Managing challenging behaviour in mental health in-patient units

by Dr Dominic Beer and Mr Darryl Anthony Davis


Last reviewed: March 2012


There have been various attempts to define challenging behaviour. Definitions tend to emphasise the effect of behaviours upon the safety of self and others, at different levels of risk.


The severity of the risk caused by the behaviour will dictate the kind of management and supervision necessary for the patient. In this module, we look at the different service models available to ensure the behaviours are managed effectively.


We also provide an overview of the main psychological approaches to understanding challenging behaviour and how they can be synthesised to provide a more effective overall approach.


In the course of this module, we aim to answer the following questions:


  • What is challenging behaviour in the context of mental health problems?


  • What are the different types of challenging behaviour?


  • What are the causes of and maintaining factors for challenging behaviour?


  • What are the psychological ways of managing patients with challenging behaviour?


Start the module


Please note: This module was last updated in 2012. Please be aware when completing the module that some of the guidance may have changed.


If you are interested in updating this material, please contact us.

If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Risk assessment and management of violence in general adult psychiatry by Dr Fiona Tal, Professor Paul Mullen and Professor James Ogloff


Assessment and treatment of sexually abnormal behaviour by Dr Harvey Gordon


Assessing people with psychiatric rehabilitation needs by Dr Alan Meaden and Dr David Hacker


Alternatives to acute admission by Dr Christopher Bridgett



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