Safe Place Visualisation
Safe place visualisation, is vital for PTSD management.
It was another of the first things I learned in counselling, and was vital for managing dissociation and anxiety.
I use it when I wake from a nightmare in the night and I use it along with grounding and breathing for anxiety, flashbacks and intrusive memories.
How I learned to have a ‘safe place’ in my mind;
First, I had a to pick a place that I would feel safe, this could be a real or imaginary place, somewhere I would feel safe.
I picked an imaginary one, an island, where it is warm, where there are no people, just me sitting on a beach, watching the waves and feeling the sand, feeling the sun. It is peaceful, no-one can approach me, it is my ‘safe haven’.
I know a friend of mine has her therapists office as her safe place, and different people will want to pick somewhere that really relates as ‘safety’ to them.
Once a ‘safe place’ has been decided, then you sit, in a relaxed position and just focus on that safe place, focus on the feelings you would have – in my case – the sun, it’s warm, it’s peaceful, what can I hear, what can I see.
I think about the waves lapping the beach, I think about the sand I can feel with my hands, I look in the blue sky to see the birds flying etc.
Focussing on this safe place, is like a mindfulness exercise – it takes your mind away from the unsafe thoughts being experienced – to a safe place.
If your mind starts to wander, just gently bring it back, to the safe place and start to think again about what you can see, what you can feel, what is around you etc.
It takes time and a lot of practise to be able to focus on this and I did this a lot, so that when I needed it – I could go to my safe place.
At first, I was so rubbish at this – I really was. So, if you are too, it is okay.
My mind would immediately wander and it really required considerable dedication to improve my ability to go to this safe place when the PTSD symptoms were severe.
But, I did improve and now I can do this, with deep breathing combined, and it really has helped me considerably.
I am now using these strategies to help in the EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Re-processing – trauma/PTSD specific therapy), I am now having with my counsellor.
Persistence in gaining these much needed skills for PTSD management, is needed, but they do work – I can say that with total confidence.