Have you heard about Seeking Safety but aren’t quite sure what it’s all about? You’re not alone! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about Seeking Safety and why clinicians rave about its transformative training workshops.
Whether you’re a counselor, social worker, psychologist or other helping professional, understanding Seeking Safety can greatly enhance your ability to effectively treat clients struggling with trauma, PTSD and substance abuse. Let’s dive in!
A Crucial Intersection: Trauma and Substance Abuse
To fully appreciate Seeking Safety, it helps to first understand the deep intersection between trauma and substance abuse.
Research shows alarming rates of trauma and PTSD among individuals with substance use disorders. Up to 80% of women in addiction treatment have histories of sexual and physical abuse. For men in treatment, rates of abuse and trauma are lower but still substantial, at up to 66%.
Experiencing trauma puts individuals at very high risk for developing substance abuse disorders. In fact, women with PTSD are up to 4 times more likely to have an alcohol or drug use disorder compared to women without PTSD.
Likewise, substance abuse greatly raises the odds of experiencing traumatic events. Intoxication impairs judgment and reactions, making individuals more vulnerable to assaults, accidents and other trauma.
Ultimately, trauma and substance abuse form a vicious cycle, with each worsening the other. Effective treatment must address both simultaneously.
Stages of Change Meet Stages of Trauma Recovery
Overcoming trauma and addiction involves progressing through stages of change and trauma recovery:
- Pre-contemplation: Not yet considering change or acknowledging trauma
- Contemplation: Weighing pros and cons of change and processing trauma
- Preparation: Committing to change and building coping skills
- Action: Actively changing behaviors and processing trauma
- Maintenance: Sustaining new patterns and integrating traumatic memories
Seeking Safety synchronizes stages of change with stages of trauma recovery, helping clients build skills as they become ready.
Introducing the Seeking Safety Model
First published in 2002, Seeking Safety pioneered an integrated, present-focused treatment model for co-occurring trauma and substance abuse.
Seeking Safety was developed by Dr. Lisa Najavits, a clinical research psychologist with Harvard Medical School and a leading expert in trauma and addiction.
Seeking Safety emphasizes safety as the overarching goal. Treatment focuses on coping skills clients need to attain safety in their relationships, thinking, behavior and emotions.
The model consists of 25 treatment topics that represent research-based coping skills for establishing safety. Sessions teach new skills through interactive discussions, modeling and practice.
Let’s look at a few of the most impactful topics:
Asking for Help
This topic teaches clients how to identify supporters and reach out effectively. Asking for help builds a safe support system.
Setting Boundaries in Relationships
Clients learn to set healthy limits and increase safety in relationships. Boundaries boost self-worth.
Coping with Triggers
Clients gain skills for managing trauma and substance abuse triggers without using substances. This provides a sense of control.
Seeking Safety Across Populations and Settings
A huge advantage of Seeking Safety is its flexibility across clinical populations and settings.
Seeking Safety has been used successfully with:
- Women and men
- Adolescents and adults
- Civilians and veterans
- Many cultural backgrounds
- Group and individual formats
It’s been implemented in outpatient and residential treatment centers, domestic violence shelters, correctional facilities and more.
The model is also adjustable based on client needs and context. Clinicians can select topics most relevant for each client and adapt language.
The Powerful Impact of Seeking Safety
Extensive research shows Seeking Safety significantly improves outcomes when treating co-occurring PTSD and substance abuse.
In controlled studies, Seeking Safety groups demonstrate:
- Reduced substance use up to 1 year after treatment
- Decreased PTSD symptoms including less dissociation and anxiety
- Better coping skills ranging from asking for help to self-advocacy
- Higher treatment retention compared to control groups
- Increased confidence in abstaining from substances
Seeking Safety provides clients with tangible, present-focused skills to build a sense of safety. This empowers clients to gain control over trauma symptoms, cravings and addictive behaviors.
An Inside Look at Seeking Safety Training
Now that you grasp the basics of Seeking Safety, you’re probably wondering about the training…
Seeking Safety workshops prepare clinicians to immediately implement the model upon completion.
Here’s a glimpse at what you’ll learn during the 2-3 day intensive training:
- Overview of Seeking Safety principles, research and materials
- In-depth review of the 25 treatment topics
- Small and large group discussions and role plays
- Guidance on documentation and treatment planning
- More topic role plays and group dialogue
- Adaptation of Seeking Safety across clinical settings
- Self-assessment of personal trauma and countertransference
- Action planning for program implementation
- Additional topic role plays and lessons learned
- Review of advanced Seeking Safety topics
- Guidance on overcoming implementation obstacles
- Next steps for training team members
Seeking Safety clinicians often describe the training as transformative for their clinical skills. It’s highly active and experiential, giving you hands-on practice with the topics.
Earning Continuing Education Credits
An added bonus of Seeking Safety workshops is that they provide continuing education credits for many professional disciplines.
Typical credits awarded are:
- 12 CE hours for psychologists
- 12 CE hours for social workers
- 12 CE hours for counselors
- 12 CE contact hours for nurses
CE credits allow you to meet ongoing licensing requirements while expanding your trauma and addiction knowledge.
Bringing Seeking Safety to Your Organization
Ready to bring Seeking Safety training to your team? Here are some tips:
- Reach out to your local Seeking Safety trainer or Treatment Innovations, the worldwide provider of Seeking Safety training and materials.
- Work with your trainer to schedule a training tailored to your clinical setting and discipline. Trainings can be hosted on-site.
- Have team members who will implement Seeking Safety attend the full training series.
- Apply for continuing education credits from your licensing board.
- Develop an action plan for integrating Seeking Safety into treatment programming after the training.
Investing in Seeking Safety training equips your organization to better serve clients impacted by trauma and addiction. By building a trauma-informed culture and expanding evidence-based practices, you further your mission of changing lives.
Now It’s Your Turn!
We hope this guide illuminated how Seeking Safety training can transform your ability to treat co-occurring trauma and substance abuse.
As you learned, Seeking Safety goes beyond traditional talk therapy. Through research-backed coping skills and an emphasis on safety, Seeking Safety empowers clients to overcome trauma symptoms, cravings and addictive behaviors.
If helping clients achieve lasting healing speaks to your heart, Seeking Safety training is an essential tool for your professional toolbox. You’ll gain clinical skills that make a profound difference for those you serve.
We wish you the best as you continue on your path as a trauma-informed, compassion-driven clinician. The work you do matters.