Online trainings from Ryan Dowd
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5 hour Foundation Course
In this training you will learn how to effectively—and compassionately—work with individuals experiencing homelessness. Specifically, you will learn how to use empathy, instead of punishment, to get people to follow your rules.
The training has FIVE parts:
1 - TRAUMA & THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT SECONDS OF CONFLICT
Did you know that most people struggling with homelessness suffer from trauma (and 60% have been diagnosed with C-PTSD). Learn exactly what to do in the first 5 seconds of conflict so everything goes smoother.
2 - NONVERBAL TOOLS TO ELIMINATE CONFLICT
Your nonverbal communication is WAY more important than what you say, especially to vulnerable individuals. Learn exactly what to do and why showing “sadness” is key.
3 - PREVENTING CONFLICT
The best way to deal with problematic behavior? PREVENT problematic behavior! You’ll learn a simple prevention strategy that will have a HUGE impact on your organization.
4 - MANAGING YOUR OWN EMOTIONS DURING CONFLICT
De-escalation can be tough. Learn tools you can use during conflict to manage your own emotions. Plus take steps before (to prepare) and after (to reflect).
5 - VERBAL TOOLS FOR CONFLICT
Want to know what to say in a certain situation? Here are 5 basic verbal tools & 5 advanced verbal tools you’ll want to learn.
How coworkers SHOULD provide backup during conflict
Have you ever been in a dangerous situation with a customer at work? Did your co-worker provide backup to you in the tough situation? Did they know how to do it the right way? Probably not. Most people provide backup the wrong way. In this training, you will learn why the normal way people provide backup is wrong. You—and your coworkers—will also learn exactly how to provide backup so that everyone is safe. As a bonus, you will learn how to use backup to train your newer staff.
How to safely ask someone to leave (without calling the police)
Asking someone to leave is likely the most dangerous thing you will have to do at work. It is uncomfortable for you and humiliating for the person you asked to leave. Research shows that “less humiliation for the other person = less violence against you.” Asking someone to leave without humiliating them is hard to do, though. We know that not every staff member is at the same level. First, you will learn “beginner tactics.” If you are ready, you can continue to the “intermediate” strategies. Finally, when you are ready for mastery, move on to the “advanced” tools.
How to prevent and stop fights (safely!)
Did you know that fights have four stages? Do you know what to do during each stage? After this training, you will know more about fights (and how to safely stop them) than 99.9% of people. This training is not academic, though. By repeatedly analyzing a video of a real fight, this training will teach you how to safely stop fights at your workplace. We did a pre and post-test of people taking this training. Before taking this training, 37% of people felt that a difficult fight was “manageable.” After this training, it increased to 87%.
How to reduce police calls and keep everyone safe in your organization
Your organization probably calls the police more often than it needs to. In this training, you will learn the two times you should call the police. There are only two! You will also learn practical tips for how to call 911 and what to do when officers arrive. This training also includes a three-step strategy for how to handle an officer who acts inappropriately. It concludes with eight tips that will be helpful for you if you are a manager of a public organization.
MENTAL ILLNESS - PART 1
How to handle problematic behavior
Have a customer who experiences delusions or hallucinations? Want to know how to respond?
In this training you’ll learn how to assess the situation as (1) Discomforting, (2) Disruptive, or (3) Dangerous.
We also cover how to handle each one. For hallucinations and delusions, you’ll learn which ones are dangerous (and you should call the police immediately), which ones are concerning (and you should monitor for certain signs), and which are not harmful (which are most of them!).
We discuss two things you should NOT do when someone shares a delusion or hallucination with you and give you two tools to use instead.
Finally, you’ll learn about “staff splitting” which is common with certain personality disorders.
MENTAL ILLNESS - PART 2
Basic Introduction to Mental Illness
If you work with vulnerable people, there are three mental illnesses you need a basic understanding of: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders. In fact, 40+% of people struggling with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder also suffer from “anosognosia” which is a “lack of insight or awareness into one’s own mental condition.” In this training, you’ll learn symptoms of each illness and specific tools for managing problematic behavior. You’ll also hear powerful, first-hand accounts from individuals who are currently living with these illnesses.
MENTAL ILLNESS - PART 3
Live Q&A with Dr. Eric Ward & Ryan Dowd
In this training, Dr. Eric Ward joins Ryan to answer tough questions about mental illness. Questions include the following (and more):
- Is mental illness covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
- How does substance abuse effect mental illness?
- What’s the difference between a person’s inner dialogue and “hearing voices?”
- How to respond to someone who is asking for help related to their delusion?
MENTAL ILLNESS - PART 4
In their own words
Watch Ryan’s interviews with several brave people who are dealing with mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar, personality disorders, etc.) and are willing to share about their struggles. You’ll hear:
- How they were diagnosed
- What their “bad days” look like
- What they wish people knew about their illness
An overview of the effects and risks of common drugs
Want a basic understanding of common drugs? Want to know risk of overdose or aggression? This is the training for you. Includes key information about opioids/heroin/fentanyl, crack/cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, inhalants, and marijuana.
DRUNK OR HIGH
How to de-escalate someone who is under the influence
When dealing with someone who is drunk or high, there are two key things you should focus on: aggression and compliance. We’ll walk you through the four different types of situations and how to handle each.
DEMENTIA & ALZHEIMER’S
Compassionately & effectively working with people with dementia
The first half of this training provides a practical overview of Alzheimer’s. For example, dementia affects specific parts of the brain in different ways. Someone who may not understand your words can still read your body language and tone of voice. In the second half of this training, we cover “do’s” and “don’ts” for you. You will learn how to use nonverbal cues, closed-ended questions and a “redirecting” technique.
How to talk to parents about their children’s behavior
This training begins with an explanation of how poverty effects parenting. You will learn the “family stress model,” a theory used successfully around the world. You will also learn how poverty changes the neurochemistry of new parents. In the second half of this training, you will learn the two key strategies for engagement. For example, “attending skills” are effective, as are two specific types of questions.
How to compassionately and effectively manage their problem behaviors
If you work with teenagers, you need to understand how their brains are different from adults’ (or childrens’). For example, the “nucleus accumbens” and “frontal cortex” explain a lot of the goofy things that teens do. Their “bidirectional” view of respect explains much of the rest. This training teaches you how to adapt your style for teenagers. It focuses on practical skills for: 1) Pre-conflict, 2) During conflict and 3) Post-conflict. For example, research has shown that high expectations are effective when combined with one other thing.
Advanced understanding of homelessness
This training will take you beyond the “basics” of homelessness. Specifically, you will learn about:
- The different types of poverty (and which one homelessness is)
- How poverty changes the brain
- The link between homelessness and autism
Like our other trainings, this one includes practical strategies for engaging people experiencing homelessness.
JERKS WITH HOMES
How to deal with members of the public who are being jerks about homeless folks
Have you ever wondered why some people get so angry at homeless folks? The research suggests it is 1) A lack of empathy, and 2) Dehumanization. This first half of this training explores the research behind both processes. (There is a fascinating study of soccer fans that explores when people will help others.) The second half tackles specific strategies for increasing empathy and decreasing dehumanization. It will teach you a 2-part response for when someone complains about a person who isn’t doing anything wrong.
How to respond to a customer’s inappropriate comments
Unsure how to respond to inappropriate comments from customers? This training will teach you a simple assertive response that will stop most sexual harassment. Plus you’ll learn how to respond if the harassment continues. This training includes a Role-Play Exercise guide which can be used at staff trainings or for 1:1 practice. Note: This training focuses on tools for frontline employees, not policies for organizations.
How to respond to prejudicial comments from customers
In this training, you will develop a personal plan for addressing prejudicial comments. First, you will learn the science behind prejudice. For example, research has shown that the most popular response doesn’t work. It increases prejudice. You will choose practical phrases and tools from four categories. There is a special focus on how to 1) Reduce a person’s bias and 2) Show support to marginalized groups. Note: This training focuses on frontline interaction with customers. Organizational policies are beyond the scope of this training.
1.5 HOURS (UPDATED November 2021)
The most dreaded conversation of all
Talking to someone about their body odor may be the most uncomfortable conversation. Did you know that there are two different types of conversations about body odor? This training will teach you the two types as well as provide you a four-part strategy for each. Specifically, you will learn how to start the conversation and how to handle objections. This training concludes with a special section about legal issues for libraries.
Your obligations under the ADA
This training provides a simple explanation of your obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). You will learn exactly what you can and cannot do legally. Do you have to allow a miniature horse? Yes. Do you have to allow an emotional support dog? Probably not. Additionally, you will learn the two questions you can legally ask. There are only two! This training includes a workbook that answers all the key questions. It also includes a simple one-page strategy for legal compliance. You and your staff don’t have to worry about whether you are breaking the law.
too many bags
How to address someone bringing in too much stuff
Individuals experiencing homelessness are forced to keep important possessions with them. If your organization has a bag policy, you’ve got to decide whether to accommodate an additional bag and how to enforce the policy when someone has too much stuff. This is further complicated when the customer is suffering from Hoarding Disorder. In this training, you’ll learn how to decide between “trash” and “treasure.” Then you’ll learn how to enforce your bag policy even when you’re dealing with someone with Hoarding Disorder. At the end, we look actual bag policies from different libraries and discuss pros/cons of each.
How to help someone not get evicted
Hoarding Disorder is a coping mechanism for trauma which is REALLY HARD to deal with. In this training, you’ll learn about Hoarding Disorder and why nothing about Hoarding Disorder is intuitive (which is why we often handle it wrong!). Then you’ll learn how to organize and carry out a “clean up day” to prevent eviction. This training includes handy checklists for your cleanup team to use. These checklists will help you:
- Communicate clearly with the resident
- Gather all the supplies you need, and
- Prepare for challenges
ADVANCED BODY LANGUAGE
The most important skills
If you have taken our core training, then you know “It almost doesn’t matter what you say. It is all about how you say it.” In this training, we will explore why nonverbal skills are so important for preventing conflict. You will learn the nonverbal cues that indicate someone may be violent (hint: it is not their volume!). You will also learn advanced body language techniques you can use today. For example, you will learn how to physically approach someone and the effectiveness of “mirroring.”
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE/SEXUAL ASSAULT
In this training you will hear from Miranda Dube. Miranda is a librarian who specializes in domestic violence and sexual assault. You will learn 1) The signs of abuse, 2) What to do when someone tells you they are being abused, 3) What to do if you suspect abuse, 4) How to support patrons who have been abused, and 5) How to make referrals for services. Additionally, Miranda shares a survey of abuse survivors’ experiences at the library. Hint: Survivors want things that you can provide VERY easily.
HOMELESS DE-ESCALATION 101
This interactive workshop focuses on applying the tools taught in Homeless De-Escalation 101 through situation analysis and applying de-escalation tools, and role-play exercises with focus on the first five seconds of conflict.
HOMELESS DE-ESCALATION 201
This interactive workshop focuses on applying the tools taught in Homeless De-Escalation 201 through situation analysis and applying de-escalation tools, and role-play exercises with focus on why it doesn’t matter what you say (especially when working with vulnerable folks), and how nonverbal communication drives conflict.
Tips for managers
Do you manage frontline staff?
In this training you will learn:
- How to coach your staff to deescalate conflict compassionately
- The difference between “red” and “blue” rules
- The type of staff member you should never hire
- What to do after a major incident
- The two people you should know
BURNOUT & STRESS
Just in case 2021 is as bad as 2020
Burnout is not just “emotional.” It actually changes the brain in ways that are similar to PTSD. This training explains the neuro-science behind burnout and why the “usual advice” doesn’t work. According to the research, there are six areas that impact burnout. You will learn practical tips and skills you can use from the three most important areas. You will learn how to activate your parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress. There is section on strategies for managers and a section for non-managers.