Calm/Safe Place- Kid version: Help your client imagine a place where they feel calm, safe, and/or peaceful. This can be an actual physical space (a corner of their room, a favorite couch in their house), a place where the client has traveled, or an imaginary place. Engage the client in an art activity to help make their calm/safe space more tangible. Some ideas include:
o Drawing or painting a picture of their calm/safe space
o Making a Word document collage together by copying/pasting pictures or drawings you find on the internet
o Making a Pinterest board
• Encourage your client to incorporate all their senses. What does their calm/safe space look like? What sounds do they hear there? What textures do they feel? What sounds and tastes are there?
• Encourage your client to spend a few minutes imagining being in that place. How does their body feel? What emotions do they feel when they imagine being in that space?
• Find a way for your client to bring a reminder (the drawing, a screenshot on their phone or a caregivers’ phone) with them, especially during stressful situations. Some clients find that just looking at a visual reminder can help them feel calm and safe; others may find that taking a break in another room to imagine themselves in that space can feel soothing and helpful.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of the session was to (tailor based on tx plan). The therapist engaged the client in an art therapy activity (Calm/Safe space) to help the Ct identify and create a safe space for Ct to use for self-soothing. The Ct was (engaged/not engaged) in the activity.
Adult Strategy of the Week
Creating a Safe Space At Home: Fostering a sense of safety in a place where clients spend much of their time can be helpful in the healing process. During a session, invite the client to choose a space in their home to dedicate to safety and calmness.
• This could be a room, or even a closet, corner, or a spot outside
• Have them fill the space with things that make them feel safe and calm
• Explore with them how they can take breaks there and feel more grounded surrounded by these safe objects
• When thinking about things to include, it can be helpful to think about what textures, smells, imagery, sounds, lighting, or tastes help them feel safe, calm, and grounded
• When in the space, invite the client to notice how they are able to feel a sense of safety, even in the midst of emotional stress or discomfort
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist helped the client create a calm safe place in their home to help them feel more grounded and regulated when their mental health symptoms increase in intensity. Client reported that creating a calm and safe place in their home (seems helpful/seems challenging/etc), and they explored (situations when a calm and safe place could be helpful/barriers to creating a calm and safe place/etc).
Trauma Strategy of the Week:
Safe Approaches: Asking for help can be one way of fostering in one’s life. It is very natural to experience difficulty asking for help, so starting with something “small” and with a safe person can facilitate one’s sense of ability and mastery. During a session, explore with the client what it could look like to approach someone for help:
• Who could/will they talk to?
• What could/will they say?
• What do they predict will happen?
• After/in the next session- What did happen in reality?
• It can be helpful to then ask, what did they learn from trying this and is there anything they would do differently?
Source: Najavits, L. M. (2007). Seeking safety: An evidence-based model for substance abuse and trauma/PTSD.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was to… The therapist explored with the Ct. ways to ask for help amid difficult emotions and experiences. Ct. was able to identify different strategies to approach others, and they were (able/not able) to identify safe people to reach out to for help.
Mindfulness/Meditation of the Week:
Safe/Calm Space Guided Imagery: Clients can use guided imagery to visualize and visit their own personal safe place in their mind’s eye. Join the client in session, walking through this guided imagery and explore how they can experience the calmness and security felt in this place. The client can then visit this safe place and returning to those calm, safe feelings whenever it may be helpful outside of session.
1. Find a comfortable position where you can relax and breathe easily.
2. Start by noticing your breathing. Focus on filling the belly when you inhale and notice it empty on your exhale. Scan your body. While continuing to focus on your breathing, allow any tension or discomfort to dissolve with your next few exhales.
3. While you continue to breathe, allow your mind to take you to a safe, comfortable, place. Just allow this to happen. The place may be familiar or new. If you see or hear something that makes you uncomfortable, just go ahead and change the image.
4. When you find this special place, take a few moments to notice what you see. Look around, are you inside or out? What surrounds you?
5. Also notice what you hear. If you’re outside, notice if you hear water or animals. If you’re inside, notice what sounds are in this place.
6. Now, take a moment and notice how this place feels. Is it warm or cool? What kind of surface are you sitting or lying on? What are the textures of the clothes you are wearing? How does your body feel in this place?
7. Take a moment to notice if there are any tastes and smells in this place. Perhaps there is the smell of grass if you’re outdoors or something cooking if you’re indoors.
8. Now, take a few moments and just be totally present in this safe place, noticing all of your senses. Just be in whatever way is comfortable for you. As you are in this place, notice that something that was hidden before catches your attention. It could be a sound, image, object or feeling. This is a special gift that you use whenever you need to feel relaxed and safe.
9. Remember that this is a place you can visit whenever you need to feel safe. All you need to do is take a few deep breaths and think about this place.
10. Begin to become aware of the surface you are sitting or lying on, notice your breathing returning to normal, and open your eyes whenever you are ready.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of the session was to (tailor based on tx plan). The therapist led the client in a guided mindfulness activity to create a safe/calm space. The client that they found this activity to be (helpful/thought-provoking/boring/calming).
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