Crisis Response Skill Building Program

Wayne State School of Social Work leads the charge to change crisis response in Michigan.

With the support of a $1.65 million state appropriation to Wayne State via state legislators, the SSW has been working to develop a crisis response skill-building program for the region. The Crisis Intervention Credentialing Program results from a team effort under the leadership of Kubiak and incoming faculty Amy Watson, a nationally recognized expert in crisis response, with colleagues at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Assistant Professor and Director of the SSW Office of Continuing Education Shantalea Johns is bringing the five-year project to life. The program's mission is to prepare mental health professionals and paraprofessionals to act as crisis responders in various settings, often collaborating with law enforcement. This behavioral health workforce will be trained for these new jobs to increase public safety and the well-being of the individual in crisis.

The program will begin accepting participants through a continuing education mechanism in January 2024 and credit-based WSU classes in 2024.


The continuing education mechanism and credit-based programs will be open to all undergraduate and graduate students of WSU and those in other degree programs across the state.

“It’s becoming necessary for college students looking for work in human services to be trained in crisis intervention,” said Johns. “Our graduates will be prepared to work in interdisciplinary teams of allied health and law enforcement professionals, which ultimately benefits communities across the state.”

Program options will be available for behavioral health professionals in Michigan looking to build their crisis intervention skills. “These individuals will be able to complete training modules through our SSW Office of Continuing Education,” she said, noting, “I am excited that Wayne State is leading this training in Michigan.”

Basic Crisis Skills CE Program description

The Basic Crisis Skills CE program is designed to provide foundational skills for bachelor’s level (or degree seeking) participants who are interested in behavioral health crisis intervention services. The program will consist of 40 hours of class contact time. 32 hours will be completed via synchronous online sessions. Eight hours will be completed at an in-person Crisis Response Skill Building Day practice session held on a Saturday.


  • Module 1: Introduction to Behavioral Health Crisis Response, Course Overview
  • Module 2: Mental Illness, Behavioral Health Conditions
  • Module 3: Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders, principles of harm reduction
  • Module 4: Crisis Theory and Models of Crisis Intervention
  • Modules 5 & 6: Foundational Skills for Crisis Intervention-Suicide Assessment and Intervention, Violence Risk Assessment and Intervention
  • Module 7: Foundational skills for Crisis Intervention-De-escalation and Maintaining Safety in the Field
  • Module 8: Crisis Planning/Wrap
  • Modules 9 & 10: Understanding Trauma and providing trauma informed crisis response to children, adults, and families -
  • Module 11: Child and Adolescent Developmental Tasks and Crisis Response
  • Module 12: Working with Families, Assessing Child Safety and Supporting Family members.
  • Module 13: Crisis Intervention with people with developmental disabilities and autism
  • Module 14: Crisis intervention with people experiencing psychosis.
  • Module 15: Legal and Ethical issues in Crisis Response (including: Documentation, Privacy, and Confidentiality)
  • Module 16: Crisis Response in the Community-Awareness and respect for the communities and homes you are entering.

Self-care information and practices will be woven throughout the curriculum, as will the importance of self-awareness, reducing stigma, and cultural humility.

Crisis Response Skill Building Day

The purpose of Crisis Response Skill Building Day is to support the integration of the course content and provide students with a structured opportunity to practice crisis intervention skills. We will review core content and build on it through instruction and skill-based exercises. Additional experiential content will support development of empathy and understanding of the experience of mental/behavioral health crisis and understanding of other first responder professional roles and culture.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the components of effective crisis intervention.
  2. Demonstrate skills for responding to suicide related crisis.
  3. Demonstrate skills for responding to a person experiencing symptoms of psychosis.
  4. Demonstrate motivational interviewing and de-escalation skills to resolve a crisis.
  5. Develop an understanding of the culture of other first responders.
  6. Understand considerations for intervening with children/adolescents and families.


WSU School of Social Work Office of Continuing Education