Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training in Our Schools

Michael Peters, School Social Worker 

As a certified trainer in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention (NVCI) I receive frequent calls from that “physical restraint” training.  Often these calls are precipitated by a student crisis that has escalated to the physical, and at times, assaultive level.  While physical intervention and personal safety techniques are important components of NVCI training, I am quick to point out that the primary focus of NVCI is assisting school staff in recognizing and addressing escalating behavior at its earliest stages – before it becomes physical.

Great Prairie Area Education Agency has been offering NVCI training to local school districts since its inception as part of our system of learning supports.  This training is often referred to as “CPI training.”  This is in reference to the Crisis Prevention Institute who developed NVCI and is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  CPI is an international training organization committed to best practices and safe behavior management methods that focus on prevention.  CPI was established in 1980 and since that time, more than six million human service providers across the globe have been trained in NVCI.  Participants include human service providers in the fields of health care, mental health, social welfare, security, law enforcement and of course, education.

Crisis intervention is a small segment of time in which school staff must intervene with a student to address behavior that may escalate into disruptive or even violent incidents.  As we all know, human behavior is complex and anything but neat and packaged.  A crisis is chaotic and unpredictable.  However, with a core philosophy of providing for the care, welfare, safety, and security of everyone involved in a crisis situation, NVCI provides evidence-based strategies that give educators the skills to safely and effectively respond to anxious and hostile student behavior.  Ultimately, NVCI has shown effectiveness in reducing incidences of seclusion and physical restraints.  The program has several primary objectives:

  1. Training staff with effective techniques in approaching and reducing the tension of an agitated student.
  2. Providing nonverbal, verbal, and physical intervention skills to allow staff to de-escalate crisis situations.
  3. Focusing on alternatives if a student does lose control and becomes violent.
  4. Instructing staff members in techniques to control their own anxieties during interventions and maintain the best possible professional attitude.

The fundamental purpose of the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention training program is to help people understand the process of behavior escalation and to recognize that people don’t act out in a vacuum.  The staff person who intervenes with the potentially violent student must realize that his or her behavior has a tremendous impact on that student.  Crisis intervention is an integrated process.  In many cases, the subsequent escalation or defusing of the student’s behavior may depend entirely on how the staff member reacts.  As such, the five certified Nonviolent Crisis Intervention program trainers listed below can assist your school in having their staff trained and certified in NVCI.  Our trainers offer three training options: Verbal Interventions only (6 hrs.); Verbal and Physical (8 hrs.); Refresher for staff previously trained and certified in NVCI (3 hrs.).  There is no charge to school districts for this training with the exception of a Workbook fee ($12) that each participant receives.  Please contact the any of our certified trainers:

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