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URMC / Psychiatry / Education / Skills Lab


The Laboratory of Behavioral Health Skills

Steve Fasone editing video on a computer

You've taught a wide range of skills. Now you can see your trainees in action.


The Laboratory of Behavioral Health Skills (Skills Lab) is a new Department of Psychiatry resource for hands-on learning and competence assessment.

At the Skills Lab, highly-trained actor-educators engage learners in realistic scenarios to help them develop skills like diagnostic interviewing, managing difficult conversations, handling challenging situations with patients and improving team-based skills.

The lab offers production capabilities for the development of educational videos and includes a multi-camera flexible studio space as well as a control room where interactions can be recorded for review, assessment and feedback.

Who Can Use the Skills Lab?

Classroom in Lab

The lab is available to Mental Health & Wellness educators interested in utilizing active learning simulations and assessments.  

It can be used for:

  • Simulations of competency exercises
  • Skill demonstration and evaluation
  • General media production for educational purposes
  • Produce live or recorded online learning activities

Case Study - Practicing Life-Saving Skills: Suicide Prevention Simulation


Interview in Lab

One of the most challenging situations clinicians-in-training face is helping a patient who has suicidal ideation and behaviors. Simulation can help learners prepare in a no-risk context.  

Suicide prevention simulations involve a structured, realistic interaction in which a trained actor-educator presents as a patient contemplating suicide. Students practice their suicide risk assessment and safety planning skills and receive feedback from the actor-educators in addition to reviewing recordings of the simulation along with their supervisor. 

This offers the unique opportunity to practice critical suicide prevention skills in a safe situation where clinical supervisors can assess and help trainees improve their skills.  

Feedback from learners demonstrates that the simulations are highly realistic and the actor-educator feedback is very valuable. Data also shows that practicing suicide prevention skills improves learners’ ability to assess suicidality and collaborate on an effective safety plan.

How to Access the Skills Lab's Services

Wendi Cross, Steve Fasone & Grace Farrell

To get started using the Skills Lab, contact the Co- directors:
 Wendi Cross and Steve Fasone.

They will walk you through the process of developing and submitting an education-focused proposal. The Department’s Education Committee reviews proposals. If you are interested in video production, the Skills Lab team will help you develop a project plan and budget. 


Download Our Proposal Form