A Review of Psychiatric Emergencies

Course #66773 -


The course introduces professionals who may or may not currently work in emergency departments to the issue of psychiatric emergencies. Psychiatric illnesses that may require emergency treatment are divided between those involving adults and children. Within each of these categories, individual illnesses are presented with a short description of the presenting symptoms and possible areas of differential diagnosis before treatment is started. However, this course does not attempt to teach psychiatric diagnosis, as such is beyond the limits of this course. Common treatment approaches are provided for each psychiatric illness described. In addition to the illnesses and possible treatments, professionals are introduced to potential dangers and ways to minimize the possibility of injury to either medical personnel or the patient.

Education Category: Psychiatric / Mental Health
Release Date: 03/01/2020
Expiration Date: 02/28/2023

Table of Contents


This intermediate course is designed for psychologists, especially those working in emergency care settings.

Accreditations & Approvals

Continuing Education (CE) credits for psychologists are provided through the co-sponsorship of the American Psychological Association (APA) Office of Continuing Education in Psychology (CEP). The APA CEP Office maintains responsibility for the content of the programs.

Designations of Credit

NetCE designates this continuing education activity for 10 credit(s).

Course Objective

The purpose of this course is to help psychologists recognize psychiatric emergencies, identify common psychiatric illnesses that may share symptoms with physical illness, and improve the management of psychiatric emergencies.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Outline the history and appropriate use of the emergency department (ED).
  2. Cite statistics regarding ED utilization.
  3. Describe the medical evaluation of psychiatric patients in the emergency setting.
  4. Discuss components of a psychiatric assessment in the ED.
  5. Review common medical conditions that may be linked to psychiatric issues.
  6. Define imminent danger.
  7. Identify common psychiatric conditions that may precipitate emergencies in adults.
  8. Recognize psychiatric illnesses in children and adolescents that may necessitate emergency intervention.
  9. Describe the appropriate management of psychiatric emergencies, including the necessity for providing information in the patient's native language.
  10. Outline appropriate discharge planning for patients who have been treated for psychiatric emergencies.
  11. List interventions that should be utilized in the case of a psychiatric emergency in an office setting.
  12. Discuss legal issues associated with psychiatric emergencies.


James Trent, PhD, earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Mississippi in 1977. He has worked in rural community mental health, where psychiatric emergencies were managed without the benefit of adjacent inpatient psychiatric facilities. He has managed an independent practice of psychology since 1979, a practice that has included managing patients presenting with psychiatric emergencies. Dr. Trent taught at Middle Tennessee State University and Capella University, lecturing graduate students on psychopathology and psychotherapy. He supervised practicum students and interns at the VAMC Nashville, Tennessee, and at the Vanderbilt University Psychological and Counseling Center. In 2017, Dr. Trent retired from the Charleston, South Carolina, VAMC Home Based Primary Care program, where he provided psychological services to elderly veterans with chronic, comorbid illnesses that precluded their ability to receive care at the hospital and managed psychiatric emergencies among home-based veterans. Dr. Trent also acts as the Psychology Division Planner at NetCE.

Faculty Disclosure

Contributing faculty, James Trent, PhD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationship with any product manufacturer or service provider mentioned.

About the Sponsor

The purpose of NetCE is to provide challenging curricula to assist healthcare professionals to raise their levels of expertise while fulfilling their continuing education requirements, thereby improving the quality of healthcare.

Our contributing faculty members have taken care to ensure that the information and recommendations are accurate and compatible with the standards generally accepted at the time of publication. The publisher disclaims any liability, loss or damage incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents. Participants are cautioned about the potential risk of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into practice.

Disclosure Statement

It is the policy of NetCE not to accept commercial support. Furthermore, commercial interests are prohibited from distributing or providing access to this activity to learners.

Technical Requirements

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