Restraint Reduction

Use a system to prevent and reduce the need for restraint.

"Behaviour reflects needs and all behaviour has meaning."

"Often the behaviour is unacceptable to staff; but the need is not so unreasonable!"

Book a free Training Needs call now, to begin systematically reducing restraint in your service.

Our clients

Hospitals and Healthcare

Local Government

Childrens Services

Restraint Reduction Training - interview with our trainer

A system which has helped reduce restraints from 76 in a 12 month period to just 7,  increased attendance to 86.5% in a school for Looked After Children where previous attendance of individual students was often less than 10% and totally eliminated the need for exclusion.*


All settings should aim to develop proactive strategies which help reduce the likelihood of behaviours that challenge, leading to the use of restrictive interventions and focus on improving the safety and well-being of vulnerable children, young people and adults in care settings.

Such strategies should be based on a good understanding of learning disabilities, autistic spectrum conditions and mental health difficulties and of how children and young people affected by them are at heightened risk of displaying behaviours that challenge.

Effective behaviour strategies address how staff will be trained and developed in providing positive behavioural support.  That includes contributing to behaviour support plans which should be carefully crafted for individuals whose behaviour challenges. 

It is essential that strategies and staff practice are kept under review so that changes can be made based on evidence of what has worked and what has not worked in practice.

Some settings have shown that it is possible to achieve significant reductions in the need to use restraint and restrictive intervention through targeted reduction programmes. More and more services are reducing the incidence of aggressive behaviour with less restrictive approaches. 

Teams should consider developing their own detailed restraint reduction programmes as part of their wider approach to behaviour strategies and, as part of those programmes, should give particular attention to securing appropriate training and development for staff.

There is a popular and recommended “Six Core Strategies” framework for reducing physical restraint in an organisation.  The Six Core Strategies are:

  • Leadership toward organisational change;
  • Using data to inform practice;
  • Workforce development;
  • Using prevention tools;
  • Service user involvement;
  • Post-incident debriefing and review.

I recently spoke to Restraint Reduction lead trainer and veteran Conflict Management trainer, Zeb Glover, and asked him about the goals for restraint reduction training. 

“Restraint reduction training leads to a movement within an organisation to reduce restraints.  Another way of putting that would be that we want to effect a change of focus, emphasising prevention rather than accepting that our people simply react to behaviour  and where we we normalise confrontation and the management of the resulting physical risks.”

Staff who work with vulnerable children or adults often develop tacit knowledge about what the triggers for distressed behaviour are and the changes the people they look after go through when they are no longer coping with a situation. One key aspect of restraint reduction is in capturing that knowledge and converting it into useful information for other members of the team to use.  They can then make changes to the person’s care and environment, to reduce behavours of concern.

“We want to try to prevent the people we look after from being triggered in the first place.  The focus of restraint reduction training is on understanding the cause and the effect, whereby unmet needs are at the very core of the behavior.”

Staff are often really good at spotting service users’ emotional state and behaviour - the unmet needs, the feelings and behaviour engendered by those unmet needs, the triggering event(s) and the observable cues which are the ‘tell’ to what might be going on.

Zeb is very clear that the focus of the Restraint Reduction approach must dive deep enough into the needs of the individual, so that the fundamental, core drivers for the behaviour we see can be understood by staff and clearly explained, so that we can approach those needs as a team and work in the direction of meeting those needs.

Once we have identified the person’s core needs, we have a much better chance of then pre-empting these high-stakes situations without the need to use protective physical interventions.

“We are looking deeper into the causes of distress, to try to prevent conflict from originating in the first place. At the moment there's a very current need for this type of training. On the one hand, some staff are perhaps too ready to use physical restraint - because it is their most trusted measure to control risk.  The focus of this training intervention, and the implementation of the system, is that we want to try to take a broad view, to prevent the distressed behaviour from happening in the first place.”

Physical interventions carry high risk from several points of view.  Recent exposés have uncovered toxic work cultures among teams for whom physical restraint becomes an accepted norm.

However, a standards-linked process can help managers to map their frontline staff day-to-day activity with regular reviews of the frequency and severity of restrictive practices.  Restraint Reduction training offers a systematic approach to effective problem-solving and authentic documentation of the effort going in to such preventative measures.

Standards-linked paperwork and collaborative sleuthing, to uncover the roots of behaviours contribute to the main goals of the programme.

“We simply don't want things to get physical - incidents that escalate into the violence phase aways carry elevated risk.   Several standards were updated in 2019  - from Ofsted, from the RRN.  What inspectors and regulators want to see is evidence, a strong auditable paper-trail of how we are managing challenging behavior incidents, and what we are doing to prevent those incidents from happening in the first place. Restraint Reduction training offers a systematic way for efforts in reducing restrictive practices to be tracked and mapped across to those standards.” 

For years my team and I have taught a 7-phase model, based on the original Kaplan-Wheeler Assault Cycle and originally inspired by the work of Ellis Amdur, infused with concepts from brain-based coach David Rock, for conceptualising the timeline of a violent incident.

There may be a missing piece on the standard model though, which I often illustrate by scrawling a huge, explansive bubble on the left of the graph, with the word “context” within it - this time inspired by our deep-linked partnership with global conflict management experts at Vistelar and their 6xC model, which starts always with a prompt for the frontline staff to consider Context.

Context can mean traumatic events in the person’s past.  It can mean adverse childhood experiences.  It asks about attachment difficulties.  It sometimes points to a chaotic home environment, including the Toxic Triad. It begs a need for our training interventions to be Trauma Aware and to understand the issues around Compassion Fatigue for carers and frontline workers too.  It may even pose a question about the physical environment.

Looking at individual service users specifically, Zeb is guided by principles from renowned conflict mediator Marshall Rosenberg.  

Marshall Rosenberg directs us to understanding that conflict arises from unmet needs and that these needs are Universal.  It isn’t the needs that are the problem… as we all have similar needs at certain points of our lives.  Conflict is normally focused around the Solutions to how we try to meet our needs.  It’s the strategies of meeting needs that we may disagree upon with each other, not the actual needs themselves!  I find his work really helps people dis-tangle the chaos of communication and conflict, to better understand it, which in turn helps us prevent conflict in the first place and reduce the incidents of restraint.”

Once a team has Context and starts to see these core unmet needs, they may start to work “Left of Bang”.

We're trying to work as far left of the “bang” moment as possible. 

Being left of bang is doing the necessary things before the crunch moment happens (“bang!!!”) and reduce the chance that we will arrive there at all.

A lot of training necessarily focuses on what happens after the “bang” moment. The escalation into a physical confrontation - and of course some training will have to address that - but there are big opportunities to prevent and defuse those decisive moments before they arrive. 

So this training encourages teams to explore the space as far “left” in the timeline as possible, so that the very origins of why this behaviour is happening in the first place can be better understood. 

The result is an alternative to just reacting to crisis behaviour with a kind of war mentality of “us” versus “them”. Instead we encourage teams to dig deeper into understanding the cause of that behavior and those unmet needs.  This shift is so important if we want to reduce the frequency of crisis behaviour.

I am fascinated with the left of bang concept - it asks of us that we read the indicators in people's behavior, looking for signs which can warn us of where a situation is leading to, and additionally exploring the impact factors which far precede that moment, to discover “what caused this in the first place?” 

Our mission at Dynamis is to contribute to our clients’ services and help them in Keeping Everyone Safe, particularly where there are high-stakes, frontline encounters which could impact on the the wellbeing of every person and stakeholder involved.

Keeping everyone Safe therefore means we must extend our focus to the Contextual impact factors of conflict, distress or dangerous behaviours, to better understand them and to enable your team to create supportive atmospheres where incidents of concern happen less often, and with less risk.

*with thanks to Nichola Lochery

The ABC System of Restraint Reduction has produced the following results:

“It reduced restraints from 76 in a 10 month period to 7, increased attendance to 86.5% in a school for LAC where previous attendance of individual students was often less than 10% and totally eliminated the need for exclusion”

Shazia Sawaar Azim, Headteacher Meadows School.

“What you have brought to the table at Eden has reduced the total of physical interventions by 86.7% and increased the overall attendance from 65% to 87.9% whole school.”

Chris Ford, Behaviour Lead, Eden School.

“We were able to reduce the number of bedwatch officers on the ward from 8 to 1 within 3 months of introducing the training in the behaviour management system. Ward staff were much more confident and able to manage the challenging behaviours presented to them by patients.”

Tommy Higgins ASMS Security and Car Parking Manager 

Manchester Foundation Trust.

Prevent & Reduce Incidents Of Restraint 

  • The aim of this course is to provide staff and organisations with a strategy and system which will help prevent and reduce the need for restraint, seclusion and/or exclusion.
  • To also understand where and how these strategies and systems evidence and demonstrate compliance of the relevant sector’s legal frameworks and standards such as within:
    • Restraint Reduction Network Training Standards 2019 First Edition
    • Ofsted The education and inspection framework May 2019
    • Ofsted School inspection handbook May 2019
    • Ofsted Positive environments where children can flourish – A guide for inspectors about physical intervention and restrictions of liberty March 2018
    • DFE Guide to the Children’s Homes Regulations including the quality standards April 2015

* Ofsted published a new Education Inspection Framework last year (2019) that sets out how Ofsted inspects schools (including academies, non-associated independent schools, further education and early years settings) and how all schools now need to ensure that they comply with this new Ofsted framework.
This course will help your organisation meet those requirements.

Learning Outcomes:

Reducing the Need for Restraint

By the end of the course delegates will:

  • Be able to better understand and manage challenging behaviour:
  • Staff will learn about their psychological responses to challenging behaviour, the needs and wants of the service user, the reasons why behaviour can escalate and how to plan for and manage it, thus empowering staff to have high expectations for service user’s behaviour and conduct.
  • Have a basic knowledge of the relevant sector’s legal guidance and frameworks and know how the training tracks across the relevant standards.
  • Be able to use behaviour management systems and processes such as ABC charting and Individual Behaviour Plans that they can use to evidence how the organisation is reducing incidents, improve staff wellbeing and morale:

  • Individual Behaviour plans – to help to re-regulate service users behaviour.
  • ABC Charting – to share good practise, identify triggers and patterns of
    behaviour, provide consistency and support each other.
  • Behaviour For Learning Targets (schools only) – Differentiation in lessons which
    will identify behavioural needs of each individual student and a system which will evidence their progress towards achieving the high expectations of behaviour and conduct set by the school.

Grab a coffee and speak to our training advisor.

With over 15 years of experience working with clients, we are confident that we can gain an understanding of your issues, resources, timeframes and budget quickly and soon propose a training plan which fits your needs.

How to...

Restraint and 

Our Partners and Accreditation

ICM Logo

Member of The Institute of

Conflict Management

Dynamis is a Quality Award Centre with the ICM, a recognised accrediting body in the U.K. for workplace training in the prevention and management of workplace violence.

Healthcare Myth 2: If I Say Something It Will Make Things Worse 2

European partner for Vistelar

Dynamis is the premier European Partner for Vistelar, a global consulting organisation covering training across the entire spectrum of human conflict.

Our Process


Book your free training needs assessment.

Every organisation is unique and so you need a unique training course. Our free training needs assessment is a 20-minute process where we identify the risks your staff face and the training solutions you need.


We formulate a Bespoke Training Course.

Having understood the needs of your organisation we will create a bespoke training course tailored to your conflict flashpoints, issues and incident profile.


Your Staff experience relevant and beneficial training.

We will conduct your bespoke training course using the most modern and up-to-date training techniques which ensure authentic learning.


Meaningful Change for Staff and those you Care for

You will see the changes in restrictive practice, the way challenging behaviour is understood, managed, planned for and engaged with.

The power of evidence-based training

High Staff Engagement

Because of the immediate relevance your staff see in our course design and delivery, they are engaged, motivated and energised during and after the training.

Better Transfer to the Workplace

Because sessions are all driven by your own scenarios, issues and challenges with the people you meet in your work, it has immediate relevance and transfers directly to your day-to-day workplace.

 "Time Well Spent"

Your teams get many, many opportunities to learn and practice their new skills during 'countless reps' of the target skills, actively learning in every session. There are no boring powerpoints!

Measurable Change Happens

With highly targeted new skills, your teams can make measurable changes to their interactions and truly realise your organisation's safety ethos, focussing on dignity and respect, safety and wellbeing.

Gerard O'Dea  //  Director of Training at Dynamis

Hi and thanks for visiting our webpage today.

In over 15 years of working with frontline staff who face difficult, distressed and dangerous behaviour, I have seen time and again how prepared staff can perform well and respond to challenging circumstances.

From teachers to nurses, teaching and care assistants to security officers in our hospitals and social workers in the community, if you deal with people every day, managing conflict becomes a necessity.

I became involved in this work because I saw the power of training and preparation in helping people to stay safe at work and to be more successful in working with their colleagues to create better outcomes.

I and my team of professional trainers now teach in over 200 training engagements every year around the UK and internationally for a wide variety of public-facing organisations just like yours.

We have sought out the best conflict management training content and the best learning methods  in the world and bring them together for you and your team.

Gerard O'Dea

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What our customers are saying:

Brought in real life situations...

"I was very nervous about this training but it was a great environment and he made us feel at ease and was encouraging. I liked how he brought in real life situations to make the training more relatable.”

Natalie C.  //  Dementia Care Senior Support

Knowledgeable and Interactive...

“Very approachable, knowledgable and interactive facilitator who encouraged group discussions and used personal experience to back up the theory/learning”

Children's Respite Centre Senior Carer  //  Peterborough City Council.

When: 3-6 hours based on your identified needs and scheduled for your convenience

Who:  Groups of up to 12  staff are led by each Dynamis trainer (larger groups by request).  

Our small but highly focussed team of trainers are highly experienced and professionally qualified verbal and physical intervention specialists, committed to restraint reduction.  They hold Level 3 Qualifications in physical intervention, conflict management and breakaway/self-protection and regularly attend CPD events which ensures the quality of their delivery.   Dynamis is an ICM Accredited Quality Award centre, assuring clients of our robust processes for the design, development, delivery and support of our training programmes.

Where:  Training is held at your venue

How:  Our trainers deliver this course using a mix of lecture/presentation, Q&A, physical practice and scenario rehearsal.

Why:  Matched to your needs      Led by Professional Trainers      Legally Audited      Fully Risk-Assessed      Values Dignity and Respect     Safeguards Client rights      Offers Staff Practical Options      Compliant with Government Regulations      Value for Your Investment


100% Satisfaction Guarantee

You are fully protected by our 100% Satisfaction-Guarantee. If you are not fully satisfied by the training we deliver for your team, just let us know and we'll send you a prompt refund.

Gerard O'Dea

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April 2, 2022

Our Director of Training, Gerard O’Dea, and Professor Chris Cushion worked with a number of experienced conflict and physical intervention trainers from NHS boards around Scotland to introduce them to the SCENA Scenario-Driven Training Approach in early March 2022. The team – already competently teaching a variety of approaches to tactics including Maybo, GSA, Functional (read more)

March 2, 2022

In going through the Conflict scenarios for the ED, we made sure that staff were really successful in establishing initial contact with the people, by carefully Being Alert and Decisive – noticing things about the patient or their family, by addressing those visiting or travelling with the person. We discussed perhaps opening the encounter with (read more)

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