Support All Levels of Risk: Advanced Physical Intervention Training 

November 2, 2021
Angry man threaterning a colleague

I’ve had the pleasure of teaching CPI’s Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®, 2nd Edition With Advanced Physical Skills (Advanced Physical Skills) since 2002. It’s fascinating to look back on the past 20 years and think about not only the range of professionals I’ve trained, but also the variety of scenarios that I’ve seen positively impacted by the involvement of Advanced Physical Skills training.

For instance, at a number of psychiatric institutions, we have seen them transition from higher risk interventions to those taught in the Advanced Physical Skills course with great success. Additionally, in school settings we have seen them problem-solve complex behavioral challenges and design intervention strategies that not only address the prevailing risk but also, work towards a reduction in the frequency and intensity of risk behaviors.

While we continue to update our training methods based on the most current, evidence-based techniques on the market, something that has stood the test of time is the ability for Advanced Physical Skills training to provide a truly well-rounded approach to organizations’ workplace violence prevention programs. The Advanced Physical Skills techniques extend far beyond advanced physical interventions—let’s talk about what that means for your organization.

Training that Builds Upon Itself

With Advanced Physical Skills training, you open your own learning potential to our suite of programs that provide training for all levels, based on specific roles and responsibilities. You first learn to identify the causes and stages of escalating behaviors—along with appropriate verbal and non-verbal intervention strategies—so you can de-escalate these behaviors before they escalate into a crisis. Those skills layer onto safe disengagements and restrictive interventions, which creates the foundation for the advanced physical interventions that you gain with Advanced Physical Skills training. What does that mean for your organization?

As you pass your training onto your colleagues, those three levels of CPI training that you’ve received—Verbal Intervention Training, Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®, 2nd Edition Training, and Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®, 2nd Edition With Advanced Physical Skills—can be taught separately to staff members based on their unique roles and risk levels. As you know, an office administrator may not encounter the same scenarios as a security officer so understandably their CPI training should account for that.

CPI Foundational Programs

Like other CPI training programs, Advanced Physical Skills certifications are on a two-year cycle. Your certification in Advanced Physical Skills ensures you are routinely refreshing your training to maintain current and up-to-date, evidence-based intervention techniques. Your Advanced Physical Skills certification remains built on the foundational de-escalation principles and skills taught in our foundation programs. Renewing your certification every two years ensures your success in instructing your team on advanced restrictive and nonrestrictive intervention skills, empowering them and instilling confidence in their ability to address all levels of risk behavior. This provides a continual focus on the Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM of your staff and those in their care.

A Well-Rounded Team

A well-rounded Certified Instructor creates a well-rounded team. Beyond advanced physical interventions, the critical problem-solving and decision-making skills you’ll pass along with Advanced Physical Skills training allows your team to be more effective in their approaches to crisis situations, regardless of the risk level involved. Staff are trained to think more critically when they encounter risk scenarios, whether they must make an in-the-moment decision or are consistently assessing the work environment, their training equips them with the tools needed to decide the safest approach to each situation.

And because all CPI training is built upon one consistent foundation, all trained staff will enter the same crisis scenario with a consistent language, a consistent set of intervention methods, and a consistent understanding of everyone’s role in de-escalating the incident. That consistency is critical to smooth de-escalation and what makes CPI training programs so successful.

Knowing Advanced Physical Skills is Right for You

As I mentioned earlier, an undeniable highlight of Advanced Physical Skills training is the format in which the skills stack upon themselves to create a diverse set of tools for workplace violence prevention. If you’re unsure if this program is the right fit, or if you have staff certified in other CPI programs and are considering upgrading to Advanced Physical Skills, consider these questions:

  • Is your staff seeing an increase in workplace violence?
  • Are you working with individuals exhibiting complex or unpredictable behaviors?
  • Are you trying to lower your organization’s use of physical restraints?
  • Does your staff have the potential to encounter individuals who are physically aggressive?
  • Is your team made up of a wide range of roles, some in low-risk roles and others in high-risk roles?
  • Does your school, district, hospital, or nursing home need to meet state and federal legislative requirements surrounding physical interventions, restraints, and/or seclusion?

Think through recent situations you and your staff have encountered and the regular clientele you serve. Health care professionals who work with a wide range of patients may encounter unpredictable behaviors most often. Additionally, their facilities typically employ a range of staff across all levels of risk.

Imagine the office administrator and security guard I noted above facing a patient exhibiting dangerous behavior. Think of how these staff members would approach this situation without the same de-escalation training. One might freeze, unsure of how to respond, while the other could potentially portray defensive body language. Now imagine they’ve received the same, consistent evidence-based verbal and advanced physical intervention techniques. How might they approach this situation now? Which scenario’s outcome do you think will be the safest and most successful for everyone involved?

Educators with a focus on special education may face similar encounters of complex or unpredictable behavior in students. While they will gain advanced physical intervention skills for times that behaviors turn violent, they’ll rely on the confidence and strategies they’ve gained in order to avoid situations from becoming dangerous in the first place. This means they can meet students where they are and intervene safely and effectively.

Adding Advanced Physical Skills to your Organization

Using the least restrictive form of intervention first is an overarching theme throughout all CPI training programs. It means we’re focusing on the best interests of everyone you serve. Learn more about CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®, 2nd Edition With Advanced Physical Skills or schedule a consultation with a CPI representative to talk through your current safety policies, discuss areas in which you’re experiencing issues, and review the training options available to you.

John Hippe is the North American Director of Professional Development for Global Professional Instructors and serves as the lead for the Advanced Physical Skills team. Prior to joining CPI in 2001, John worked in outpatient psychiatric treatment programs serving adults with severe and persistent mental illness.

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