Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Dr. Dennis Gilbride

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura Shannonhouse

Third Advisor

Dr. Franco Dispenza

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Yung-Wei Dennis Lin


Suicide is a serious mental health concern, it is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, the second leading cause of death for young adults (10-34), and the fourth leading cause for persons aged 35 to 54 years (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2015). Counselors-in-training (CIT) often encounter clients with suicidal ideation, and they often report feeling, and are found to be, under-prepared to respond effectively (Barrio Minton et al., 2011; Erikson & Abel, 2013). One potential approach to helping augment the skills of counselors-in-training is extending suicide intervention training beyond their formal course work. Applied Suicide Intervention Skills training (ASIST) is a 14- hour, 2-day standardized and manualized training designed to train people in the helping professions to identify and effectively intervene with people considering suicide (LivingWorks, 2013). ASIST has been recognized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), branches of the US Military, the Center for Disease Control (Rodgers, 2010), and the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), as an effective training for suicide prevention. However, ASIST has yet to be rigorously evaluated as a systematic means of enhancing CIT preparedness to deal effectively with suicidal clients in a fieldwork setting. It is clear that further research is warranted to evaluate the ability of ASIST to increase the skills of CIT.

This study evaluated the use of ASIST by CIT with both suicidal and non-suicidal clients and examined how ASIST may offer a standardized and measurable means of enhancing CITs sensitivity, awareness, and intervention skills in responding to persons-at-risk, for both suicide and other significant mental health issues. This is the first study to evaluate the utilization and generalizability of ASIST by CIT in practice and over time.