Self-soothing techniques when working with trauma

Self-soothing techniques are essential when working with clients that have a traumatic background or that have experienced crisis or distress. The use of self-soothing has been used in therapy for years to work as a coping mechanism with clients that have a wide range of problems such as trauma, anxiety and personality disorder to name a few. Self soothing is a versatile technique that can be accompanied by any form of therapy. There a few methods that can be taught to a client.

  • Self-soothing box: This is a box that the client develops for themselves which contains different sort of items that have a therapeutic/soothing effect. The intention of the items can also be used for grounding in some areas such as flashbacks or if the client experiences a lot of rumination in therapy. Items that are contained in the box and usually discussed between the the client and the therapist as homework. Items that are contained within are usually based around the client interests and likes. So for example, it would usually be items that focus around the client's interests and things that incorporate the clients senses fully. So maybe a fuzzy stress ball (tactile), pleasant photographs (sight), flavoured essences (vanilla), possible something like chocolate or sweets (for taste, obviously not if people have overeating as a method of coping).

  • These are just some examples and can include a wide range of things - it is tailored to the individual. I highly recommend Pintrest as a good place to look and do some research on the subject. There are lots of different ideas. Clients I have worked with before have used certain things as well as stuffed animals and the adult orientated colouring books, and this is fine for them but not for everyone. It would be recommended to use this when a person starts to feel distressed or dissociated in there day to day life.

  • Self-hypnosis: Self-hypnosis can be done by using soothing imagery that the client has created with the therapist during a session. This can be a scene, a metaphor, a story - anything that the client finds particular pleasant. The goal of using self-soothing imagery in therapy would be purely to help with the feelings of dissociation or distress and as a method of coping.

  • Soothing activities: This can be a wide variety of activities and potential activities that can be discussed with the client. Examples can be artistic pursuits, exercise, pretty much any activity that is not maladaptive.

I hope this helps if people are interested in reading more sound this topic, Pintrest is good as well as anything by Marsha Linham.

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