I attended a workshop called Non-Violent Crisis Intervention on Surrey School District’s Pro-D day last Friday. The program is based upon typical behaviours and risks that could be encountered at work. As I will be volunteering to do Expressive Arts Therapy at a local Surrey elementary school working 1-1 with at risk students in April 2019 for three months, I wanted to be prepared for anything and also gain some help in decision making, disengagement or holding skills and postvention approaches that could arise in a potential crisis situation with a child. Teachers and EAs will be familiar with the training and many of them have taken it multiple times.
The philosophies of care, welfare, safety and security are very much inline with my counselling ethics, practices and ideology. For example, in response to anxiety behaviours such as pacing, tense shoulders or tears, a caregiver or therapist would exercise a supportive approach – an empathic non-judgmental approach – just like in counselling. In fact, some of my clients experience anxiety and while they need techniques to calm the anxiety, it is also helpful for them be witnessed by someone who offers soothing behavior and calming body language. Non verbal communication plays a huge role in de-escalating aggressive behaviours, perhaps through a simple touch to the elbow or taking a supportive stance with shoulders turned away at an angle. I learned some valuable methods of verbal and paraverbal communication, including compromising (“If you pick up your garbage, then you can play on the computer for 10 minutes”), distraction (“Hey, how about a glass of water” – and then pick up your garbage), offering choice (“You can pick up your garbage now, or after you eat your lunch”) or even giving them some time to process and letting them know you will be nearby. Even more surprising to me was that sometimes…you walk away and give the child space. Even more powerful was the reminder that you can’t force kids to do what we want them to do.