February 20, 2017
Lorie Ordiway
A smiling man talking to a student in his office.

I work for an organization that provides services to individuals with intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injuries, and I’ve been a CPI Certified Instructor for eight years.

Shortly after I returned from my last CPI trainer training, I was in a meeting where our team was discussing a participant’s request to have more community alone time.

The team brought up the participant’s history of shoplifting as a concern, and at that point the “what-if” monster arrived.

There was conversation back and forth for several minutes, and then it occurred to me and a fellow Certified Instructor: The Decision-Making Matrix.

The team had not been trained in this additional tool yet, so we used a whiteboard to draw the Decision-Making Matrix.

The team was asked, “How often does the risk behavior (shoplifting) occur?” Several team members responded, “All the time,” “It’s a significant concern,” etc.

So the team was asked, “Out of 365 days, how often does the risk behavior occur?” The team responded “10 times in the last year.”

“So on the Likelihood part of the continuum,” we asked, “if the left [lower risk] is 0 and the right [higher risk] is 365, where would that 10-times-in-a-year fall?” The team agreed that the number would fall on the far left side of the continuum.

Then the team was asked, “What is the worst possible outcome if the participant shoplifts?” The team responded, “Jail,” “Kicked out of a store,” “fined.”

The team was then asked, “If the bottom of the Outcome part of the continuum is 'nothing happens,' and the top part is 'someone dies,' where on the continuum would the outcome of the shoplifting fall?” The team agreed that the outcome would fall on the low end of the middle block.

The team was then asked, “Based on this risk assessment, where the likelihood is very low risk and the outcome is not high risk, should the participant have additional alone time in the community?”

The team agreed that the participant should have more alone time.

And the participant has not been put in jail, kicked out of a store, or fined. In fact, reports of shoplifting have decreased.

This is one of many ways the Decision-Making Matrix is helping to improve lives.
Lorie OrdiwayLorie Ordiway is an operations assistant director with NOWCAP Services. She’s been training her colleagues in the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® program since December 2008.

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