Knowing and applying basic safety rules can make all the difference in preventing and managing a crisis.
If you are a case worker with an office, you must never turn your back to the entrance. When you receive someone, they must be able to enter the office and be provided with a space that does not prevent you from exiting the room at any moment you may need to do so.
Depending on the context, you may choose to close the door for confidentiality reasons, or leave the door open for security reasons.
Do not feel offended if a person refuses to shake hands; this is an indication of their mental state.
If the person refuses to sit down, you must also remain standing, with your feet solidly anchored to the floor so that you can move as quickly as possible, if needed.
Keep your arms by your sides, with hands open, as a sign of openness. Your posture should communicate openness: Don’t cross your arms, place your hands on your hips, or lift a finger to point or to emphasise an order.
Don’t stay standing if the person agrees to sit down. But when sitting down, you need to be able to move quickly if necessary, and still maintain a non-confrontational body language.