Following a post crisis period of recovery a person that has been aggressive and violent can experience a period of ‘post-crisis depression’. During this phase, the person that has been aggressive and violent might feel tired, unhappy, guilty or ashamed about the incident and their behaviour. In reflecting on an incident, automatic thoughts can come to a client that confirm negative core self-beliefs and practitioners might observe unhelpful thinking styles such as ‘catastrophising’ and ‘overgeneralising’.
This can create a sense of hopelessness and potentially lead to self-destructive behaviour, requiring practitioners to conduct a suicide risk assessment. At these times clients who have a tendency to use ‘emotion-focussed’ coping strategies such as intensive substance use and/or self injury should be closely monitored and potentially management plans should be put in place.
If a member of staff has been verbally abused or physically assaulted during an incident support must be offered by their organisation, most commonly through their manager. It is usually the manager's responsibility to arrange support for those staff members requiring intervention to ensure their future wellbeing is maintained.
Support should also be available to all members of staff on individual request. If required individuals involved in aggressive situation can be supported to access external counselling services and some organisations have employee assistance schemes.
The manager will also support any staff member who is required to submit a complaint to the Police if they have suffered any physical assault and/or have been threatened with violence, particularly if it is after leaving work.
To ensure that incidents involving aggression and violence do not reoccur, organisations and managers of service should:
- Routinely review specific incidents and make changes to policies and procedures as required (this should not involve the attribution of blame but be a learning exercise)
- Client impact should be considered and feedback sought where appropriate
- Collate and review incident reports on a regular basis, identify key themes and make organisational and service specific changes as required
- Monitoring staff well-being (including stress levels)
Organisations should also support initiatives that promote worker self care. Over time staff who have experienced violence from a client can experience any or all of the following:
- Loss of self-esteem, self doubt, depression & fear
- Irritability & insomnia
- Disturbed relationships with family & friends
- Physical illnesses
- Difficulties with performing tasks at home
- Decreased ability to function at work, absenteeism, ‘flight from caring work’, fear of criticism from managers, feelings of professional incompetence, & performance difficulties
- Increased use of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, & medication
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Source: Preventing Client-Initiated Violence: A Practical Handbook, Australian Institute of Criminology, 2000
Where staff member experiences these issues it should be raised with management and supervisors.