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Crisis De-escalation: Applied Engagement Skills and Behavioral Interventions for Mental Health Crises


Crisis, by definition, is emotionally destabilizing and overwhelming. Our perception or experience of the situation can determine the way we respond, and the strategies used to intervene with the person experiencing a crisis.  This 12-week curriculum will provide an in-depth exploration and application on how to identify the different levels of escalation while applying behavior interventions that adhere to a specific stage of crisis.  Clinicians and non-clinicians will learn to identify and manage their own thoughts and feelings, identify behavioral expressions displayed by the person experiencing the crisis, while rendering clinically appropriate interventions.  

Together, we will learn to apply crisis de-escalation best practices.  By the end of this course, you will be able to understand your personal impact on the crisis, be able to describe the unique characteristics of the person experiencing the crisis and leverage the environment to mitigate potential risk.  Each article, scenario, or video will include questions or reflection activities to help you explore in depth the concepts introduced and increase your ability to implement these interventions into your practice. 

Program Schedule  

The facilitated 12-week syllabus will be held from March 11 to June 9, 2024. No content will be released during the week of May 6, 2024. 

Please note you must complete all 6 modules for weeks 1-12 in order to claim credit for this course. 


Module Content 

Module Opens 

Live Session (ET) 


Welcome and Introduction 

Mar 4 



What is a Crisis? 

Mar 11 

Fri, March 22nd @ 10:30-11:30 am ET 


You! The Most Important and Impactful Component 

Mar 25 

Fri, April 5th @ 10:30-11:30 am ET 


The Person in Crisis: Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors 

Apr 8 

Fri, April 19th @ 10:30-11:30 am ET 


De-escalation Techniques and Supportive Strategies 

Apr 22 

Fri, May 3rd @ 10:30-11:30 am ET 


On the Verge of Eruption: Proactive and Protective Techniques 

May 13 

Fri, May 24th @ 10:30-11:30 am ET 


Debriefing: Learning from the Experience 

May 27 

Fri, June 7th @ 10:30-11:30 am ET 


Program Schedule/Syllabus Ends 

Jun 9 



FREE - $0 

Learning Objectives:  

  • Explain the foundation of trauma-informed care to facilitate psychological and emotional safety. 
  • Evaluate your thought patterns and feelings during moments of stress/crisis to determine how to best respond to a crisis situation.   
  • Empathize and apply effective behavioral interventions to help the person de-escalate and return to their behavioral baseline.  
  • Identify, avoid, or remove yourself from a power struggle, while leveraging the impact that the environment has on the situation. 
  • Utilize learning opportunities post crisis by evaluating the causes, dynamics, and interventions.  

Target Audience  

Counselor, Nurse/Nurse Practitioner, Peer Specialist/Peer Support, Pharmacist, Physician (Non-psychiatrist), Physician Assistant, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Social Worker 

Instructional Level  


Estimated Time to Complete 

Estimated Duration: 18.0 hours  

Program Begin Date: March 11, 2024 

Program End Date: June 9, 2024 

Credit Claim End Date: August 8, 2024 

Note: This course has a 12-week syllabus. Credit must be claimed within 60 days of the last session. 

How to Earn Credit 

Participants who wish to earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™, CE credit for social workers, or a certificate of participation may do so by completing the course modules, participating in live group meetings, and completing the evaluation. Participants claiming CE credit for social workers must have full attendance at each live meeting to claim credit for that meeting. After evaluating the program, course participants will be provided with an opportunity to claim hours of participation and print an official CME certificate (physicians), CE certificate (social workers) or certificate of participation (other disciplines) showing the event dates and hours earned. 

Continuing Education Credit 

In support of improving patient care, the American Psychiatric Association is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.  


The APA designates this enduring activity for a maximum of 18.0AMA PRA Category 1 Credits ™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. 

Social Workers 

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) designates this activity for 18.0 continuing education credits. Social workers should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.  

Faculty and Planner Disclosures 

The American Psychiatric Association adheres to the ACCME’s Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Medical Education. Any individuals in a position to control the content of a CME activity — including faculty, planners, reviewers or others — are required to disclose all relevant financial relationships with ineligible entities (commercial interests). All relevant conflicts of interest have been mitigated prior to the commencement of the activity.  

Continuing education requirements vary from state to state. Many state boards grant reciprocity with national accrediting organizations and other state boards. It is the responsibility of each professional to understand the requirements for license renewal or check with the state or national licensing board and/or professional organization to become more familiar with their policies for acceptable continuing education credit. Social workers and Psychologists should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval. 


José M. Viruet, LCPC, is the Clinical Director of Behavioral Health at Erie Family Health Centers, a regional health system in Illinois with more than a dozen sites that serve the area west of Chicago. He has more than 20 years of experience working with adolescents, young adults, and adults who have significant mental and behavioral health challenges. Mr. Viruet has no relevant financial relationships to disclose. 


  • Teri Brister, PhD, LPC, National Alliance on Mental Illness. Dr. Brister has no relevant financial relationships to disclose. 
  • John Torous, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Torous has no relevant financial relationships to disclose. 
  • Sherin Khan, LCSW, Thresholds. Ms. Khan has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.    

Accessibility for Participants with Disabilities 

The American Psychiatric Association is committed to ensuring accessibility of its website to people with disabilities. If you have trouble accessing any of APA’s online resources, please contact us at 202-559-3900 for assistance.  

Availability: On-Demand
Access expires on 08/08/2024
Credit Offered:
18 CME Credits
18 SW CE Credits
18 COP Credits
Contains: 13 Courses
Funding for SMI Adviser was made possible by Grant No. SM080818 from SAMHSA of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, SAMHSA/HHS or the U.S. Government.
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