When it comes to our repertoire of emotion regulation strategies, our imagination is a powerful tool. Just as imagining worst case scenarios causes our body ramp up into activation, so too does it settle, when we imagine the good stuff, such as calming, peaceful, and safe imagery.
An imaged safe place is one of these. Everyone needs a place where they can feel it's safe to be themselves, and each person’s safe place makes perfect sense just for them. It could be in the Swiss Alps, in a quiet country house, a cottage beside the ocean, a peaceful garden, or a cozy room. While these lovely places of comfort aren’t usually physically available to us when we need them most – we can still create a mental haven, accessible through imagery, and available to you whenever you need it. Having an inner safe place has proven effective in helping people cope with stress and even increases their sense of safety and comfort.
The use of an imagined safe place is especially helpful for people who have experienced trauma. When fear, panic, or self-destructive thoughts become over-whelming, you can use your imagination to go to a restful inner sanctuary – a personal haven from the effects of trauma and other life stresses – to regain a sense of safety, to restore strength, and to achieve a renewal of spirit. Once you have grounded yourself with your safe place, you will find yourself feeling more equipped to deal those tough emotions or memories.
For guided practice with safe place imagery, check out Guided peaceful place meditation (free on Insight Timer).
Cohen, B. M., Barns, M. M., & Rankin, A. B. (1995). Managing Traumatic Stress Through Art: Drawing from the Centre.
Miller, K. (2012). Mind-body attunement therapy: Clinical Strategies. Mind-Body Attunement Training Centre
Susan Guttridge is a trauma-informed Master level Counsellor with the clinical designation of Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCPA). She has 20+ years experience providing individual and group therapy.