Addiction Trauma And ‘Seeking Safety’

Addiction Trauma And ‘Seeking Safety’

At Valley Recovery Center, we have a wide variety of services, therapies and methods to help get people on the path to recovery. Some are typical withdrawal programs (such as detox) and others a bit more unconventional (like Wolf Therapy or Archery). For us, the sum is greater than the parts and having a diverse mix of treatments has proven to be very effective. One of our more interesting counseling models is called Seeking Safety. Seeking Safety is an important part of our regimen and can really help patients dealing with trauma or difficult addictions. For this blog feature, we thought we’d share a little about the practices behind Seeking Safety and why we feel it’s so important.


What Is Seeking Safety?

In clinical terms, Seeking Safety is an evidence-based model of recovery treatment that can be used for group or individual counseling. It was developed in 2002 under a grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. At its core, Seeking Safety is a coping therapy specifically designed for people with painful pasts. Combative households, PTSD, sexual abuse…these are all prime examples of traumatic events and can be very influential in the formation of an addiction. To help get a patient to let go of their substance habit, we sometimes have to explore the early issues that led them there. Seeking Safety helps to do just that, by working as a concurrent treatment that explores the addiction habit and the traumas that may have been the catalyst. Counselors trained in this method work to create “safe” zones, helping patients envision what safety would look like in their lives and how to cope with it.


Seeking Safety also focuses on the present, teaching specific coping strategies that may never have been learned during a dysfunctional childhood. Trauma and addiction are treated simultaneously and unique topics are set up to build trust and engagement with the patient.


Defining The Topics

One of the ways Seeking Safety works is by setting 25 defined topics, rotated into a weekly therapy regimen. It is important to understand each one and how they play into the recovery method. Topic 1, for example, is called Taking Back Your Power. Here, compassion is brought into the therapy, helping patients to accept their past, let go of anger and take control of their lives. Grounding is another key method, which teaches patients to detach from emotional pain. The intent, is to shift attention toward the external world and away from negative feelings. When Substances Control You is a cognitive topic, which uses unique exercises to help let go of addiction. “Climbing Mount Recovery” is one very effective component of Substances, which uses visualization as a tool.


Topic exercises like Red and Green Flags help identify “dangerous” scenarios in everyday life, while Self Nurturing allows patients to imagine rewarding “gifts” and the concept of pleasurable sobriety. There is also The Life Choices Game, Coping With Triggers and Setting Boundaries in Relationships, just to name a few. As patients move along in their recovery, they ultimately surpass the Topics and, with time, learn to let go of their trauma.


To us, Seeking Safety is a fascinating, comprehensive method for recovery. There are no limitations to how a counselor can build the topic list and patients, often times, help structure the itinerary themselves.


To dig deeper into Seeking Safety, we highly recommend reading Dr. Lisa M. Najavits’ book on the subject. Or reach out to Valley Recovery Center at (800) 986-2486 to learn about our classes and counselors.



Valley Recovery Blog