Cognitive Therapy for Suicidal Patients: Scientific and Clinical Applications

By Amy Wenzel, PhD, Gregory K. Brown, PhD, and Aaron T. Beck, MD

Format: Hardcover, 377 pages
ISBN: 9781433804076
Price: $49.95

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Suicide is one of the most daunting challenges that clinicians encounter in their practice. Unfortunately, compared with other mental health issues, there is a paucity of research designed to conceptualize and treat it. This may be why relatively few interventions have been developed specifically to prevent suicide. At the same time, the degree to which interventions with established efficacy apply to suicidal patients is unclear, because these patients are often excluded from clinical trials.

Cognitive Therapy for Suicidal Patients: Scientific and Clinical Applications begins to close these gaps in suicide theory and practice. For over 30 years, Aaron T. Beck and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania have been conducting empirical research that examines the risk factors for and treatment of suicide ideators and attempters. The result is a book that crystallizes over three decades of basic, clinical, and therapeutic research, providing a comprehensive review of the literature on psychological factors associated with suicidal behavior.

The authors describe their cognitive model of suicide, the instruments they developed to assess theoretically and clinically relevant suicide constructs, and their cognitive intervention for suicidal individuals. The book includes a step-by-step protocol for cognitive therapy with these patients and an extended case study brings these concepts to life. Applications of the protocol with special populations and methods for overcoming challenges when working with suicidal patients are also suggested.

Table of Contents


Aaron T. Beck

I. Cognitive Theory and Empirical Research

  1. Classification and Assessment of Suicide Ideation and Suicidal Acts
  2. Correlates of and Risk Factors for Suicidal Acts
  3. A Cognitive Model of Suicidal Acts
  4. Evidence-Based Treatments for the Prevention of Suicidal Acts

II. Clinical Applications

  1. Cognitive Therapy: General Principles
  2. Early Phase of Treatment
  3. Cognitive Case Conceptualization of Suicidal Acts
  4. Intermediate Phase of Treatment
  5. Later Phase of Treatment
  6. Challenges in Treating Suicidal Patients

III. Applications to Special Populations

  1. Cognitive Therapy for Suicidal Adolescents
  2. Cognitive Therapy for Suicidal Older Adults
  3. Cognitive Therapy for Suicidal Patients With Substance Dependence Disorders
  4. Conclusion: A Public Health Model for Suicide Prevention

Appendix: Outline of Cognitive Therapy for Suicidal Patients


Author Index

Subject Index

About the Authors

Author Bios

Amy Wenzel, PhD, is on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, where she conducts research on cognitive approaches to understanding suicidal behavior. She is the recipient of awards from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health. She has published more than 70 journal articles and chapters and is coeditor of five books.

Gregory K. Brown, PhD, is a Research Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, where he conducts research on the effectiveness of cognitive therapy with high-risk individuals. He is the recipient of the 2007 Edwin Shneidman Award for outstanding contributions in suicide research from the American Association of Suicidology.

Aaron T. Beck, MD, is professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and is known as "the father of cognitive therapy." He has published more than 500 scientific articles and is author or coauthor of 17 books. He is the recipient of the 2006 Lasker Award (known as "America's Nobel Prize") for Clinical Medical Research.

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