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Managing Signs of Distress

Course Information

Our approach to managing behaviours of concern can be applied to carers working with a wide variety of individuals, and focuses on non-aversive de-escalation strategies such as low arousal approaches and gentle physical skills as opposed to restrictive practices. The key goal of this course is to better understand the causes of distressed behaviour, and to examine our role as practitioners with the aim of preventing re-occurrence.

This course is based on applied academic research carried out in a wide range of care settings. We aim to enable carers to confidently manage crisis situations without excessive force, and with the ability to be reflective about how future situations could be prevented. This de-escalation training is not focused on moments of crisis, but on understanding the wider world of behaviour, and looking beyond that to create environments where stress is managed and well-being improved – for both client and carer. There is a strong focus on empathy and building positive relationships with individuals. We have found that after completing this short course, carers feel more confident in their work and experience less stress.


By the end of the three-day course, delegates should:

  • Feel confident in the majority of crisis situations, and understand that physical interventions are not always necessary

  • Understand their own contributions as carers to crisis situations due to the transactional nature of stress

  • Be familiar with non-aversive frameworks of practice, and are confident applying these concepts in practice within their own organisations/workplaces

  • Understand that crisis management goes beyond de-escalation in the moment, and be able to identify possible causes of behaviour

Our crisis management course (formerly Managing Challenging Behaviour) is a 3-day course with a 1-2 day refresher follow-up session every 12-15 months.

This course can be booked for your organisation and is only available on a bespoke basis. To discuss hosting this course for your organisation or employees, please contact our office on 01225 334 111 or

Course Content

The first day of the course will look at legal issues surrounding incidents of distressed behaviour, and how these relate to the policy on the management of violence and aggression.

The second day of the course combines gentle physical skills with the skills learnt on the first day. Studio3 feel very strongly that physical skills are very much the last resort and no matter how gentle they are, we would prefer not to use them at all. However, being practical, there are times when they will be necessary.

The third day of the course allows time to practice implementing low arousal approaches and physical skills. Again, it is important to stress that our philosophy here at Studio 3 is to use restraint as little as possible, and that when we feel confident in non-aversive de-escalation strategies, it is easier to back off and defuse an incident.

Follow Ups

Every 12 to 15 months there will be an opportunity for staff to undergo a refresher day to renew and update their skills.

This course is designed to help staff cope with the vast majority of challenging behaviour, however there can be incidents which fall outside the remit of the basic course. When additional support is necessary, we are happy to make our trainers or clinical team available to visit your service.

Course Structure 

Day 1: A Framework for Understanding Distressed Behaviours

  • Legal issues (including the implications of the European convention of Human Rights) and the role of policies

  • Qualitative differences in violence

  • Behavioural Tolerance

  • Causes of Challenging Behaviour

  • An Introduction to ‘Low Arousal’ Approaches

  • Coping with behaviour of concern

  • Managing Versus Changing Behaviours

Day 2: Gentle Physical Skills and Restraint Reduction

  • Group Participation Exercises

  • The Principles of Non-aversive Physical Skills

  • Physical Avoidance Skills

  • Non-physical and Physical Low Arousal Skills in Practice

  • Roleplay – Defusing skills

  • The Acceptability of Physical Restraint Procedures

Day 3: Low Arousal Approaches in Practice

  • ​Practicing gentle physical skills, such as the ‘walk around’ method and planned escape routes

  • Using movement to defuse a situation 

  • Preventing the escalation of stressful situations via non-verbal communication (eye contact, body language, gesture)

  • Roleplay activities to test the various skills learnt on the course and necessitate the use of restraint

  • Looking beyond crisis management 

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