The foundation for good trauma work is safety. Helping your clients establish a sense of safety in trauma treatment is vital to helping them heal. Safety can look different for each of your clients. You can have some general things you do with all your clients to start the beginnings of safety. Let’s explore three interventions you can use throughout the trauma treatment process. These interventions will assist clients in establishing and maintaining safety.
Learning the Hard Way
I learned the hard way about the importance of safety in trauma treatment. When I first started treating trauma clients, I could not figure out why they were not getting better and at times seem to be getting worse. I started consuming everything I could find on the topic of treating trauma. Through training, I learned that if I did not solidify safety and nurture the client’s sense of safety in trauma treatment they would not get far in their healing journey. Now I am careful to encourage my clients to take their time establishing a felt sense of safety. It is truly the foundation that we will be building their healing upon.
My Top Three Safety Interventions
There are several interventions that can be used to assist clients in establishing safety. I have found that different ones work with different clients. These three below have been successful with the majority of all my clients. I want to share them with you in hopes that you will find them helpful as well. Let’s take a look:
Attunement: Being attentive to the client’s emotions, verbal and non-verbal communication is vital. Checking in with the client to ensure you are understanding their experience. This helps them to feel seen and heard.
Pacing: Helping a client to carefully pace the traumatic content they share is vital. Some clients will want to tell you all the details of their traumatic experience(s) in one session. It is important that you encourage them to slowly share details in a way that is not overwhelming to their nervous system. This is a great way of helping them to be more aware of their own internal boundaries.
Ending Sessions: Tracking the time in session is vital when working with trauma clients. It is important to make sure you have time to help clients leave session emotionally regulated. Helping clients to regulate before the end of the session and notice the shift in their states is helpful to them establishing and maintaining safety. It is a great way to help clients know that they can feel difficult emotions and sensations, but they are also able to shift that to something that is less difficult or pleasant. For trauma clients, this can be a powerful discovery in their healing journey.
Establishing and maintaining safety in trauma treatment is vital to helping clients heal. There are many different interventions you can use to help your clients in this area. I hope you will give attunement, pacing and being mindful of how you end sessions a try to see if they can be helpful to you and your clients.
What are some things you do to help your client establish a sense of safety throughout the treatment process?