Clinical intuition in violence risk assessment

Good (or bad) vibrations: clinical intuition in violence risk assessment

Journal by Andrew Carroll

Assessment and management of the risk of violence in psychiatry inevitably and appropriately draws on emotionally laden ‘intuitive’ modes of thought, as well as deliberative analytic thinking. This article discusses the concept of ‘intuition’ and proposes a brief set of guidelines, derived from work by the cognitive psychologist Robin Hogarth, by which intuitive thinking may be applied by clinicians when undertaking risk assessment work. The guidelines are: consider the learning structure relevant to the risk assessment task; use your own emotions as a source of data; impose ‘circuit breakers’ such as cost–benefit analyses and validated structured risk assessment tools; and use a narrative approach to develop formulations. The guidelines are intended to provide a framework for ongoing reflective practice in assessing and managing risk.

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