Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) Training

These are a comprehensive skill-based trainings structured for professionals in school jurisdictions and community systems (school principals, police, student services coordinators, therapists, etc.) who are, or will be, conducting the actual visual threat/risk assessments.

Real case studies are a key part of these trainings as participants have the opportunity to conduct assessments, through small group processing of the data, prior to being informed of the actual outcome of each case.

  • Level 1 VTRA – Theory and Practice
  • Level 1 VTRA – for Post-Secondary
  • Level 2 VTRA – Data Analysis and Strategic Interviewing
  • Level 1 Train-the-Trainer (VTRA Training: Theory and Practice)
Level 1 VTRA – Theory and Practice
The primary purpose of this two day training is to teach school administrators, counsellors, police officers, and other related partners (community mental health, social services, probation, etc.) the multidisciplinary process of determining if a threat maker actually poses a risk to a target or targets they have threatened.  Teams also assess students who already have histories of violence and are concerned about further and/or more serious violence potential.  Serious violence is an evolutionary process and most students leave (intentionally or unintentially) signs and indicators.  Teams are trained to become local experts at collecting data that helps to paint a clear picture of how high risk a student may be to carry out an act of violence towards themselves or others and what the appropriatew intervention should be based on that data.  Teams are also trained to address the newer issue of “unauthored threats” that have plagued schools across Canada for the past few years. The level I training is best implemented when the local school districts (divisions) across the country take the lead to organize their partners to be trained together.  From the schools and school districts there should be principals and vice-principals, counsellors, social workers, psychologists, and others represented from every school as well as district level personnel including the superintendent(s) and director(s).  From our community partners there should be representatives from police, mental health, child protection (social services), youth robation, local hospital staff who conduct emergency violence and suicide risk assessments, and others as determined by the unique characteristics of your communities. Level I VTRA Training Outline – Day One:
  • Introduction
  • Training Overview
  • Traumatic Event Systems (TES) Model Crisis vs. Traumatic Events Ground Zero and Impact Zones
    • Traumatic Aftermath and High Risk Student Behavior
    • Critical Periods
    • Targeted vs. Non-Targeted Violence
    • Human Target Selection
    • Site Selection
  • Unidimensional Assessments
  • Safe Schools Initiative: U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education
  • FBI:  Four-Pronged Assessment Model
  • High Risk Students:Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Fluidity between Homicidal and Suicidal Domains
    • Threat Makers in the Aftermath
    • Identification with the Aggressor
    • Girl Violence
  • Responding to threats in the aftermath: The effects of Over-reacting and Under-reacting.
Level I VTRA Training Outline – Day Two:
  • School Dynamics
  • Multidisciplinary Violence Threat/Risk Assessment Teams: Acts of Legislation and Legal Issues
  • Threat/Risk Assessment Process
    • Stage I Assessment
    • Stage II Assessment
    • Stage III Implementation
  • Assessing Violence Potential: Protocol for Dealing with High Risk Student Behavior (Ninth Edition)
  • Case Studies
Level 1 VTRA – for Post-Secondary
Purpose: This two day workshop serves as a formal training for those who participate on VTRA teams as well as information/awareness training for all other staff. It is to teach Post-Secondary leaders including upper Administration, Deans, Directors, Managers, Supervisors, and general staff groups about the multidisciplinary process of determining if a threat maker actually poses a risk to the target or targets they have threatened. Teams also assess students, staff, and others who already have histories of violence and are concerned about further and/or more serious violence potential. Serious violence is an evolutionary process and most offenders leave (intentionally or unintentionally) pre-incident signs and indicators. Teams are trained to be local experts at collecting data that helps to paint a clear picture of how high risk an individual may be to carry out an act of violence towards themselves or others and what the appropriate intervention should be based on that data. A Canadian Model: This uniquely Canadian model pulls together the practice of threat assessment,  more commonly linked to school shooting prevention, and the practice of forensic or general violence risk assessment, which has been used by practitioners for decades as it relates to most other forms of violence.  Neither practice on their own has been sufficient to address the complex needs of the post-secondary institution where transitioning young adults merge with the adult world, established academia, and the emotional intensity of new relationships in a new setting.  Serious violence is evolutionary, but it is contextual as well.  The VTRA Model highlights both traditional and non-traditional risk enhancing variables overlaid with a human systems based contextual assessment that allows multidisciplinary VTRA teams to make an actual determination of current risk for harm to self or others and plan a comprehensive data driven intervention based on case specific data.
Level 2 VTRA – Data Analysis and Strategic Interviewing
This two day training is for those professionals who have already obtained their Level I status. Building on the theory and practice of threat risk assessment is the more comprehensive process of data analysis and strategic interviewing. In all threat assessment cases the practice is broken down into two simplistic categories: assessing the threat and assessing the threat maker. In most cases we can do both but in some cases we can only assess the threat because the threat maker has not been identified, such as in our many unauthored threat assessment cases across Canada during the 2007-2008 school year. Therefore, being able to assess the level of commitment from the language of the threat is a focus. This also includes assessing the language of known authors and threat makers as well. “Not everyone is meant to do threat assessment interviewing.” Some professionals are not good interviewers or have chosen to not take the time to prepare before conducting “the interview” and have contaminated the formal practice of multidisciplinary threat/risk assessment sometimes resulting in false positive and false negative assessments. As such the training also identifies and fine tunes key elements of good strategic interviewing. This requires a deeper understanding of the four typologies of high risk for violence youth and the related strategies for interviewing such. It also includes how and why to ask particular questions at particular times. Student actors are utilized for part of day two to assist participants in the practice of multidisciplinary collaboration in planning interview questions and in the follow through of managing and interviewing the student of concern and others related to the process. This includes interviewing and assessment of the “reporter”, “collaterals”, “target(s)”, “parents(caregivers)”, “threat maker”, and others.
  • Clarification of Crisis Response, Emergency Response, and Threat Assessment
  • Multidisciplinary Teams: Primary and Secondary Purpose
  • Assessment: Emotionally vs. Data Driven
  • Case Study
  • Threshold Diagnosis
  • Case Study
  • Assessing the Threat vs. Assessing the Threat Maker
  • Threat Analysis
    • Language of Commitment
    • General vs. Inordinate Knowledge level
    • Hard vs. Soft Language
  • Issues to be Considered: DSM IV TR Diagnosis, Child Abuse, Psychopathy, Others
  • Understanding Functional Domains: Affective, Cognitive, Behavioural, Physiological, and Systems
  • Case Studies
  • Emotional Maturity
  • Family Assessment
  • Interviewing Techniques
  • Case Studies
  • Pre-Interview Team Questions
  • The Strategic Interview
  • The Interviewer
  • The Interviewed
Level 1 Train-the-Trainer (VTRA Training: Theory and Practice)
This is a three day training program necessary to be “Certified Trainers” in Level I Violence Threat Risk Assessment and therefore “authorized” by the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response (CCTATR) to deliver the Level I training to professionals within your own school and community jurisdictions. School and community jurisdictions eligible for the Train-the-Trainers are those that have completed Level I and Level II trainings. (This does not include small groups who have attended other school districts (divisions) trainings. Each school jurisdiction must be initially trained by a “National Trainer” from the CCTATR first.) The program allows for ongoing capacity building within each jurisdiction and the intensification of local expertise. There must be a minimum of three professionals from each school and community already trained in Level I and Level II who can be trained and certified as trainers. The best practice is to have members from different disciplines trained as trainers to better model multidisciplinary collaboration. Many large jurisdictions have trained more than three to meet their training needs. There must always be a minimum of two trainers co-presenting a Level I Training. Because the field is moving forward so quickly, certified trainers must re-certify every two years in a one day refresher and new update training. Multiple jurisdictions are trained together at pre-determined times across the country with a maximum of 60 professionals at any given training.

Community Threat Assessment Protocol Development & Implementation

The one-day training will provide participants with the steps and skills necessary to bring together education, police, and other community partners/agencies to develop and successfully implement a community based threat assessment protocol and multi disciplinary, cross sector VTRA assessments.

The training will further entrench the VTRA Model and it’s foundational principals for participants who have received VTRA training and as a community are committed to protocol development and multi-disciplinary assessment.

  • Goals
Participants will leave with information that will enable them to apply the VTRA model to community based protocol development and the implementation of VTRA assessment objectives and strategies. Participants will hear about the conditions that are necessary to ensure protocol partners maintain rigorous assessment practices when assessing student behaviours. Participants will practice the skills necessary to facilitate a multi disciplinary, cross-sector threat assessment through real-life scenario discussions. A review of the role of each protocol partner in the violence threat risk assessment process will be discussed. A review of best practices will be shared with an opportunity for sharing local cross-sector intervention strategies for high-risk youth. Issues as they pertain to protocol implementation and maintenance will be reviewed including sharing of information, quality control of assessment practices, agency and school board buy-in, bringing on new partners and maintaining school board and community based commitment.

Level 1 Family Assessment

This two-day training is for professionals who regularly work with children, adolescents, and their families and are looking for specialized knowledge in assessing and understanding family dynamics that may be influencing their clients behaviour and overall functioning.

Based on family systems theory, the foundation of the training is identification of family structure and family functioning within the system and it’s influence on key aspects of the clients’ life.

  • Areas of focus
Areas of focus
  • Family Emotional System
  • Multi-generational transmission of Symptoms
  • Under-functioning/Over-functioning
  • Emotional-off vs. Distancing
  • Closeness-Distance Cycle
  • Sibling Position
  • Gender Patterns
  • Use of Genograms
  • Stepfamilies
  • Grief and Trauma as a Family Process
  • Therapeutic Relationship vs. Alliances

Level II Family Interview/Interventions

This two-day training is a complex case analysis program where all participants must bring at least one comprehensive case study (properly veiled for teaching purposes) to be verbally shared with the large group to extend the assessment principles learned from the Level I Training and to develop treatment/intervention plans.

In essence, this is a large scale multidisciplinary case consultation that will teach new concepts in “Family Assessment and Intervention” and re-teach and integrate concepts already addressed in earlier trainings.

TES Model Training

  • Four phases of assessment and intervention
Four phases of assessment and intervention
  • Phase I – Student System
  • Phase II – Comprehensive Strategic Assessment – School Adult System
  • Phase III – Community Intervention – Parent/Family System
  • Phase IV – Traumatic Aftermath:  Preparing Schools and Communities for the process of Recovery