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De-escalation in mental health care: a review of non-physical conflict management techniques

Until present, conflict management in mental health care relies much on physical techniques. Not surprisingly, research literature on interpersonal de-escalation in medical sciences, social sciences and psychology is rare. This presentation reviews rules and techniques that are applicable to mental health care [1]. Based on empirical data and theoretical models on the emergence of violence in psychiatry, following issues are discussed in detail: stress and anger management of staff, basic de-escalation rules, body language, facial expressions, verbal interventions. It is concluded that de-escalation in mental health care is still in its beginnings.


  1. 1.

    Richter D: Non-physical conflict management and de-escalation. Violence in Mental Health Settings: Causes, Consequences, Management. Edited by: Richter D, Whittington D. 2006, New York: Springer, 125-144.

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Correspondence to Dirk Richter.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Richter, D. De-escalation in mental health care: a review of non-physical conflict management techniques. BMC Psychiatry 7, S146 (2007).

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  • Public Health
  • Health Care
  • Mental Health
  • Theoretical Model
  • Social Science