Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI)

About This Program

Target Population: Adults working and living with children and youth who escalate incidents into no-win power struggles, distort reality, are self-abusive, engage in destructive peer relationships, lack social skills, and show little conscience for aggressive behavior

Program Overview

LSCI is a brain-based, trauma-informed interactive therapeutic strategy for turning crisis situations into learning opportunities for children and youth with chronic patterns of self-defeating behaviors. LSCI views problems or stressful incidents as opportunities for learning, growth, insight, and change.

LSCI teaches professionals and parents the therapeutic talking strategies they will need to help children during stressful moments, as well as the awareness and skills to understand and manage their own feelings and counter-aggressive tendencies when intervening with aggressive or out-of-control behaviors.

LSCI believes that the process of helping involves having the ability to listen deeply to the personal stories of children and youth and to recognize that their message often is not in their words, but in their underlying thoughts and feelings. The real strength of the LSCI program is its emphasis on teaching, and practicing specific interviewing techniques to help adults and kids debrief a problem situation or critical event.

LSCI is a non-physical intervention program that uses a multi-theoretical approach to behavior management and problem solving. LSCI provides professionals and parents with a roadmap through conflict to desired outcomes using crisis as an opportunity to teach and create positive relationships with youth. The goal of LCSI is that, through certification in LSCI, adults learn what to do when a youth:

  • Acts out in stress toward unsuspecting helpers, sparking explosive and endless power struggles.
  • Makes poor decisions based on distorted thought patterns and perceptual errors.
  • Has the right intentions and motivation but lacks the social skills to be successful.
  • Is purposefully aggressive and exploitive with little conscience.
  • Acts in self-damaging ways due to being burdened with shame and inadequacy.
  • Becomes entangled in destructive peer relationships and is vulnerable to manipulation.

Program Goals

The primary goal of the Life Space Crisis Intervention (LCSI) program is:

  • To turn problem situations into learning opportunities for young people with chronic patterns of self-defeating behavior.

In the LSCI model, children and youth in crisis will accomplish the following goals:

  • Realize they are valued and treated with respect
  • Learn to trust caring adults and use them for support in times of crisis
  • Become aware of their patterns of self-defeating behavior
  • Acquire strength-based social skills
  • Learn to accept responsibility for inappropriate actions

Essential Components

The essential components of Life Space Crisis Intervention (LCSI) include:

  • Online and live training and certification in the skills of Life Space Crisis Intervention (LCSI), providing adults with trauma-informed, interactive, therapeutic verbal strategies for turning crisis situations into learning opportunities for children and youth. LSCI identifies six chronic patterns of self-defeating behaviors:
    • Youth who act out in stress toward unsuspecting helpers, sparking explosive and endless power struggles
    • Youth who make poor decisions based on distorted thought patterns and perceptual errors
    • Youth who have the right intentions and motivation but lack the social skills to be successful
    • Youth who are purposefully aggressive and exploitive with little conscience
    • Youth who act in self-damaging ways due to being burdened with shame and inadequacy
    • Youth who become entangled in destructive peer relationships and are vulnerable to manipulation
  • Training in LSCI teaches adults to use a 6-step process to help kids form more trusting relationships with adults, develop insight into their self-defeating patterns, and create lasting behavioral change:
    • Stage 1: Drain Off - De-escalate the child/youth’s intense emotions through brain-based and emotional regulation strategies
    • Stage 2: Timeline - Use critical listening skills to discover the child/youth’s point of view.
    • Stage 3: Central Issue - Identify the child/youth’s vital interest and select the appropriate LSCI Reclaiming Intervention.
    • Stage 4: Insight - Use one of the LSCI Interventions to help the child/youth recognize his pattern of self-defeating behavior.
    • Stage 5: New Skills - Teach the new skills which lead to more responsible behavior.
    • Stage 6: Transfer of Learning - Prepare the child/youth to re-enter the ongoing activity & setting. The 6th stage of the LSCI process ensures that teachers, administrators, parents, and others involved peripherally in a child’s crisis situation are involved in its resolution and in helping the child re-integrate into a program, classroom, or milieu.
  • LSCI also offers a course for parents (LSCI Skills for Parents), Program Administrators, and Paraprofessionals that teaches the fundamental concepts of LSCI in 2-hour, 1-day, 2-day and/or 8-session group training programs.

Program Delivery

Recommended Intensity:

The intervention is intended to be used as needed when individuals are in crisis and display disruptive behaviors. As such, no prescriptive contact schedule is described in the program.

Recommended Duration:

The program contains strategies for staff to use on an ongoing basis to prevent or intervene in response to challenging behaviors occurring in a crisis situation.

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Adoptive Home
  • Birth Family Home
  • Foster/Kinship Care
  • Group Home
  • Residential Care Facility
  • School
  • Special Education


This program does not include a homework component.


Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI) has materials available in languages other than English:

Dutch, French, Portuguese, Spanish

For information on which materials are available in these languages, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • Staff needs to be trained in the techniques (see training section for more details)
  • Techniques can be performed anywhere, no additional room requirements or resources are needed.

Education and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Training in this intervention is open to anyone who works with troubled or troubling children/youth. There is no required minimum level of education needed in order to be trained in LSCI.

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to implement this program , and there is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:

LSCI training is provided at LSCI National Training Sites (list of Training Sites is available at or on-site for groups of 15+. LSCI training is provided exclusively by certified Senior Trainers who have completed LSCI training, utilized LSCI skills in their professional work, and completed an intensive 3-day Train the Trainer process. LSCI Senior Trainers hold advanced degrees in Education, Psychology, Social Work, Counseling, or a related field.

Number of days/hours:

Certification in LSCI is a 40-hour, competency-based course. Training can be offered as a 4- or 5-day training or it broken down into shorter intervals and spread out over several weeks or months, if necessary

The LSCI Institute also offers a 2-hour Overview training, a 1-day Introduction to LSCI, a 2-day Conflict in the Classroom, a training on Confronting & Changing Passive Aggressive Behavior, a training on Turning Down the Heat: Preventing Conflict in the Classroom, and LSCI Skills for Parents courses.

Additional Resources:

There currently are additional qualified resources for training:

Please visit:

Implementation Information

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are no pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI).

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI) as listed below:

Certified Senior Trainers offer ongoing support and consultation, as needed.

Fidelity Measures

There are no fidelity measures for Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI).

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are no implementation guides or manuals for Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI).

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has not been conducted on how to implement Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI).

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

This program is rated a "3 - Promising Research Evidence" on the Scientific Rating Scale based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The practice must have at least one study utilizing some form of control (e.g., untreated group, placebo group, matched wait list study) establishing the practice's benefit over the placebo, or found it to be comparable to or better than an appropriate comparison practice. Please see the Scientific Rating Scale for more information.

Dawson, C. A. (2003). A study on the effectiveness of Life Space Crisis Intervention for students identified with emotional disturbances. Reclaiming Children & Youth, 11(4), 223-230.

Type of Study: Controlled clinical trial
Number of Participants: Experimental group – 44 students; Control group – 47 students


  • Age — Not specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — Experimental Group = 27 African American and 17 Hispanic students, Control group = 29 African American and 18 Hispanic students
  • Gender — Experimental Group = 38 Males and 6 Females, Control group = 36 Males and 11 Females
  • Status — Participants were junior high school students.

Location/Institution: New York City

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study reports the effects of Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI) training with staff in a junior high school serving students with emotional disturbance. Experimental school staff received LSCI training as a solution strategy for crisis, while control school staff received regular support in developing their own solutions for crisis. Data were gathered on frequency of crisis, suspensions, and other relevant outcomes to compare the two groups.  Frequency of crisis decreased significantly in the LSCI school while increasing significantly in the control school and there were significant differences at post-test. There was a greater decrease in suspensions in the LSCI school than in the control school. More students in the LSCI school were mainstreamed and transferred to less restrictive settings, and also had higher attendance rates.  All staff in the LSCI school reported that they felt able to manage crises, while only 2 of the 16 staff in the control reported this competence. Limitations include the lack of a randomized control group.  

Length of postintervention follow-up: 4 months.

Grskovic, J., & Goetze, H. (2005). An evaluation of the effects of Life Space Crisis Intervention on the challenging behavior of individual students. Reclaiming Children & Youth, 13(4), 231-235. 

Type of Study: Case study
Number of Participants: 4


  • Age — 13 and 16 years at post-intervention
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — 2 boys (10th grade) and 2 girls (7th grade)
  • Status — Participants were children who lived with parents however attended special school for the learning handicapped in Germany.

Location/Institution: Germany

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The study assessed the effects of the Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI) on the challenging behavior of four students with learning handicaps attending a special school in Germany. Students were in seventh and tenth grades and exhibited an array of challenging, disruptive classroom behaviors. Two multiple baseline-across-subject designs were employed to evaluate the effects of the LSCI on the two girl and two boy participants separately. Male students were observed and data was recorded during a 45-minute math class.  Female students were observed and data was recorded during a 45-minute physics and chemistry classes.  Limitations include small sample size, possible teacher bias, and parental involvement may have contributed to effectiveness of the intervention and generalizability to other school settings.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Forthun, L. F., McCombine, J. W., & Freado, M (2006). A study of LSCI in a school setting.  Reclaiming Children & Youth, 15(2), 95-101.

Type of Study: Post-test only design with nonequivalent groups
Number of Participants: 37


  • Age — Approximately 40 years of age
  • Race/Ethnicity — 19 Females and 18 Males
  • Gender — 95% White
  • Status — Participants were school personnel (faculty, staff, and administrators).

Location/Institution: Rural Pennsylvania

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The study explores the effects of Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI) training on school personnel and the students they serve. The goal of the study was to evaluate how LSCI was being used by staff and whether interventions reduced school-wide disciplinary referrals. Results showed that LSCI was used frequently by trained school personnel from both special and alternative education and regular education settings. LSCI-trained educators were less likely to use coercive student management strategies, and referrals for common misbehaviors declined.  Focus group responses demonstrated improved teacher-student relationships and a proactive approach to addressing student problems. Limitations include no examination of a causal link between LSCI and the results of the study and the data was based on self-reported information collected from the LSCI-trained educators, which can be subject to bias. 

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

D’Oosterlinck, F., Goethals, E., Boekaert, E., Schuyten, G., & DeMaeyer, J. (2008). Implementation and effect of Life Space Crisis Intervention in special schools with residential treatment for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). Psychiatric Quarterly, 79(1), 65-79.

Type of Study: Controlled clinical trial with matched groups
Number of Participants: 31


  • Age — 9-19 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 100% White
  • Gender — 40 Male and 11 Female
  • Status — Participants were students attending schools with residential treatment.

Location/Institution: East-Flanders, Belgium

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study evaluates a Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI) Program with students referred to special schools with residential treatment because of severe behavioral problems. Students were tested before the interventions started and post-tested after a period of 11 months. Measures include Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC), The Scale for Interpersonal Behavior (SIB), Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory-Dutch (BDHI-D), Competence Experience Scale for Adolescents (CBSA), and the Child Behavior Check List (CBCL). A positive effect of LSCI was found on direct aggression and social desirability. Limitations involve a lack of randomization, high sample dropout, reliability of self-reported answers, and small sample size with wide age range.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 11 months after training for school staff.

Additional References

Long, N. J., Long, J., & Whitson, S. L. (2009). The angry smile: The psychology of passive aggressive behavior in families, schools, and workplaces, (2nd ed.)  Austin, TX: Pro-ed.

Long, N. J., & Morse, W. C. (1996). Conflict in the classroom. The education of at-risk and troubled students. Austin, TX: Pro-ed.

Long, N. J., Wood, M., & Fecser, F. A. (2001). Life Space Crisis Intervention. Talking with students in conflict. Austin, TX: Pro-ed.

Contact Information

Signe Whitson, LSW
Agency/Affiliation: LSCI Institute

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: September 2018

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: November 2018

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: July 2012