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National Center for Campus Public Safety

Verbal De-Escalation Education Program


The ability to verbally de-escalate tense situations is an essential skill for security professionals, and the skills apply to anyone who works in the public sphere. Through resolving situations using only words, it prevents physical altercations and potential harm for all sides involved. The skills to verbally de-escalate a situation may not be innate, and as such, participants need opportunities to practice them before applying them in a live situation.

The Verbal De-Escalation Education Program was designed in conjunction with subject-matter expert Mourning Fox, MA, LCMHC, the deputy commissioner for the Vermont Department of Mental Health. This five-module interactive course was developed for those working at the beginner through advanced level in a campus environment, including campus public safety, security, and law enforcement officers; residential life and student affairs staff; designated campus security authorities; office/reception personnel; financial aid employees; human resources personnel; campus counseling and mental health workers; and others who have a role that involves managing difficult situations and behaviors. This course will take approximately three hours to complete.

The goals of this training are to:

  • Provide security professionals and other personnel with tools to verbally de-escalate difficult situations they may encounter.
  • Expose participants to a variety of active listening and de-escalation techniques.
  • Encourage participants to practice the skills gained in this lesson.

There is no charge to attend the Verbal De-Escalation Education Program. The cost of developing and delivering this program is covered by a cooperative agreement with Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. For more information or questions, please contact Program and Training Manager, Andrea Young.

The five modules cover the following topics and learning objectives:

Module 1: Course Introduction

  • Definitions
  • Course Overview
  • Pre-test

Module 2: Exploring the Roots of Violence

  • Learning Objectives
    • Identify the risk factors for a person to be potentially violent
    • Name the predictors of a person exhibiting violent behavior

Module 3: Building a De-Escalation Mindset

  • Learning Objectives
    • Recognize the challenges of using behavioral labels and the benefits of using descriptions
    • Discuss the importance of using a non-judgmental attitude and language

Module 4: Applying Active Listening and Other Verbal De-Escalation Skills

  • Learning Objectives
    • Explain the purposes of active listening as it applies to verbal de-escalation
    • Demonstrate the use of derailing techniques to de-escalate a person in crisis
    • Demonstrate methods to minimize the power differential between the responder and speaker
    • Demonstrate the use of non-verbal cues to show focus and attention
    • Discuss the importance of using multiple de-escalating skills during the same event

Module 5: Practicing De-Escalation

  • Learning Objectives across three scenarios
    • Identify the skills that will result in a positive outcome in a given scenario
    • Apply multiple active listening and de-escalation skills to resolve a given scenario
  • Post-test
  • Evaluation



The National Center for Campus Public Safety website is funded through cooperative agreement 2013-MU-BX-K011 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this website (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).

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National Center for Campus Public Safety
Maple Tree Place, Suite #255
121 Connor Way
Williston, VT 05495
866-817-5817