Crisis De-escalation and Intervention

By December 11, 2020 Uncategorized

It is very likely that your adopted or guardianship child has experienced some degree of trauma before becoming a part of your family. Trauma can be due to many types of abuse, neglect, maltreatment, losses, and so forth. Any child who experiences trauma can display escalated behaviors, which can be physical, verbal, or through actions, such as stealing, lying, running away, etc. Those behaviors typically result from underlying trauma and emotional triggers. If you have a child that has displayed worrisome behaviors, you are not alone. It is important to understand and have a good understanding on how to handle escalated behaviors to ensure all parties involved are safe.

I will not be discussing physical intervention/de-escalation as physical intervention is to be used as a last resort. Due to the precise ways to engage in physical intervention/techniques, I recommend participating in a Crisis De-Escalation Intervention Class, or CPI, to learn about the safety precautions with physical interventions. These classes can help demonstrate techniques to utilize if needing to engage in physical intervention. These techniques not only help keep the child safe, but can also help keep the parent or adult safe in that situation as well. Physical de-escalation/interventions include some sort of physical restraint, or holdings, of the distressed individual. While physical de-escalation may be needed at some point, it is important to remember to always try to utilize verbal de-escalation techniques prior to engaging in physical interventions.

Here are some steps to take to help de-escalate an escalating situation WITHOUT engaging in physical intervention:

1. It is very important to be aware of both your verbal and non-verbals when communicating with an escalated person, child, or adult:

    • Verbal communication can look like:
      • Active listening, asking questions, validating feelings, providing choices, not arguing, and talking in a calm, but firm voice.
    • Non-verbal communication can look like:
      • Facial expressions and body language

2. Remove other peers/adults from the situation

    • This will ensure safety of others while trying to de-escalate the situation. It will also help to eliminate an audience and attention on the negative behavior that is being displayed.

3. Ensure there is personal space between the escalated individual/child and yourself.

    • This can help with protecting yourself if the situation should turn aggressive and physical.

4. Set limits and boundaries

5. Different techniques to try:

    • Distraction
    • Providing choices

6. Once the situation is diffused, discuss what they could do next time to prevent the escalation of the behavior.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW

Resources/references:

https://www.crisisprevention.com/Blog/De-escalation-Tips

https://www.dbsalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Understanding_Agitation_Poster.pdf

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