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?
Over 30 years of research, including 4 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), has proven CAMS to be an effective evidence-based assessment, intervention and treatment that directly targets suicidal risk. The research is further supported by 40 CAMS-related publications, including 37 peer reviewed journal articles, 5 book chapters, and 2 books.

 

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 These results are based on 8 published clinical trials, 3 published randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and one unpublished randomized controlled trial (RCT).

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.”

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; and emergency or crisis responders.

Do you offer certification in CAMS?

No, but at some point in the future we may offer certifications in the use of CAMS. To do this properly administrative procedures would be necessary to ensure that certified providers remain in adherence.

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 tightening-up our 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 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?
Though we believe the Online video course provides an excellent introduction and overview to CAMS, the book is the primary source for detailed information and instruction regarding CAMS. Since access to the Online course is limited to 7 days, the book is the perfect complement to the Online course.  More information about the book is available Guilford Press on the publisher’s website.

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? Can I make a template and just have the patient fill out CAMS before I meet with them?

We understand the reality of electronic health records in many if not most health care settings and we are working to study and make available electronic versions of CAMS related material (particularly the SSF). However, the existing twenty year evidence base for CAMS rests on the written—hard-copy—use of the SSF and our research shows that writing is different than typing. We have a number of research projects working to make the SSF electronic so that it can easily interface with EMR’s. The most promising approach involves using a tablet and stylus that replicates the hard-copy experience while still interfacing with an EMR. Until these studies are completed, the SSF must be scanned into an EMR or perhaps maintained as a “Psychotherapy Note” under the Privacy Rule provision of HIPAA (while maintaining an official medical record progress note of the care). Any attempt to make an electronic SSF template is a direct violation of copyright law and represents an unlawful misuse of CAMS materials. Finally, 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.

Do you offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for the Online course?
Our CEUs for counselors, psychologists, and social workers are sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) and approved by NASW and APA. Our course provides 3 hours of CEUs. Currently we do not offer Continuing Medical Education credits (CMEs) for the Online course and we suggest that you consider taking the non-CEU version of the Online course if you are a medical provider (nurse, physician).

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.

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.

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. 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. Please complete our inquiry form and we will be happy to contact you to discuss the options available.