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River Valley Counseling Center Holds Training on Suicidal Behavior, Prevention

HOLYOKE — River Valley Counseling Center (RVCC) held a training titled “Understanding, Assessing, Managing, and Preventing Suicidal Behavior” at Holyoke High School’s North Campus on March 2.

RVCC therapists attended the event, along with school counselors, psychologists, and nurses from 14 local school districts. The training reviewed the spectrum of self-destructive behavior, differentiated suicide from non-suicidal self-injurious behavior, reviewed suicide assessment and intervention, and discussed sitting with misery and self-care. 

The presenter, Barent Walsh, has written extensively and presented internationally on the topic of self-destructive behavior. According to Walsh, “the field of suicide prevention is evolving with important new empirically supported theories and interventions.” The author of Treating Self-Injury: A Practical Guide, Walsh is the executive director emeritus of Open Sky Community Services, a human-service agency headquartered in Worcester. He is also a lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School at Cambridge Health Alliance.

Alexa Mignano, director of School-Based Clinical Services at RVCC, brought forth the idea of the training in response to an increase in self-harming and suicidal behavior among students in the Pioneer Valley.

“As the premier provider of school-based therapy services, it was imperative for RVCC to offer this training in response to the school districts’ concern of increased self-harming behavior and suicidality amongst students,” she said. “Besides providing school districts with clinicians in the schools, we also try to support school administrators and their staff with tools they can utilize to support their school community.”

RVCC partners with local school districts to offer comprehensive clinical services during the school day, providing families with access to therapy by removing barriers such as long waitlists, transportation, insurance-coverage problems, and scheduling conflicts. RVCC currently partners with school districts in Holyoke, Chicopee, Easthampton, Hadley, Hatfield, Amherst, Granby, Springfield, and East Longmeadow. It also has an office on the campus of Springfield Technical Community College, providing counseling services to students.

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