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Tension Reduction Back to Course Index

The Deescalating is the fourth and final level in the control a crisis situation. Unfortunately, this final stage is often forgotten in many models of crisis escalation, but it may be one of the most important.

During the crisis build-up there is a tremendous build up of energy and tension within a person. At the third or “acting-out” level, a person experiences a total energy expenditure. Anyone who has had to restrain a struggling individual can testify to the fact that this is a total expenditure of energy. This cannot go on indefinitely; eventually there must be a Tension Reduction.

The De-escalation Stage is both physical and emotional. The person “comes down” from the peak of energy output. If you are restraining the person, you can actually feel the De-escalation Stage in the muscles of the body. Often, the individual is emotionally drained, as well.

Many times, the person who moments ago was aggressive and hostile now appears emotionally withdrawn. She may even feel remorseful and be apologetic. This change in behavior can often confuse staff members and they may even become distrustful of this aftermath of the violent episode.

The key point to remember in the De-escalation Stage is that this is the start of control, or a regaining of rationality. The individual who is experiencing De-escalation Stage has been through a very frightening and traumatic experience, some or all of which she may not remember. When she enters Tension Reduction, she may be at a very vulnerable emotional level. Fear, confusion, and remorse are typical emotions felt by the individual during this behavior level. Staff should remember that the act of “going out of control” is even more frightening to the individual than to the staff.