The “safe place” technique is an intervention designed to help children cope with their fears. The strategy can be taught and practiced during counseling sessions so that child victims of sexual abuse can implement it outside of counseling when fears arise. Counselors start by providing information to children (and, if possible, their parents/caregivers) about the technique and how it can help combat fears. Counselors then help children create their own imaginary safe place by asking questions that encourage children to vividly describe their special place.
For example, the counselor may say, “Close your eyes and picture a special place where you feel completely safe.” The counselor then follows up by asking questions that capture additional details, such as “What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? What are you doing in your safe place?” The counselor records these details and uses them to create a script.
Similar to other guided imagery scripts, the safe place script often begins with asking children to close their eyes and take several slow breaths. Many children enjoy using the safe place script as a closing ritual to their individual sessions. This can be especially helpful when the sessions have focused on processing their traumatic experiences.
The safe place script can also serve as a springboard into an expressive arts intervention in which children have an opportunity to create their safe place in a drawing or painting or with clay. This extension of the technique may help children better picture and describe their special place.