexity and variety of presenting issues, there is a set of more or less standardized steps to follow to ensure safety as well as appropriate follow-up. In this paper I present a case to illustrate how I have integrated EMDR. This approach to teen suicidality uses several elements of the motivation - anger - trauma therapy (MATT) approach for teens with conduct disorder, which has been described in detail elsewhere (Greenwald 1998, 1999, in press). In addition to the standard crisis interventions - letting the client talk out the problem, contracting for safety, implementing supports and restrictions as needed, and arranging follow-up - I have been using EMDR in various ways to enhance present safety as well as subsequent resiliency. For example: the Choices Have Consequences intervention (cited above, described below) helps the client to realize that self-harm leads to a poor outcome despite its initial appeal; the standard use of EMDR can help to reduce vulnerability to the type of stressor which led to the current crisis; and the Future Movies intervention (also cited above and described below) helps to create a more hopeful long-term perspective while enhancing coping skills.






Ricky Greenwald

Original Work Citation

Greenwald, R. (1999, June). A crisis response approach for suicidal teens. Poster presented at the 4th EMDR International Association Conference, Las Vegas, NV



“A crisis response approach for suicidal teens,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 24, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/16737.

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