My Crisis Is On Fire

I'd like to share with you something that has served me well as a trainer in the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® course. I like to use analogies to get ideas and content across to participants. One idea that over the years participants have said they like is the comparison of crisis behavior to different intensities of fire. I use the Crisis Development ModelSM to make the comparison.


As I do the lecture, I compare Anxiety to a spark. Defensive behavior to a flame or a fire. Acting-Out Person to a raging, out-of-control forest fire. And Tension Reduction to smoldering embers or hot coals.


Anxiety is a spark because sparks are the beginning of fire, and Anxiety can be the beginning of acting-out behavior in general. Sparks can lead to fires just as a person's Anxiety can lead to more disruptive behaviors. So let's put out the spark with a Supportive approach so that it does not become a flame or a fire.


Defensive behavior is more intense than Anxiety, just as a flame or a campfire is more intense than a spark. A different approach (Directive) is required in the same sense that putting out a flame or a fire is not the same as putting out a spark.


Forest fires are a danger to self or others just as Acting-Out-Person behavior is. Because it's different from other behaviors, it requires a different approach. There's a lot of risk in putting out forest fires in the same sense that nonviolent restraints (or any restraints for that matter) contain risk.


Tension Reduction is a crisis behavior in that there is still a need for an intervention. Now we are talking about smoldering embers or hot coals. These can reignite and grow into fire if we don't completely put them out with Therapeutic Rapport. I talk about how firefighters stay behind after putting out main fires. They go throughout the building to put out the hot spots that can cause more fire and more damage.


So...there it is. Crisis behavior can be compared to various forms of fire just as interventions can be compared to various forms of putting out fires. Different types of fire require different responses just as different behaviors require different responses, though the principles of putting out fires remain the same, just as the principles of interventions are basically the same.


I bet you never thought you were a firefighter.

Cool off with more helpful hints about behavior management.


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