Seeking Safety Coping Skills

Everybody has different ways for coping with stress and overwhelming emotions. If you have problems with addiction, you have likely used substances to manage the tough parts of life. To get and stay sober, you have to replace drugs as a coping mechanism and develop healthy strategies for overcoming everyday challenges. Following the Seeking Safety model is an effective way for managing symptoms of trauma and addiction.


Get Help Now

Call our admissions specialists who can help you find the best treatment center for your needs. If you need help with drug abuse or addiction recovery, we can help you.

(888) 530-9424


What Are the Seeking Safety Coping Skills?

Seeking Safety therapy helps individuals identify and practice positive coping skills. Each of the coping skills involved in the Seeking Safety model offers an opportunity to regulate your central nervous system so that you deactivate your flight-fight-freeze mode.

The more you practice the Seeking Safety coping skills, the more readily your body will drop into calmness even when you’re stressed or experiencing cravings. As you learn to access a feeling of safety in your body, you free yourself up for progressive healing.

Seeking Safety sets forth a list of 84 coping skills that anyone can practice and use. The corresponding guidelines and worksheets help individuals use these skills in a way that works for them. Clients are encouraged to come up with their own ideas for coping skills that help them feel safe when impulsive thoughts and feelings arise.

When to Use Safe Coping Skills

You can use Seeking Safety skills to manage a heightened response whenever you feel unsafe. Recognizing the way that your nervous system responds to triggering scenarios can help you identify when to use these coping skills. In general, when you don’t feel calm and at ease, you are experiencing some level of threat.

The coping skills that are taught in Seeking Safety can regulate you so that you can think clearly and take positive action. Seeking Safety aims to reduce the dangerous behaviors that individuals engage in as a result of their trauma symptoms.

You can use Seeking Safety coping skills when:

  • You feel anxious or depressed
  • You can’t stop your ruminating thoughts
  • You have social anxiety
  • You’re experiencing cravings
  • You have already lapsed or relapsed
  • You need more support
  • You need motivation or inspiration

Some coping skills recommended as part of the Seeking Safety model are general and work to regulate your nervous system in any situation. Others are more specific and appropriate for particular circumstances.

Which Seeking Safety Coping Skills Resonate With You?

Although Seeking Safety identifies 84 coping skills that you can use in a variety of situations, we can’t cover them all in this article. However, we have grouped some of the coping skills in categories to help you understand how to apply them to your life.

Communication Coping Skills

Working on your communication skills enhances your relationships with yourself and others. Healthy communication encourages honesty and allows you to get all of the facts before you react.

  • Ask for help – You can’t go through recovery alone. Make a list of safe people, and reach out to them when you need support. You can also use your support system to give you feedback about whether your beliefs are accurate.
  • Honesty – People with addiction issues are often dishonest with themselves and others. However, being honest allows you to identify and heal the source of the problem.
  • Set a boundary – When you feel triggered or threatened, you can say “no” or “not yet” to protect yourself. Clear boundaries can help you navigate relationships safely and without drama.
  • Talk/coach yourself through it – Seeking Safety helps you identify patterns of negative self-talk and build positive beliefs by reframing your thinking. You’ll learn to replace unhelpful thoughts with constructive ones.

Mindfulness Coping Skills

Practicing mindfulness gives you a chance to process powerful emotions without letting them overtake you. The mindfulness strategies that you learn as part of Seeking Safety also reduce potentially unsafe coping mechanisms, such as dissociation, which are linked to PTSD symptoms.

  • Visualize a safe space – Use your senses to ground yourself in your environment, noticing what you see, hear, feel, smell and taste. You can also create an image of a safe space in your imagination, returning to it when you feel threatened.
  • Notice the choice point – Become aware of the details that lead up to unhealthy behaviors. Doing this helps you recognize warning signs, feelings and activities that put you at risk. You can use these incidents as intervention points for your recovery.
  • Focus on the current moment – You can’t change the past or control the future. Notice what’s going on now and think about what you need at the moment to get through it.

Self-Care Coping Skills

Many people with trauma and addiction issues have a distorted sense of self-worth. Taking care of yourself confirms that you deserve to feel good and strengthens your self-efficacy and self-esteem.

  • Inspire yourself – Surround yourself with inspiring people. Read inspirational stories. Keep an inspirational reminder, such as a journal or quote, in your wallet.
  • Cry – Let yourself process emotions. Choking them off locks them in your body, where they continue to generate negative symptoms.
  • Practice self-respect – Seeking Safety encourages you to make decisions that will help you feel good about yourself.
  • Take care of your body – Nourish yourself with good food, exercise and sleep to lay the foundation for a healthy life.

Constructive Action Coping Skills

Although the Seeking Safety principles underscore the importance of constructive thinking, they also teach you how to transform your thoughts into positive behaviors.

  • Leave a bad scene – If you don’t feel safe, leave the situation and put yourself in a safe one.
  • List all of your options – Seeing potential choices on paper allows you to make objective decisions.
  • Do what feels hard – Staying in familiar territory, even if it’s not healthy, often feels more comfortable than lurching into the unknown. The difficult choice is often the best one.
  • Avoid avoidable suffering – Don’t confuse discomfort with suffering. Uncomfortable decisions are usually the right ones when they have positive outcomes. However, if you feel that a particular action will put you in an unhealthy situation with a negative consequence, recognize the warning signs. Make a different choice.

Getting Help With Seeking Safety and Coping Skills

You may think that using Seeking Safety skills is easier said than done. However, with the right guidance and support, you can rewire your brain, creating constructive patterns of thought and action.

Burning Tree West offers in group and individual sessions to help you create a fulfilling, meaningful life in recovery. Our goal is to provide a safe space for you to learn, heal and grow. We draw from the Seeking Safety model to ensure that you feel secure as you delve into your depths and access the parts of you that have been stifled, neglected or subjugated. Contact us to learn more about how our programs nurture your strengths and promote a long-lasting recovery from trauma and addiction.


Get Help Now

Call our admissions specialists who can help you find the best treatment center for your needs. If you need help with drug abuse or addiction recovery, we can help you.

(888) 530-9424