Seeking Safety

Seeking Safety is a present-focused counseling model to help people attain safety from trauma and/or substance abuse. It can be conducted in group (any size) and/or individual modality. It is an extremely safe model as it directly addresses both trauma and addiction, but without requiring clients to delve into the trauma narrative (the detailed account of disturbing trauma memories), thus making it relevant to a very broad range of clients and easy to implement. Any provider can conduct it even without training; however, there are also many options for training. It has also been delivered successfully by peers in addition to professionals; and in all kinds of settings. It can be conducted over any number of sessions available although the more the better when possible. Seeking Safety was begun in 1992 under grant funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It was developed by Lisa M. Najavits, PhD at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital. It has been used in many countries and has been translated into numerous languages. The Seeking Safety book provides client handouts and guidance for clinicians. You can obtain the book in various ways but the other Seeking Safety materials are available only from us.

Last reviewed: 2023

Intended Outcomes:

  • Individuals who have experienced trauma
  • Individuals who have experienced substance abuse

Continuum of Care:

Topic Areas:
Behavioral Health/Mental Health, Substance Use, Suicide, Trauma

Adult (25+), Teen/Adolescent (13-18), Young Adult (19-24)

Geographic Locations:
Rural, Urban

Delivery Settings:
Community-Based, Virtual

Cultural Considerations:
Limited research found involving diverse populations

Individuals with co-occurring PTSD and substance abuse

none required


Is Training Required?

Who can provide the required training?
Individuals certified by Treatment Innovations to provide Seeking Safety training

Program Costs (materials, training, etc.):
Yes, refer to program website

Program/Practice Website:

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research:

Schafer, I., Lotzin, A., Hiller, P., Sehner, S., Drissen, M. Hillemacher, T., Schafer, N. Scherbaum, N., & Grundman, J. (2019). A multisite randomized controlled trial of Seeking Safety vs. Relapse Prevention Training for women with co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder. European Journal of Psychotherapy

Additional Sources:

Promising rating

WV Rating:
»WV Ratings Info

Rationale for Rating:

Seeking Safety was separately reviewed for both adults and adolescents. There is one published RCT on Seeking Safety in adolescents, and this study had a small sample size of 33 patients and did not yield many significant results. The majority of the evidence for Seeking Safety is for specific adult populations (e.g., incarcerated populations), which make it difficult to generalize to an adolescent population. Indeed, a 2014 meta-analysis of the program described Seeking Safety as promising; however, given our age range and the lack of quality research in adolescent populations, we cannot determine that this intervention is supported by research at this time for adolescents.

Other Registries/Ratings

The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare:
Supported by Research Evidence

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development:
Not On Registry

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness:

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Model Programs Guide:
Not On Registry

Washington State Institute for Public Policy:
Found on the registry. See link for more information.

Washington State Institute for Public Policy Registry Link: