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F20-504 Ethical Considerations of Virtual Safety Planning

Total Credits: 3 including 3 ASWB Ethics

500 Ethics |  800 Online
Melissa Douglass, LCSW, BC-TMH
Course Levels:
3 Hours 15 Minutes
Target Audience:
Social Workers, LCPCs, and Psychologists




A top fear amongst online providers has been how to effectively support clients who have suicidal thoughts through a screen. With full awareness of limitations in intervention and practice liability, this fear has contributed to negative perceptions toward telehealth amongst service providers while supporting an unofficial best practice to not treat suicidal clients online. However as of 2015, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. overall, and telehealth provides a key opportunity to increase access to qualified service providers to individuals in their natural environments as a prevention measure. In this live  webinar we will review perceived risks associated with using telehealth including assessment, a lack of control over patient, and difficulties triaging patients if a higher level care is needed. In smaller breakout sessions we will also explore the effectiveness and role of safety contracts in conjunction with compassionate and open communication as providers gain new insight into virtual safety planning.


Melissa Douglass, LCSW, BC-TMH Related seminars and products: 1

Mrs. Douglass is the founder of Goal Driven Coaching, a virtual wellness platform where she supports overworked professionals with prioritizing their wellness goals as their Alignment Coach. She is also a Distance Counselor and founder of Goal Driven Counseling, an online group private practice where the team supports individuals navigating challenging education, career, life transitions and mental health concerns through secure video conferencing. Melissa is passionate about normalizing mental health and is an advocate for wellness education in the community where she presents workshops, facilitates professional development trainings, consults with individuals and organizations, and speaks at conferences on telemental health and self-care. She continues to excel in her goal of merging quality mental health services with tech. In all ways, Melissa is ”The Virtual Clinician”. 

Agenda & Learning Objectives

01:15 Registration
01:15 - 02:30

Introduction, Suicidiality in the US and Perceived Risks

02:30 - 02:45                         

02:45 - 04:30

Breakout Sessions and Virtual Safety Planning

04:30 Questions & Adjournment


Upon the completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:
  • Restate the most recent trends in suicidality in the United States.
  • Analyze three perceived risks associated with telehealth use in suicide prevention.
  • Demonstrate effective clinical strategies to improve virtual safety planning through increased assessment, effective communication, and appropriate treatment interventions.

Bibliography & References

American Telemedicine Association (2013). Practice guidelines for video-based online mental health services. Washington, DC: ATA. video-based-online-mental-health-services.pdf?sfvrsn=6

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (2020).

Carey, B. (2020). Is the pandemic sparking suicide? New York Times.

Draper, J., et al. (2010). National Suicide Prevention Lifeline policy for helping callers at imminent risk of suicide. Report commissioned by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. content/uploads/2016/09/FINAL-IR- BOOKLET-01- 20-2011.pdf

Gilmore, A. K. & Ward-Ciesielski, E. F. (2019). Perceived risks of use of psychotherapy via telemedicine for patients at risk for suicide. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 25, 59-63.

Gordon, ,S. (2020). Coronavirus pandemic may lead to 75,000 “deaths of despair” from suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, study says. CBS News. 75000/

Houston, M. N. (2017). Treating Suicidal Clients and Self-Harm Behaviors. Wisconsin: PESI Publishing & Media.

Jobes, D. A. (2016). Managing Suicidal Risk: A collaborative approach. New York: The Guilford Press.

Jobes, D. A. (2009). The CAMS approach to suicide risk: Philosophy and clinical procedures. Suicidologi, 14, 37.

National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention: Transforming Health Systems Initiative Work Group. (2018). Recommended standard care for people with suicide risk: Making health care suicide safe. Washington, DC: Education Development Center, Inc.

Vitelli, R. (2020). Are we facing a post-COVID-19 suicide epidemic? Psychology Today. covid-19-suicideepidemic



Live Interactive Webinar Platforms



The Office of Continuing Professional Education hosts Live Interactive Webinars through two platforms: Zoom and WebEx.

Both platforms offer high quality and user-friendly webinar platforms for our registrants.


System Requirements:

  • Operating Systems: Windows XP or higher; MacOS 9 or higher; Android 4.0 or higher.
  • Internet Browser: Google Chrome; Firefox 10.0 or higher.

Our system is not compatible with the Safari web browser.

  • Broadband Internet Connection: Cable, High-speed DSL and any other medium that is internet accessible.

**Please have your device charging at all times to ensure that your device does not lose power during the webinar.


Course Interaction Requirements:

To participate in Live Interactive Webinars, you MUST have a device that allows you to view the presentation on screen and hear the instructor at all times. We do not allow participants to call-in from their phones or mobile devices and solely listen to the presentation. Participation in Live Interactive Webinars is mandatory.

Late Fees and Refunds

Fee & Registration:

Cost is $65 and includes CE credit. Registering after October 29, 2020 will incur an additional $20 late fee. *Cancellations must be received 24 hours in advance prior to the live interactive webinar to receive a refund or a credit letter.


*All cancellations will be subjected to a $35.00 administration fee

Webinar Common Questions




1. Are the webinars live?

Yes. The webinars are live and interactive – they are not pre-recorded. You should treat the webinars as if you are attending an in-person course in a classroom setting, which means Live Interactive Webinars require proper classroom etiquette. The instructor will always require your participation and attention.


2. Who are you authorized by?

While most licensing boards (Social Work, Professional Counselors and Psychologists) accept CE credits provided by Accredited Schools/Colleges of Social Work, licensees are responsible for determining where specific courses meet their jurisdiction’s requirements.  State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit.


The Office of Continuing Professional Education is approved by the following organizations:

  • The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) Program, Provider number 1611, which is accepted by most States and Provinces.
  • The Maryland Board of Social Worker Examiners (BSWE).
  • Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists.
  • DC Department of Health: Professional Counseling and Social Work.
  • Maryland Board of Examiners of Psychologists (and many others)

**Not every course is approved by each organization. It is the responsibility of the participant to check the approval statement on the website to determine which CE approvals are being offered for each course.


3. Which CE category do webinars satisfy?

Live Interactive Webinars are Category I CEs in Maryland. Live Interactive Webinars are equivalent to face-to-face workshops and meet Maryland BSWEs standards.


4. What are the platforms we use to host our webinars?

Please visit the next tab.


5. How do I receive my CEs at the end of the webinar?

CE certificates will be made available to all participants who attend the webinar in full, and completes the evaluation found in their registration profile.


Failure to perform each step may result in a participant’s inability to receive CE credit.


6. What if I’m running late to join the webinar or must leave the webinar early?

According to ACE standards, full attendance is required to receive CE certificate. Therefore, if you arrive to the webinar late or leave the webinar early, you will not receive a CE certificate, partial credit is not offered for any of The Office of Continuing Professional Education workshops or webinars.


7. What if I am having technical difficulties during the webinar?

If you are have technical difficulties during the webinar, please do not notify the Instructor of these issues. Instead, please notify The Office of Continuing Professional Education department as soon as possible. There are three options you can choose from:

  • Email the Webinar Assistant at
  • Tech Support: 877.602.9877
  • Private message the Webinar Assistant during the webinar


8. What specific equipment do I need to attend the webinar?

The specific equipment that is essential to participating in a webinar is the following: working computer, tablet, or smart phone and speakers on your computer. Headphones would provide you with the best quality audio experience to listen to the instructor’s lectures. To ensure that your device does not lose battery midway through the webinar, please have your device plugged in and charging at all times. If this situation does happen where your device dies, you may rejoin the webinar and make sure to notify the Webinar Assistant of the situation. However this will affect the number of CEs received.


9. How do I register for webinars?

You can register for any webinar through our website, which is located on the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Continuing Professional Education website homepage at


10. What if I get kicked out of a webinar and cannot get back in?

While this should not happen, you can enter back into the webinar through your account profile by clicking “Launch Webinar”. You are given a few minutes to sign back in. Failure to return in time, will result in not receiving CE credits.


11. What do I do if I have a complaint/grievance?

The Office of Continuing Professional Education works hard to offer innovative workshops. We also take all complaints seriously. If you have a complaint, please contact our office IMMEDIATELY.


Refunds or Credit Letters will not be issued for fully attended workshops. Please see our Grievance Policy on the homepage of our website.


12. Do we offer ADA Accommodations?

We do! If you are requesting ADA accommodations, please contact us via email at least two weeks prior to the course date. Requests after that date may not be fulfilled.


Instructors reserve the right to dismiss participants who are not adhering to the Code of Conduct.


For questions, concerns, or to request special accommodations, please call: 410-706-1839.


For financial questions or concerns, please call: 410-706-5040

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