Crisis Intervention Training

June 1, 2011
two hands grasped together

When you participate in CPI’s Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program, you learn early intervention and nonphysical methods for preventing or managing disruptive behavior. The skills you gain make things easier for you, your coworkers, the organization you work for, and the people in your care.

One of the most profound things you’ll experience in our training is a change in perception. You’ll learn how your attitude and behaviors affect the attitudes and behaviors of the people in your care—and how their attitudes and behaviors affect you.

This video illustrates a crucial element of crisis intervention in action: Empathy. While it isn’t always easy to be empathetic when a person’s behavior is escalating, empathy is key to providing the compassionate, person-centered care that everyone deserves. Empathy can help you react positively—and your empathetic approach can help people calm down and regain control of their behavior.

The way you perceive something can bring new meaning to the situations you face every day. Put empathy at the core of your approach and you’ll be better able to handle crisis situations.

Crisis Intervention Tips

Here are seven crisis intervention tips to help you de-escalate situations safely and effectively.

  1. Remain Calm.
    This may seem easier said than done, especially when a person is screaming at you, threatening you, or calling you offensive names. But keep in mind that when a person is verbally escalating, he’s beginning to lose control. If he senses that you’re losing control too, the situation will get worse. So try to stay cool, even when the person challenges or insults you.
  2. Isolate the Person.
    Onlookers often fuel the fire of a situation. They may encourage the person’s behavior, or the person may be less likely to back down if she has an audience. Try to take the person aside or lead her toward another room. Your approach to crisis intervention will be more effective one-on-one than in a group setting.
  3. Watch Your Body Language.
    As a person becomes more agitated, he will pay less attention to what you say and more attention to your body language. Be aware of your posture and what gestures you use, and be sure to give the person enough personal space. Also make sure that your nonverbal behavior is as nonthreatening as your spoken words.
  4. Keep It Simple.
    Be clear, direct, and respectful in what you say and how you say it. Because an escalating person may be too anxious and preoccupied to hear many words, avoid giving complex choices.
  5. Use Reflective Questioning.
    Let the person vent, then restate what you think he’s saying. This will help him clarify his meaning. And by repeating or reflecting his words in the form of a question, you’ll help him gain valuable insight.
  6. Use Silence.
    Silence on your part allows the person to clarify and restate her viewpoint. This can lead you to better understand the true source of her conflict—and how to address it.
  7. Watch Your Paraverbals.
    Two identical statements can have opposite meanings—depending on the tone, volume, and cadence of your voice. Make sure your vocal inflection is consistent with the words you use. This will help you avoid sending the person a double message.

Get Training

If you work with challenging or potentially violent individuals, CPI’s Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program can equip you with relevant, practical behavior management techniques that focus on prevention. The program emphasizes the importance of understanding all factors that can contribute to challenging behavior—and the most effective means to safely intervene in each unique situation.

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