What Is #CWSS and How Can It Help You at Work? 

April 18, 2016
Hands clasped together

#CWSS stands for the core philosophy and values at the heart of the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program:

Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM.

They are so much more than words.

Each one is a seed. Their outward meanings encase their inner potential for improving workplace cultures and practices. When we plant them into our thoughts and actions, they blossom in our responses and relationships. These four values grow and entwine together to form a philosophy that can touch all aspects of our lives. They support each other and help us support those in our care and on our staff team. They even remind us how important it is to take care of ourselves so we can do the same for others.

If you’re a Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Instructor, you’ve used these words many times and experienced firsthand the many ways these values permeate training. As you’ve embraced them, you’ve seen what happens when Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM come alive in an organization, like the culture change at Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility, the decrease in physical interventions at Academy School District #20, and other positive outcomes.

Let’s illuminate each of these values for a fuller view of what Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM can mean in and bring to your organization.

Care: Showing compassion and empathy

This starts by tending to ourselves so we have the strength to keep helping others. Care also means ensuring staff have the training and resources they need. When staff embrace care, they provide support in a nonjudgmental and person-centered way and contribute to a respectful environment for everyone.

Care changes perceptions and opens communication. It means shedding snap judgments and tuning in to our students’ and clients’ needs, feelings, and circumstances—beyond listening to words. It’s about letting loose the compassion and empathy needed to see situations from their perspective. This includes meeting with the individual and with the staff team after a crisis to discuss what happened from everyone’s perspective, provide closure, and brainstorm ways to prevent situations from recurring.

Welfare: Supporting emotional and physical well-being

This means preventing humiliation or traumatization of people we support and acting in their best interests. Putting this value into practice cultivates relationships based on trust and understanding. Staff who promote welfare know that behavior is communication. They discover what an individual’s actions are saying and go further to help that person gain insight into that behavior.

Welfare is about staff helping each other gain insight into their own behaviors as well, supporting and encouraging one another. It’s about supporting everyone’s emotional and physical well-being, from students and clients to staff to visitors and bystanders.

Safety: Preventing danger, risk, and injury

Safety means keeping everyone free from harm. This begins with prevention strategies like noticing patterns in behavior and warning signs of a crisis situation. Safety also means ample opportunities for staff to train and practice the safest interventions available and work as a team to minimize dangers.

When a crisis situation occurs, it’s about always using the least restrictive intervention possible. Safety is all about preventing crises and mitigating them in the best possible way when they do happen.

Security: Ensuring harmony—not harm

We all deserve a secure environment. Security for staff means promoting unity and consistency in responses and sharing strategies, values, and goals—and the resources to achieve those goals. This involves writing clear policies and procedures for staff to understand what is expected of them in times of crisis—and in times of calm.

Security for those we serve means that they have the freedom to make their own decisions whenever feasible. It sustains their assurance that staff will always honor their best interests and promote choice and independence. When the people we support experience security, they feel part of a community. Ultimately, it’s about strengthening relationships.

Putting It All Together: It’s About People

I think these four values form the philosophical bedrock on which to build and maintain therapeutic relationships and the best possible environment, at work and at home.

Personally, Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training helps me better support my friends. I’m more aware of how my words and attitude and theirs can influence each other, so I try to stay upbeat and encouraging to help buoy them up. I’ve also gained more insight into my body language so I can avoid sending conflicting signals and instead project the message I want to share with more than just my words.

Care. Welfare. Safety. Security. It’s all about putting people first. That’s the heart of what we and those we train do—in schools, hospitals, human service orgs, at the Crisis Prevention Institute. It’s about people. Improving lives, that’s what drives us. And since you’re reading this, that same goal propels you.

The main reason I feel blessed to work at CPI is that I’m part of an organization with a mission to help you prevent harm and improve lives. In my own small way, I’m a part of this wonderful mission to educate and empower people around the world with training to enrich their organizational cultures and quality of care.

You know, when I first started at CPI, I saw our graphic logo as a flower and then learned it was designed as four people joining hands. They are linked together like these four core values, and they remind us how we should work together to provide Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM for all.

A Global Guiding Philosophy

Sometimes the realization of Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM in your organization can seem like a lofty dream. There are many barriers to implementation and teamwork. There are also many people making Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM a reality in their organizations.


As CPI’s own Dave Vargas explained in an episode of Unrestrained, “If we really, truly work at it, we really can change the lives of those in our care. We can change the lives of the colleagues and employees that we work with, and we really embrace and perpetuate that culture of Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM. And that should be our goal, is to make the world a better place.”

Thank you for everything you do every day to help and support people. It makes an immeasurable difference. You and the people you support are the heart of what we all do. Together, we make Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM come alive.

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