Safetystories step by step


  • If possible do Safetystories together with an adult that the child feels safe with. Tell briefly about Safetystories.


  • Invite the child to tell her story about what has happened. Let her do it by using figurines or draw pictures. You don´t need to ask for details. Just ask ”Where are you?” ”Who were there?” ”What happened?”


  • Then ask:
    • What did you feel?
    • Where in your body did you feel that?


  • Invite a Safetyperson – or animal – into the memory. It can be a person who exists, who was there or not there, a person from a movie, it can be Jesus, an angel, an animal. Ask what the person is doing and saying. Ask what it feels like in the body when the safe person is bringing in safety through her actions and words.


  • Continue to ask what the Safetyperson is doing and saying, until it feels ”ready”, it feels like nothing more needs to happen.


  • Observe and ask if there is something the child feels like she needs to do with her body. Encourage her to let her body do that. It can be some kind of shaking, protecting, running or fighting, and an ”act of triumph” – a movement the child wanted and needed to do in the moment but could not. Do the movement, and maybe shouting, together with the child several times. Slow and fast.


  • If the child becomes very emotional or agitated, ground her and stabilize her by letting the child move her body. You can also take a break and drink some water, or go out.


  • Now it´s time to tell the story back to the child, including the new safety. You can start from just before the traumatic event happened, or from as early as her birth. Start with ”Once upon a time …”. Tell briefly about the traumatic event and amplify the story about the new safety. Then tell her that this is over, and add the timeline-story about what happened afterwards. Make the story magic and dramatic. Include the messages the child needs to hear, about that she is normal, it was not her fault, she acted so good and brave, she is beautiful and no one should have to experience such a thing.


  • Now help the child to find strategies for how to handle such a situation again. Talk about how you can celebratethat it is over, and that she managed. Make sure the child feels safe and have a sense of belonging, joy, power and hope.


  • Don´t talk too much afterwords. Make sure the child gets something to eat and drink. Explain that the child can be very tired afterwards, for a couple of days.


  • Later, maybe even at a later moment, you can explore together what thoughts and believes the child came to believe, that are not helpful any longer, and find more helpful thoughts and believes. You can also explore together what the child lost, and find ways to grieve these losses.


Ulrika Ernvik