When working with clients who have been exposed to some form of trauma and also struggling with an addiction, it is very important to have material in group or individual setting that the client can relate to. I found a great resource through a recent training, and wanted to share some of the material on grounding. In her workbook Seeking Safety: A Treatment Manual For PTSD and Substance Abuse, Lisa M Najavits describes grounding as “a set of simple strategies to detach from emotional pain.” She outlines three ways to practice grounding which I will give a little information on. I encourage you to explore this resource and utilize the materials appropriately with your clients. Information about training for the Seeking Safety program is available on the website.
* Mental Grounding
With this style, attention is paid to the environment and use of the senses is helpful (example, what do you see? what can you touch? what do you smell?). A safety statement is one aspect of this style of grounding. The client states their name and repeats that they are in the present and safe at this time. The client is encouraged to bring themselves to focus on the present moment.
* Physical Grounding
Another play on the senses here as the client can touch various objects and describe them in detail. Movement is encouraged (slow waling, jumping up and down) and a focus is placed on the breath. Clients can also eat something (like a fruit, vegetable etc) and describe in detail what they eat. The client can be encouraged to also take a small object with them at all times to turn to at the moment of an overwhelming emotion.
* Soothing Grounding
Saying and thinking kind things can be very helpful in this type of grounding. The client is encouraged to think about people and words that are meaningful in a positive way and encouraged to think of a safe place. Clients can think about things that they look forward to or what a safe treat would be.
Have you ever utilized grounding techniques before in session or in your personal life? What was the experience like?
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Last reviewed: 28 Jan 2014