Carl J. Ryan RMN Cert.Ed.BA (Hons) MPhil has reviewed international literature on restraint practice and noted inconsistencies in restraint definitions and teaching approaches; in particular, restraint was usually associated with the management of violence. After observing a traditional restraint course taught to psychiatric nurses, Ryan offers a critical analysis of ''on the ward'' restraint practices when nurses were confronted with subsequent spontaneous antecedent triggers. Post-restraint incident interviews with involved patients and nurses form part of this analysis. Findings indicated that restraints were mainly used to enforce patients’ compliance. The majority of those patients reported that the restraints were unjustified and unacceptable. The nurse respondents stated that restraints were applied in the interest of health and safety. There were few positives, conflicting perceptions of the antecedent triggers and deviations from practice. Ryan concludes that quality audits and minimum standards will enhance credibility, justification and competence.