What Is Seeking Safety & How Does it Work?

Seeking Safety is an evidence-based, present-focused counseling model that was developed in the 1990s. It is primarily used to help people who have been struggling with substance abuse and addiction, as well as those whose lives have been impacted by posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other effects of trauma.

Understanding the Seeking Safety Model of Treatment

Seeking Safety helps participants eliminate self-defeating thought patterns and avoid harmful behaviors while they are developing healthier ways of thinking and acting. It is a highly flexible model with components that can be easily customized to best meet the unique needs of the individual who is receiving care.

This model can be used in individual and group therapy settings and may be successfully employed within the context of inpatient, residential, or outpatient treatment.

Seeking Safety has proved to be effective for members of several vulnerable populations, including homeless individuals, victims of domestic violence, incarcerated individuals, and those who have severe mental or cognitive challenges.

Seeking Safety has also benefited active-duty military members, veterans, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and members of other professions who are at increased risk for repeated trauma.

Central Concepts of Seeking Safety

Seeking Safety is based upon five central ideas:

1)  Safety as the overarching goal (helping clients attain safety in their relationships, thinking, behavior, and emotions)

2)  Integrated treatment (working on both trauma and substance abuse at the same time)

3)  A focus on ideals to counteract the loss of ideals in both trauma and substance abuse

4)  Four content areas: cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, and case management

5)  Attention to clinician processes (clinicians’ emotional responses, self-care, and related topics)

Topics Addressed During Seeking Safety Sessions for Clients Impacted by Trauma

The Seeking Safety treatment model addresses 25 distinct topics. These topics are organized according to the four content areas (cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, and case management) that were listed in the previous section.

Here are examples of 10 of the topics that are included in the Seeking Safety model:

  • Introduction to Treatment/Case Management
  • Integrating the Split Self
  • PTSD: Taking Back Your Power
  • When Substances Control You
  • Detaching from Emotional Pain: Grounding
  • Taking Good Care of Yourself
  • Coping with Triggers
  • Healing from Anger
  • Setting Boundaries in Relationships
  • Asking for Help

Seeking Safety participants do not need to complete all 25 topics, nor do the topics need to be addressed in a specific order. This is one of the many ways that Seeking Safety offers a flexible, customizable framework to help individuals whose lives have been disrupted by addiction, PTSD, or other effects of trauma.

Personalized Care for Long-Term Success

Seeking Safety is one of many treatment models that can be employed to help individuals who are struggling with PTSD or other effects of trauma. Other trauma-related services that have proved beneficial over the years include the following:

  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Cognitive processing therapy (CPT)
  • Prolonged exposure therapy (PE)
  • Stress inoculation training (SIT)

As with all types of mental and behavioral health care, treating a person who has been struggling with PTSD or the effects of trauma is a matter of finding the personalized approach that best meets the unique needs of the individual.

The TPS team is uniquely prepared to help professionals locate optimal placement options for individuals who need advanced care for PTSD, other effects of trauma, and other mental and behavioral health concerns.

For assistance locating a treatment center near you that offers Seeking Safety, or for any additional information that will help you make the most beneficial referrals for your patient, contact the TPS team today.

Marks of Quality Care
  • FBI National Academy Associates
  • Higher Education Case Management Association (HECMA)
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP)
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval
  • The Jason Foundation