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Training puts focus on de-escalation in crises

Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for SchoolsLearning how to de-escalate situations in which a student is in a behavioral or emotional crisis is what 20 district administrators and staff spent an intensive week learning recently.

From Oct. 23-27, they participated in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Schools (TCIS) training.

TCIS was developed by Cornell University through the Residential Child Care Project (RCCP) in the 1980s and is updated regularly based on research and evaluations. The aim is to reduce physical restraints and practices that can lead to inadvertent injury to children or misuse of interventions.  The TCIS program emphasizes that all physical interventions have risks and dangers, and the best way to protect against those, is by having a staff that is well-trained and regularly certified in evidence-based strategies to de-escalate crises and establish immediate safety for children and adolescents. TCIS’ goals are:

  • Create a trauma-sensitive environment where students and adults are safe and feel safe.
  • Proactively prevent and/or de-escalate potential crises with students.
  • Manage a crisis therapeutically, and, if necessary, intervene physically in a manner that reduces the risk of harm to students and staff.
  • Process the crisis event with students to help improve their coping strategies.
  • Effectively deliver in-house TCIS training.

Several PCSD staff members were trained as TCI trainers by having them attend a weeklong program through Cornell University.  Those TCI-trained PCSD trainers can provide training for staff in the district who complete the TCIS course and pass a series of written and physical tests to demonstrate their understanding, knowledge, and safe practices.  Trainee certification is for one year and requires updates and refreshers every six months.

“Our TCIS participants learned a broad range of verbal and nonverbal crisis management and emotional regulation strategies to assist students, how to assess a potentially violent situation and minimize risk, and the safest physical intervention procedures to utilize with youth to keep them and others safe,” Iris Goliger, executive director of students with exceptionalities said.  “Additionally, staff learned how to intervene therapeutically, restore relationships with students who have been through behavioral and emotional crises and needed intervention, and practice more adaptive skills with students so their return to their normal school routines is successful.”

Poughkeepsie has committed to providing this training to at least 40 additional staff members during this school year and training new groups in future years, Goliger said.  Regular one-day refreshers to maintain the training and certifications of our TCI-trained staff will be occurring approximately every six months to maintain our certified staff pool's skill level.

“Feedback of staff who have taken the TCIS course has been overwhelmingly positive, despite the length of the training,” Goliger said, adding, “Staff who have become certified have requested that this training and the many verbal and nonverbal de-escalation strategies and interventions contained, become available to all teachers and service providers across the district.”

The Therapeutic Crisis Intervention System has a parent module, and the district may be able to offer additional support to families by training staff as TCI for Parents trainers in the future.