Drama & Active Learning – Course Example

Course example: Handling Violent and Aggressive Situations  (for lone workers)  


Usually, the time when a lone worker might experience an aggressive and potentially violent situation is when they are in it for real during a home visit.  Their reactions and behaviour will play a vital role in determining how this situation plays out and, importantly, whether or not they come to personal harm.

This one day course brings the challenge into the room in a controlled way.  In response to the live-action scenario we present (see below), participants might feel all the stress, the fear, the excitement and the relief but they are never personally at risk.  The experience gives lone workers an opportunity to rehearse in a safe learning environment.   This course can be tailored to suit the needs of the particular lone workers involved.


As a result of this course, participants will:

  • Understand what constitutes best practice in relation to personal safety.
  • Be aware of their own trigger points that might, when faced with a difficult situation, lead them to compromise their safety.
  • Feel more confident about their competence to manage aggressive and potentially violent situations.
  • Be more prepared in future to ask colleagues for support and to report incidents.
  • Know the organisation’s policies and procedures in relation to this aspect of work practice.



The course is divided into three distinct parts: preparation and warm up; exploration though a live action scenario; review and action planning.

The live action scenario presents a case study which the group interacts with.  In the case study they meet a ‘protagonist’ (someone like them) who is facing a situation that they will recognise.  The difficulty – or problem – is set up through one or two scenes which the group witnesses.

The participants then operate as investigators, witnessing interactions, identifying what the problems and issues are and advising the protagonist how to deal with them.  They question the protagonist, make suggestions and direct the action.

In response to this input, the actors improvise in character showing the outcomes of participants’ suggestions.  This flexible process enables participants to try out different solutions.  If something does not work they can simply ‘rewind’ the action and try something different.

In this way, participants’ attitudes, ideas, strategies and challenges all contribute to the group’s development of the case study.  The process reveals to them the human costs and benefits of particular attitudes, behaviours and courses of action.

In action

Imagine the scene.  A group of lone workers is attending a learning event on personal safety.  In front of them is a layout of someone’s front room: there’s an old sofa, a coffee table, a chair, magazines, the telly is on very loud.  Tracy sits on the sofa looking sullen.  Why is she so angry?  Robbie, a plumber, is now on his knees by the sink ready to look underneath it.  There has been an increasing level of threat and frustration for him and the audience has been advising him how to deal with it.  He’s getting on with his job.  They think they’re doing pretty well.

Out of the blue, Tracy’s boyfriend storms through a door and starts hurling abuse at her.  No-one knew there was a boyfriend.  The audience of lone workers has positioned Robbie in the worst place he could be.  The boyfriend stands between him and the door.  He notices Robbie and starts towards him.  His only exit is blocked.

Almost in unison the group shouts “STOP!” and the action freezes.  They realise their error.  One woman says “I know he’s an actor but I just feel so scared.”

What should they do?


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