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Date(s) - 05/31/2019
9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center


Mental health professionals in Washington state have an expanded duty to warn and protect in situations where outpatient clients may pose a threat of violence.  This seminar addresses the current state of violence in our culture (including schools), risk and threat assessment methods when dealing with clients, and methods for intervention and threat management to mitigate the risk of violence.  Special attention is paid to lethal means restrictions, and strategies to develop safety plans that work for clients and those in their worlds.

Instructor:  Craig D. Apperson, MS, LMHC is a nationally certified Forensic Mental Health Counselor, a threat assessment specialist, Board Certified Professional Counselor, and a Certified Rational Emotive Psychotherapist.  He consults on violence prevention and risk assessment with government entities, is on the Dept. Health’s Advisory Committee for Master’s level licensed mental health professionals, has been a consultant to the WA State Criminal Justice Training Commission, was national director of the Army National Guard’s Psychological Health Program, the former director of the WA State School Safety Center (OSPI), and was a correctional psychologist for many years.


Mass shootings are a topic that has been vexing for law enforcement, mental health, social services and others involved in the effort to prevent, detect, intervene or possibly stop these incidents.  It is not uncommon for individuals who are emotionally volatile, have histories of mental/emotional distress, or may have threatened to harm others to be referred to licensed mental health professionals (LMHP’s) for assessment and/or treatment.  Historically, LMHP’s (including counselors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric ARNP’s and marriage and family therapists) have been required to report to local officials when a client engages in threats of violence towards others since the landmark legal case Tarasoff v Regents of University of California in 1969.  (This is not to be confused with “mandated reporting,” which focuses on filing reports for suspected abuse of children and vulnerable adults.)  Most states and territories (including Washington) have adopted a variation of the California law, requiring that a person actually states in writing, verbally, or through other forms of communication that they intend to harm someone else as a pre-requisite to filing such a report.

A major shift has occurred in Washington state because of a mass shooting incident resulting in the Volk v DeMeerleer decision by the Washington State Supreme Court in December 2016 that effectively states that an actual threat may not have to be communicated by direct means in order to be reportable.  Put another way, even if a person does not make an overt threat, but engages in behaviors that might pose a threat to others, the obligation would be to report such behavior to authorities, and engage those at risk with information that includes the potential for violence and the measures that might be required for personal safety.  This duty poses a potential confidentialty conflict with clients, requiring a new approach to navigating the reporting obligations.

This presentation focuses on how LCMHP’s can address the issues confronting them when dealing with potentially high risk clients, including a review of the current knowledge of the kinds of individuals who pose a risk for mass shootings, their methods, and how the use of threat assessment and management strategies, that might enhance methods for evaluation and referral when dealing with a potentially violent individual.  This material is research-based, and case studies will be employed to highlight the nuances of clinical assessment with clients.   This material is useful for law enforcement professionals who wish to have a better understanding of the behavioral health approach to assessment of violence so as to better collaborate with LCMHPs.


Knowledge and awareness of:

  1. The incidence of different forms of violence in the community
  2. The patterns of developmental psychopathology for violent youth
  3. Risk factors associated with violence
  4. Links between trauma, peer group friction, contagion and violence
  5. Mental health diagnostic issues
  6. Psychopathy and related syndromes
  7. Differences between adult and juvenile mass shooters
  8. Studies of school shooters
  9. The relationship between suicide and mass homicide
  10. Case law as it applies to Duty to Warn and Protect in Washington state
  11. The difference between duty to warn and duty to protect
  12. Using threat assessment methods to evaluate potentially high-risk clients
  13. Research on pre-attack behavioral patterns
  14. Consultation, referral and communication with law enforcement
  15. Developing safety plans, including use of ERPO’s and Joel’s Law
  16. Threat management and interpersonal approaches to intervention

Your registration fee includes the cost of an measure used in commonly in threat assessment.

This course is approved for 6 CE’s for LMHC’s, LMFT’s, LCSW’s and all associate level licensees.