Christian Counselor Seattle
EMDR trauma therapy exercise.
Being able to know and feel that you are safe is a huge part of healing from trauma. Even after you have left the trauma behind, your mind and body need to practice feeling safe. A trained therapist can help you work through the traumas you have experienced utilizing EMDR techniques.
A safe place is defined as “a place that provides a physically and emotionally safe environment for a person or group of people, especially a place where people can freely express themselves without fear of prejudice, negative judgment, etc.”
The EMDR trauma therapy exercise can also benefit those trying to cope with anxiety or if you find yourself going through a high-stress situation in your life. The safe place exercise can help you cope with toxic people, creating boundaries inside your mind. In this essay, we will talk about a few ways to practice creating a safe place for you.
How to do the exercise.
Start by sitting in a comfortable, upright position and take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes.
What images come to your mind when you hear the words “safe place”? Is it indoors or outdoors? Are people present or absent? Perhaps certain colors, textures, sounds, or smells come to mind. It could be based on a memory or a specific location. It could be a composite of many things.
After you have spent some time with this idea, you can recall it when you are in stressful or triggering situations. Step away if you can, perhaps into the bathroom or outside. Slow your breathing and picture yourself in your safe place. This allows you to make the break between an emotional response and a rational response. It gives you the chance to set boundaries and cope with the trauma you have experienced.
The EMDR trauma therapy exercise of creating a safe place is about seeing boundaries for dealing with difficulty. Whether working through past trauma or coping with a stress-inducing situation, being able to retreat to that safe place in your mind will provide boundaries throughout the process.
Create your safe place.
While being able to picture a safe place in your mind is an excellent exercise, creating your own safe place can be a beautiful action to take. The first place is your home. What steps can you take to make your home feel like a safe place? If you share space with others, be it a spouse or children, you may have to consider how to make the space safe for all of them.
Is there a space within your home that you can claim as safe and personal? Can you carve out time to be in your safe space? Does your safe space include those people? There is a lot of thought you can put toward making your home a safe place.
It is also possible to have a safe space outside of your home. It could be in another building, a library or church, or perhaps a coffee shop. Your safe space could also be time spent outdoors. There could be a park you love to walk in, a drive you enjoy taking, or a spot to sit and watch the world go by.
Your safe place could also be a creative hobby. Expressing yourself creatively whether in music, drawing, and painting, is a way to feel safe. Playing a sport might be a safe space for you, releasing stress from your body in a physical way. Baking and cooking can also provide feelings of safety.
There is no one safe space that fits all. Understand what makes you feel safe and comfortable, and that can be still and quiet, or physical and loud.
Finding safe people.
If you have experienced toxic or traumatic relationships, finding safe people is an important part of your healing journey. It will take time to build trust with people, but as you find them, their presence can become a safe place to work through things.
Sometimes your family is safe in that you can feel relaxed around them, but they are not able to help you with your trauma. There is a level of compassion and trust that you need to develop to feel safe in working through the hard things. It is important to place appropriate boundaries around your family when it comes to caring for your and their mental health.
Some places to look for safe people:
- Therapy and counseling.
- Support groups.
- Friends who reach out to you.
Psalm 23 is a biblical example of a safe place. David, the author of many psalms of complaint and lament, expresses a sense of safety in the widely known Psalm. Let’s see how it plays out.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. – Psalm 23:1, NIV
David opens the psalm with an expression of trust that his well-being is cared for by God. Even though he has experienced life on the run, and probably some lack of necessities, overall he trusts that God will provide for his needs. Trauma often leads to anxiety, which may lead to panic attacks. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, make a concentrated effort to focus on the good. Look for the ways you are safe and cared for.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. – Psalm 23:2-3, NIVTo a man often at war or fleeing for his life, the peaceful places of David’s previous shepherd life would have felt safe and comfortable. If there is someplace in your life that is currently stressful, where can you go, to feel at rest and peace? Does your home feel like a retreat from the pressures of your career? Are you able to refresh your soul with spiritual practices?
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4, NIV
David shares that there are dark and hard things happening to him. Yet there is still confidence that God is present even in the darkness, even when it feels hard to see. You may have gone through some awful experiences which left you feeling scared and uncertain. When you look at the darkest valley, can you see the presence of God? Were there people who supported you through that time? Look for the ways that God comforted you.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:5-6, NIV
In these verses, David looks to the present, where he is currently being provided for, and the hope of good things in the future. This Psalm draws a picture of a safe place from the past, comfort, provision in present difficulties, and hopes for his well-being in the future. All of this safety is found in his trust in God. God is with you in the past, present, and future.
Taking the next step with EMDR trauma therapy.
Your counselor’s office should feel like a safe place for you to work through all the emotions, triggers, and challenges you are facing. Your counselor should be a safe person to share those things with. Talk to your counselor about the safe place EMDR trauma therapy exercise and how it might be best tailored to your personality and situation. Call the office today to schedule an appointment.
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