When a Client Commits Suicide – What Happens to the Therapist?

It is well known, and documented, that clients with complex PTSD and Dissociation have a high level of suicide risk. The presence of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), suicide attempts (SA), and suicidal ideation (SI) in these clients is a constant challenge to both clients and therapists. Although the suicide of a client has been describes as “the most traumatic termination of all” (Davis, 2008), the therapist is often left with few, if any, safe ways to process the shock, grief, and complicated feelings following a client suicide. This workshop will focus on the impact of client suicide on the therapist.

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in May 2020.

Target Audience


Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:

  • Recognize and assess for potential suicide Identify local supportive resources, for the therapist, in preparation for the possibility of a client committing suicide
  • Identify the common reactions, cognitive and emotional, that challenge therapists after a client has died by suicide
  • Identify ways to transform the loss into a legacy that will honor the life of the client and the work of the therapist
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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Presenter:  Lynette Danylchuk, PhD
Presenter Bio:  Lynette Danylchuk, PhD, has been working in the trauma field since mid-80, starting with Vietnam Vets and people with DID. She served 12 years on the original Board of Directors of Survivorship, and then worked for the Board of the Star Foundation for several more years. She had her private practice in San Mateo, California, where, in addition to working with clients, she did (and continues to do) periodic consultation and teaching where she sees a need, including a local graduate school, juvenile hall, or the county trauma-informed services conference. Lynette has been adjunct faculty to graduate schools in the San Francisco area where she has taught, and been a dissertation chairperson. She has given keynote speeches and workshops across the state and at annual conferences of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD).

Available Credit

  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


ISSTD Member cost:
Your Price:
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"Your Price" above reflects your final price based on your membership status and career level. 

  • ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation. 
  • ISSTD defines an emerging professional as mental health professionals who have completed an advanced degree and are in the first three years of their career (or first three years after graduation for researchers).
  • If you do not fall into one of the above categories please register as Professional/Retired. 

These prices are for Tier I countries. For a list of countries by Tier click here. If you are located in a country that falls into Tier II-VI please contact ISSTD at cfas@isst-d.org to receive the appropriate discount code.