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Grounding Techniques

After a trauma, many people experience flashbacks, anxiety, dissociation, and other difficult symptoms. Grounding techniques help shift focus away from uncomfortable thoughts, memories, and worries, and toward the present moment.

The Grounding Techniques worksheet describes four powerful techniques for managing symptoms of trauma:

  • 5-4-3-2-1 technique: Use each of the five senses to take in the details of your surroundings in the present moment.
  • Categories: List as many items as you can in any three categories. Categories include movies, animals, colors, and more.
  • Body awareness: Bring your focus to the here-and-now by doing simple physical actions.
  • Mental exercises: Take your mind off negative thoughts with discreet mental exercises, such as counting backwards, naming objects around you, spelling, and more.

Practice grounding techniques in session, and give this worksheet to clients as a take-home reminder.

For a related tool, see our Grounding Exercise guided audio activity:

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1. Najavits, L. (2002). Seeking safety: A treatment manual for PTSD and substance abuse. Guilford Publications.

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