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Potentially Suspicious Behavior
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Pacing Back and Forth

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Looking Over Shoulder

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Probing Security Measures

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Clothing Not Suited to Weather

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Delay in Answering

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Avoiding Eye Contact

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Sweating Profusely

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Affective Violence

  • Emotional reaction

  • Based on situations and environmental stress

  • Driven by adrenaline

  • Lacks forethought or planning

  • Can Be seen in FIGHT-FLIGHT-FREEZE

Targeted Violence

  • Non-emotional reaction

  • Deliberate planning (weeks-months-years)

  • Based in perceived/actual grievance

  • Threats made are substantive

  • Willing to sacrifice life for cause


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Blind Spot






Dunning-Kruger Effect

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In-Group/Out-Group Bias

Anchor bias can impact someone when they become anchored or locked on a particular piece of data or first impression on a case and are unwilling to consider rival, alternative hypothesizes. The bias occurs when we rely too heavily on the first piece of information we are given about a topic. We can manage this by having group discussions and display a willingness to look behind our first impressions on a case. 

Availability bias occurs when we lean into an over-reliance upon readily available (most recent) information. When gather information about a case, we should guard against focusing solely on the low-hanging fruit and data around us, but rather finding the information needed to best assess the case and develop culturally competent interventions. 

Blind spot bias involves the tendency to miss crucial elements of a case because we are unable to see the data from a balanced and reasonable perspective. Individuals may be very good at spotting systematic errors in others’ decisions but are unable to see their own mistakes. One way this is addressed is through having a diverse team with varied perspectives. 

Confirmation bias occurs when an individual may form an early assumption and progress with the case seeking to overvalue evidence that fits with and/or confirms this assumption. When gathering information, individuals are encouraged to consider the question: are you interviewing or validating?

The Dunning-Kruger effect is the tendency for individuals to over-estimate their abilities in certain areas such as threat assessment, counseling, or law enforcement. They make assumptions that since they have had some training, they are able to reach further than they really should. This can also happen in reverse, where people who are good at a task are hesitant to share because they under-estimate their competence in the task. 

In-group/out-group bias occurs when an individual tends toward gathering data and making decisions that are favorable toward the someone who is like the team member. This could be a shared activity, place of birth, love of a sports team, or connection to a group, club, or organization. We guard against this by leaning into the team experience and being aware of our personal connections, either for the good or bad, on a given case that is presented to the team. 

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Motivational Interviewing Skills
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Express Empathy

Respect their point of view, freedom of choice, and ability to determine their own self-direction.

  • Ask exploratory, open-ended questions (think first date)

  • Have a burning curiosity for the person

  • Avoid judgmental statements

  • Stay in the moment, don’t rush to solution

  • Accept them were they are with their problems

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Develop Discrepancy

Explore the consequences of their actions and how they will not lead to the desired outcome.

  • Identify parts of the plan that aren’t working

  • Not judgmental, but helping them see the situation accurately

  • Look for logical problems in the plan

  • Ask clarifying questions to explore

  • Present contrary information in the proper way, at the proper time

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Avoid Argumentation

Instead, explore more deeply what they are saying and reduce their defensiveness with open-ended questions. 

  • Actively avoid pairing off against them

  • Avoid having them admit or accept anything

  • Instead, use counseling skills like active listening, simple reflection, and summary reflection

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Roll with Resistance

Avoid direct confrontation and stay focused on goals and outcomes, supporting their developmental growth and personal responsibility.

  • Move with them rather than against them

  • Don’t take the bait. Make it a game of catching them setting a trap for you

  • Identify those times where a person has a plan but the plan won’t work

  • New ways of thinking about the problem

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Support Self-Efficacy

Praise them when they take positive steps and acknowledge that a positive outcome is possible.

  • Here our goal is to catch them doing well

  • Look for a positive frame to their story

  • Find ways to encourage hope, optimism, or even self-confidence

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Minimal encouragers

Open ended questions


Emotion labeling



Effective pauses



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Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

Activating Events

(the things causing upset and worry)



about these things



(what happens as a result)


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Activating Event:

"I spilled coffee on my shirt!"

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People will think I’m messy

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I skip class/work to avoid judgement

Transtheoretical Change Theory

They aren’t aware of the problem or ready for change. Raise doubt; increase their perception of risk and the problems with their current behavior. 


They are thinking about change, but haven’t taken steps. Help them see the risks of not changing and strengthen their self-efficacy for making changes.


They are ready to make a plan to bring about change. Work with them to find the best course of change.

Preparation for Action

They are putting their plans into action to bring about change. Provide encouragement and resources to make change.


They maintain positive steps and adjust elements that aren’t working. Teach them relapse prevention skills.

Maintenance and Relapse Prevention


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Boyfriend broke up with her last night after two years with no reason


Was told by financial aid their forms were denied and they have to drop all classes


Learned best friend committee suicide last night

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Didn’t make the cut for sports team after long try out

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Studied wrong test material after being up all night with two sick children


Just learned parents are getting a divorce

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Rapport: Build a Bridge










Smile. This is a universal gesture of goodwill regardless of culture, nationality, or religion. Research indicates that individuals who receive a smile from another feel accepted and not judged.

Listen carefully. Most people do not listen to each other in an open and patient manner. If the interviewer is attentive, is nonjudgmental, and shows interest in other people, a very positive emotional dynamic will be put in place, even if the interviewee is very distrustful and hates what the interviewer represents (e.g., law enforcement, Americans).

Find something in common. Identify a characteristic that is shared between the interviewer and interviewee and point that out. It could be marriage, a child, a common geographical area visited, a certain amount of education, or interest in a certain sport. Find it and say it.

Mirror the interviewee. This refers to mimicking the interviewee’s body language and words, which takes attention and practice. If it is done too obviously, it will be noticed and rapport will not arise. It may mean sitting the same way, making similar gestures, using some of the same words, even using similar emotional tones of voice.

Avoid blunders. Allowing the soles of one’s shoes to face another person is considered an insult in the Arabic culture. Displaying a cold and unfriendly demeanor is considered an insult. Conveying impatience, such as glancing at one’s watch or tapping one’s fingers on the table, is considered an insult. Certain gestures may be an insult. Study the culture and know what the blunders are.

Find hooks, beware of barbs. Hooks bring us closer together (common interests, similar backgrounds). Barbs drive us apart, raising defensiveness.

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"Calm down!"

“I can see you are upset.”

“I can’t help you.”

“I want to help. What can I do?”

“I know how you feel.”

“I understand how you feel.”

“Come with me.”

“May I speak with you?”

Standing rigidly in front of them

Keep a relaxed and alert stance to the side

Pointing your finger

Keep your hands down, open, and visible

Excessive gesturing

Use slow, deliberate movements

Faking a smile

Maintain a neutral and attentive expression

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Non-confrontational angle

Approaching from the side of the individual is less confrontational and aggressive

First Contact

Maintain a safe distance

Keeping a safe distance from the individual allows you to focus on their hands and provides you time to react

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Individual in Crisis

Practice verbal

de-escalation techniques

An intervention for use with people who are at risk for aggression.

Using calm language, along with other communication techniques, to defuse, redirect, or de-escalate a conflict situation.

Use a proper stance

Maintaining a proper stance reassures the individual that you are non-threatening and can help de-escalate a tense situation.

Feet pointed forward

Smiling, listening, understanding

Hands crossed

How can I help?

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While not always possible, a brisk walk outside can help reduce stress and anxiety.


Getting away from a crowd and the lens of peer impact can help shift the dynamic.


Taking a walk with others can encourage them to talk out their emotions.

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An Ongoing Process
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Calming the Initial Crisis

This entails adopting a calm, cool and collected stance in the face of upsetting or frustrating behavior, activating back-up as needed and applying crisis de-escalations skills to address the concerns. This approach is both an art and a science that requires study and experience to accomplish well.

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Motivating and Inspiring Change

After the initial crisis, staff can adapt a cheerleading/supportive role with students, helping them solve problems and overcome obstacles. In other words, how does the staff member encourage students to develop their critical thinking skills to solve their difficulties?

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Managing the Ongoing Behavior

Sometimes behaviors don’t change, and staff can become frustrated and stressed. In this stage, we encourage using additional resources, exploring supportive philosophies such as positive psychology, goal setting, and building self-care capacity for staff and departments.

Support and Referrals


Refer to therapy for support and skill-building



Suggest local organizations, clubs, and activities



Explore career choices and future options



Increase peer connection and social support



Religion can provide community and meaning



Explore game nights, painting, crafts, music, etc.



Find formal or club sports or coaching others







Please answer all of the questions.

You must score at least 80% correct to pass. Please review the check your answers and resubmit.


Your administrator will be informed that you have completed this course in All-Hazard Emergency Response.

Your Guides

Baron Brown

Baron Brown, EdD

Brian Heider

Brian Heider

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Tammy Hodo, PhD

Brian Van Brunt

Brian Van Brunt, EdD

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Jacques Whitfield, JD

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