I once did a stint at a residential treatment center for boys between the ages of 13 and 30. I was a writer then, too, but had reason to believe I needed a “real” major that would find me in a “real” job, and therefore (ha) took up psychology and a job at the center. There, the boys were of varying ages and faced a range of difficulties—from low tolerance thresholds to autism to schizophrenia. We counselors-in-training had weekly training sessions covering the most mandatory of procedures. One of these included non-violent crisis intervention.
Non-violent crisis intervention is just as it sounds like it would be: if a counselor sees that a client is on the upswing of a tantrum, an outburst, or an incident, he or she is responsible to intervene—in, of course, a non-violent manner. The idea or “trick” is to catch the person BEFORE he or she goes into a rage that will be self- or other-destructive.
So the practice sessions include role-playing. One person would be the aggressive one, another would be the counselor engaged in the altercation, and a third would play the one who demonstrated non-violent crisis intervention. One scenario went like this: the person started acting out. The counselor was coaching the upset one. The second counselor would gently move in—behind the client—put his/her arms about under and through the arms of the raging one, in a benign full nelson, and with the hands now at the nape of the client’s neck would stroke the head of the client, gently bringing the client to a seated position in the counselors lap/front. (The counselor is now also seated behind the client, still rubbing his head to calm him.)
The role-playing was fascinating and educational. But the kinds of non-violent crisis intervention we often needed to practice were much less staged (obviously), involved much more dangerous situations than someone just stamping his feet and yelling, and required much faster and different bodily responses. For example, I was cooking for the 12 boys one afternoon (which was the main part of my job then, as therapeutic cook). David, who was a schizophrenic with tons of energy usually, loved to hang out in the kitchen with me, sitting at the small table and watching and engaging me in conversation. He loved my imitations of people I had known, especially anyone who had a British accent or other dialect difference. He would do impersonations of my impersonations over and over.
But David also had an anger threshold problem. One day, he was in a pissy mood. In the kitchen, he sat at the table denying all our usual funny jokes and silly banter, discounting all as crap. He was depressed and hunting with eyes for excitement. I was boiling water in an industrial-sized teakettle for Jello™ or something, and I noticed that his eyes landed on many possibilities but furtively returned in glances at that teakettle. As he shifted in his chair, I lunged for teakettle, pouring it down the sink as my body blocked his from the sink and from reach of the kettle handle. This was far different form the non-violent crisis intervention role-playing scenarios, yet was real and urgent nonetheless.
And at least once a week we faced such calls for intervention. Cliff (who as a five-year-old stowed away under a bulkhead, watched as some freak murdered both his parents) would hammer and nail boards on his door and window of the room he stayed in at the house—from the INSIDE. Rudy (who was left in a dumpster as an infant), had a broken leg but insisted on going on the camping expedition which included a two-mile hike in to the site, and at one water break cut off his cast three weeks early and ran away. Larry, autistic at birth, would rock himself in a corner, banging his head until it was bloody, if no one stopped him in time. And Terry, Mark, and Roger all climbed to the roof of the Victorian where they resided, where, joined by the usual leader, Cliff, they hurled items down to hear them crash, responding with joyful imitations of chimpanzees and other primates.
So the crisis intervention sometimes went further than holding someone on your lap—especially when the someone was on a roof three stories up or boarded behind several two-by-fours.
No Related Articles.