About CAMS

What is the “Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality” (CAMS)?

CAMS is first and foremost a clinical philosophy of care. It is a therapeutic framework for suicide-specific assessment and treatment of a patient’s suicidal risk. It is a flexible approach that can be used across theoretical orientations and disciplines for a wide range of suicidal patients across treatment settings and different treatment modalities.

The clinician and patient engage in a highly interactive assessment process and the patient is actively involved in the development of their own treatment plan. Every session of CAMS intentionally utilizes the patient’s input about what is and is not working. All assessment work in CAMS is collaborative; we seek to have the patient be a “co-author” of their own treatment plan.

In terms of CAMS philosophy, the clinician’s honesty and forthrightness are key elements. For any patient teetering between life and death, there can be no more important component of care than direct and respectful candor when suicidal risk is present. The CAMS clinician endeavors to understand their patient’s suffering from an empathetic, non-judgmental, and intra-subjective perspective. The clinician never shames or blames a suicidal person for being suicidal; we endeavor to understand this struggle through the eyes of the suicidal patient.

 

Individuals

Learn CAMS from the source. Our recommended learning path for individuals is designed to increase your confidence in treatment of suicidal patients. Start with the CAMS book, take the CAMS Online Video Course and contact us for individual case consultation.

GROUPS

Learn CAMS from the source. CAMS trainings for groups incorporates the 4 components of CAMS Foundational Training: CAMS Book, CAMS Online Video Course, On-site Role Play Training and CAMS Consultation Calls. We work closely with groups to develop a flexible approach to meet your goals.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is CAMS the best choice for suicide prevention?

CAMS stands for the “Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality” (CAMS). CAMS is first and foremost a clinical philosophy of care. It is a therapeutic framework for suicide-specific assessment and treatment of a patient’s suicidal risk. It is a flexible approach that can be used across theoretical orientations and disciplines for a wide range of suicidal patients across treatment settings and different treatment modalities.

This is the first time I'm hearing about CAMS. Is CAMS considered a best practice?

Yes, the Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert on February 24, 2016 titled Detecting and Treating Suicidal Ideation in all Settings. In recommendations for Behavioral Health Treatment and Discharge, CAMS was identified as one of three “evidence-based clinical approaches that help to reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviors.”

In 2017, the CDC released Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices. CAMS was identified as a treatment for people at risk of suicide (page 37).

Our organization already uses a screening risk assessment measure for suicide. I understand that CAMS is used for risk assessment so why would we need to add another screening tool?

While CAMS emphasizes a therapeutic assessment of suicidal risk, it is much more than a screening or risk assessment tool. Guided by a multi-purpose clinical tool called the “Suicide Status Form” (SSF), CAMS guides the patient’s treatment through a suicide-specific assessment, a suicide-specific treatment plan focusing on patient-defined “drivers” of suicide (i.e., those problems that lead to suicidality), tracks the on-going risk, and facilitates clinical outcomes and dispositions.

So CAMS is not just a screening or risk assessment tool, so what else does it do?

Beyond merely assessing suicidal risk, CAMS is a proven clinical intervention that reliably and effectively treats patient-defined suicidal drivers leading to rapid reductions in suicidal ideation, overall symptom distress, depression, and hopelessness. In addition, there are promising data for decreasing suicide attempts and self-harm behaviors. These results are based on 8 published clinical trials, 3 published randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and one unpublished randomized controlled trial (RCT).

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