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Stephen White, PhD

Stephen G. White, Ph.D., is a psychologist and the President of Work Trauma Services Inc., a consulting group he originally founded in 1982 to assist employers with serious workplace crises. His extensive work in organizational trauma reduction led to his specializing, since 1989, in the assessment and management of workplace and campus violence risk. Dr. White has consulted nationally and internationally on over 4,500 threat cases for numerous Fortune 500 companies, private and public organizations, law firms and their clientele, colleges and universities, and law enforcement, military and governmental entities. He has testified before the California State Legislature on behalf of workplace violence prevention legislation. Dr. White has authored or co-authored peer-reviewed publications on stalking, workplace and campus mass murder, violence risk assessment, autism and violence, and workplace trauma management. Dr. White, in collaboration with Dr. Reid Meloy, developed and published in 2007 The WAVR-21. Now in its third edition, the WAVR-21 is an evidence-based structured professional judgment guide for assessing workplace and campus violence risk. Dr. White has contributed chapters on workplace violence in the first and second editions of The International Handbook of Threat Assessment, published by Oxford University Press, and is a Contributing Editor for the Journal of Threat Assessment and Management. He was a member of the expert panel of the 2012 US Army-sponsored Workplace Violence in the Military Program, providing peer reviews of scientific proposals to study predictors of targeted violence across Department of Defense service areas. Dr. White has served as an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, where he co-facilitated professional development groups for medical students. He is a sought-after trainer and a frequent guest lecturer at regional, national, and international forums for security, human resource, and mental health professionals, campus administrators, law enforcement agencies, and employment law attorneys.
Stephen White, PhD

Programs Featuring Stephen White, PhD

Case Management Strategies for Workplace Threats of Violence: An Interactive Session

This presentation will focus on three commonly encountered workplace threat scenarios; the paranoid employee, the romantic triangle and the aggressive and/or disgruntled employee.  Strategies to assess and manage these cases, and key intervention decision points will be discussed.  The audience will participate in a structured small group exercise to address and respond to real cases.  Each scenario will be debriefed by the presenter.  The goal will be to demonstrate reliance on empirical information regarding different "perpetrators" in the context of applying careful judgment and necessary multi-disciplinary collaboration, resulting in an improved understanding of risk potential and management of these difficult cases.

Assessing Threats and Violence Risk on Campus, in the Workplace & Community with the WAVR-21
Determining risk of violence is paramount to anyone doing threat assessments. Dr. Stephen White, co-author of the WAVR-21, will present a one-day training on violence risk and threat assessment in workplace, campus and community settings using the WAVR-21 (Workplace Assessment of Violence Risk). The centerpiece of this dynamic event will focus on the use of the WAVR-21, a structured professional guide designed for mental health professionals and workplace-based threat management team members in security, education, human resources, law enforcement and mental health. First published in 2007, recognition of the WAVR-21 continues to grow as the go-to assessment tool for threat scenarios. Now in its 3rd edition, the WAVR includes 21 empirically-based criteria for assessing different forms of workplace violence risk, including student violence in college and university settings. Incorporating years of research, the core of the WAVR-21 is the "pathway to violence" approach to cases, as developed by professionals at the US Secret Service and the US Marshals Office. Research has demonstrated good to excellent interrater reliability for summary judgments of violence risk based on the WAVR-21, and validation research continues. In this one-day format the presenter will succinctly describe the scientific and clinical basis for the WAVR risk and protective factors. From there the focus will be on practical use of the WAVR screening and assessment tools – how they are integrated into dynamic threat case management with its demands for flexibility. The workshop will include didactic segments, case vignettes, and video presentations. Common workplace threat scenarios will be addressed, including stalking, subjects driven by paranoia and mental illness, domestic violence, bullying, and chronically antisocial individuals. The goal is to get participants up and running on the use of the WAVR-21 in this short, one day introduction to the instrument.


Attendees are encouraged to purchase a copy of the WAVR-21 manual before the workshop if you don't already have one. Those who wish to purchase the WAVR-21 in advance can do so at www.specializedtraining.com. The WAVR-21 is currently used by national and international organizations, government agencies and educational institutions.

"WAVR training was selected and provided on a systemwide basis to all ten University of California campuses." UC Office of the President

Threat Assessment Update 2020: Extremism and Lone Actor Terrorism
Domestic terrorism is on the rise in the United States as social and political polarization escalates. With a national election on the horizon, anxiety concerning a pandemic, and widespread civil unrest, how do threat assessors identify, assess, and manage individuals who may pose a risk of extremist violence? Are there ways to separate the supporters of various causes from those who intend to act and mobilize for violence?

This virtual seminar, over three half-day sessions, will discuss findings and insights from research and in-depth case studies that reveal the psychology of extremists and lone actor terrorists. Participants will be instructed on the use of investigative techniques and structured assessment strategies that inform case management decision making.

Initial topics will include the rising prevalence of conspiracy theory, practical tools for debunking such theory, extreme overvalued beliefs vs. delusions, and stochastic terrorism from political leaders. The training will continue with a focus on specific beliefs and movements, including accelerationists, replacement theory, the Incels and other extreme misogynists, White Nationalists, Boogaloo, QAnon, Atomwaffen, and more. The tactics of such groups include using progressive left wing protests to achieve extreme right wing (XRW) goals, and magnifying COVID-19 fears to advance anti-government attitudes. Intensive case studies will deepen understanding of the radicalization path, including the Toronto automobile massacre (Minassian), the false pipe bomb dissemination (Sayoc), and an updated perspective on the Isla Vista mass murder (Rodger). Emphasis will be placed upon both online and on the ground investigations. The training will conclude with a thorough introduction to the TRAP-18, a validated risk assessment instrument for lone actor terrorist violence.

Violent Extremism, 2021: A Threat Assessment Update (Virtual)
Domestic terrorism and extreme belief communities are on the rise in the United States as social and political polarization continues unabated. The recent attack on the US Capitol has dramatically demonstrated how serious and how dangerous these trends are in their reach and influence in our culture.

With a violently contested election, widespread civil unrest, ongoing losses from the pandemic, and a furiously active internet, how do threat assessors identify, assess, and manage individuals who may pose a risk of extremist violence? Are there ways to separate the supporters of various causes from those who intend to act and mobilize for violence?

This virtual seminar, building upon our extremism seminar last September, will be expanded to four, half-day sessions (16 hours). 50% of the content in this program will be new. We will discuss findings and insights from research and in-depth case studies that reveal the psychology of extremist communities and lone actor terrorists. Participants will be instructed on the use of investigative techniques and structured assessment strategies that inform case management decision-making.

Initial topics will include the rising prevalence of violent extremism, conspiracy theory, extreme overvalued beliefs, and stochastic terrorism, including incitement to violence from political leaders. The training will continue with a focus on specific belief systems and movements, including: accelerationism and anti-government, militia extremist movements (including Boogaloo and the Oath Keepers); white supremacist violence and The Great Replacement theory; the Incels and other extreme misogynists; present-day conspiracy theories including QAnon and COVID-19 belief systems; ideologically-motivated groups including Antifa and the Proud Boys; and other domestic terrorists specifically targeting law enforcement. Intensive case studies will deepen understanding of the factors contributing to radicalization and culminating in the various pathways to extremist violence. Cases will include the Michigan anti-government plot, the Christchurch massacre, and the influence of the first “Incel” mass murder in 2014 in Isla Vista, California. As events are continuing to unfold in our current atmosphere of unrest and transition, more recent incidents may be included. The importance of both online and on the ground investigations will be stressed. The training will be framed by the TRAP-18, a validated risk assessment instrument for lone actor terrorist violence.

Emphasis will be placed upon the application of theory and research to the assessment of individuals of concern. A range of intervention strategies will be discussed, incorporating an understanding of the processes of radicalization and deradicalization as well as psychological factors contributing to extremist beliefs. We will identify symptoms of mental illness that may contribute to extremism in individual cases, and how to distinguish these from extreme beliefs per se.