At Weber State University, the main purpose of the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training course is to teach techniques in proper care, welfare, safety and security in crisis situations.
R.C. Callahan, the training and development specialist from the Office of Workplace Learning at WSU, has worked alongside Sergeant Robin Helton, sergeant in charge of the Davis campus and the school resource officer for NUAMES High School, for four years now, providing training to faculty and staff on how to respond to a crisis in the workplace and the classroom using nonviolent techniques.
“Our goal is not only verbal techniques, but paraverbal, nonverbal and physical techniques to use to respond in the event of crisis,” Callahan said.
Callahan and Helton explained that maintaining professional behavior in a crisis situation is the most effective way of preventing further escalation of the crisis. All of the techniques they taught focused on de-escalating a crisis situation without creating further harm, physically or emotionally. Even when the instructors were training the attendees on the physical techniques, the importance of not harming the ‘acting-out person,’ as they described, was stressed.
“This course was designed for prison officials, police officers and educators,” Callahan said.
However, some of the physical techniques have been modified for the WSU training in order to ensure that harm is not inflicted on the individuals involved.
Callahan and Helton conduct this training once a semester. They said that, since they first began the training, they have seen a significant increase in awareness of campus violence and the dangers of rapidly increasing anxiety levels. Helton also explained the importance of being able to have “a sense of how to read people and respond in a crisis situation.” Though it is not specifically attributed to this training, Helton said she has seen a significant decrease in violence at WSU over the last eight years.
Christine Marx, adjunct math professor and one of the trainees, said she expects to see the benefits almost immediately.
“It’s great to be able to be prepared to respond to a person’s increasing anxiety levels,” she said.
Marx said she has been an active member of the Occupy Ogden movement that began this past weekend, and that she hopes to be able to use what she learned to be able to respond to possible outbursts at the occupation.
“Knowing what to expect next as I watch a person’s anxiety levels develop and grow is extremely beneficial, especially at an event that is so prone to outbursts,” she said.
Marx also works as the faculty adviser for the Animal Rights Club, which, she said, might present other situations in which what she learned might become useful when working with students’ rising anxiety levels.
Callahan said he has been delighted to get e-mails from faculty and staff that have gone through his training who say they have been able to use the techniques he trained them on effectively. He said that, in the four years he has been training, he has had more than 100 faculty and staff members pass the course.
Callahan and Marx conduct this training once a semester, and also conduct refresher trainings for those who have already been through the course.