Gravity of Threats: Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Training and Threat Assessment
Date of Award
Graduate School of Professional Psychology
Lynett Henderson Metzger, Psy.D., J.D.
Second Committee Member
Mariya Dvoskina, Psy.D.
Third Committee Member
Artur Poczwardoski, Ph.D.
Given that psychologists are first responders to threats of suicide and/or homicide, threat assessment should be an imperative goal of training in graduate school. This study was designed to assess the quantity and quality of threat assessment training in graduate students within the field of clinical psychology. Results indicated that 67% of participants reported receiving only one class period specifically devoted to suicide, homicide, and threat assessment. Twenty-five percent of participants indicated they received two classes focused on the topics of suicide and homicide, and one participant (8%) reported that three classes were dedicated to discussing these subjects. Despite a sample size of 12 participants, results also indicated that 58% of participants were unable to identify a direct threat in scenarios provided to them, and another 58% of participants were unable to detect a veiled threat. In addition, depending on the risk level presented in the vignette, participants were given multiple options for interventions. While participants were provided with vignettes that included distinct warning signs, risk factors, and statements regarding ideation, intent, plan, and/or means, 88% of participants reported that their next action would be to [once again] ask the individual about thoughts or plans of killing oneself or others. In regards to the confidence level or degree of certainty in the ability to identify and categorize threats, only one participant reported feeling “Very Confident” in their ability to identify and categorize threats, while 50% indicated they were only “Somewhat Confident.”
Herbst, Ashley, "Gravity of Threats: Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Training and Threat Assessment" (2018). Graduate School of Professional Psychology: Doctoral Papers and Masters Projects. 323.