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Psychotherapy with Suicidal People: A Person-centred Approach

ISBN: 978-0-470-86343-5
480 pages
May 2004
Psychotherapy with Suicidal People: A Person-centred Approach (0470863439) cover image


Almost a million people die by suicide every year (WHO estimate)

The sheer numbers have made suicide prevention a major health target, but effective prevention is not straightforward. Suicide is a complex event, more complex than most of us imagine, calling for an equally complex response.

Psychotherapy with Suicidal People provides a multi-component approach, with rich clinical data including many case histories, to guide the reader. Based on decades of research from across the globe, Antoon A. Leenaars takes the reader into the mind of the suicidal person, from the young to the elderly, from the anonymous to the famous. There is no better way to know, and thus to treat, a person.

A plethora of special features makes this volume an international classic and includes:
  • Reflections of many suicidologists such as Heraclitus, Plato, Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim and Edwin Shneidman.
  • A unique window on the clinical mind of the author.
  • Empirically supported definition, with applications across age, gender, historical time, as well as culture.
  • The report of the International Working Group on Ethical and Legal Issues in Suicidology.
Psychotherapy with Suicidal People: A Person-centred Approach is essential reading for clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and their trainees, and all clinicians who work with suicidal people.
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Table of Contents

About the Author.



Part I: Understanding.

Chapter 1: Suicide.

Chapter 2: Suicide: A Multidimensional Malaise.

Chapter 3: Unconscious Processes.

Chapter 4: Cognition, Communication, and Suicide Notes.

Part II: Suicide Risk Assessment

Chapter 5: Clinical Evaluation of Suicide Risk.

Chapter 6: Thematic Guide for Suicide Prediction (TGSP).

Chapter 7: TGSP: Practice on Suicide Notes, Psychotherapy Protocols, and Poems.

Chapter 8: Sylvia Plath: A Protocol Analysis of Her Last Poems.

Chapter 9: Rick: A Suicide in a Young Adult.

Chapter 10: Scott: Suicide or Homicide?

Part III: Applications and Psychotherapy.

Chapter 11: Applications for Crisis Intervention with Highly Lethal Suicidal People.

Chapter 12: Applications for Psychotherapy with Suicidal People.

Chapter 13: Justin: A Suicide Attempt in a Four-Year-Old Boy.

Chapter 14: Jeff: A Youth’s Suicide.

Chapter 16: Susan: A Young Adult’s Isolation.

Chapter 17: Peter: An Adult’s Suicidal Pain.

Chapter 18: Joe: An Older Adult’s Suicidal Pain.

Chapter 19: Adjuncts to Psychotherapy: Medication, Hospitalization, and Environmental Control.

Part IV: Implications.

Chapter 20: This Is What I Have Learned.

Chapter 21: Ethical and Legal Issues.

Chapter 22: Munch, Dostoevsky, van Gogh, and a Little Bit of Melville.



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Author Information

Dr. Leenaars is a registered psychologist in private practice in Windsor, Canada, and is a member of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and was a member of the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. He was the first Past President of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP), and is a past President of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), the only non-American to date.
He has collaborated with 100 colleagues in over 20 nations, and has published over 100 professional articles or chapters on violence, trauma, suicide, homicide, genocide, and related topics. He has published 10 previous books, and is Editor-in-Chief of Archives of Suicide Research, the official journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research. Dr Leenaars is a recipient of the International Association for Suicide Prevention’s Stengel Award, CASP’s Research Award, and AAS’s Shneidman Award, for outstanding contribution in research in suicidology. He is recognized for his international efforts in suicide prevention, and has served as an expert witness in legal cases dealing with wrongful death, suicide, and homicide.
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"…this book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding and work with suicidal clients." (Healthcare Counselling and Psycotherapy Jnl. Vol.4; No. 2, April 2004)

"...The volume is unique in its approach to the issue of suicide and development of empirically informed interventions..." (Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Vol.6, No.3, September 2004)

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