Suicidology Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Get Answers to Our Most Common Questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is CAMS?

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.

 

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.

My organization uses electronic health records. Is there an electronic version of the SSF? Can I make a template for my system?

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, 5 published randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and several RCTs currently in process.

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 56 Suicide 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.” CAMS is listed in the Zero Suicide Toolkit as an evidence-based treatment.

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).

What are the components of CAMS Foundational Training?

The CAMS book: Managing Suicidal Risk: A Collaborative Approach + the CAMS Online Video + CAMS Practical Role-Play Training + CAMS Consultation Calls.

Who should get training in CAMS?

Mental health providers who provide individual therapy; mental health providers in inpatient, emergency department, and intensive outpatient programs; case managers; school counselors and administrators; and emergency or crisis responders.

Do you offer certification in CAMS?

Yes. We offer the designation of CAMS TRAINED and a Clinician Locator so that suicidal people and their loved ones can find an evidence-based clinician in their State.

How long does it take to become proficient at using CAMS with patients?

Research has shown that clinicians can become adherent in the use of CAMS with their first patient within four sessions.

Do you have a Train the Trainer Program?

There is no train the trainer program in the authorized use of CAMS. This is primarily because we are dedicated to adherence to the CAMS evidence-base which requires top trainers who have worked extensively with Dr. Jobes and are familiar with the most recent CAMS research. We have seen the quality of other training protocols in this field degrade when they incorporated a train the trainer model. We do encourage CAMS book clubs as ways for clinicians to share their knowledge and build on their skills in CAMS.

We are participating in “Zero Suicide,” how can we go about implementing CAMS in our organization?

CAMS-care provides the only authorized training in CAMS that readily fits well into a Zero-Suicide policy effort. Dr. Jobes has been involved in the Zero Suicide movement since its inception and CAMS is consistently used within Zero Suicide initiatives as one of only a handful of suicide-specific evidence-based approaches to suicidal risk according to replicated randomized controlled trials.

We have funding or are planning to submit a grant proposal from Garrett Lee Smith Act (GLS), could we work with CAMS-care to set up a training with these funds?

Yes, CAMS is an excellent evidence-based suicide-specific clinical intervention that can be well-suited for suicide prevention efforts funded by GLS.  Many CAMS trainings have been conducted for state organizations and Native American behavioral health providers.

I am planning on taking (or I have taken) the Online video course. Do I really need the book too?

Dr. Jobes’s book is the primary source for detailed information and instruction regarding CAMS. The Online video course provides an excellent introduction and overview to CAMS including demonstrating the use of the Suicide Status Form and treating a patient over multiple sessions. If you only pick one learning tool, we recommend the book.

My organization will be offering the Online Video Course to our staff, can we purchase access and show it to everyone in a group setting?

No, that would be a direct violation of the terms of use. The online course is intended to be an individual training experience not a group training experience.

The Online Video course was useful but I would like to return to it in the future to refresh my memory once I start using CAMS with a patient. Is there any other way to get access to the information about CAMS in the video once my access has expired?

Yes, detailed information about CAMS, including the use of the SSF and the CAMS Therapeutic Worksheet, research supporting the efficacy of CAMS, completed examples of the SSF, and recommendations for using CAMS with patients are all available in Managing Suicidal Risk: A Collaborative Approach. We recommend purchasing the book as a companion piece to taking the Online course as we feel it is an excellent resource to support ongoing use of CAMS in your practice.

Where can I get more copies of the SSF?

There are two ways to have access to SSF copies—through purchase and ownership of the Guilford Press book Managing Suicidal Risk: A Collaborative Approach 2nd Ed which enables a provider to access a web-based version of the tool or to photocopy the document directly from the book as per the limited copyright permission that is afforded by owning the book. Alternatively, you may access the SSF through the CAMS-care online training course which permits a provider personal access to and use of the SSF.

Do you have the SSF in other languages? Where can I get copies?

The SSF has been translated into other languages and access is made on a case-by-case basis for clinicians who have been properly trained by CAMS-care.

My organization uses electronic health records. Is there an electronic version of the SSF? Can I make a template for my system?

The existing twenty-year evidence base for CAMS comes from the written-hard-copy-use of the Suicide Status Form and our research shows that writing is different than typing. That said, there is an increased demand for an electronic version of the Suicide Status Form particularly in these days of social distancing.

It should be noted that Guilford Press, the publisher of Managing Suicidal Risk, a Collaborative Approach, 2nd Edition, owns the copyright of the SSF. If you have purchased the book or the CAMS-care foundational video, you have a license to use the SSF. However, if you have a group of clinicians using the SSF and interfacing with an EMR, we strongly suggest that you contact CAMS-care so we can work with you and Guilford to obtain a license for the SSF. Please direct your inquiries to support@cams-care.com.

We have a number of promising approaches for using eSSFs with electronic medical records. The first involves using a tablet and stylus that replicates the hard-copy experience using PowerPoint that captures handwriting into text as well as creating a PDF of the “written” document. The PDF and text file of each session can then be uploaded to your Electronic Medical Record system. This approach was developed in conjunction with Microsoft and requires Windows 10 and Office 365.

The second approach is a fillable PDF that can be supplied with Guilford’s permission. Again please contact support@cams-care.com with inquiries.

Any other attempt to make an electronic SSF template is not only a direct violation of copyright law, but such a misuse of the CAMS Assessment and Treatment materials is no longer backed by research or an evidence base. Until you have rigorously studied your inconsistent use of the CAMS Framework, you cannot be certain it will be effective. The SSF should always be administered collaboratively between the provider and patient consistent with adherence to the evidence-based approach described in our training and the Guilford Press source book.

It is the goal of Guilford and CAMS-care to provide the SSF to as many clinicians as possible so that it can be used to save lives through effective care knowing that those clinicians have received sufficient training in the use of the form.

Do you offer Continuing Education Credits for the Online course?

We currently offer CE credits for psychologists and social workers. See all CE offerings.

I am interested in attending a role-play training. Are you offering one in my community?

At some juncture, we hope to provide regularly scheduled regional trainings around the country and abroad but these are not yet available. In response to COVID-19, we have created an Online Role-Play Training for individuals using the Zoom platform with Zoom Breakout Rooms for role-play sessions.

Would you send someone to our organization to lead a role-play training or do we have to travel to you?

Yes, we would send a consultant to your location to run a role-play training. Please complete the inquiry form and we will be happy to contact you. In response to COVID-19, we now provide group and individual Online Role-Play Training using the Zoom platform with Zoom Breakout Rooms for role-play sessions.

We are a small organization but would like to arrange for our staff to attend role play training. Do you offer trainings for small groups?

Yes, we have trained groups of less than ten attendees and we also encourage you to sign up multiple individuals to the Online Role-Play Training. Please complete our inquiry form with information about your organization and we will be happy to contact you to discuss the options available.

I am not sure our staff will be able to attend a day long role play training; does that mean we will not be able to use CAMS with our patients?

No, we have many organizations that opt to complete foundational training in CAMS by having staff read the book, take the Online course, and attend a series of consultation calls. We have also split our Online Role Play Training into half-day sessions to fit with the needs of organizations. Please complete our inquiry form and we will be happy to contact you to discuss the options available.

Still have a question?

The CAMS-care team is happy to discuss your questions or provide more information to assist you.  Please fill out our contact form — we will do our best to respond promptly, usually within 24 hours. Please note that inquiries submitted after 5 pm EST will be answered the following business day.