Elan Vital Today
City Contact Guidelines for Responding at the Local Level to Individuals who Display Psycho-Emotional Distress & Inappropriate Behaviors
Statement of Purpose:
From time to time situations arise in communities which involve some form of disturbance which impacts local events. This document is intended to assist the city contact in responding appropriately while maintaining the integrity of the local event. This infommation is provided as suggestions and guidelines. The city contact, at the local level, is ultimately responsible for building his/her confidence and resource for dealing with these issues.
When dealing with individuals that cause disruptions to local events, the objective is to facilitate the continued participation of such individual if at all possible, but never at the expense of the integrity of the event. Resolution of such situations is greatly facilitated when dealt with at the local level and at the first occurrence of inappropriate behavior. When this does not happen, the situation has greater potential to impact larger events (regional and international) and at best be only temporarily capped.
Foundation of Approach:
When dealing with disruptive bebaviors clear communication followed by specific and concrete limit setting is critical. At no time should an individual be excused from the responsibility and consequences of his/her behavior. Clearly the communication is based on a caring for both the individual and the integrity of the local event. When people show inappropriate behavior, it is not helpful to avoid setting limits or to avoid holding them accountable. It is possible, actually helpful, to be firm in recognizing the individualts responsibility and accountability while still expressing concern and care for the individual.
Steps Toward Resolving Disturbances and Uncooperative Behaviors:
First you need to exercise your discretion in defining when a disturbance or uncooperative behavior becomes disruptive to the point of needing to be addressed. If you determine that the behavior needs addressing, at its first occurrence, calmly and politely request the individual to meet with you.
If the person is particularly agitated or violent, you need to determine the appropriate time to approach him. Don't crowd or escalate the situation. Do not place yourself between the exit and the person or close yourself in a room with the person. Address the individual in a public but non-obtrusive place calmly. Ask the person to leave if necessary and express that you will be contacting them later to clarify the matter. If you decide to talk to the individual, leave the door open and keep the communication to a minimum. If the individual appears violent or intoxicated and refuses to leave, if they have family/friends, ask them to escort the person out, if not, call the police. (Do not attempt to forcibly eject a person yourself.)
If the situation is not extreme, realize that the person might not be awere of how he/she is impacting others and request to speak to the person. Be attentive to possible cultural aspects. Inquire on their situation/perspective. Understand what underlying issue might be affecting their behavior (are they distressed because of an acute crisi s. do you know the person, what is hi slher circumstances, etc.). This inquiry might help you understand better ~e situation and allow you to suggest an appropriate referral. For instance, if the person is experiencing an issue related to Knowledge, they might need to speak to an instructor; if the person is expenencing a physical problem, they might need a medical referral; if the person is experiencing an acute emotional or psychological problem, they might need to speak with a psychiatrist/psychologist.
In either case, when you talk to the person, you inform the person that his/her behavior is disruptive and the perceptionfimpact the behavior is having on others. In this phase your objecave is mainly to educate. At the end of the conversation the person should understand that while you are concemed for the individual, the behavior is unacceptable and may not be repeated. The request is that the offending behavior is stopped. If it continues, the individual needs to know the consequences - he/she will not be allowed to attend the events for a specific period of time. Critical to this phase is that the individual understands what behavior is being addressed, his/her responsibility for seeking help if necessary, and the parameters for continuing to parti cipate. If the individual engages in the behavi or again, the consequences previously communicated must be enforced. The requirements for retuming to partcipate should be clearly delineated. Time is certainly one. The other might be what kind of steps should he person undertake to show that he/she has worked on his/her problem. A letter re-stating what was discussed in the meeting should be sent to the individual as soon as possible.
The individual repeats the behavior, consequences are enforced. At such time, the individual nceds to be apprised that if he/she attempts to participate he/she will be asked t leave. If there is no compliance to the request, the police will be called. The individual needs to be reminded of the timeline upon which he/she may return and any specific reassurance of how the person will deal with the behavioral problem. A letter stating the conditions for admittance to future events should be sent as soon as possible.
The person returns or refuses to leave. You alert him/her that they are trespassing and that someone is already calling the police and if they do not leave immediately charges will be pressed. Usaally, the person will respond without you having to call the police. However, if the person does not leave call the police.
Steps to Deal with a Case of Violent Behavior that Results in Threats or Physical Abuse:
a) From your side, you can encourage the victim to contact the police and file charges. If the behavior has caused a disturbance to the event, proceed with the previaus stops.
b) The person who was victimized should press charges with the police.
If the violent behavior is occurring during an event and the person seems aggressive, hyper vigilant, or seems intoxicatod and refuses to leave, call the police.
I. Referrals may be provided if appropriate, following inquiry described in step one.
II. National contact apprised of the situation and informed of the steps undertaken.
III Letters informing individuals that they will not be permitted to attend events should be sent by registered mail. (All such letters from Elan Vital branch cities should first be clearly with EV Legal-of should be limited to following prescribed "sample" letters.)
IV. Lawyer: When writing a letter to an individual to ask hirn/her not to attend events, you might consider having a lawyer send it, acting on behalf of the local group.
V. An individual barred from attending events should be notified in writing when they will be allowed to participate.
A referral resource list should be part of the city contact's resources should a psychologicatly and emotionally distressed individual (who may or may not cause disturbances) come to your attention. The following steps should be helpful in building a resource list:
· Your local county crisis line, which should be listed in the front of most phone books;
· County social service referral resources such as Department of children services, adult protection, etc.;
· Therapist referral sources such as 1-800 THERAPIST (1-800-843-7274) or local graduate psychology programs (graduate programs require students to participate in intemships which are usually nonprofit or low cost psychotherapy centers);
· United Way, Homeless Shelters, etc.;
· Other community organization such as AA, Al -Anon, etc .
If you need additional support, please contact Sharon Stokke at (818) 597-8883 or Linda Gross (legal), at (310) 829-3221. After speaking with either Sharon or Linda, you may be put in touch with your regional medical support person. If necessary, they have access to the following people who work on national events; John Horton, MD; Valerio Pascotto, Psy.D; or Chris Polstuss, M.A.