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For more information or to schedule any of these courses, please contact Click "More" below for details on each of the courses.

Practical Leadership Skills in Residential Life

  • Develop a toolkit for crisis de-escalation, issues with residents, and working with community partners

  • Learn how to build a community with your resident advisors and set up supervision that works

  • Be prepared for supervision challenges and difficulties your RAs will face

Practical Leadership Skills in Residential Life


D-Prep is excited to offer a three-part series on the topic of Practical Leadership Skills in Residential Life. Each 90-minute course is aimed at residential life hall directors, training, and orientation staff to ensure they have quality access to the latest research, guidance, and advice from our subject matter experts.


Why It is Needed. After listening to several of our community partners, we confirmed that many schools across the country are facing experienced staff shortages in resident director positions. This means hiring staff with less experience, often with bachelor’s rather than master’s degrees, and placing an increasing demand on their leadership skills in management, supervision, crisis counseling, mental illness awareness and administrative and educational programming abilities.

Part I: Building the Toolkit

Dr. Brian Van Brunt, Dr. Chris Taylor and David Denino review the importance of the residential life program and how it is vital, now more than ever, in student retention, academic progress, social growth, mental and physical disability support, crisis de-escalation, student conduct, BIT/CARE referrals, supervision, RA development, documentation, and community building. Few positions on campus have such a wide and deep set of job duties and this session offers practical advice and guidance on how to balance these responsibilities, grow a team and ensure your own mental and physical health stays on track.

  1. An overview of the full range of responsibilities residential life leadership staff must undertake

  2. The importance of being prepared before the skills are needed (referrals, forms, documentation)

  3. Keeping your cool: A practical guide to crisis de-escalation skills

  4. Working with community partners

  5. Understanding stress reactions and burnout prevention from the start


Part II: Building Community and Supervising the Staff

Building a community is no easy task. Drs. Brian Van Brunt and Poppy Fitch discuss how building a community for your resident advisors becomes a parallel process for helping them build their own community. Drawing from Fitch and Van Brunt’s book Leading Across Generations, the presenters share with you some practice advice about building a community and how to set up supervision with your staff in a way that works.

  1. Importance of community building

  2. Themed housing, counselor-in-residence

  3. From throwing FISH! and moving cheese

  4. Myers Briggs and Gallup Strength Finder

  5. Choosing your approach to supervision


Part III: Building Readiness to Respond to Supervision Challenges

There is a saying: every ship at the bottom of the ocean had a map. Sometimes, the best laid plans don’t go as planned. Drs. Brian Van Brunt and Amy Murphy review how to approach seven difficult scenarios that come up for resident directors and residential life leadership staff. The presenters draw from concepts introduced in previous courses and discuss the importance of addressing problems early and often, what is required for good documentation, and review ten common RA challenges.

  1. Early addressing of behavior and consistent meetings

  2. Identifying common RA problems: overachieving/committed, need for constant praise, checked out of the job, home problems impacting work performance, argumentative and contrary, lacking inertia and initiative, strong start/bad follow through, boundary problems, and overzealous rule enforcement.

  3. Developing performance improvement plans

  4. Having hard conversations and termination

  5. Clear documentation

We have three delivery options so that you can work within your school’s budgetary, training, and timing needs.

  1. The full series is available soon at the Training Outpost ( for $450 per person, $1250 for 6-10 staff, $2500 for 11-25 staff, and $4500 for 26-50 staff. Each participant completes a five-question quiz after the program and the administrator for the residential life leadership team will receive a report of completion for the training.

  2. For a live online training for your team with our team of instructors, allowing for discussion and an experience tailored to your school, the cost is $6500. This includes access to recordings of the programs for one year.

  3. We also offer an in-person training with these three courses with Dr. Van Brunt for $7500 (travel inclusive, with all three-course taught in one day). This includes access to recordings of the programs for one year.

Crisis Management and Understanding Mental Illness for Residential Life

  • Develop the skills to work with dangerous and disruptive residents

  • Learn how to work with residents with difficult personalities and frustrating conversation styles

  • Address the common challenges when working iwth residents experiencing mental illness symptoms

Crisis Management and Understanding Mental Illess for Residentil aLife

We offer a blended model of training with Dr. Brian Van Brunt to train your residential life staff in key crisis de-escalation and working with residents with mental illness.


The training series includes:

  1. An on-site training day in July or August that would address the topics listed below in 75-minute segments throughout the day.

  2. Access for all RA/RDs to five of the RA/RD courses listed on the Training Outpost website to be completed during the fall semester. Completion updates and a final report would be provided to the administrator.

  3. One 75-minute zoom training from the D-Prep team (topic TBD based on your institution’s needs) in the month of October or November.

In-Person Training Courses

Addressing Disruptive and Dangerous Behavior: This workshop offers research-based, practical advice for residence staff to better manage crisis scenarios that develop related to irritability, financial stress, mental illness emergencies, and relationship difficulties. The course draws from the fields of psychology and law enforcement, teaching techniques including motivational interviewing, rapport building, content-process focus, and knowledge of hooks and barbs. There will be a focus on microaggressions, cultural competency, and GLBTQ+ inclusivity.


Navigating Frustrating Conversations with Residents: This course provides some down to earth and practical ideas on how to avoid getting caught in conversation traps, becoming flustered, and being less effective in conversations. We will offer research-based, practical advice for residence staff to effectively navigate conversations with residents with difficult personalities and frustrating conversation styles and help shape clear and consistent conversational approaches. The course will help staff identify triggers and common conversational traps where they become stuck and offer innovative approaches to engage individuals and set clear boundaries.


Managing Mental Illness: This workshop will offer practical guidance on the topics of managing mental illness concerns related to suicide and trauma in the community and/or schools. We will address common challenges when working with students and community members who experience severe, pervasive, and persistent mental illness and understanding the range of referral and treatment from outpatient therapy to inpatient treatment.

Helping Suicidal Community Members: There is a very long path between identifying a suicidal risk with an individual and making sure they become connected to counseling services. This workshop will review the importance of looking for signs and symptoms of suicidal behavior and understanding how best to help them access services. Particular attention will be given to treatment resistant individuals (e.g., those who do not wish to attend counseling) and groups that historically have underutilized services (e.g., LGBTQ+, African Americans). The use of practical case examples and role playing will be incorporated.

Training Outpost Online Courses

These can be viewed in detail at

  • Understanding Residents with OCD

  • Understanding Residents with Eating Disorders

  • Understanding Residents with Depression

  • Understanding Residents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Understanding Residents with Anxiety Disorder

  • Understanding Residents with ADD/ADHD

  • Understanding Residents with Thought Disorders

  • Addressing Residents with Substance Addiction

  • The Hospitalization Process for Housing Staff

  • Crisis De-Escalation for Housing Staff

  • Navigating Frustrating Conversations with Residents

We created this course with an awareness of the budgetary needs of houses of worship. While there is a temptation to increase billing through expanding course concepts into multiple days, our goal is to deliver the information efficiently and with fidelity.


In-Person/Hybrid Trainings

The cost for one-day on-site, five courses on the Training Outpost, and a 75-minute Zoom is $7500.


Ensure interventions are tied to the risk level, culturally informed, and well documented

Perfect the skills needed to build rapport, gather information and establish an approach to change

Understand that working with specialized groups requires awareness, knowledge, sensitivity and competency

Developing Effective Interventions



Module One: Understanding Interventions in a BIT/CARE and Threat Context

  • The


Dear (IIR).


Team has achieved and demonstrates competence and application of core team processes

Demonstrated risk mitigation through live team discussion on a wide variety of practical case examples

Formalization and memorializing team processes to ensure continual improvement

Team Certification



Module One: Discussion of Case Process/Walk Through

  • Discussion


Dear IR).

Brian Van Brunt

Dr. Brian Van Brunt

Chris Taylor

Dr. Chris Taylor

David Denino

David Denino

Poppy Fitch

Dr. Poppy Fitch

Amy Murphy

Dr. Amy Murphy

Contact Us

Thank you. We will get back to you soon.

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