Three Steps to Deescalate Youth in Crisis

Tiffany Picture Square - USE.pngTiffany Hubrins, LCSW, director of Outpatient and Community Based Services oversees Wheeler's Mobile Crisis Intervention Services (MCIS), a statewide voluntary crisis intervention program for youth. Tiffany believes deescalating a youth in crisis requires patience, empathy, and effective communication. Below she shares three steps to help in such situations:


1. Remain Calm and Non-Threatening: 
   - Approach the youth calmly and confidently, while maintaining a safe distance.
   - Speak in a calm and soothing tone, avoiding any aggressive or confrontational language or gestures.
   - Demonstrate empathy and understanding by acknowledging their feelings and concerns without judgement.

2. Establish Rapport and Build Trust:
   - Show genuine concern for the youth's well-being and safety.
   - Listen actively to their concerns and validate their feelings.
   - Use active listening techniques such as paraphrasing and summarizing to show that you understand their perspective.
   - Offer support and reassurance, letting them know that you are there to help them through the crisis.

3. Create a Safe Environment and Provide Distractions:
   - Assess the environment for any potential hazards and remove any immediate threats to safety.
   - Encourage the youth to focus on something other than the crisis situation, such as engaging in a calming activity or discussing their interests.
   - Offer coping strategies or relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or mindfulness practices, to help them manage their emotions and anxiety.
   - Keep the conversation light and positive, if appropriate, to help distract them from the crisis while waiting for help to arrive.

It's important to remember that every situation is unique, and these steps may need to be adjusted based on the individual needs and circumstances of the youth in crisis. Additionally, if the situation escalates or becomes unsafe, it's essential to prioritize the safety of everyone involved and seek additional support or intervention as necessary.

Click HERE to learn more about mental health crises and mobile crisis services with Tiffany's segment on WFSB.

If you or someone you love is a youth in crisis, call 2-1-1, press "1" to be connected to the team serving your town/city. The MCIS program is available 24.7, 365 days a year.

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