Thank you for choosing to view more information about this workshop. If you are here, it means you have an interest in learning more about how to be helpful to clients who have thoughts of suicide. Working with suicide is such an important area of competence for social workers and counsellors, because we work with some of the most vulnerable and down-and-out individuals and communities.

I decided to put together this workshop for a number of reasons, and perhaps these resonate with you as well. Firstly, I had very little training in working with suicide when I received my basic training, and also found very few opportunities to further my knowledge in this area. Secondly, when clients confided their thoughts of suicide to me, I did not know what to do and almost always referred them out. I was anxious about working with people who considered taking their own lives and doubted my ability to be helpful. And thirdly, I now believe that social workers and counsellors are the main mental health workforce that can make a substantial impact on the level of suicide in our country, as well as provide proper care and intervention for individuals and families affected by suicide. 

Suicide is still a “hands-off” topic for many practitioners who feel they don’t have the knowledge or skills to help suicidal clients. And yet, if we are not able to help these clients, who will? One of the most important things I have learned about suicide is that you don’t need to be an expert to be helpful. Every single practitioner can easily acquire the competencies they need to be effective in responding to suicidal clients. 

If you choose to enrol for this workshop, you may find that it is a little different from the traditional training you might have attended in the past. Most of the reading and “content work” will be done by you in preparation for each session. That means – no boring powerpoint presentations. The sessions mainly consist of discussions to integrate what you are learning and to consider implications for practice. This is not a workshop where you can “sit back and relax”, but one where you can participate, collaborate and build competence. 

Reasons to attend this workshop

Build your competence: Despite the fact that social workers and counsellors often encounter clients who have thoughts of suicide, many still feel ill-equipped to respond to suicide and help clients with suicide ideation.  In order to respond effectively, the practitioner needs to conduct a comprehensive assessment that determines the risk of suicide so that decisions can be made regarding the safety of the client as well as the treatment direction.  The decisions that are made need to be based on reliable information and this workshop focuses on helping practitioners uncover suicide ideation and gather information that is comprehensive and reliable.

Develop confidence: Most people, including professionals, experience some anxiety when the possibility of suicide comes up with a client and shy away from having this important conversation. By developing competence in working with suicide, you will also become much more confident in your own ability to be helpful to clients.

Previous participants valued the workshop:

  • “…working through the case study using the form was helpful to link the theory to practice”
  • “…dit was ‘n ongelooflike goeie ervaring”
  • “…this is one of the best experiences”
  • “…the overall workshop was a great learning experience for me”

CPD accreditation and requirements

This workshop is accredited by SACSSP for social workers for 13 points. Participants must attend every session in full and comply with all the requirements of pre-session preparation and post-session reflection in order to qualify for CPD points. Each participant who successfully completes the workshop will be issued with an electronic certificate.

Dates and times

The next workshop starts on 9 May 2023 and runs for 6 consecutive Tuesdays. Participants have the option to join the afternoon group (14h00 – 16h00) or the evening group (18h30 – 20h30).

Please note that these dates and times are provisional and may still change. If you would prefer a different time slot, you may still register and indicate your preferred time slot – you will be advised whether workshop will go ahead on those time slots.

Programme Contents 

This workshop aims to help participants develop competence in performing a suicide risk assessment, confidence in their ability to work with suicidal clients and comfort in exploring suicidal ideation with clients.

The workshop sessions will cover the following main themes:

  • Understanding suicide as a personal and social phenomenon
  • Identifying risk and protective factors associated with suicide
  • Interviewing skills for uncovering suicide ideation
  • A strategy for structuring the interview and collecting information
  • Intervention planning and therapeutic work
  • Professionalism and safe, ethical practice

Learning Method

This workshop series follows a competency-based, learner centric approach. The focus is on what the participant is able to do in practice, rather than on knowledge or theory only. Instead of traditional Powerpoint-based presentations, a collaborative online platform is used where participants can view all the workshop information at the same time and can contribute notes and questions at any time. 

Workshop sessions are based on the flipped classroom model. Participants prepare for each session in advance by working through the prescribed material (reading or videos) and during sessions, the material is discussed with a focus on implications for practice. Participants keep an online Reflective Journal where they record their preparation work as well as their reflections after each session. Their Reflective Journal also serves as a portfolio of evidence and replaces a traditional assessment at the end of the workshop.

Technical requirements

Laptop or PCTo participate fully in this workshop, you will need a laptop or PC. Due to the interactive nature of the workshop, a phone or tablet will not suffice, as you will need to be able to switch between applications, view details and type responses.
Internet connectionA high speed internet connection with sufficient broadband/data is needed. You will need to be able to attend a Zoom meeting for 2 hours per week and be able to keep your video on for the full duration.
Free Zoom accountYou don’t need a Zoom account as you can attend the meeting via your browser, but for full functionality it is strongly recommended that you download and install the Zoom Meetings application and create a free account. You don’t need a paid account to attend. To download and install the app, you can click here.

A short test session will be conducted before the start of the workshop so that participants can test their internet connection and equipment.


To register for the workshop, click here.

Registration process

  1. Submit the online registration form – your place is then provisionally booked
  2. You will receive an e-mail to confirm the provisional booking within a day or so
  3. You will receive an invoice to make payment closer to the starting date of the workshop. 


The cost per person is R950. 

Terms and conditions

When the registration form is submitted online, registration is provisionally confirmed. Only a limited number of people can attend the workshop. Once registered you are liable for the full fee of the workshop. If you want to cancel your booking, you can only do so until a week before the start of the workshop, but remain liable to pay a 10% cancellation fee. If you cancel within a week of the start of the workshop, you are still liable to pay the full fee.

The organiser may cancel the workshop if not enough participants register to make it viable. If the organiser cancels the workshop, participants will be refunded in full.

About the facilitator

Werner van der Westhuizen is a social worker in private practice with a focus on therapeutic interventions with children and adults. His work history includes 6 years as a probation officer, 13 years as a children’s residential care director, 5 years as a trainer at a crisis hotline and 7 years in private practice focusing on content development and facilitation of learning and development for professional caregivers. He holds master’s degrees in social work and psychology and is accredited in EMDR, NLP and therapeutic hypnosis. His therapeutic style is eclectic with an interest in approaches such as cognitive behaviour therapy, transactional analysis, reality therapy, brief solution-focused therapy and mind-body interventions. He works from a relational perspective with children and young people and is a trainer in DLE and OTM. He is currently on the advisory board of the Relational Child & Youth Care Journal.