Clinician anxiety--what's it about?

When the "S" word comes up, many clinicians feel on edge. I'm sure that more than one factor (and different factors for different people) that contributes to the anxiety, but they are different enough that it affects how we would target training. Here are some possibilities:

  1. Uncomfortable with the pain and despair of another.

  2. Squemish about suicide and it's morbid implications.

  3. Unsure of having the right skills to assess and treat.

  4. Worried about medical-legal implications of losing a patient to suicide.

  5. Concerned that suicidality will "hijack" the treatment.

  6. Incredulous that someone consider destroying him/herself.

  7. Fearful of losing a person the therapist cares about.

  8. Worried about not being able to help.


As I said, the source of anxiety probably varies, but I think it's worth asking which is the most prominent so that we can (a) address it in ourselves and (b) target clinician education at the right set of issues.