What Is the Seeking Safety Treatment Model?

Woman and therapist discussing seeking safety treatment model

The Seeking Safety model is a therapeutic approach for addressing trauma and substance use. Developed by Lisa M. Najavits at Harvard Medical School in the late 1990s, this evidence-based model is designed to help individuals gain safety from trauma and substance use simultaneously. This type of therapy is offered at Recovery Cove, though we find that many people are unsure of what it is and how it works. Let’s clear up some of the questions you might have about Seeking Safety and how it can help you recover from trauma and substance use. 

What is Seeking Safety? 

Seeking Safety is a counseling model that focuses on the present rather than delving into the past. It is grounded in a compassionate, ideal-free approach, ensuring the therapy remains accessible and practical for those who are overwhelmed or scared of addressing their past. The primary goal is to establish safety—the cornerstone of recovery from both trauma and addiction

Key Components of the Model 

The model integrates principles from cognitive behavioral therapy, education and other psychosocial elements to provide a structured yet flexible treatment framework. It covers 25 topics, each encapsulating a safe coping skill that addresses trauma and substance use. These topics are then divided into different groups, such as cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal and case management. 

The sessions can be conducted in group or individual settings that are structured around the following: 

  • Safety as the priority. The main goal is to ensure that individuals feel safe in their thinking, behavior, relationships and emotions. 
  • Integrated treatment. By tackling the symptoms of trauma and substance use at the same time, it provides a more holistic recovery. 
  • Ideal-free. The treatment avoids delving into past trauma, reducing the risk for re-traumatization. It’s also effective for a range of traumas, including complex trauma.
  • Focus on ideals. Seeking Safety emphasizes ideals such as compassion, self-care and honesty to help individuals aspire positive principles without the pressure of perfection. 

Recognizing the Benefits of Seeking Safety 

Seeking Safety is an innovative therapeutic approach, helping people heal without having to relive their trauma. The benefits to this model are: 

  • Empowerment. When clients are equipped with tools to enhance safety and prevent self-harm, they feel empowered in their recoveries. In other words, the power to heal lies within the individual. 
  • Flexibility. Seeking Safety is a flexible therapy that allows therapists to tailor the session to each individual. 
  • Practical skills. This model focuses on developing practical skills for coping with daily challenges in thoughts, behaviors and interpersonal interactions. 
  • Evidence-based. Extensive research shows that Seeking Safety supports many individuals, including men, women, veterans and teens. Really, anyone who struggles with trauma or substance use can benefit from this therapy, especially early on in their journey. 

If you are interested in learning about the Seeking Safety model, contact Recovery Cove at 484-549-COVE. We offer this therapy to those who are in recovery for trauma and substance use, particularly those who want to avoid delving deep into their past.