Try This Exercise in Your Next Crisis Prevention Training

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Staff are the best mental health treatment there is—relationship builders, comforters, and teachers of better ways of dealing with life with mental illness.
This is the theme of the CPI classes I teach: To get staff in touch with the core beliefs that they come to work with.
A core belief of mine is empowerment. I have spent my career as a nurse and therapist and I love teaching people about their impact on others and how to “read behavior” to intervene, disengage, and prevent.
When I present on the Decision-Making Matrix for behavioral health staff, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get them in touch with their own triggers, vulnerabilities, and tolerances for certain risk behaviors. We explore together the various risk behaviors they might encounter, and why one would respond to a behavior the way they do. I emphasize that how the staff member responds is crucial to how the crisis turns out.
Then we do this exercise:
Try this out and let me know what you think.
Have groups of three or four write out a risk behavior that they’ve been a part of. Talk about:
  • What the triggers were.
  • Who was there.
  • What each staff member did.
  • What worked.
  • What didn’t.
  • Whether they felt what they did was the best.
  • What they might have done differently instead.  
This is a good team builder, and staff tell me that it’s enormously helpful for showing the value of debriefing. My research on debriefing shows that it’s often the most neglected part of a crisis intervention. But it’s always one of the most important parts. As I teach staff, debriefing can even be part of prevention.
What exercises do you do in your trainings? Let me know in the comments. Or if you’re a CPI Certified Instructor, join me in the Community on Yammer. It’s a great resource, especially for new trainers.
Beverly Moore is a Senior Level CPI Instructor. She trains about 200 hospital employees per year (ER staff, social workers, RNs, mental health counselors, nursing assistants, and all new hires) and strives to advance the no-restraint policy that Carney Hospital is working toward. Beverly also coaches dementia caregivers, teaching people how to tap their strengths to face their challenges with more confidence.
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About the Author

“Every individual on this earth deserves to be treated with compassion, understanding, and the right to keep their dignity intact. This can be difficult to honor at times when someone loses control of their behavior, but that’s where Rational Detachment and not taking it personally really kicks in. What has helped me be able to do this well goes back to the first day I was introduced to Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training. I was a participant before becoming a Certified Instructor (and before working for CPI), and over the years I have had so many opportunities to use what I learned way back then. Today, I live the skills automatically. It’s an honor to have been given those skills to live the philosophy of treating others the way I want to be treated.”