Often trauma and addiction go hand in hand. After a traumatic experience, people may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drug use to mitigate the pain.
Research has shown that trauma increases the likelihood of substance abuse, this is especially the case with childhood trauma. Seeking Safety helps clients find stable footing and recover from their trauma so they can begin to move forward and build the life they want. Most trauma-focused therapies concentrate on delving into the specific traumas and emotions that surround them, this practice can often bring up too much pain and may re-traumatize the individual. Seeking Safety is a different therapeutic strategy as it focuses on the present state instead of the past. It asks clients to envision what safety would feel like in their current lives and teaches coping mechanisms to achieve that vision.
There are 25 coping skills that are taught in seeking safety. These include Setting Boundaries in Relationships, Healing from Anger, Compassion, Honesty, Creating Meaning, Coping with Triggers and Recovery Thinking. Every skill relates to both trauma and addiction and creating an integrated treatment that can help boost motivation and help clients understand the connection between their trauma and addiction issues.
Seeking Safety creates a safe space for the clients as well as the clinician. By using sessions that help the client move towards safety, the clinician is also protecting themself from treatment that may move too fast before a solid foundation has been developed. Research shows that the Seeking Safety model with its structured approach and compassionate tone make it user-friendly an easily applicable to a diverse population. Seeking Safety has been shown to be effective with all genders, active and past military members, different races and ethnicities, those with acquired brain injuries, seriously mentally ill individuals, substances users, and those in all levels of care: in-patient, out-patient, residential, community care and private practice.
Seeking Safety has a few overarching principles; safety as the main goal, an integrated treatment that involves trauma and substance use concurrently, and a focus on ideals that counteracts the loss of ideals in trauma and substance use. This modality works through content based on cognitive, behavioural, interpersonal and case management needs. Seeking Safety also has the added benefit of a strong public health emphasis involving a low cost to implement, with emphasis on engagement and concrete strategies. Although Seeking Safety does not reverse the trauma that someone has been through, it does provide a way to gain control over your feelings and prevent things from getting worse.
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