Training on Assessment of PTSD and Suicide Risk Management in Veterans

This training is funded by the PTSD Consultation Program at VA’s National Center for PTSD and presented in collaboration with VA’s Suicide Risk Management Consultation Program and the Center for Deployment Psychology.

Cultural competence for clinicians working with Veterans and Service members includes developing familiarity with unique aspects of military culture that impact clinical care as well as common clinical issues faced by these populations. Accurate and comprehensive assessment of PTSD and suicide risk is important for developing effective treatment plans for Veterans and Service members. This two-day workshop aims to introduce participants to military culture and help them develop skills in assessing for two important clinical issues: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide risk.

Day One
An overview of military culture will be provided including basics about its history, organizational structure, core values, branches of the service, mission and operations, as well as the differences between the active and reserve components. Participants acquire greater competency in working with Service members and Veterans by learning military culture and terminology, and by discussing how aspects of the military culture impact behaviors and perspectives. The remainder of day one will review a method for screening, assessment, and treatment outcome monitoring of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) centered on the use of the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). Participants will be introduced to VA/DOD best practices for diagnosing military-related PTSD including screening for trauma-related disorders, obtaining thorough military and trauma histories, conducting a semi-structured diagnostic interview, and using self-report measures to track treatment outcome. Interactive exercises and video demonstrations will be used to help develop participants’ PTSD assessment skills.

Day Two
Veteran suicide remains a significant public health concern, with those diagnosed with PTSD at potentially elevated risk. Clinicians with the VA Suicide Risk Management Consultation Program will review risk factors and discuss empirically-supported best practices for suicide assessment, prevention, and intervention with Veterans, including lethal means safety counseling and collaborative safety planning.

Target Audience:
Licensed behavioral health providers who regularly treat U.S. Veterans (or who intend to treat U.S. Veterans) in the community can apply. This training is not intended for behavioral healthcare providers currently working in VA or DoD settings.

Learning Objectives:
Attendees will be able to:

  1. Characterize the structure and major components of the United States military.
  2. Analyze common characteristics of the military population and how they compare to the general population.
  3. Substantiate the importance of a distinct culture to the military.
  4. Appraise elements of the military experience and lifestyle that are integral to military culture.
  5. Apply the VA/DOD Guidelines for the Assessment of Trauma and PTSD.
  6. Discriminate between symptoms of PTSD and other disorders based on the DSM-5.
  7. Facilitate the screening, diagnostic assessment, and tracking of treatment outcomes in PTSD patients using the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5).
  8. Communicate results of diagnostic assessments as well as treatment outcome measures to clients to facilitate effective treatment.
  9. Apply suicide risk identification methods, including identifying warning signs, predictive analytics, and screening.
  10. Conduct a comprehensive suicide clinical risk assessment to include a review of assessment goals, suicidal ideation, and history of suicide, and identification of warning signs and both risk and protective factors for suicide.
  11. Utilize the results of a suicide clinical risk assessment to develop a suicide risk formulation.
  12. Provide recommendations for the documentation of suicide risk based on the outcomes of the suicide clinical risk assessment.
  13. Differentiate between acute and chronic suicide risk and descriptors for low, intermediate, and high-risk status.
  14. Justify the use of lethal means safety counseling as a best practice for suicide risk management.
  15. Apply the recommended methods for lethal means safety counseling for firearms, medications, and other environmental risks to US Veterans.
  16. Collaboratively develop and utilize an effective safety plan to mitigate suicide risk.

Application Information: 
Applications can be completed through the Eventbrite system. All initial applicants will be waitlisted until the application is vetted through the CDP/VA Project Managers. Applicants will be notified by email of the decision within approximately two weeks of the application.

Zero cost, no refund policy

Online Via Zoom

27-28 February 2023, 10:00 - 18:30 Eastern time - Click to Apply for Registration!

3-4 May 2023, 10:00 - 18:30 Eastern time - Click to Apply for Registration!

19-20 July 2022 10:00 - 18:30 Eastern time - Click to Apply for Registration!

Special Accommodations:
If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Micah Norgard at at least two weeks prior to the training so that we may provide you with appropriate service.

Kevin Holloway, Ph.D.
, is a licensed clinical psychologist working as the Director, Training and Education at the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. In this capacity, he leads a team of subject matter experts and support staff to develop and present workshops across the world to military and civilian audiences on topics in deployment of behavioral health and evidence-based therapies for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Additionally, he leads a team of mental health subject matter experts and technology experts to develop and disseminate technology solutions to improve access to and quality of professional training.

Jenna Ermold, Ph.D.,  is a clinical psychologist working as the Assistant Director of Training and Education for the Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Ermold oversees the development of online and face-to-face trainings for behavioral health clinicians to improve clinical and cultural competency in working with military members and their families. Dr. Ermold also presents workshops on deployment behavioral health topics for clinicians across the country.

Sadie Larsen, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and researcher at the Milwaukee VA, and an Associate Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she is Associate Training Director of a Health Psychology training residency and postdoctoral fellowship. Dr. Larsen specializes in Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and is interested in helping clinicians provide evidence-based treatment while navigating the nuances of particular cases and the administrative and other challenges that come with systems change. Dr. Larsen has served as the Local Evidence Based Psychotherapy Coordinator and founder/lead of the Evidence Based Psychotherapy clinic at the Milwaukee VA. She supervises practicum students, interns and postdoctoral fellows in PTSD, general outpatient therapy, and addressing military sexual trauma. Her primary research interests involve better understanding variation in response to evidence-based treatments for PTSD, cognitive and emotional processes that maintain or alleviate PTSD symptoms, and the unique experiences of Veterans and of men and women who experience interpersonal and sexual trauma. Dr. Larsen received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She completed her predoctoral internship at University of Wisconsin and her postdoctoral fellowship in PTSD treatment at VA Boston.

Brittany N. Hall-Clark, Ph.D., is a Consultant with the PTSD Consultation Program through the National Center for PTSD, a Texas-licensed clinical psychologist in private practice, and an Assistant Professor within the Division of Behavioral Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Hall-Clark's research interests include acculturative stress, cultural identity, and culturally sensitive treatment. She obtained her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Hall-Clark completed a 2-year fellowship with STRONG STAR, a multidisciplinary PTSD research consortium.

Hal S. Wortzel, M.D., is a forensic neuropsychiatrist at the Rocky Mountain MIRECC, where he serves as Director of Neuropsychiatric Consultation Services and Co-director for the National Suicide Risk Management Consultation Program. He is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at of the University of Colorado, and serves as the Michael K. Cooper Professor of Neurocognitive Disease, and as Faculty for the Program in Forensic Psychiatry. Dr. Wortzel maintains a private practice in Forensic Neuropsychiatry & Behavioral Neurology, and has consulted on numerous criminal and civil cases. Areas of research/scholarship interest include suicide risk management, aggression and suicide in the context of PTSD and TBI, brain injury litigation, and the application of emerging neuroscientific tools to the legal arena.

Megan Harvey, Ph.D., received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Cincinnati. She has held multiple positions within VA over the past 13+ years, including Local Recovery Coordinator, Local Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Coordinator, and Section Chief of Outpatient Services at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System. In 2018, Dr. Harvey joined the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention where she serves in the role of Program Evaluator for the Suicide Risk Management Consultation Program, is on the technical assistance team for the national Suicide Risk Identification Strategy and is a consultant for the Advanced Training in the Safety Planning Intervention (ASPI). Dr. Harvey’s interests include evidence-based interventions that promote recovery and mitigate suicide risk as well as program evaluation. She believes strongly in the mission of VHA and is honored to be contributing to Veteran services.

Ryan Holliday, Ph.D., is a Clinical Research Psychologist at the Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center for Veteran Suicide Prevention and Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. His clinical and research interests focus upon understanding the intersection of trauma, psychosocial stressors (such as homelessness and justice involvement), and mental health. He is further interested in translating these findings into evidence-based practice.

Continuing Education: 
FINAL CE DETALS ARE PENDING. This section will be updated once details are confirmed. The following information is from previous sessions and is subject to change.
This course will include 14 hours or its equivalent for CE purposes. Participants are required to attend the entire training. Partial credits cannot be issued. Attendance is taken through the use of electronic logs, and a post-training evaluation form must be completed in order to receive CE credits. For psychology CE credits, completion of the evaluation is strongly encouraged. If you do not wish to complete the evaluation but desire to receive psychology CEs please contact the POC after the training event. There is a 30-day time limit post-training to complete all CE requirements. CE credit certificates will be emailed to all completers of the training within 30 days after all course requirements have been completed.

American Psychological Association Sponsor Approval: The Center for Deployment Psychology is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Center for Deployment Psychology maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Click here for more CE details.

Association of Social Work Boards Approved Continuing Education Provider Approval: The Center for Deployment Psychology, #1761, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. The Center for Deployment Psychology maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: May 19, 2021 – May 19, 2022. Social workers completing this course receive 14 in-person continuing education credits.

NBCC Approval: Training on Assessment of PTSD and Suicide Risk Management in Veterans has been approved by NBCC for NBCC credit. The Center for Deployment Psychology is solely responsible for all aspects of the program. NBCC Approval No. SP-3824. Click here for more CE details