We all crave safety—for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our community. But safety can mean more than being physically protected. Sometimes we feel unsafe when no outward threat is present or when we feel incapable of taking care of ourselves. This is particularly true for those who struggle with trauma and/or a substance use disorder. Under those circumstances, a person might be seeking safety while feeling powerless to actually attain it.
A therapeutic approach known as Seeking Safety is designed to help individuals pursue safety as a way to address trauma and addiction. Seeking Safety is an integrated form of treatment, which means that a person can experience benefits in terms of dealing with trauma and a substance use disorder at the same time.
A grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse led to the creation of Seeking Safety in 1992. Lisa M. Najavits, PhD, developed the program at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital. Since the early 1990s, Seeking Safety has found favor around the world as an effective way to help people with issues related to addiction and trauma.
Let’s take a look at some of the details of the Seeking Safety program.
No Surprise Here: Your Safety is the Top Priority
Seeking Safety’s guiding goal is to help individuals achieve and experience safety in areas including thinking, emotions, behavior, and relationships.
The Seeking Safety counseling model is focused on the present—which means it encourages you to avoid ruminating about the past or catastrophizing about the future (in this way, it shares a goal with mindfulness meditation, which can also be a boon to those in recovery). Unlike other approaches, Seeking Safety does not require participants to dredge up the trauma of the past, which can make it a valuable approach for many, including those who are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Seeking Safety can be used in both individual and group therapy settings and can be adapted to any period of time (though more sessions provide more benefit). Its structure—each session includes check-in, an inspirational quotation, discussion, check-out—provides comfort and the security of knowing what to expect. In addition, the structured approach helps keep each session on track so that benefits can be maximized.
The 25 Topics of Seeking Safety
Often, when it comes to treatment and recovery, the number we think of is 12—as in a 12-Step program. But when it comes to Seeking Safety, the operative number is 25. Here are the 25 topics tackled over the course of the program (download brief descriptions of all 25 topics as a Word document here):
- Taking Good Care of Yourself
- Asking for Help
- Recovery Thinking
- Setting Boundaries in Relationships
- Healthy Relationships
- Creating Meaning
- Detaching from Emotional Pain (Grounding)
- Community Resources
- Getting Others to Support Your Recovery
- Integrating the Split Self
- Respecting Your Time
- Coping with Triggers
- Red and Green Flags
- Life Choices
That might seem like a lot—and it is. But due to the structured approach, the commitment to focusing on the present, and the underlying optimism of the program, these topics build on one another, giving you powerful tools for dealing with both the trauma you have experienced and your substance use disorder.
Find What You Are Seeking at Wooded Glen Recovery Center
If you or a loved one need help to get your life back on track due to difficulties related to trauma and substance use, you can find that help at Wooded Glen Recovery Center. Committed to compassion and evidence-based approaches to treatment, our staff will develop a personalized approach to treatment designed to provide a foundation for your ongoing recovery. Seeking Safety is among the strategies offered at Wooded Glen Recovery Center and is a good fit for many. If you have been seeking a place to get the help you need, we hope your search ends with us. We are ready to help you reclaim your life.