Finding Suicide-Specific Therapy   - Action for Healthy Kids
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Finding Suicide-Specific Therapy  

If your child is struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors, finding effective, caring, qualified mental health support is critical.  

 If you are concerned about the immediate safety of yourself or someone else, call 911 (emergency services) or 988 (suicide and crisis lifeline). 

 How to Find a Suicide-Specific Therapist  

Here are some points to consider when searching for and assessing a therapist for your child: 

  1. Consult with School and Pediatrician: Reach out to your child’s school counselor, psychologist, or social worker, and their pediatrician. They often have resources and recommendations for therapists who specialize in working with children and may suggest additional resources.  
  2. Research Therapists: Use online directories, such as Psychology Today or TherapyDen, to find therapists in your area. Consider factors such as location, specialization, insurance and therapy approach and training. You can also contact local mental health clinics, hospitals, or community centers to ask about counseling services for youth. Many communities offer low-cost or free mental health support for individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors. 
  3. Check Credentials: Ensure that the therapist is licensed and accredited by the appropriate professional organizations in your country or region. Look for credentials such as Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Psychologist (Ph.D. or Psy.D.), or Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). 
  4. Consider Therapy Approach: Different therapists use different approaches and techniques in their practice, and finding a therapist that uses a suicide-specific treatment is essential. It is important to find a therapist that is trained in at least one of these best-practice suicide-specific treatments: 
    • Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS)
    • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
    • Attachment Based Family Therapy (ABFT)
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Suicide Prevention (CBT-SP)
  5. Contact Potential Therapists: Reach out to potential therapists to ask about their availability, fees, and approach to therapy. Use this opportunity to ask any questions you may have about their experience and expertise. Ask if they have experience providing treatment for youth at risk to suicide and what type of training they have received in suicide-specific treatments. 
  6. Evaluate Compatibility: Consider your child’s comfort level and compatibility with the therapist. A good therapeutic relationship is crucial for progress, so it’s essential that your child feels safe and understood by their therapist.
  7. Monitor Progress: Stay respectful of your child’s therapeutic relationship, yet open and willing to collaborate and communicate with their therapist. 


This project on Improving Mental, Behavioral and Academic Supports to Students and Families, Part 2 is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $434,555 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.