Restraint Safety

restraining girls fighting because of behavior problems can be prevented

Are You in Danger?

Why are you here to learn Physical Intervention (restraint / seclusion) Techniques?

  • Someone is attacking you?
  • Someone is threatening you?
  • Someone is not behaving safely?
  • You need to break up a fight between others?
  • You need to protect the safety of someone else?

Restraint is the use of force or physical restriction
which eliminates or reduces the free movement of someone through physical contact. Restraint is used to keep someone from harming themselves or others.

Seclusion is the practice of confining someone alone
in an enclosed space from which they cannot escape. Seclusion is used to keep someone from harming themselves or others.

Did you know that the use of Physical Intervention (restraint / seclusion) Techniques is a controversial subject for the following reasons?

  • Restraint is often abused as a way to control someone's behavior instead of managing safety.
  • Restraint is often used to punish someone in retaliation for their behavior.
  • Restraint often escalates the situation paradoxically creating a more unsafe situation.
  • Restraint techniques have injured and even killed children and adults for petty issues.
  • Restraint techniques increase the risk of injury to yourself and everyone involved.
  • Restraint techniques increase the likelihood of the person becoming violent again.
  • Restraint techniques threaten your relationship with the person.
  • Restraint techniques are prohibited in many settings.
  • Restraint techniques increase your civil and criminal liabilities.
  • Restraint techniques do not de-escalate the violent person nor solve the reason for their escalation.

Seclusion techniques are known to have the same risks and abuses as restraints above. Additionally, seclusion has been abused when individuals have been left alone, unattended, for extended periods of time. As a result, secluded persons have suffered medical emergencies, dehydration, social deprivation or suicide while they were unobserved or neglected.

Note: On this site, we refer to all physical restraint and seclusion techniques collectively as Physical Intervention Techniques.

Why Restraint or Seclusion?

"Why do so many people use restraints or seclusion? They must be useful for something, right?"
Physical Intervention (restraint / seclusion) Techniques can be effective when you:

  1. Use Physical Interventions only for the purpose of maintaining safety.
  2. Use only techniques which lessen physical dangers by using safer positions.
  3. Use only the least intrusive intervention needed to maintain safety.
  4. Discontinue the intervention as soon as possible when the risk to safety subsides.
  5. Only use Physical Interventions in accordance to applicable laws, policies, individualized support plans and personal/professional expectations.
  6. Do not use for behavior management because research has shown it ineffective as a behavior management strategy.
  7. Do not use for compliance with rules or expectations because research has shown it increases the violence.
  8. Do not use for punishment or revenge because this is no way to demonstrate respect nor maintain safety.
  9. When you do use Physical Intervention, document the specific technique and placement on the body.
  10. Perform Physical Interventions only according to an authorized training program.

Restraint Safety Cheatsheet

Bookmark or Print this → Restraint Safety Cheatsheet

Making it stop, doesn't make it stop

The times are changing. Spanking or using the belt are being viewed now as less effective than modern behavior management solutions. Forcing someone physically may change their behavior in the moment, but doesn't guarantee it will last. In fact, research has shown that future behavior may likely be worse! The good news is that behavioral scientists have identified easier and safer ways to help others change their behavior - now and in the future.

Work Around Problem

The Offense of Self-Defense

Many justify Physical Intervention as self-defense - even claiming it is an inalienable right to protect oneself. But the risks of “self-defense” include escalating the situation, injuring the other person or even yourself. Caution: Many self-defense techniques are actually offensive in nature! If the technique involves the infliction of pain on another person it should be labeled as offense and not defense. Yes, in the court of law you can probably justify the use of violence in the act of self-defense.

And it is not uncommon for non-violent crisis intervention to turn aggressive because it forces the recipient to comply against their will. If it is a matter of life or death - you or them - you can probably defend the harm you inflict on the other person. But at what cost? Even if the rules allow it under certain circumstances, you will have to defend your actions. Your ethics will be reviewed. It may damage your reputation. It will certainly alter the relationship you have with the other person and probably not for the better.

A physical intervention actually increases the risk that someone will get hurt. A physical response usually plugs in the power struggle - justified or not. If you have to protect yourself or physically intervene, it should not be for the purpose of behavior management, compliance, punishment or even to vent your own frustrations. Physical intervention should only be used for the purpose of safety protection.

When is a physical response the right response? When that response makes the situation safer. If you’re going to respond physically because of the danger, the response should be done in a way that reduces that danger. You need to weigh the risks in the moment. There may actually be a time in which you decide to not physically intervene because it would increase the risks of someone getting hurt, including yourself.

A New Physical Education

The RIGHT RESPONSE Workshop teaches things differently. Learn that physical intervention is used as a part of the de-escalation process- not a substitute for it. Physical intervention, after all, will not de-escalate a person. Learn to assess and meet a person's needs- even to yield to physical aggression. This shifts the mindset from the goal of winning the power struggle to the goal of serving the person's need.

Techniques are based on the advantages of using your weight, balance, leverage, momentum and even the element of surprise over using sheer strength. Strength-based techniques are not realistic for all people, but also strength-against-strength interventions (restraints) plug in the power struggle and increase the likelihood that someone will become injured. As you will learn in the workshop, it is much easier and safer to move yourself than to move the other person.