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Jeff Pollard

As clinical violence risk assessment continues to work its way into the list of possible services campus counseling centers are asked to provide, so have the numbers of assessment instruments being offered to assist the process. The following recent study is an attempt to begin standardization of the research on measuring the efficacy of such instruments. Reviewing the research in depth should be considered as part of the due diligence required when dealing with all aspects of campus safety. There may be some hope for those making pre-adoption (purchase) evaluations.

Concern exists for those campus clinicians tasked with conducting violence risk assessments. Terminology such as “harm to self and/or others” is used so often they sound like different flavors of the same thing – when they really are not. Consider the marked difference in classroom instruction/discussion, case supervision, and numbers of these assessments completed for risk to self vs. risk to others. They really aren’t comparable at all, i.e., the potential consequences of a subject lying to the clinician are very different. Campus counseling center directors appropriately describe the limits of a clinical violence assessment, but one wonders to what extent non-clinician colleagues understand those nuanced descriptions and hear instead – “the counseling center has got this.”

Pressure on CCs to provide assessments can be immense which in turn creates a demand that results in a market for instrumentation designed to help get the assessment process across the finish line. This article attempts to guide the reader in rendering an informed evaluation of instrumentation. It looks like a good beginning.