As a newly hired security manager at an Ontario community college in June 2010, I shouldn't have been surprised by the fact that there was so much focus on my thoughts about workplace violence. That month happened to be the same one in which the Ontario government's amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act to include workplace violence and harassment came into effect.
One of the many questions that I was asked that month was, "How should we handle the education and awareness requirements that are contained in the legislation?" It was nice to be able to provide an answer that allowed people to temporarily forget that I was the same guy who had just asked for a map so I could find my way back to my office. That answer was, of course, CPI’s Prepare Training® program.
My experiences with CPI go back to the beginning of my career. I remember the respect that, as a young frontline staff member in a group home, I had for the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® program and its use of basic concepts like support and empathy in the de-escalation of crises. Our staff used the principles effectively time and time again in ways that allowed for quick and safe responses to clients in crisis. What was even more valuable to me was the fact that by following the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® model, we were able to preserve our professional relationships with our clients after crises.
As my career moved from social services to post-secondary education security, I realized that there was still a place for the application of Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® principles. Thanks to a director who was able to see the potential that this type of training held, I became a Certified Instructor in 2000, and from that point on, the training became mandatory for every one of our staff members.
What we found was that while only a small percentage of the school community experiences crises to the extent that our intervention is required, those that do often come to our attention more than once. In fact, effective case management may require regular contact with that person following their original period of crisis. In that respect, the restorative nature of Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training lends itself perfectly to this environment.
As the program became widely known throughout our institution, more and more departments became interested in it for the de-escalation techniques as they pertained to workplace violence scenarios. These situations didn't involve a mandate to assist a client through a crisis, but rather crisis de-escalation for the purpose of physical and emotional safety in the provision of frontline services.
Most of these departments had very little interest in the CPI Personal Safety TechniquesSM taught in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training, and chose to view them as team-building exercises rather than as tools that they would actually employ. I could live with that, because I knew that the rest of the content had very real value for these staff members. Likewise, the concept of Therapeutic Rapport was a tough sell. It took considerable effort to reinforce the value of preserving professional relationships with individuals that staff viewed as perpetrators of workplace violence.
It was around this time that I became aware of the Prepare Training® program. I was intrigued by the fact that the program seemed to offer the same fundamental principles that I had come to believe in through my years of experience with Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training, and that it didn't focus on those who were working with a specific client base.
After speaking with some very helpful people at CPI, I learned much more about the Prepare Training® program. I found that the topics that were less applicable to the majority of my classes were not part of the Prepare Training® Foundation Course. They were, however, available for teaching as additional modules following the successful completion of the Foundation Course. This meant that I had the ability to tailor training programs that would meet the needs of each department I taught.
One of the most appealing aspects of the Prepare Training® program is that it provides a specific opportunity for me to outline for my participants the details of our institutional violence response procedures. This was something that I had always felt compelled to do before, but I had to provide it as additional information that either suffered from a lack of detail or took away from the time that I was required to give to other topics.
When moving from that post-secondary institution to lead the security department at my current college, it seemed obvious that I would bring Prepare Training® concepts along with me. It's a natural fit to help us meet the new legislated requirements with which all employers in Ontario must comply.
One aspect of the Prepare Training® program that I look forward to making use of is the additional modules that are available to participants who have completed the Foundation Course. Frankly, the demand for the Foundation Course has been so great that I have yet to reach a second cycle of training that will allow for the use of these modules. Again, flexibility is a great advantage to the program. Since I offer the program to many different departments that provide a wide variety of services, I'm glad to have a number of modules available to me that address a range of issues while still reinforcing the basic principles I teach in the Foundation Course. This will allow me to review material previously learned while offering new and applicable information to keep the recertification process fresh and useful.
As an Instructor, I've seen the benefits of both the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® and Prepare Training® programs in different settings. I believe strongly in both programs and the broader work of CPI. The change from one program to another was right for my institutions and for me as an Instructor, and was accomplished without me having to compromise the value of the principles that both programs teach. I'm certain that the Prepare Training® program will continue to serve our institutional training needs for years to come, and I look forward to making full use of everything that it has to offer.