Training that Emphasizes Safety, Consistency, and Restraints as a Last Resort

March 3, 2023
Female teacher talking to a young student in a classroom

Two years of ever-changing school climates have caused educators to encounter more diverse situations than ever before. Challenging behaviors—that existed pre-pandemic—are significantly amplified as they continue to be met with inconsistent learning environments. Trauma-induced behavior and anxiety are no longer the outliers in the classroom; they are the norm. These all act as precipitating factors—internal or external triggers for behavior—that can lead to crisis scenarios in the classroom. When these escalations occur, having the decision-making skills necessary to respond appropriately is critical to ensuring the safest outcomes for everyone involved.

At CPI, we proudly provide education professionals with the skills to identify these situations so they can prevent and de-escalate before these precipitating factors result in a crisis.

And because we understand that in a school setting the encounters administrative staff have can be vastly different from that of school security teams, we offer diverse training to account for all levels of risk. For those select staff that encounter high-risk scenarios, CPI offers restrictive and nonrestrictive de-escalation strategies.

CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Training and The US Department of Education’s Restraint and Seclusion Resource Document

On May 15, 2012, the US Department of Education, in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), released “Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document.” This resource document outlines 15 principles designed to direct schools, districts, and states in developing policies and procedures around the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. Many states have since reviewed their current policies and guidelines on the use of restraint and seclusion in their schools. CPI has continued to support both the House and the Senate in crafting the various versions of the Keeping All Students Safe Act.

In supporting the Keeping All Students Safe Act, we believe that consistency in training requirements, definitions and reporting, and oversight will lead to more positive outcomes for children, families, and schools.

Our Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Training program—as part of a comprehensive ongoing Training Process—can assist school districts in moving toward safer environments that are free from restraint and seclusion. The premises, strategies, and themes found throughout positive behavioral systems—like that of the commonly used PBIS—are also found throughout our Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Training program.

CPI teaches that restraints are only to be used as a last resort in behavioral emergencies to protect and maintain safety for the individual in distress and others who could be affected. Any training in the use of physical restraints should be all-encompassing and part of a strong de-escalation plan. Physical restraints should be aligned with school, district, state, and federal regulations and reporting.

De-escalate First, Restraints as a Last Resort

Our suite of programs allows you to open your own learning potential to provide de-escalation training at all levels, based on staff’s specific roles and responsibilities. Staff 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 behaviors before they escalate into a crisis. These verbal de-escalation strategies serve as the foundation for almost every program we offer at CPI.

In fact, consistently incorporating our evidence-based de-escalation techniques has helped our education customers not only collectively understand physical restraints as a last resort but has helped many eliminate the need for restraints all together.

“NCI (Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®) has effectively shifted mindsets district and SELPA-wide around how to support individuals throughout the escalation cycle. The need for physical safety interventions has significantly dropped and staff feel prepared and confident in their ability to work with individuals who may be exhibiting signs of anxiety/defensiveness or are engaging in risk behavior. We love that CPI NCI is generalizable and applicable to a variety of contexts, not   specific to special education.”
—Mallory Thau, Special Education Program Supervisor, San Dieguito Union High School District.

“CPI programs have helped us move away from physical intervention and into proactive positive behavioral measures collectively as a school. We have successfully eliminated all floor procedures and have decreased our rate of restraint to less than one a month. All in thanks to the development of staff verbal intervention skills and the trust they have developed in the program.”
—Michael Somers, Director of Special Education, Chapel Hill Academy

“A lot of times we deal with the worst-case scenarios. When we find ourselves in situations that escalate quickly, I tell staff to utilize their training and remember CPI verbal techniques first.”
—Anthony Jacobs, Department of Safety and Security, Milwaukee Public Schools

CPI Training Cornerstones

These cornerstones of CPI training help reinforce the value of empathy, compassion, and meaningful connection that is central to everything we do. These fundamentals also reinforce that physical restraints are a last resort.

Crisis Development ModelSM

CPI programs are centered on the Crisis Development ModelSM, which helps staff recognize the distinct stages of escalating behavior and provides appropriate intervention responses for each stage. Our skills-based approach to training helps educators make sense of chaotic situations and proactively de-escalate prior to the occurrence of a crisis moment.

The Crisis Development ModelSM highlights the importance of Therapeutic Rapport. This emphasizes that after a behavior escalation it is essential to rebuild trust with an empathetic and non-judgmental approach. Debriefing and documentation are critical to identifying triggers, as well as reviewing intervention plans and developing strategies to minimize or prevent future behavior escalations. The CPI debriefing process outlined in our Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®  Training program correlates with steps of a formal Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) process. It does not replace an FBA but supports the data collection and planning efforts that are a part of the FBA process.

The Integrated Experience

The Integrated Experience reminds educators that while they cannot control the behavior of a student in their care, they can control their own response to each stage of behavior escalation. Combining that understanding with practical de-escalation skills gives staff the confidence and tools to successfully intervene before a situation reaches risk behavior. Educators should keep in mind that one of the richest forms of assessment is being mindful of our own reactions to a student and practicing emotional regulation.

Training that Emphasizes Safety and Consistency

Our train-the-trainer approach is grounded in principles of adult learning theory. First, on-site advisors and coaches called Certified Instructors are established. These selected staff learn CPI crisis prevention and intervention techniques and become certified to train others in their school and district. This enables the Certified Instructors to combine our evidence-based practices with the policies and procedures of their school or district—ensuring that training is consistent across the entire school community and relevant to the scenarios regularly encountered.

Our training emphasizes the following best practices:

    • Understanding the stages of a crisis and having the skills to quickly respond provides the ability to proactively de-escalate and prevent the imminent or immediate risk of harm.
    • Our training is child-centered and trauma-informed. CPI training highlights that trauma can be a trigger for behavior escalation and emphasizes that restrictive interventions can be traumatic.
  • Training is meant to be conducted as an ongoing process that includes both the initial training and formal refresher training programs; reviews, practices, policy reviews, drills, and situational application discussions to reinforce learning transfer and reduce training drift.

Creating a safe school environment is dependent on every person involved in shaping a student’s academic experience. Preventing the use of restraint and seclusion is a key part of that important goal. With training, staff can serve as a conduit to calm versus chaos. Learn more about our training programs for education professionals to bring de-escalation training to your school or district and begin reducing the use of restraints.

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