Non-Absuive Psychological and Physical Intervention Training
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Verbal De-escalation Training

Verbal De-escalation

NAPPI’s leading verbal de-escalation training was developed with the intent to empower front line staff to address unwanted behaviors the moment they surface.  The course teaches staff to identify three aspects of escalating behavior that begin with assessing the behavior, followed by interpreting the message behind the behavior, and finally selecting the correct response options.


The goal of de-escalation is to reduce the intensity of a conflict or potentially violent situation.


Stress is the result of an emotional or physical tension which can cause an individual to escalate and possibly become violent. Stress sources can be internal or external, acute or chronic, and real or unreal.

Everyone experiences stress at some point in their life whether it's internal or external, acute or chronic, real or imagined. At times, an individual’s stressors overwhelm their coping skills, which may surface unwanted behaviors.  NAPPI uses the Lalemand Red Behavior Scale ® as an assessment tool in order to help identify varying levels of escalating behaviors. The first level on the scale, Agitated, is the initial sign that an individual is moving away from his/her baseline behavior.  Using this scale provides the language to clearly label and communicate to staff so that measures can be taken to de-escalate the situation.

Stress can escalate resulting in a behavioral emergency which may undermine your sense of safety, security, and competency. It occurs when a person in your care has difficulty coping with an event or situation that cannot be resolved by using familiar coping strategies. The person’s reaction is one of confusion, anxiety, shock, anger, or a sense of helplessness. To effectively de-escalate a situation, locating and removing the stress is critical.

The Lalemand Red Behavior Scale®

The Lalemand Red Behavior Scale® was developed by NAPPI founder Kurk Lalemand to create a Common Language® to describe the different levels of escalating behavior. Typically, unwanted behaviors are described as “off the wall, losing it, bonkers, going ballistic, scary, kooky, a little off, etc.” Describing someone as “a little off” can mean ten things to ten different people. This doesn’t really tell other staff much about the behaviors that are being observed and how they should handle the situation. Labeling behaviors in this manner is inconsistent and only confuses the situation. The clearer you communicate with your team, the easier it is for staff to assess and prevent escalating behavior.

The Lalemand Red Behavior Scale® is an Assessment tool that uses behaviors ranging from Agitated to Threat of Lethal.  This tool helps staff identify stress and intervene to obtain the most effective result as quickly as possible.  By using the scale staff can communicate more clearly and effectively as well as document the incident.   

The Red Behavior Scale also provides staff with the Second Level Messages which is the message behind the behavior or what the consumer is communicating non-verbally.  The individuals in your care may not be able to communicate appropriately due to any number of variables, such as cognitive impairment or an inability to cope with stress.  All behavior has meaning and it is the job of the caregiver to translate that behavior and identify the underlying message so it can be responded to appropriately.

The final portion of the behavior scale is Staff Response Options.  What do you do when responding to the different levels of behavior?  Be careful that your response is neither too lenient nor too aggressive.  In other words, be sure to measure your responses based on the level of danger you see in the behavior, using a Minimum Impact Response which is the least possible impact to be effective both verbally and physically. It is easier to start with a minimal intervention and become more impactful if required, than it is to start at maximum impact and back off.

NAPPI’s unique approach to de-escalation occurs through the dynamic tool, the Lalemand Red Behavior Scale®.  This tool empowers staff with the skills necessary to maintain order through behavioral assessment, interpret second level messages, and determine effective response options.