Video | 00:24:19

Managing Aggression and Delusions

by Brad Hagen
When patients threaten to become verbally or physically aggressive, it takes a special set of skills to work safely and effectively. In this video, watch two health care providers demonstrate how these skills—or the lack thereof—impact their work.

Part of the 5-video series: Mental Health in Hospitals and Treatment Centers


Managing Aggression and Delusions
Learning to manage a patient’s aggression is crucial to preventing potentially dangerous situations. When patients become agitated, helping professionals must know not only how to successfully diffuse the situation, but how to preserve the patient’s dignity in the process. In this video, we see two vignettes that contrast ineffective and effective work with a man distressed at his wife’s hospital bed, and a delusional young man in a residential treatment center. Here, you’ll witness the palpable difference that assertive communication and empathy can bring to a charged interaction.

In the first vignette, you’ll watch a novice nurse deal with a demanding man at his hospitalized wife’s bedside. Defensive and clearly afraid, the nurse dismisses his concerns, fails to respond empathically to his sense of urgency, and ignores him to attend to a healthier patient. Lacking the skills to calm the man, she only heightens the chaos in the room. Later, in the more effective version of this scenario, the nurse employs a series of techniques that address his needs and redirects his attention to his wife.

The second vignette features a nurse working with a young man experiencing delusions and mistrusting her intentions. Host Bruce Hagen introduces the scenario noting that being with someone in a different sense of reality can be challenging for the clinician; here, you’ll see how his nurse switches from passivity to a more directive yet empathic stance that calms the patient and leads to a particularly sweet connection between them.

In both cases, the more seasoned providers create a sense of safety and purpose for their patients, while also appearing more sure of themselves. You’ll gain valuable insight into the subtle yet meaningful changes in tone, intervention, and attitude that differentiate novice-level work from proficiency. If you’re looking to enhance your own skills or those of your students, this video is a must-have.

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Whether a patient is suffering from the delusions of a thought disorder or spiraling into verbally or physically aggressive behavior, clinicians must employ effective techniques to reduce their distress, redirect their focus, and gain their trust—all while maintaining the patient’s (and their own) sense of dignity. These aren’t easy tasks, which this video affirms while presenting contrasting vignettes that demonstrate what can happen when these essential duties are performed well—and not so well.

Although these videos are designed for mental health and psychiatric nurses, the skills demonstrated apply for any mental health care worker dealing with patients with these psychiatric conditions. If you’re a therapist, counselor, psychiatric nurse, or other helping professional working with aggressive and/or delusional patients, you’ll find valuable takeaways to enhance your skill set. Be sure to add this important video to your library today.
By watching this video, you will:
  • Learn about the challenges of working with delusions and verbal or physical aggression.
  • Understand how novice interventions can inadvertently exacerbate aggressive or delusional inclinations.
  • Identify proficient skills and interventions that diffuse potential danger and preserve a patient’s dignity.
Length of video: 00:24:19
English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD
Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-439-8
Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-439-0
Brad HagenBrad Hagen, PhD, RN, is a registered nurse, a registered psychologist, and an associate professor in the faculty of health sciences, at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, where he teaches in the nursing and addictions counseling programs. Hagen's main research and teaching interests include the broad areas of mental health, gerontology, long-term care, psychotropic drug use, and how to bring critical social theory and/or feminist approaches to these topics.

See all Brad Hagen videos.
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