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Seeking Safety: A Treatment Manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse.

New York, NY : Guilford Press, 2002, 399p. ISBN: 1572306394.

Lisa M. Najavits, PhD (Boston University School of Medicine; Harvard Medical School; McLean Hospital; VA Boston).

This manual describes Seeking Safety, a present-focused therapy intended to help people attain safety from both PTSD and substance abuse. This treatment was designed for flexible use. It has been conducted in group and individual format; for women, men, and mixed-gender; using all topics or just a subset of topics; in a variety of settings (e.g., outpatient, inpatient, residential); and for both substance abuse and dependence. It has also been used with people who have a trauma history, but do not meet criteria for PTSD. The key principles of Seeking Safety are: 1) Safety as the overarching goal (working on both PTSD and substance abuse at the same time); 2) Integrated treatment (for both PTSD and substance abuse); 3) A focus on ideals to counteract the loss of ideals in both PTSD and substance abuse; 4) Four content areas: cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, and case management; and 5) Attention to clinical processes (helping clinicians work on countertransference, self-care, and other issues).

Seeking Safety is one of two manualized interventions for women that was used in CTN protocol NIDA-CTN-0015, "Women's Treatment for Trauma and Substance Use Disorders" (the other intervention was "Women's Health Education"). The protocol used the following 12 of Seeking Safety's 25 sessions or "topics": 1) Introduction to Treatment; 2) Safety; 3) PTSD: Taking Back Your Power; 4) Detaching from Emotional Pain: 5) Grounding; When Substances Control You; 6) Taking Good Care of Yourself; 7) Compassion; 8) Red and Green Flags; Honesty; 9) Integrating the Split Self; 10) Creating Meaning; 11) Setting Boundaries in Relationships; and 12) Healing from Anger.

More information about the Seeking Safety program, including instructions on how to purchase a copy of the manual, a training calendar, a video training series, full-text articles about developing or implementing the program, and an assessment instrument designed to evaluate a clinician's use of the treatment can be found at the Seeking Safety web site: The manual provides both client handouts and guidance for clinicians. (Manual, Print, English, 2002)

search Keywords: Behavior therapy | Gender-specific interventions | Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) | Seeking Safety program | Trauma | Training

Document No: 188

Submitted by the CTN Dissemination Librarians, 4/17/2007.


Najavits, Lisa M. search mail
NIDA-CTN-0015 search www

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Supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.
The materials on this site have neither been created nor reviewed by NIDA.
Updated 4/2009 --
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