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“Feeling safe is the treatment”

Stephen Porges

Safety is an important moderator that influences:



Relationship between therapist and client

Effectiveness of treatment

Science of safety tools

Our clients want to connect with us. They want to feel safe. We can create a sense of safety by understanding our nervous systems and how they are regulated.

A. As a therapist, keep your autonomic nervous system regulated and recognize if you are leaving a ventral vagal state

B. Track your client’s nervous system and notice when they are leaving their ventral vagal state

C. Co-regulate with your client

D. Ensure that your therapeutic environment is vetted for cues of safety

E. Modulate your tone of voice (modulated tones trigger a neuroception of safety in the nervous system)

How to create safety in the therapeutic relationship

How to create a physical space that feels
safe for your clients

A. Avoid harsh, overhead lighting
B. Decrease exposure to loud noises, like cars, train stations etc
C. Use white noise machines
D. Use pleasing scents such as lavender, bergamot, and eucalyptus
E. Play soft instrumental music in your waiting area
F. Wall color should be soft and muted. Colors such as sage or blush are calming
G. Include live plants (and keep them alive!)
H. Include plush cozy rugs and comfortable spacious furniture
I. Don’t underestimate the importance of pillows, blankets, and a therapy mascot

Helpful tools to use during session to increase feelings of safety with your client

A. Know what tools YOU need to remain regulated (water, cup of tea, regular scheduled breaks)
B. Co-regulate with your client
C. Practice slow exhales
D. Encourage your client to identify their bodily sensations NOT just their thoughts
E. Educate your client on why feelings of safety are important in all relationships

How do our clients assess for safety?

The wisdom resides in our body. When confronted with challenges, our body functions like a polygraph and assesses:


Tone of Voice



Facial Expressions

Subtle Cues of Understanding

Our clients are constantly 
Looking, Listening, & Feeling (L.L.F). 

The therapeutic space creates bidirectional communication.
In order for an interaction to feel supportive, the expressed cues must communicate
safety and trust.

"Safety is not the removal of threat. Feeling safe is dependent on unique cues in the environment and in our relationships that promote health and feelings of love and trust"

Stephen Porges

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